English: Chinese spot man in kilt, Brunstfield...
English: Chinese spot man in kilt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right before Chinese National Day on October 1,  the government published a Guidebook for Civilized Tourism, which is supposed to educate Chinese tourists about how to behave when traveling – especially abroad.

Soon after that, the Internet was flooded with articles and posts such as “Why are Chinese tourists so rude?” etc. Apparently, Chinese tourists were even voted the worst tourists on the planet. But why is that?

To be honest, I am not really in favor of this statement. I much rather believe that people who say this kind of thing are not properly educated themselves, they don’t seem to understand cultural differences and apparently aren’t pretty open-minded.

A columnist for the South China Morning Post, Amy Li, describes the reputation of Chinese tourists as “pushy, loud, impolite, unruly, and they are everywhere.”

And although destination countries welcome the tourism dollars the Chinese spend, they loathe the chaos and hassle some mainland tourists bring upon their cities and other tourists.

“Why can’t they just behave?” people wonder, some aloud. – Amy Li

Who Really Needs to Be Educated?

Party People
Party People (Photo credit: pasukaru76)

So Chinese tourists seem to have a love-hate-relationship with foreign tourist destinations. On one hand, the foreign tourist industry is happy when Chinese tourists come to visit since they spend a lot of money during traveling, but on the other hand they think they are “uncivilized”. Perhaps those people should spend some time understanding Chinese culture and Chinese cultural differences compared to the rest of the world.

As being German, it always makes my hair stand on end when I see how German tourists behave in places like Mallorca, Lloret de Mar or even Asian destinations like Thailand. Do you think they are welcome there? I am sure restaurant and bar owners would say the exact same thing about them: “They are welcome because they spend a lot of money but they always cause trouble and hassle.”

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Another article says: “It’s hard to say whether this nation’s citizens are actually the most ill-behaved or whether there are just more of them to go around… but the fact remains that many respondents ranked Chinese tourists as among the worst behaved.”

Chinese tourists by zoetnet (Flickr)
Chinese tourists by zoetnet (Flickr)

Maybe people in the tourism industry should start to educate themselves about Chinese manners and cultural differences before judging Chinese tourists, BECAUSE there are so many Chinese tourists with a population of 1.3 billion? Just saying…

Due to the Chinese economic boom growing numbers of cash-flush tourists travel abroad. The United Nations World Tourism Organization says 83 million Chinese tourists spent nearly pounds 63 billion ($105.6 billion Cdn.) overseas in 2012.

How About a Compromise?

Of course, I am not saying Chinese tourists can do what they want. They  should also inform themselves about certain customs and cultural differences before travelling abroad. But so should everybody else. I think that if everybody informs themselves about each other, everyone can enjoy a nice vacation.

And don’t forget that there are also certain things foreigners should not do when travelling in China:

Photo by Snippets.com
Photo by Snippets.com
  • Don’t talk about politics, Taiwan, Japan…
  • Collect business cards with BOTH HANDS
  • Don’t stick your chopsticks in your rice
  • Always offer seats to the elderly AND children
  • Don’t take pictures of certain Buddha Statues
  • Don’t blow your nose at a table
  • etc.


Life is all about mutual respect and understanding. Just to say Chinese tourists are the rudest on the planet seems not legit to me. It all depends on the travel destination, the people there, their customs, etc. When I was travelling in Egypt, Russian tourists were considered the worst because they did not know/want to haggle with the vendors. In Mallorca or other party islands in Spain, German and British tourists don’t know how to behave and get drunk like crazy.

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One thing is clear, Chinese tourists account for a higher and higher percentage in world travel. Chinese citizens can afford to travel abroad and are interested in foreign cultures. It is just the beginning and everyone has to get used to it. Get over it…

  • I have mixed feelings about Chinese tourists – most of them are normal, the one I’ve met in Europe maybe are bit louder and squat a lot but they don’t do anything wrong. On the other hand I started to think Chinese government puts all the ‘new-rich-rednecks’ to Hong Kong – spitting, peeing on the street or to the garbage in subway stations, literally shitting in public – quite famous Mong Kok incident. Cutting into the lines, argueing and thinking money can give them everything. My husband thinks it’s because those people are usually farmers who got a lot of money for their land and go to HK still behaving like they were in their own village, but just buying there stuff, HK has very low tax, in China luxury tax is huge so they just go there. Well, maybe traveling will actually teach them something.
    Of course white tourists are not better, thinking since they are white they can do more stuff in Asia and can’t be touched, also urinating in public when they get drunk, walking without the shirt in the middle of the city. I guess every country has that kind of ‘redneck’ in their society 🙂

    • yes thats true. there’s rude tourists everywhere. i never heard about this Mong Kok incident haha i’ll look it up.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7o5VNdv8LI this one wasn’t in MK but just google ‘shit on the street hong kong
        and you will have few different videos popped out. I really don’t know why that kind of people show up only in HK but in other countries they know how to behave. it’s really sad because all of the people I met personally from Mainland China are nice, really well educated etc. and people like the one in the video destroys an opinion for a whole country

        • yeees and right there, there is one video that comes to my mind also: a foreigner trying to rape a Chinese girl in the middle of the street. WTF?! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrNGk_YLdwQ he gets beaten up though.. 😀
          But seriously what’s wrong with some foreigners coming to China thinking they can do whatever they want?!

          • I’ve seen that too, I almost cried seeing that poor girl trying to release herself, I think that guy should get worse punishment and some western media kept turning things around showing how ‘poor the guy was getting beaten like that’ and try to cover the guilt showing some old cases of ABC’s who raped a white lady.
            really pisses me off when people think they can more just because of local people being nice to foreigners

          • YES! Chinese people are ALWAYS so nice to foreigners!!!! of course there’s excpetions, but I feel like there are SO many foreigners (often times GUYS) who act like complete assholes! especially regarding Chinese girls and women. Disgusting.

  • When I was in Hong Kong, I was in a queue and behind us were Chinese tourists who would not stop leaning on me and speaking very loud Chinese in my ear. Then again, the Spanish and Italians are MUCH louder and also would not stop leaning on me when I went to Disneyland Paris. It’s annoying as hell but these countries are similar in the fact their cultures haven’t taught them to queue.

    When we were in Hong Kong Disneyland, a Chinese guy came over to my boyfriend to ask him something in Chinese and when my boyfriend told him he didn’t understand, he made a rude/angry gesture and walked off. But like Lina said, it’s Hong Kong. There must be a hell of a lot of Chinese tourists there and they probably don’t consider themselves tourists in the same way they might in Australia or somewhere else.

  • Suigetsu

    Yeah, Chinese tourists have gained quite a bad reputation in recent years, but I see much of this as a result of a broader tendency toward China-bashing that is so common in the mainstream media.

    Certainly, Chinese tourists can be rude and obnoxious, but as you and other commenters have pointed out, they are not unique in this respect. And say what you will about their behaviour, but Chinese tourists are not troublemakers.

    In contrast, look at the behaviour of Australian tourists in places like Bali, Indonesia, for example. They are not just rude and obnoxious, but often violent and criminal as well with their alcohol- and drug-fueled antics. And the difference here is that Australian tourists don’t act the way they do out of ignorance/lack of education (as is the case with the newly rich Chinese tourists), but it’s because of their blatant disregard or disdain for the local people.

    • thanks Suigetsu! Especially what you said here, that foreigners, here Australians, actually misbehave because they don’t care about the locals but Chinese tourists “misbehave” because of lack of education. So foreigners who KNOW how to “behave” are actually worse tourists than Chinese who just Don’t Know.

  • Now I’m wondering what I might have done in other countries that may have been considered misbehaving. When I was in England on a study abroad program. I constantly heard Americans complaining about portions of food and drinks. It’s always, “This is a large? Not in the states.” I always wanted to tell them, “Well buddy, you’re not in the states.”

    • yeah Americans travelling can be something else too 😀

  • There are rude people everywhere. I’ve seen rude people in Shanghai on a daily basis. I’ve seen a Chinese local go over to the front counter, cutting in front of everyone, and threw the clothes on the counter. The woman had guts to give her back the clothes and told her to get in the back of the line and the woman started screaming. Each costumer that passes, she throws the clothes again on the counter, and still, the clerk says to get in the back of the people. The woman wouldn’t, standing there, not phased.Another costumer passes, and she just threw the clothes in the clerk’s face. I never seen such an incident like this before. A lot of this behavior I’ve seen like this, I thought I was at costumer service in America on a bad day. As if there’s such a thing a bad day in costumer service.

    I’ve had locals get annoyed with me because I couldn’t speak French, after all, I look the part to them. I must know how to speak French. I’ve had people scream. “Hola! Hola!” startle me, and I walk away as far as possible. xD The person was just selling stuff.

    I’ve seen grown women who use the sinks as toilets. That was a….sight.

    In Taiwan, incidents like a Chinese tourist group was littering, spitting, at a scenic spot, and a few Taiwanese people kindly told them to not do it only to get beaten up.

    Americans are no better.. People are just happy that they tip, or so I am told. Sometimes that is also an insult, so be careful.

    It’s not just locals in Shanghai are rude. I’ve seen French smoking in the elevator and speaking really loud. Like I said, there are rude people everywhere. Actually, I’ve had other foreigners who are really rude to me and say bizarre stuff.
    “Where you are from in America?”
    “Oh, no wonder you’re quiet.”
    (I am thinking, obviously you haven’t been to Boston.)


    “Have you watched Ted?!”
    ……………… what?

    (somebody trying to pull a so-called Boston accent)
    “Honestly, can’t you tell that is not my accent? What accent you’re trying to pull here?” They were Australians.

    I’ve even had American asked where I was from and didn’t believe me, “But you don’t have my accent. You don’t look American.” Ouch.

    Oh, I’ve seen many Chinese stick their chopsticks in their rice everytime I go out. I, personally, wouldn’t do it, but I’ve seen it often. Don’t get me started on blowing the nose at the table. I barely see people offering seats to the elderly and children on the MRT like in Taipei MRT. Many times, I’ve seen young people sitting on those seats meant for them while an elderly lady trying to grab on to the railing, while not lose all her bags at the same time.Not phased. Maybe it’s different on buses?

    Taiwanese people went through this phrase in the 1980’s. Hotels would say, “Please use the back and not the lobby,” due to their embarrassment with their behaviour. It will get better. People are learning. Hey, tourists help businesses, especially in New England where I am from. I can’t complain.

    • great comment!! as far as MTR and busses are concerned what I saw in Guangzhou, people were always friendly and immediately stood up for elder people or children… that’s one thing I never understood… why offering a seat to a CHILD? that seems so odd to me.. 😀 old people of course, but children? hmmm…

      • Really?! Children?! Usually those seats are for elderly, handicapped, and expecting women. Not children. It says it on the Taipei and Shanghai MRT station, anyway. (scratches head)

        • YES!!!! like school children.. elementary school.. they ALWAYS stood up and offered them the seats… CRAZY right??

      • Sara

        In Guangzhou those specal seats are for children as well, and most of the people do offer their seat to small kids no matter where they sit in the metro or the bus.

  • hcyip

    Very good post, Linda.
    Indeed, to state Chinese tourists are the rudest and worst, as many people and even newspapers like the SCMP are wont to do, is not true and callous at worst. Of course, the sheer number of Chinese tourists and the fact some of them are from rural areas or small towns means that you’ll see some engaging in bad behavior like spitting or cutting lines, but the majority of them don’t. I saw many mainland tourists (both tour groups and independent) in Japan, Vietnam and Thailand when I went to those countries this year, and I didn’t see any sort of indecent behavior.

    • yes it’s all the media… 🙁 there is bad tourists from every country.. if I think about how many Western men come to Thailand to **** little children… it’s just disgusting… (pardon my french)