Here at Forest Retreat we feel very lucky to operate our tour company/restaurant out of Luang Namtha, which is both one of South East Asia’s premier trekking destinations because of its vast natural beauty and also one of the most ethnically diverse areas on the planet!
We are fortunate to able to connect tourists with the local ethnic minority tribes and outdoor activities in the Nam Ha national protected area as well as feed them the comfort foods of home they have been missing while in Asia.
As an eco-tourism and hospitality company we also work hard to support the local community, help promote Luang Namtha as a destination and protect the natural environment.
Here are some of the ways we do this:
- We currently employ 9 young (and not so young) women from 5 different ethnic minority tribes (Ahka, Khmu, Sida, Phunoi, Black Tai) for whom a western standard education is out of reach. We teach them English and train them in hospitality, customer service and food preparation – all to a western standard. This means they can have a bright future in the tourism/hospitality industry. We pay them well, which means they are much better able to support their families and villages.
- Through our eco-tourism initiatives we currently support 4 different ethnic minority villages, creating and promoting homestay and cultural immersion experiences. The income generated by ecotourism is sustainable and greatly assists the villages to be self-sufficient. It also empowers the villages to preserve their ancient traditions and tribal culture. We also employ these villagers to maintain our trekking trails and be our local guides, porters and cooks for our tours.
- We are currently working with Stray Travel Asia to build and then market a handicraft centre in Ban Nam Ngaem (one of our homestay villages) which will sell their amazing silk and cotton weaving products. We will also create a website for them so they can showcase their products to the world.
- Our Bamboo Lounge restaurant strives to be as eco-friendly as possible – We don’t sell bottled water but encourage travellers to reuse bottles and provide as much free purified water refills as you can drink while in town!
- We purchase local cotton village-woven cloths instead of serviettes, which can be washed and reused, instead of thrown away.
- Our hand cloths in the bathroom are also washed and reused instead of using disposable items.
- We are the only restaurant in Laos (as far as we know) that uses biodegradable plastic bags and food cartons for takeaway orders.
- Our drinking straws are made from bamboo and are harvested by and purchased from local villages, these are carefully washed and reused. Did you know that plastic drinking straws are the biggest waste product in all of South East Asia?
- We have created www.LuangNamthaGuide.com to showcase the natural attractions and free activities Luang Namtha province has to offer. This site is designed to promote local attractions and peoples and inform visitors exactly what Luang Namtha has to offer.
- Access to quality local information is very important in any new place you are visiting, Bamboo Lounge is staffed by westerners and some English speaking Lao people who will be more than happy to sit you down, answer all your questions and enhance your Luang Namtha experience as much as we can! This ensures you have a quality experience and your money goes where it is most deserved.
We are always thinking of new ways to support more people and be more environmentally friendly, if you have any ideas please let us know.