The best sustainable hotels in Asia

Finding the right accommodation is a hugely important part of designing a holiday. At Bamboo Travel we love boutique properties which have a genuine ‘sense of place’, but our favourite hotels are the ones which go beyond this and give something back as well.

Eco-friendly hotels use green principles to minimise waste, save energy, and reduce their impact on the environment. The very best sustainable hotels also seek to educate their guests and encourage them to take some of these new ways of thinking home with them.

There are so many incredible examples of responsible tourism across all our destinations. Here are just a few of the best sustainable hotels in Asia:

1. Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

This is the ultimate in luxury with a conscience. The Song Saa Private Island has been pioneering luxury tourism in Cambodia for many years, and has always done so with sustainability in mind. This green attitude goes right back to the origins of the resort, which was designed to have minimal impact on the beautiful landscape it occupies, and has been carried through to every aspect of the day-to-day running of the hotel. After setting up Cambodia’s first private marine sanctuary, the hotel has also founded its own non-profit organisation, the Song Saa Foundation, which works to protect the natural habitats of the Koh Rong Archipelago and improve the welfare of the people who live there. Song Saa is proof that luxury can be done in a responsible fashion, bringing benefits to both visitors and locals.

2. Cardamom Tented Camp, Cambodia

A joint initiative with the Wildlife Alliance, the Cardamom Tented Camp is an eco-tourism project located in the remote and biodiverse Botum Sakor National Park. A percentage of the revenue from the eco-lodge goes directly to support the essential conservation efforts of the Wildlife Alliance. The camp has a small-scale eco-friendly vibe. There are just nine safari-style tents, with simple facilities but a good level of comfort. The kitchens use home-grown seasonal produce, and everything throughout the camp is designed to be as low-impact as possible. Guests are encouraged to explore the local area, accompanied by knowledgeable ranger guides, and learn about the ecosystem and the valuable work being done to protect it.

3. Mango Bay, Vietnam

The rustic and laid-back Mango Bay is one of our favourite hotels in Vietnam, constantly proving it is possible to do sustainability well without sacrificing on creature comforts. Built using local materials, the eco-conscious resort blends into its natural environment. Technology is kept to a minimum – no TVs, telephones, or air-conditioning (rooms are cooled by cleverly placed fans and natural air circulation). There is no swimming pool, but the beach in front of the hotel is one of the best on the island. In addition to keeping the hotel as low-impact as possible, Mango Bay also works with the community - employing over 80% of their staff from the local area and reinvesting profit back into the local community and environment as much as possible.

4. Lanjia Lodge & Lisu Lodge, Thailand

Located in Thailand’s rugged north, the Lisu and Lanjia Lodges are community-based tourism projects which offer guests a chance to experience the way of life of the local Hmong, Lahu, and Lisu people. Profits from the hotels are reinvested back into the local area and community, aiming to conserve the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region and improve the living conditions for the poor communities who live there. Accommodation is built in the traditional style, but with extra modern comforts for the international visitor. Both lodges are operated completely by local villagers, and the activity programs are designed to help guests learn about the local area and its inhabitants. A stay at either lodge is an unforgettable travel experience, and one you can enjoy while knowing your visit has taken place in a sustainable fashion. 

5. Chandelao Garh, India

Located 40km outside Jodhpur, this village homestay offers guests a real experience of life in a Rajasthani village. The hotel has been converted from the landowner’s ancestral home into a comfortable boutique homestay, offering rooms with modern comforts but still in keeping with the authenticity of the area and its inhabitants. 80% of employees are from the local area, and the hotel reduces waste and uses renewable energy wherever possible. The hotel also runs a project called Sunder Rang, which works to provide sustainable income for the women of the village and keep traditional craft skills alive. The women create high quality handicrafts and clothing which the hotel helps them to sell. In addition to the profits from any sales they make the women receive a fixed daily wage and additional training opportunities to further empower them. 

6. The Rainforest Ecolodge, Sri Lanka

Built using recycled materials in Sri Lanka’s pristine Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the Rainforest Ecolodge takes its environmental and community responsibilities seriously. Sinharaja is one of Sri Lanka’s most biodiverse areas, and the Ecolodge has been designed to be as low-impact as possible to protect this. Every aspect of the running of the hotel has been carefully considered - from renewable energy and water conservation to using environmentally friendly vehicles for transfers. The Ecolodge was built on the grounds of a tea plantation, where the residents lived in quite poor conditions. The project has worked to improve their living facilities, and over the longer term is providing employment and training opportunities. By working with the community the Ecolodge has managed to integrate into the local area rather than impacting on it and has created mutual benefit on both sides.   

7. Tiger Tops, Nepal

Tiger Tops have been pioneers of responsible tourism in Nepal for decades. Starting life as a hunting lodge in the early 60s, the lodge was sold to a British Adventurer in the 70s who soon shifted the focus to wildlife viewing and conservation. Over the years Tiger Tops has worked to conserve Nepal’s endangered species, implementing tiger monitoring and crocodile breeding programs. They were the first to stop elephant riding in Chitwan, which in turn set an example most of the rest of the lodges in the area have now followed. Tiger Tops lodges were all built using local materials and workers, and they adhere to strict environmental policies aiming to reduce impact on the local environment. In addition to wildlife projects, the Tiger Tops Lodges in Chitwan and Bardia National Parks have also worked with local communities to improve employment opportunities and education for people living in some of the poorest areas of Nepal.  

8. Bambu Indah, Indonesia

The founders of Bambu Indah have created a beautiful boutique hotel in the Ubud countryside with a real commitment to sustainability. The design of the hotel was based on traditional Balinese architecture, and was crafted using sustainable and durable local materials such as bamboo. Every detail in the hotel has been thought through – the natural swimming pool using filtered well water, use of cleverly designed mosquito nets to trap cool air and reduce air-conditioning, and LED & oil lamps taking the place of harsh fluorescent lighting. Food is produced in the hotel’s own organic garden, and everything down to the bath products is organic and eco-friendly. In addition to the Bambu Indah, the couple has also founded a number of other green initiatives in Bali, including the Green School, Green Camp, and Green Village.

9. Old Theatre Inn, China

The Old Theatre Inn in Shaxi is just one of a number of fantastic small boutique hotels leading the charge towards responsible travel in China. China is losing its historical buildings at an alarming pace, and the Old Theatre Inn is an example of how these buildings can be rescued and put to good use. The building dates back to the 1700s and has been lovingly restored and equipped with enough modern comforts to suit even the most discerning traveller. Alongside the Gingko Society and the Shaxi Rehabilitation Project, they have helped to preserve a number of unique buildings in the Shaxi Valley. The hotel is entirely staffed by locals from surrounding villages, and they are very keen for guests to get to know the local area and customs in an authentic fashion.

10. Six Senses hotels – everywhere

The Six Senses brand has always had a commitment to delivering sustainable luxury, and this can be seen across their hotels in Asia. Six Senses Resorts are built in harmony with the natural environment, blending into the landscape rather than impacting on it. Priority is placed on employing staff from local communities, and working with local artisans, farms, and fishermen to source food and products. As many resorts are in remote areas, sustainability funds are set up at each property and invested into education, health, and public infrastructure projects. They have made a pledge to be completely plastic free by 2022, and are on their way to achieving this after banning plastic drinking straws and producing and bottling their own drinking water on site. Each resort comes with its own sustainability story. For example, in the Maldives the Six Senses Laamu is working to conserve vital seagrass meadows - essential habitats for a number of underwater creatures and a highly effective weapon against climate change.


These are just a few of our favourite examples from a long and ever-growing list of sustainable hotels in Asia. Please get in touch to ask us how these or any other eco-friendly hotels can be included in your responsible holiday in Asia.

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