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Now, you can travel to the pristine paradise of Palau on a direct 5-hour flight. IMAGE: 123RF

Wow To Palau: Explore This Eco-Friendly Paradise On Your Next Getaway

Planning your year-end getaway? Why not check out the nearby island nation of Palau?

Palau is an archipelago made up of about 340 islands, islets, and atolls south-east of the Philippines, with a total population of around 18,000 people. Its economy is largely based on tourism, and it's said to be home to some of the best diving spots in the world.

Previously, travelling to Palau required a tedious connection via Manila on a 7-hour flight, plus transit time. But tomorrow (23 November) marks the inaugural commercial flight of a new route connecting Singapore and Palau.

Now, you can travel directly to Palau on a five-hour flight, which will operate weekly on Thursdays until December 20. After that, the flight frequency will be increased to twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays.

What's in Palau?

Palau is known for its clear waters, coral reefs and forests, and you can look forward to a wide variety of outdoor activities there such as snorkelling, diving, hiking, and wildlife encounters.

In addition, Palau's culture is deeply rooted in environmental protection, with its conservation principles spanning thousands of years of tradition.

Here are some ways that Palau puts the "eco" in eco-tourism.

1. The Palau Pledge

Upon setting foot on Palau, you're asked to sign the Palau Pledge - a commitment to protecting the country's natural environment and respecting its local traditions.

This pledge is stamped directly into your passport as a permanent reminder of your promise. In addition, the contents of the pledge ask you to make this promise directly to Palau's children, to preserve their home for generations to come.

2. Responsible Tourism Education Act

In 2018, Palau introduced the Responsible Tourism Education Act to step up its efforts to preserve its natural environment.

Among other things, the Act requires tour operators to provide reusable food and water containers instead of using disposable plastic or polystyrene containers and cups.

3. Reef-safe sunscreen

2020 marked a new environmental milestone for Palau, as it became the first country to ban reef-toxic sunscreen, as a measure to guard against irreversible damage to its coral reefs.

Only mineral sunscreens that exclusively list zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients and do not contain parabens, triclosan, trilocarban, or phenoxyethanol are allowed.

All sunscreens sold on the island are reef-safe, and anyone who brings unsafe sunscreen into the country will have it confiscated.

4. Eco Glass Art

If you're keen on beautiful things but also want to support environmentally friendly initiatives, check out Belau Eco Glass in downtown Koror.

This glass crafting centre uses recycled glass materials to produce glass-crafted products, from vases to cups, chopstick rests, earrings and more.

You can visit the art gallery to admire these works and purchase them, or even craft your own eco-friendly treasures.

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