• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 5:15am
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 10:56am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 April, 2014, 4:46pm

Chiang Mai locals shocked by 'rude' Chinese tourists


Amy Li began her journalism career as a crime news reporter in Queens, New York, in 2004. She joined Reuters in Beijing in 2008 as a multimedia editor. Amy taught journalism at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu before joining SCMP in Hong Kong in 2012. She is now an online news editor for SCMP.com. Amy can be reached at chunxiao.li@scmp.com, or follow her on Twitter @AmyLiSCMP

The successful, low-budget Chinese comedy Lost in Thailand has lured tens of thousands of Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai, but they left locals in Thailand’s historic and culturally rich northern city complaining.

After seeing a record number of Chinese tourists over the Lunar New Year holiday, some locals described what they experienced as “cultural clashes”, others simply found the visitors' behaviour disturbing and rude.

In a Letter to Editor published in Thailand’s English daily The Nation, Lamphun resident Vint Chavala wrote:

[Chinese tourists] tend to drive speedily on the wrong side of the road, and often go against traffic on one-way streets. Chinese tourists also often stop in the middle of busy intersections - just to argue among themselves about directions.Some hotel and guesthouse operators are turning them away because they say Chinese tourists often rent a room for two, but stay overnight in a group of four or five. They also deplore their tendencies to litter and hang their clothing on the balcony railing.

Chavala then went on to urge the Thai government to work with the Chinese consulate to better educate its tourists so Thailand will “thrive” instead of “suffer” from Chinese tourism.

On social network sites and local forums, locals posted more evidence of what they say are offensive acts by the Chinese:

  1. A tendency to not flush the toilet.
  2. Flouting traffic laws when driving, riding a bicycle, or parking their car.
  3. Being loud - even in five-star hotels.
  4. Littering, spitting, queue-jumping.
  5. Allowing children to defecate in public pools.
  6. Terrible English-language skills that lead to difficulties in communication.

Even Chinese people living in Chiang Mai said they found the behaviour of their fellow countrymen shocking and embarrassing.

“In the past I’ve always told people with pride that I am Chinese. I will be reluctant to do that in the future,” wrote one local.

"Please stop bringing shame to our people," wrote another.

Still, more Chinese tourists are bound to visit. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expected more than 1.5 million Chinese to visit by 2014.

Why the increase in visitors? When Chavala asked a Chinese tourist why he came to Chiang Mai, the man in his 30s "stabbed a thumb to his chest and said 'I am rich'."



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This article is now closed to comments

The article mentioned, "Even Chinese people living in Chiang Mai said they found the behaviour of their fellow countrymen shocking and embarrassing." Are they just ethnic-Chinese but of Thai nationality, or really PRC Chinese.
The problem with the word "Chinese" is it can be the designation of the race, "Chinese", or designation of the nation PRC. Not all "Chinese" are the same. The rising problem caused by the nouveau riche "Chinese" are PRC Chinese, and all overseas Chinese not of that nation should not be called Chinese, but ethnic-Chinese.
While it true, seems like SCMP is a bit over the top with the China bashing and over generalizing, but the reality is that proportionally speaking, most mainland Chinese are rude, obnoxious, and culturally insensitive, especially when they travel abroad ... and as a Chinese, it is down right embarrassing!
In China,we drive on the right side of the road, it‘s not easy to get used to driving on another side immediately. Language should not be the complaint of the communication.If so, people who can't speak English shouldn't go aboard? I know there are many problems in manners and behaviors of Chinese. However, are all foreigners except Chinese polite and self-discipline?I had seen a foreign cellist put his feet on the top of his front seat which a woman was sitting ,in a train to Beijing.The man felt no shame and kept arguing. The foreigners often stayed in pubs late in night and made loud noise,influencing others' rest.is this so forgiveable and understandable? PLS just pay some patience to Chinese and I believe that most Chinesd people are sincerely friendly to Thai and love Thailand.
I've been living in Shenzhen for 15 years, and I have noticed the Chinese are most rude, arrogant, aggressive, and impolite when they get behind the wheel of their car. Thai drivers are definitely more considerate of pedestrians and bikers. Chinese are generally more laid back and relaxed than westerners, but as the traffic gets worse and worse I am seeing more and more road rage.
can't agree more. It's a long process to become more civilized in China and we are keeping to be better.
Terrible English language skill should not be a complain of the Thai when they themselves kill the English language.
I agree, tourists should not be blame about their non-native language skill, but I think this part is mixed with comments about problems that Thai people meet when they try to deal with Chinese tourists.
Haven't you seen the groups of young drunk Australians traveling abroad?
It could not be because the mainland tourists did these things. It could only be because the Thais like westerners better. Talk about lame. What a pathetic whine rather than dealing with the truth. Just like here in HK. It could not be that tourists come down and engage in objectionable behavior. It must be because they are hateful and prejudiced against their mainland rulers. Pathetic, just plain pathetic.
everyone is upset, but it sounds like a great comedy movie that would write itself.
come one everyone, this could and should be turned into something useful, a
laughfest that also embarasses and educates




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