Major tourist spots across the nation were swamped with holidaymakers in the first three days of "golden week", leaving many sights in chaos and prompting internet users to mock the annual rush as a "national celebration - Chinese style".
Managers of Jiuzhaigou national park apologised to more than 4,000 travellers who were left stranded for up to 10 hours and forced to walk several kilometres in the dark to catch buses out of the world-famous valley in Sichuan province.
The park - known for its pristine ravines, lakes and beautiful forests - was accused of selling far more tickets to visitors than it could accommodate. The management said in a statement that a small group of people had tried to stop buses driving away after they failed to get on one, causing a succession of problems.
Photos posted on microblogs showed thousands of angry visitors gathered near the ticket office demanding refunds on Wednesday night.
A 64-page rulebook recently issued by the government on proper tourist etiquette seemed to have had little effect, as further cases of "uncivilised" behaviour were posted by Web users during the week-long holiday to celebrate National Day that started on Tuesday.
"Happy National Day holidays, everybody. This is the time of year when the big nationwide party is thrown in different parts of our country," a blogger wrote.
Other internet users said having a quiet week at home was preferable, while some complained about a lack of orderly queuing. One said: "If only people would queue and be patient … It's going to take some time before the country sees the universal benefits of a queue."
The crowds at Jiuzhaigou persisted yesterday, but the park's management said on its official microblog that the situation was under control, and denied the reports of chaos.
In Beijing, people left heaps of rubbish and scrawled graffiti at major sights such as the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and Great Wall.
A cleaner, holding a big plastic bag, told China Central Television: "I just picked up about 3,000 cigarette butts. They're all over the place, and smell really bad."
Elsewhere in the country, graffiti was found scrawled on walls and on bamboo trees at the former residence of late premier Zhou Enlai in Huaian , Jiangsu province, Xinhua reported.
Hangzhou's scenic West Lake was visited by millions of visitors, who left behind 7,000 cigarette butts.
Disorder was also reported in Thailand, where Chinese tourists were said to have ignored signs in Chinese saying "no photos" and "no touching" at a temple in Pattaya, and posed for photos while sitting on statues, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
Video:Image-conscious China chides its 'unruly' tourists
The National Tourism Administration has issued guidelines urging holidaymakers travelling overseas to "abide by the norms of civilised tourist behaviour".
Tips include not spitting on the street, not shouting in public areas, not forcing locals to help take photographs, not throwing rubbish and not picking one's nose.
Timed to coincide with the National Day holiday, the new guidelines come after growing frustration among some people around the world over unruly conduct by some mainland tourists.