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Life in Chiang Mai


Increased numbers of mainland Chinese tourists coming to Chiang Mai

Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

By Tom Long
Many-a CM Mail reader will have seen something similar to this. The other day, I was having a leisurely coffee in the stylish lobby area of a little boutique hotel in downtown Chiang Mai, when the serene peace was disrupted by the arrival of a small group of tourists arriving from Mainland China. There was an immediate streetside altercation between them and their taxi driver, with all five of them shouting and gesticulating at the poor fellow. Mind you, the taxi fare might fairly have been the cause of some dispute, since such a regrettably small proportion of the city’s few taxi drivers are honest enough to use the taxi meter.
After this alarming fracas ended, the five entered the (until-then) serene hotel lobby to check in. All three men in the party immediately lit up cigarettes, and were none too pleased when the gracious Thai receptionist politely asked them to smoke in the garden. This they declined to do - instead, loitering around the doorway, thus exposing all inside to their cigarette fumes.
The two ‘’ladies’’ in their group had meanwhile instigated a loud row with the receptionist, presumably about their room allocations. One of their menfolk entered the lobby again, still smoking, to add his own bellicose words to the dispute. Eventually, room keys were proffered and the group departed to their rooms.
With over 100 million and more outbound tourists exiting from Mainland China each year, it can come as no surprise that nearby countries, including Thailand, are going to see vastly increased numbers of tourist visitors from there, and that number is rapidly increasing. Is that a good or a bad thing, for Chiang Mai?
Of course, there are well-behaved, and the opposite, people in every country. But in the case of too many of those travelling away from Mainland China, their own government is well aware of the strongly negative impression given of their and is even contemplating guiding their outbound tourists towards better standards of international etiquette. How can you convert boorish people, by the tens of millions towards more gracious behaviour? Even the power of the Beijing government hasn’t yet found a way to achieve that objective.
Mainland Chinese tourists are famous for spending much holiday time on their key objective: that is of buying brand-name luxury fashion items overseas at much cheaper prices then they would have to pay at home. However, there’s a scarcity of Prada, Burberry and Gucci shops in Chiang Mai, so what else are they going to do here?
A visit to the Tiger Farm would likely interest them - particularly if tiger bones could be sold to them, and tiger meat made available on the menu! It is likely that few of them would be much interested in visiting local temples or museums. They might appreciate buying the many traditional herbal remedies, available cheaply at apothecary shops around Chiang Mai. And then, there’s no shortage of tea shops, overpriced though many of them are.
Those inclined to spend more might indulge in massages and other treatments at some of Chiang Mai’s many high-end spas. But the likelihood is that Chiang Mai, delightful place though we residents know it to be, holds few key attractions for tourist visitors from Mainland China.
It will be for the reader to decide if such visitors are, on the whole, welcome or otherwise in Chiang Mai. And so, dear reader, you can guess which side of the fence I come on: I fully agree with their own government’s view, that much of their countrymen’s behavior while overseas gives great cause for concern, since it gives a poor impression of their country as a whole. On the positive side, there is much room for improvement.....

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Increased numbers of mainland Chinese tourists coming to Chiang Mai