Indochina's core business of operating adventurous trips in
Vietnam and South East Asia carries with it inherent risks for both
its group leaders/guides and travellers. Some reasons for these risks
- the laxity of laws and regulations in some countries governing
transport, infrastructure and the travel industry in general when
compared to western laws;
- the potentially volatile political environment of the countries in which
we operate; and
- the nature of the itineraries that we run, which often involve physically strenuous activities in remote locations. With these factors in
mind, we recognise that Active Travel Indochina has a responsibility to
ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to provide work and
travel conditions which are safe.
aim of this document is to give our travellers an insight into the
safety standards they should expect when on a Active Travel Indochina
trip. It is an abridged version of our operational Safety Policy that
all leaders/guides are expected to follow when running a trip. Please
if you have any comments on this policy, or the application of it in the
set of guidelines can anticipate all possible conditions that may arise.
We ask our leaders/guides to put sound judgement ahead of hard and fast
rules, judging each situation as it arises. Our leaders/guides are
employed because they demonstrate sound operational judgement, and this
extends to the application of safe travel practices. If in doubt about
the safety of any activity on a Active Travel Indochina trip, whether it
is mentioned within these guidelines or not, we ask our leaders/guides
to take the safer option.
Indochina does not recommend riding on the roof of any form of
transport we use, whether this be trains, boats or buses.
general travelling in any bus in some countries can be a hairy
experience, with the existence of an invisible middle overtaking lane
that doesn't exist on western roads. If your leader/guide thinks a bus
driver is driving dangerously he/she will ask the driver to slow down.
If this has no affect (which may be the case on a public bus in
particular) he/she will arrange for the group to get off the bus at the
next opportunity, and use whatever means possible to continue the
journey. This may be difficult in remote locations when the group was on
the only bus for the day, and may mean a change of itinerary is
necessary. We accept that seat belts are not readily available on the
transport we take, on either charter or public vehicles, we ensure
there's enough space for everyone to sit down on the benches.
Passengers and leaders/guides should not ride on the back
public buses is part of the Active Travel Indochina way of travel, and
we accept that these buses are often crowded, with people standing in
the isles. Active Travel Indochina travellers shouldn't be expected to stand
for long distances as a matter of comfort rather than safety. We rely on
public transport providers to maintain the vehicles we use in a
roadworthy condition, and do not perform independent tests on vehicles.
If a group is scheduled to board a public vehicle which in the leader/guide's
opinion is unsafe to be on he/she will get the group off the vehicle and
organise alternative means of transport. This may mean a change of
itinerary is necessary.
we charter a bus for the sole use of our group we wish to ensure that:
- The driver has the appropriate local licence to drive the vehicle; and
- The vehicle is regularly serviced - at least once every 12 months -
and in the opinion of our leader/guide is safe and fit for travel.
are fun way to get around, but are also a high risk form of transport.
Motorbike taxis (riding as a passenger with a licensed local driver) are
not organised as the sole means of transport for a Active Travel
group. There will always be alternative options offered to the group.
Group members and leaders/guides should always wear a helmet when on the
back of a motorbike
when available. Group members will not be asked to drive motorbikes solo
as part of any itinerary. Any traveller who does ride a motorbike solo
should check the terms of their travel insurance before doing so, as it
will most likely exclude motorbike injuries unless they are licensed
boats and ferries
are available on all boat travel our groups use. Your leader/guide will
inform you where lifejackets are stored if it is not obvious when
getting on a boat or ferry. It is common for public ferries to be
crowded. If your leader/guide considers a ferry to be dangerously
overcrowded they will arrange other boat transport where possible. With
both large and small vessels we rely on the boat operators to judge
local conditions, and determine whether the conditions are safe for
travel. If your leader/guide thinks conditions are unsuitable he/she
will postpone or cancel the boat trip, in consultation with the boat
operator. on smaller craft where the risk of capsize is higher you may
be asked to wear lifejackets, rather than just having them available to
many countries bicycle helmets are not a legal requirement. In general
we do not require travellers to wear helmets when on bikerides that are
part of our itinerary, unless it is a legal requirement in that country.
Helmets are not readily available in many countries and you may wish to
bring your own if this is a concern to you. The exception to this our
trips where cycling is the predominant activity. on these trips we
require all travellers to bring their own bike helmets, and recommend
that they are worn at all times when cycling. When organising a group
bicycle ride that is part of the itinerary a designated front person
(the "scout") and back person (the "sweep") will be organised
for the group. Groups should not be riding at night without proper
lights and reflectors.
regulations on safety standards in hotels and guesthouses we use in
are less stringent than those in the West. However, wherever feasible,
the accommodation we stay in should have, in the case of "closed"
hotels (with corridors, multistories etc), a second exit point in case
of fire in the main exit. Please be aware that not all hotels we
currently stay in comply with this standard. In basic accommodation such
as hilltribe huts or homestays your leader/guide will inform the group
about the dangers of elevated platforms, particularly in places where
the group sleeps at night and are likely to be wandering around in the
dark. You should use a torch/flashlight when making a night-time toilet
general, we ask that you inform your travel agent of any pre-existing
medical conditions before travelling. If our leader/guide is of the
opinion that a group member is unsuitable for an activity on the trip,
he/she has the discretion and authority to refuse that person to
participate in the activity, for the safety of themselves, the rest of
the group and the leader/guide. Exposure to sun is a real risk for
travellers when doing any outside activity. We recommend that you slip,
slop, slap at all times - that's slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen
and slap on a hat.
of our trips include a trekking component, whether it be an overnight
jaunt or a strenuous 10 day walk. Trekking should be the highlight of
the trip, but as it necessarily involves travel in remote areas it also
attracts a greater degree of risk. The following guidelines apply to all
treks that we run. All travellers should have the correct footwear and
equipment for the trek. Organise this before leaving home. At the end of
each day of the trek your leader/guide will outline the following
day's walk and plans, as well as debriefing on the walk you have done
that day. When walking, the group must always stay between the design
ated scout and sweep. The scout and sweep will be two guides, or a guide
and a leader/guide, or a guide and a passenger. Group members should
leave their packs on the trail if going into the bushes for a toilet
stop, so they are not unknowingly passed by the sweep. The group can
walk in pairs or small groups, but should meet up together in its
entirety at a minimum of every couple of hours, to ensure that all
members are accounted for. The group should meet up at all major trail
intersections, to make sure everyone takes the correct fork.
can walk at their own pace in between group meets. If local conditions
such as weather, landslides, etc become an issue, your leader/guide will
seek the opinion of our local guides on the safety of the conditions and
risks involved in continuing. The ultimate decision on whether to
continue rests with the group leader/guide.
kayaking / bamboo rafting
must be worn by all group members and leaders/guides when doing
organized kayaking or rafting as part of the group. Group members should
wear trainers or sandals, to protect their feet from rocks, but not to
interfere with their ability to swim. Group members should not go
kayaking or rafting if they cannot swim confidently when in water above
head height. A scout and sweep system will be used when doing flatwater
kayaking or rafting. The group should not separate more than 200 metres;
the lead paddlers should raft up and wait for the tailenders on a
regular basis. When rafting or kayaking is part of a scheduled itinerary
the group will be given basic instruction as to paddling techniques and
what to do in the case of a capsize by the local guides operating the
trip. Each kayak/raft should have grab-ropes at each end, to aid in
rescues in the event of a capsize. Each qualified guide should have a
throw rope readily available in case of a capsize.
When bamboo rafting each raft is propelled and steered by a local
raftsman. This raftman must be trained in leading water activities,
including reading river levels, steering techniques and emergency first
not enter a cave if you suffer claustrophobia - caving is not for
everyone. A scout and sweep system will be used when entering a cave
with a group. Every group member in the cave must have a torch if the
cave is not illuminated.
riding elephants during our trips helmets are not available to
travellers. We therefore ensure that only slow plodders are provided by
should only be done by travellers who are proficient swimmers. Your
leader/guide will point out the geographical boundaries of the exact
snorkeling site, and will designate a lookout who will not be
snorkelling in the water. Before commencing snorkeling a communication
system should be arranged for anyone who wants to convey distress -
usually one arm raised straight (not waving!).
other adventure activities
adventure activity that is not specifically mentioned in this policy is
a high risk activity that is not be included in any Active Travel
Indochina itinerary. This includes diving, rock-climbing, whitewater
rafting and horseriding. These activities require a high level of
technical expertise that Active Travel Indochina does not have and does
not pretend to have. If you wish to partak e in any of these activities
in your free time please understand that you do so of your own choice
and at your own risk.
you elect to partake in optional adventure activities in your free time
during a trip we emphasize that:
these activities or operators are not part of the Active Travel
that Active Travel Indochina makes no representations about the safety of
the activity or the standard of the operators running them; and
Active Travel Indochina cannot guarantee your safety when doing these
first aid kits
leader/guide will carry a medical kit with him/her at all times during
your trip, including any trek, cycle ride, etc. This medical kit
contains basic first aid supplies. Our legal responsibilities dictate
that we cannot distribute drugs to any traveller.