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What is the story behind the numerous pictures Chinese tourists take while travelling?

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Written by: Fei Zhou, Chinese Millennial and traveller.

Not long ago, my boyfriend and I travelled to Paris during ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

Lovely Paris, a marvel for any tourist. With around 20 million visitors – despite the terror attacks – most nationalities are represented. But the Chinese presence is particularly strong. Oh yes, we are everywhere! (In case you hadn’t noticed...)


While I always take many pictures during my vacation, only then I consciously witnessed the stereotype confirmation of Eastern Asian tourists taking endless amounts of pictures while travelling. Most often, this phenomenon is connected to us, but since you might have difficulty in identifying Chinese, Korean and Japanese people, let me assure you: it’s all of them. Or us.


Being an Eastern Asian (and not just Chinese), it is somehow like an unwritten universal rule that everywhere we go or every meal we have, we capture our experiences in all their visual splendor. Because it’s fun.

Mainly our V (for victory) pose separates us from Western tourists doing more or less the same. For this type of posing, I really have no explanation. Maybe it’s caused by the infusion of Japanese culture around 20 years ago. (Now it’s the Korean culture imposing a similar effect.)


From a Chinese point of view, I think there may be multiple reasons for our photographic enthusiasm. Firstly, many say it is out of vanity. Well… hello narcissism! This is the selfie era and that is worldwide. So I will not argue this reason. People are vain everywhere.

For the Chinese in particular: our country has been changing and developing tremendously. In the last 30 years, no other country has achieved what China has. For those of us who can afford to fly thousands of miles to another continent, it is not too hard to understand that we are proud of it and we are not shy to show it to our friends and fellow countrymen: Look at us, we have yet again conquered another beautiful part of the world!


Years ago, you would only see Chinese tourists in groups, being led by a tour guide. Quite often, itineraries were so tight, the scheduled travelling was done at mind-blowing speed. These travelling pioneers hardly had opportunities to acquire a deeper understanding of the tourist destinations they visited. Therefore, taking photos were the very evidence of their footprints in other countries. Back home, this evidence would catapult them to stardom! Or at least provide a way to look back at their international experiences at a more pleasant pace.


Recent years however, have shown a decline of the ‘showing-off-part’, and of Chinese tourists travelling in tour groups, for that matter. As the Chinese economy and middle class keep growing, travelling abroad is available to many now. Travel has a deeper meaning and is not just about bragging and collecting evidence anymore. I personally believe that people simply want to share their happiness and unique individual experiences with their families and friends who have not had the chance to go that far, yet.

So when we travel, we take loads of photos and upload them to our social media. Just like you do. Say Cheese.


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