The return of the begpacker sparks online debate

PHOTO: A begpacker in Pattaya has sparked an online debate. (via Pattaya News)

While the Covid-19 pandemic brought tourism to a screeching halt in Thailand much to the detriment of millions of people’s livelihood and the country’s economy, one thing that the majority of people did not seem to miss has now reared its ugly head again. Social media erupted over the return of the much-maligned begpacker trend as photos of one in Pattaya have created heated debate.

Photos posted to social media of a foreign tourist sitting on Pattaya Beach Road with a sign offering to sell beads to pay for his round-the-world trip have fueled controversy over the pre-Covid trend of travellers from First World countries attempting to see the world without proper savings to do so.

The photos were taken last night near Mike’s Shopping Mall along Pattaya Beach, and they showed a long-haired foreign man sitting on the ground offering beads for sale for 1 baht each as well as selling necklaces. He also had signs written in Thai and English asking for support to help him pay for his travel around the world.

Some argue begpacking is a legitimate way for someone to travel, seeing no harm in someone asking for voluntary donations or purchases. They say no one is forced to buy anything or give them any money and that a begpacker usually keeps to themselves. It is an argument that tourism shouldn’t be only for the rich.

Others take strong offence to a begpacker asking other people to pay for their holiday when no one should travel without insurance and enough funds to survive. They are quick to point out that it is often against the law for foreigners to busk, beg or sell goods without a license or proper visa or work permit. And perhaps kindhearted donations are going to tourists on holidays, taking them away from local citizens in need of food or shelter.

Of all the types of tourists to dry up during the global pandemic, the begpacker may be the one to elicit the most wishes of “good riddance.” With complex Covid travel restrictions and increased prices to travel during the pandemic, a begpacker become a rare sight. But the photos shared online suggest that as tourism trickles back to Thailand, so inevitably will the begpackers.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

Pattaya NewsTourism News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

Related Articles