Your ultimate guide to sustainable travel in Southeast Asia

Have a fun and feel-good holiday at these hotels, shops and restaurants that take sustainability seriously.

Song Saa Private Island
  • Delle Chan
  • December 2019

As sustainability marches into the mainstream, travellers are demanding more eco-friendly options. Jump on the bandwagon with this list of hotels, shops and restaurants in Southeast Asia that are committed to reducing the amount of waste they produce.

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The Hideout, Koh Yao Noi

The Hideout treehouse suite
The Hideout features four open-air “treehouse suites” with panoramic jungle views.

Accessible via boat from Phuket, this rustic resort opens in new window on the lush island of Koh Yao Noi is as eco-conscious as they come. For instance, disused fabrics such as old bed linens and bathrobes are repurposed as cleaning cloths. The kitchen also turns leftovers into homemade jams, syrups and tonics. Earlier this year, the resort launched The Hideout Trash Adventure Project, which rewards guests who opt to collect trash on the island with cocktails.

Address: 37, Ko Yao Noi, Ko Yao District, Phang-nga 82160
Tel: +66 84 645 8963 opens in new window

Akyra TAS, Sukhumvit, Bangkok

Reusable stainless steel bottles
Besides providing stainless steel bottles, Akyra TAS provides reusable shopping bags to all guests.

This chic spot opens in new window was purportedly the first city hotel in Asia to ban single-use plastic when it opened in May 2018. Here, guests are offered stainless steel water bottles upon check-in, which they can refill throughout their stay. Bathroom amenities are stored in locally manufactured celadon dispensers, while all bin bags are biodegradable.

Address: 7 Sukhumvit 20 Alley, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110
Tel: +66 2 260 0555 opens in new window

Alila Seminyak, Bali

Alila Seminyak organic garden
Alila Seminyak’s garden uses composted waste to grow organic produce.

In November 2018, all four of Alila’s Bali properties, including Alila Seminyak opens in new window, achieved zero waste to landfill — a notable achievement for a major hotel chain. This was attained largely thanks to an on-site Integrated Sustainable Resource Recovery Facility (iSuRRF) — a laboratory where waste such as plastics and ceramics is either recycled, transformed into green building materials or converted into crude oil.

Address: Jalan Taman Ganesha No. 9 Petitenget, Seminyak, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 3021888 opens in new window

READ MORE: These are Bali's best wellness retreats opens in new window

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

Song Saa Private Island Villa
Song Saa Private Island is an eco-friendly escape in the Koh Rong Islands.

This upscale resort opens in new window has been flying the flag for sustainability ever since it opened in 2012, making it one of the zero-waste pioneers in the hotel industry. “Since day one, we have only used bamboo straws for our drinks. We also refill glass drinking bottles in-house and all excess food waste from our restaurants is composted and donated to local farmers,” says general manager Donald Wong.

Address: Koh Ouen Private Island, Koh Rong Archipelago, Near Sihanoukville
Tel: +855 23 886 750 opens in new window

READ MORE: 7 ways to be a zero-waste traveller opens in new window

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The Little Clothing Shop, Kuala Lumpur

Kid on a swing wearing clothes from The Little Clothing Shop
The Little Clothing Shop offers pieces for both kids and adults.

This fashion label opens in new window and e-tailer uses just about every centimetre of fabric when crafting its creations, thanks to an ingenious production method. Pattern pieces of each garment are drafted to fit together like a jigsaw before being cut by hand, thereby minimising textile waste to no more than two grams of excess material per final product. opens in new window

Rehyphen, Singapore

Rehyphen wallet
As a nod to its origins, founder JJ Chuan calls the upcycled material MusicCloth.

Launched in 2016, lifestyle brand Rehyphen opens in new window gives discarded cassettes and videotapes a new lease of life. “50 million tons of electronic waste was generated in 2018, and only 20 percent of it was recycled. We decided to approach the problem creatively by weaving the polyester film from cassettes and videotapes into a durable material to make tote bags, coasters and clutches,” says founder JJ Chuan, who sells her creations at her etsy store opens in new window. opens in new window

Good Krama, Phnom Penh

Good Krama pieces
Good Krama considers itself a “slow fashion” label that produces pieces that last, both in terms of durability and ability to transcend fashion trends.

Good Krama opens in new window buys dead stock fabric from local garment factories and fashions them into timeless pieces, ranging from tank tops to jumpsuits and jackets. It also works with handwoven materials such as krama (hence the name), a sturdy traditional Cambodian garment; as well as silk from the Takeo province.

Address: #5, 12302, St 244, Phnom Penh opens in new window

OWL Bulk Store, Penang

OWL Bulk Store interior
All of the snacks are sold sans packaging to minimise waste.

Here opens in new window, you’ll find pretty much all the lifestyle items you’ll need to be an eco-warrior: from metal straws and bamboo toothbrushes to wooden utensils and reusable mugs. Food-wise, take your pick from nuts, grains and even nostalgic snacks like fancy gem biscuits.

Address: 39, Jalan Evergreen, Tanjung Tokong, 11200 Tanjung Bungah
Tel: +60 12-705 1531 opens in new window

READ MORE: A foodie’s guide to eating in Phnom Penh opens in new window

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Kausmo, Singapore

Wild Fish Congee from Kausmo
The Wild Fish Congee, Java Ginseng & Coriander Tossed with Preserved Plum Dressing is a highlight from the restaurant’s dinner-only menu.

Helmed by two young chefs, this intimate 16-seater restaurant opens in new window celebrates overstocked, over-ripened and misshapen fruits and vegetables — essentially, “imperfect” produce that would otherwise be consigned to the bin. These are paired with other ingredients (such as sustainably sourced seafood, native greens and secondary cuts of meat) to create elegant dishes such as a chipotle-berry glazed Wagyu chuck tender with vegetable jus and roasted cauliflower.

Address: 1 Scotts Rd, #03 - 07, Singapore 228208
Tel: +65 8126 8538 opens in new window

READ MORE: Singapore's hottest food trend isn't what you'd expect opens in new window

Ijen, Bali

Roasted barramundi from Ijen
Roasted barramundi and barbecued corn served on a banana leaf.

Indonesia’s first-ever zero-waste restaurant opens in new window is constructed almost entirely from scrap materials: furniture is crafted from foam offcuts and recycled wood, while the terrazzo-style floor is flecked with broken glasses and plates. Candles are derived from leftover vegetable oil, and drinking glasses are made from old beer bottles.

Address: Jl. Petitenget No.51B, Seminyak, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 4737979 opens in new window

Haoma, Bangkok

Haoma interior
Haoma’s plant-filled interior aptly resembles a greenhouse.

Sustainability, farm-to-table, zero-waste … these terms aren’t thrown around casually at Haoma opens in new window. They inform and shape every aspect of this Neo-Indian fine dining restaurant, from small things like insisting that their vegetable suppliers use reusable cotton bags to building an integrated farming system at the back of the restaurant. “We make pellets from food waste and water from the kitchen is purified to raise fish. The water that’s now fertilised with fish waste is used to hydroponically grow over 30 herbs that we would otherwise need to import to Bangkok,” says chef-owner Deepanker Khosla.

Address: 231/3 Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110
Tel: +66 2 038 5821 opens in new window

READ MORE: The new wave of restaurants in Bangkok championing local flavours opens in new window

John Anthony, Hong Kong

John Anthony dishes
The restaurant is named after the first Chinese man to be naturalised as a British citizen in 1805.

This restaurant’s opens in new window cocktail menu keeps waste to a minimum, with fruit husks repurposed as garnishes and leftover lemons used to make falernum, a type of Caribbean liqueur. Its decor is equally eco-friendly — menus and candle holders are made from upcycled paper and plastic, while chairs and tables are locally produced instead of imported to keep its carbon footprint to a minimum. Even staff uniforms are fashioned from recycled fabrics.

Address: 1 Sunning Rd, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2898 3788 opens in new window

READ MORE: The freshest farm-to-table restaurants in Asia opens in new window