42 times tourists were caught behaving badly
Your guide to tourists caught causing trouble in airports and attractions around the world
The advent of social media has brought with it the ability to whip out a mobile phone anywhere and record people doing anything untoward.
Many of those caught in the act have been tourists behaving badly. Here are 42 stories from recent years starring naughty travellers.
1. Elderly flight passenger throws coins into engine for ‘luck’
A flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou in June 2017 was delayed after an elderly female passenger apparently threw coins into the plane’s engine to ensure “good luck”.
China Southern Airlines Flight 380 was held up at Shanghai Pudong International Airport after the disruption, according to the airline’s official WeChat account.
Passengers boarding the flight saw the woman standing at the middle of the boarding staircase, throwing coins at the engine for “blessings”. They alerted the crew.
Plane mechanics later found nine coins at the site, including one inside the engine. The captain was quoted as saying that the metal, if sucked up by the engine, could have caused serious damage, including engine failure.
2. Passenger opens emergency exit ‘to get some fresh air’ as plane prepares for take-off
An airline passenger on an internal flight in China sparked a safety scare in December 2014 by yanking open an emergency exit to “get some fresh air” as the plane was due to take off.
Amazed fellow travellers on the Xiamen Air flight from Hangzhou to Chengdu took a series of snaps on their mobile phones, which found their way onto social media.
The photos showed the middle-aged man, wearing a blue hooded coat, poke his head out of the open door as a stewardess looked on. He was reportedly a first-time flier.
A maintenance team rushed to fix the door and the flight took off on time. The airline did not penalise the passenger as he had not meant any harm. “He did not cause delay or any other direct loss to the airline,” a staff member said.
3. Tourist destroys with three swift kicks what nature took 3,000 years to build
It takes nature hundreds of thousands of years to create limestone stalagmites in scenic caves, but only a few seconds for a badly behaved tourist to damage them.
Such was the case in southwest China when a young man deliberately destroyed a 50cm stalagmite at a cave in Songtao county, Guizhou province, in June 2017.
Surveillance cameras caught the white-shirted man trying to kick off the stalagmite on the side of the main path in the cave, while other tourists were taking photos of the natural marvels. He made three attempts to eventually knock off a 30cm-long tip and then walked away without taking it, the footage showed.
Cave enthusiast Wang Dayong said that it takes an excruciatingly long time – many thousands of years – for stalagmites to form from the ground up or stalactites to form downwards from cave ceilings, and they can barely be restored.
4. PhD student banned from Air France flights after slapping airport check-in staff
A woman was placed in detention for 10 days and blacklisted on Air France flights in China after she slapped a member of staff at an airport in June 2017.
The 36-year-old doctoral student from a prestigious university lost her temper after she was told by ground staff that check-in for her flight from Wuhan to Paris had closed 14 minutes earlier.
Staff offered to alter or refund her tickets, but the woman refused, saying she had to go abroad to take part in an important conference.
She then rushed to the staff working area and slapped a member of staff twice after negotiations failed.
5. Couple arrested over airport runway brawl that saw husband’s shirt torn off and wife pinned to ground
A man and woman were detained at an airport in southwest China in April 2017 for brawling on the tarmac as they were boarding their flight, which was delayed for half an hour.
Police said the two passengers were husband and wife. They were in the course of divorce negotiations when the fight broke out at Kunming airport in Yunnan province. The woman was pinned to the ground by the man, whose shirt was torn off.
Afterwards, they tried to board the plane but the captain refused and called airport security instead.
6. Drunken tourist carjacks minibus in Hong Kong for cross-town joyride
A drunken Australian tourist was arrested in Hong Kong in August 2015 after he attacked a minibus driver and took the vehicle for a joyride from Causeway Bay to the hills above Happy Valley.
He boarded a minibus parked at the rear of a queue on Lockhart Road, closing his fingers around the driver’s neck before kicking him out of the vehicle.
“I told him to take the minibus parked in the front, but he did not listen and kept shouting at me in English and repeating the F-word,” said the 64-year-old driver, surnamed Chiu.
Police officers later found the vehicle abandoned, intact except for a shattered window. They soon found the man nearby, reeking of alcohol.
7. Crying baby sparks brawl among passengers on Hong Kong flight
A brawl between four women from mainland China on a Hong Kong-bound flight over a noisy baby almost forced the plane to return to Chongqing in December 2014.
When the plane reached about 7,500 metres in altitude, two women became angry at the noise from a baby in the row behind them. They retaliated by reclining their seats as far as possible.
An argument ensued and a brawl started. It went on for a while before cabin crew stepped in, warning that the flight would return to Chongqing if they did not stop.
Pictures showed that one of the women was lifted from her seat, with her head almost hitting the overhead luggage cabinet on the Air China flight.
8. Tourist ignores ‘do not touch’ sign for selfies on 600-year-old statue
A tourist was criticised for her “uncivilised” behaviour after she took selfies while sitting on top of a 600-year-old statue outside a Ming dynasty tomb.
She apparently failed to see a warning sign next to the artefacts outside the Xiaoling tomb in Nanjing that told visitors “Do Not Touch”.
The woman spent five minutes on the statue taking selfies, running through several poses.
The tomb’s management said that it did not have enough staff on duty to supervise visiting tourists.
9. Tourists in Thailand, facing 10-hour flight delay, sing the national anthem in departure hall
Faced with a 10-hour delay, dozens of tourists from China vented their anger by singing the Chinese national anthem at an airport departure hall in Bangkok, Thailand in September 2015.
Their flight was scheduled to take off from Don Mueang International Airport at 5pm but was delayed until 3am the next day.
Cellphone video filmed of the emotional tourists singing went viral in China.
10. Unruly tourists scald Thai stewardess and threaten to blow up plane
Four unruly air passengers scalded an air hostess and threatened to blow up a plane, forcing a low-cost flight from Thailand to the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing to return to Bangkok in December 2014.
One male passenger made the threat after a row with the crew, because the group could not be seated together.
Another man later lost his temper when a crew member told him that change for his purchase - a cup of hot water - could be given only in Thai baht, not renminbi.
His companion threw hot water and noodles at the attendant, causing her to burst into tears.
11. Brawling passengers delay departure of flight for five hours
Beijing airport police detained five passengers who were involved in a brawl on a Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing to Xian in June 2016, delaying the flight nearly five hours.
Witnesses said the fight, which involved several men and a women, began when the female passenger started insulting flight attendants verbally because the flight was delayed, while others tried to stop her.
A man sitting next to her was the most severely injured. He initially tried to stop the woman but later became a target and was attacked by several other male passengers.
12. Man ignores warnings and take photos of Komodo dragons in Indonesia, gets bitten
A Singaporean man was attacked by a Komodo dragon in Indonesia, after he ignored warnings from locals and approached the creatures to take photographs.
The 67-year-old was rushed to hospital with leg injuries after being pounced on by the venomous creature.
“He was probably very excited taking pictures of the dragon, he didn’t realise another dragon was approaching him and then he was bitten,” said a local police spokesman. “Luckily it was a small dragon that bit him.”
13. Peacocks in zoo die from shock after tourists pick them up and pluck out their feathers
Tourists’ “violent behaviour” caused the death of two peacocks at a city zoo in February 2016.
The birds are believed to have died from shock after visitors picked them up to pose with them for photographs at Yunnan Zoo in Kunming.
Some even plucked out the feathers of the peacocks.
The zoo confirmed that the two birds had died. Park officials said they believed shock after being held forcefully by visitors was the cause.
14. Visitors turning China’s Qinghai Lake attraction into huge rubbish dump
Parts of China’s Qinghai Lake - a place of such outstanding natural beauty that it is one of the area’s most popular travel destinations - have been turned into huge rubbish dumps by visitors and local hotels.
A large number of visitors bring food in plastic bags and polystyrene containers, and leave them behind when they leave.
Newly provided rubbish pits quickly fill up, so rubbish is left piled up beside main roads, hostels and scene sites. Much of it blows into the lake.
5,343 people visited the lake in October 2015, up by 20 per cent compared to the previous year.
15. ‘I heard the lion roar near me’: tourists scale wall with ladders to sneak into zoo
Chinese tourists in northern China have been caught scaling walls to enter a wildlife attraction.
Visitors to the Qinling Wildlife Park in Xian in Shaanxi province save 40 yuan (US$5.80) in entrance fees by paying local residents for access to a ladder to climb over a wall into the wildlife park.
They pay 60 yuan for the ladder, while the official entrance fee is 100 yuan.
One visitor who entered the park this way showed some regret: “Listening to the lion’s roar nearby really frightened me. I really regretted climbing into the park.”
16. Tourists draw online flap after wild gull selfies given the bird
Tourists targeted migratory red-billed gulls at a park in Yunnan province in November 2015, grabbing them to take photographs.
Pictures posted online showed a man seizing one of the wild gulls by its feet as he posed for a photo at Kunming’s Cuihu Park, or Green Lake Park.
Another man at the park grabbed another gull by the feet and held it aloft as he took his photograph with it.
When other visitors tried to stop him, he said: “It’s just for a photo, it’s not to catch it.”
17. 3,300 cruise passengers stage boycott at South Korean resort amid missile shield row
About 3,300 Chinese tourists refused to leave their cruise ship at the South Korean resort island of Jeju in March 2017 in a spontaneous protest against Seoul’s decision to deploy a US anti-missile system.
About 80 tour buses and guides had to cancel their services when the tourists refused to disembark for the scheduled stop.
The local travel agency organising the stop was not notified on the passengers’ decision before arrival.
The passengers on the Costa Serena - all staff on a company trip - said the decision not to get off at the island was their own.
18. ‘Yolocaust’ tourists are shamed online over selfies at Berlin’s Holocaust memorial
Built as a solemn place of reflection, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an undulating sea of stone blocks lined up like so many coffins on a sprawling patch of central Berlin. But in the look-at-me-age of Instagram and Facebook, it has also become something else.
The perfect backdrop for a selfie.
At a place honouring the memory of the Nazis’ victims, young laughing visitors hop from block to block, searching for the best angles.
Some pose sensually atop the slabs for eye-candy shots on dating websites. One man had his picture taken between the stones while juggling.
19. Tourists cover famous Buddhist pagoda in graffiti
A pagoda built to replace an historic 1,300-year-old building in northern China has been left covered in visitors’ graffiti since reopening to the public about a decade ago.
Even the Buddhist paintings covering the walls inside Haifeng Pagoda, in Dajue Temple, in Shandong province didn’t escape the attention of tourists.
Visitors wrote all over the artwork while leaving messages to their relatives or lovers.
20. NBA star’s graffiti on China’s Great Wall draws fire on social media
NBA player Bobby Brown was criticised in China after he posted a photo of his initials and uniform number graffitied on the stones of the country’s ancient Great Wall.
“Had a blast at the Great Wall of China today,” he wrote on his Weibo microblog in October 2016, adding four photos including one with his initials and uniform number, “BB #6”, on bricks at the wall.
Many internet users slammed him for defacing China’s most famous cultural landmark.
“Are you proud of your carving? This is a part of world heritage, not the toilet of your home,” one Weibo user commented.
21. Tourists leave their mark at attractions around Shanghai Disneyland
Even before Shanghai Disneyland opened, badly behaved tourists descended on it and left their mark.
Scores of excited tourists who couldn’t wait for the theme park’s opening on June 16, 2016, visited Disney Town, located right beside the park.
A photo of a Disney Town lamp post defaced with scrawlings that read “was here travelling” went viral online.
Not all were bad - most visitors brought their own food and carried plastic bags to contain their trash.
22. Tourists raise eyebrows by singing revolutionary songs outside UN headquarters in New York
A group of Chinese tourists sparked a debate in May 2016 after they sang revolutionary songs outside the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
The group of 36 travellers from Jinan in Shandong province were among the first batch of tourists to take part in a promotion encouraging Chinese visitors to visit the United States.
The group, whose members were aged between 50 to 60, sang songs praising the accomplishments of the Communist Party and Mao Zedong in New York at the end of their 14-day tour.
“Socialism is good, socialism is good! People of socialist countries have high social status. Reactionaries are overthrown. Imperialism tucks its tail and flees,” they sang.
23. Man knocked to ground by giant panda after climbing inside zoo enclosure ‘to impress women’
A man visiting a zoo in October 2016 had a lucky escape after being grabbed and knocked to the ground by a playful giant panda.
He had allegedly climbed inside the enclosure while trying to impress two female companions.
The unnamed man was left unharmed, but his pants were torn to shreds in the incident at Nanchang Zoo, in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.
The zoo’s manager said the man was lucky that Mei Ling, the 12-year-old male giant panda, had wanted only to play with the man, or he might have been seriously hurt.
24. Tourists apologise after taking toilet seat from Japanese hotel room
Two Chinese tourists returned a toilet seat they took from a hotel in Japan, apologising for the indiscretion.
The couple took a spare toilet seat from underneath their bed after they stayed at a hotel in Nagoya in October 2016.
After the tour group left, the hotel found out about the missing seat and contacted the travel agency to demand its return.
The couple said they took it because they thought it had been left by other guests who had stayed in the same room.
25. Monks save six tourists lost on scenic mountain who tried to sneak in for free
Six tourists had to be rescued by monks in October 2016 after becoming lost in a mountain forest for four hours while trying to sneak into a scenic attraction for free.
Two monks living in a temple on Mount Wutai, in Shanxi province, were alerted by the stranded travellers’ cries for help.
The tourists had decided to avoid paying the 145 yuan (US$22) entrance fee by bypassing the ticket office and climbing up the mountain themselves.
But after setting off at 6pm, they became lost in the forest halfway up the mountain, about 20km away from the scenic spot.
26. Hundreds of tourists caught passing off as military staff to see Terracotta Army for free
Hundreds of tourists in northern China were caught using fake military documents to obtain free tickets to historical sites and museums.
Over one weekend in October 2016, Chinese army personnel stationed outside the Terracotta Army Museum in Xian, Shaanxi province, confiscated more than 200 counterfeit booklets containing certificates issued for use by soldiers, officers, army cadets and handicapped soldiers.
An adult ticket to the museum costs 150 yuan (US$22).
The officers outside the museum said they were able to identify bogus soldiers by asking them questions about things that were “common knowledge” in the military.
27. Angry couple protest on Beijing airport runway to stop plane after they arrive too late to board
An angry couple in China who knocked down airport staff after arriving too late to board their flight staged a protest on the runway to stop the aircraft from taking off.
The Shanghai-bound Air China flight was delayed for 20 minutes in September 2016 because of the protest by the unnamed couple at Beijing Capital International Airport.
They arrived at the boarding gate after it had already closed, but pushed past and knocked down several airline employees so they could run along the gangway leading to the plane.
After cabin crew refused to let them inside, the woman told ground staff that she would not leave unless they were allowed on board.
28. Visitor behaviour leads reserve to close mountain area just six days after opening
A national nature reserve in Hebei province was forced to close just six days after it opened part of the mountain to tourist groups after severe degradation of grass areas.
The managing office of Xiaowutai Mountain announced in July 2016 that some tourists had entered prohibited areas to camp and also collected wild plants.
It decided to close the entire reserve to all visitors to prevent further damage to the environment.
29. Angry young man throws away shoes of barefoot traveller hogging airport seats
An angry young man threw away the shoes of a sleeping barefoot traveller who was lying across three seats in an airport waiting area.
In a video that went viral on Chinese social media in May 2016, he said he was “angry because I saw a man lying on the seats with his shoes and socks off”.
“What will foreigners think when they see such ill manners – they will wonder about how low Chinese people’s standards are.”
The man later picks up the shoes off the floor, and throws them in the nearest rubbish bin.
30. Travellers, angry over flight delay, slap and throw food at airline employee
Passengers irritated by a flight delay were photographed beating up a member of an airline’s check-in staff in April 2016.
Capital Airlines’ flight from Beijing to Changsha was delayed because of bad weather. Several passengers then became angry and humiliated a woman working for the airline at Beijing Capital International Airport after their demand to meet an airline representative was rejected.
One angry woman threw the contents of her takeaway meal box over the employee, while a man slapped the employee’s face before shouting: “What’s wrong with beating you up?”
31. Field of tulips at flower show raided by visitors wanting ‘free’ bouquets
Dozens of attendees of a flower show in east China in April 2016 waded into a field of freshly planted tulips and yanked them out by the handful, despite signs urging people to leave the display alone.
The tulips were among 200,000 flowers planted for the annual spring expo in Jiujiang in Jiangxi province.
Signs had been posted, which read: “The tulips are only for viewing and please do not take them home.”
Despite that, visitors waded into the sea of pink, yellow and black flowers to gather bouquets, with some people ripping the flowers out by the roots.
32. Tourists accused of fishing for lobsters in protected waters of Thai national park
About 20 tourists from mainland China and Hong Kong were accused of fishing illegally for lobsters at a national park in Thailand in April 2016.
The visitors allegedly hired a boat and fished in protected waters off the coast of Phuket.
Photographs published on social media showed large amounts of seafood on a fishing boat with tourists holding up the catch.
The captain of the boat taking the tourists to the Similan Islands was arrested and the company operating the trip barred from taking other visitors to the area for a month.
33. Internet users aghast at video of tourists shovelling shrimp at buffet in Thailand
A video of tourists using their plates to shovel shrimp at a hotel buffet in Chiang Mai, Thailand, left internet users around the world reacting with horror.
Subsequent photos showed most of the food was left uneaten and wasted.
The tourists were seen jostling with each other noisily to get at the food, and walking away with several overflowing plates each.
Much of the food was left on the tables, prompting widespread criticism of the tourists’ greed.
34. Tourists pollute pond water in park by feeding cash to fish for good luck
Warm weather in March 2016 led to large crowds of people visiting the park in Jinan, Shandong province, and a number of them were seen throwing coins and bank notes into a pond full of fish.
Far from bringing good luck, their behaviour was effectively killing the fish by polluting the pond, park management said.
35. Tourists under fire for boorish behaviour during cherry blossom display
Badly behaved tourists who travelled to see cherry blossom trees in bloom at a city in eastern China were seen kicking the trees or climbing them - all for good photographs.
Some of the pictures, taken in Nanjing, were published on social media to heavy criticism online.
One picture showed a middle-aged woman who had climbed a tree wearing high heels. Another showed a man kicking a cherry blossom tree so its petals would fall loose.
36. Tourists invade drained lake at zoo to harvest fresh mussels in animals’ enclosure
The animals at the zoo in Zhengzhou, the capital of northern China’s Henan province, had not seen predators for decades, but their peaceful life ended in March 2016 with the arrival of hundreds of tourists looking for food.
As workers drained water out of the zoo’s man-made lake for maintenance and an upgrade, some sharp-eyed visitors spotted mussels at the exposed muddy bottom of the lake.
Rolling up trousers and sleeves, they jumped into the mud and were soon joined by hundreds of others.
A member of the zoo’s staff said they tried warn the tourists that the mussels might not be safe to eat, but that friendly advice was ignored.
37. Angry tourist shown threatening to kill tour guide during bus seating row
Two badly behaved travellers were captured shouting abuse at a tour guide after they allegedly became unhappy with their seats on a bus in March 2016.
A man in the three-minute video was heard threatening to kill the tour guide on the bus in the city of Sanya, in Hainan province. He also shouted: “I tell you this, I have loads of money. Go and find out what I do.”
The woman beside him later shouted to the guide that her younger son was a journalist and her older son worked at the provincial public security bureau, and they could make him lose his job.
The tour guide was heard asking them to be polite, which only led to them swearing at him even more.
38. Woman stands on airport check-in counter to complain about blizzard flight delays
A woman was photographed standing on an airline check-in counter and complaining loudly about flight delays at an airport in China in February 2016.
Airline staff and even a few passengers seemed oblivious to her antics at Zhoushuizi International Airport in Dalian, Liaoning province. Most passengers, however, looked surprised at her behaviour.
She was “expressing her discontent” after 102 flights had been cancelled and another 22 diverted to other airports due to snow and sleet, stranding a large number of travellers at the airport.
39. ‘Don’t put your feet in the wash basins,’ tourists told in Thailand
The authorities on the islands of Phi Phi in Thailand were set to put up signs in public toilets telling tourists not to clean their feet in the wash basins.
Photographs of travellers cleaning their feet in the basins have caused disquiet among local residents.
Locals regard the behaviour as a “cultural sin”, because in their tradition, feet should be washed in a separate basin from the other parts of the body.
40. Air passenger demands cabin crew open door during refuelling stop so he can smoke
A passenger on Thai flight got into a row with cabin crew when they refused to open a flight door so he could smoke during a refuelling stop in December 2015.
Orient Thai Airlines Flight 8223 left Bangkok for Phuket, but weather concerns forced the pilots to divert and land at Surat Thani Airport, about 200km north of the destination.
While the plane was refuelling, the passenger approached flight staff and demanded they open the door.
Refused, he began to “rail against the flight attendants”, a witness said. “Fortunately, some warm-hearted passengers stepped in and stopped the disaster.”
41. Professor kicked off New York-bound flight after trying to ‘self-upgrade’ his seat
A Pennsylvania State University professor was detained in December 2015 after police escorted him off an international flight because he tried to sneak into a better class of seat.
Lu Yong was aboard United Airlines Flight 87 waiting to leave for New York when he tried to “self-upgrade” from economy to business class - twice.
Flight attendants who discovered him in the wrong seat asked him to move, but he refused.
42. Child allowed to defecate in passenger cabin of airliner
The parents of a toddler let the child defecate on the floor of an airliner about to take off from an airport in eastern China in August 2015.
The mother of the child said the toilets were too small for her, the child and another relative to all get inside.
A passenger on the Shenzhen Airlines flight from Nanjing to Guangzhou said two lavatories on the plane were vacant at the time.