Western Backpackers Funding Their Trips In South East Asia By Begging?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me a link to a piece on Malaysian media about backpackers begging for money in Kuala Lumpur. There was similar piece last week about this happening in Thailand as well.

Western Backpackers Begging In Asia

What happened to the idea of saving money in advance or working during the travels instead of setting up a begging shop?

Here’s an excerpt from Free Malaysia Today (access here):

There now seems to be “Western backpackers” who are asking for money from other tourists and Malaysians alike, to help fund their travels.

“I have seen them trying to sell postcards and photos. I think it is fine if they genuinely run out of money and need some cash to go back home, but not to fund their travels,” NST quoted a street artist, who only identified himself as Wan.

Some of these westerners were also spotted asking for money along the KL Pedestrian Walkway that connects KLCC to The Pavilion in Jalan Bukit Bintang, with various connections along the way to hotels and office buildings.

A guard who patrols the walkway said he had chased away foreigners begging in the area on several occasions.


I think that this is appalling. There are genuinely (a lot of) poor people in South East Asia that either beg or sell small stuff to get by. It is privilege for these backpackers to travel around during their gap years or on extensive holidays.

If someone runs out of cash and need some to get home, give a call to your family and hope that they help you out.

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  • karl

    An embarrassment to their parents, and their home countries.

  • Bill___A


  • Travelling Atom

    That is disgusting! I bet half of them have rich families or own property at home. If you can’t afford to travel then don’t! So utterly disrespectful to people in Asia who really have to beg.. These westerners should be put in prison!

  • kas63032@hotmail.com

    Good chance some will be reliving “Midnight Express”.

  • dave the knave

    Why is Sebastian’s complaining about every little thing in luxury hotels in SE Asia less appalling than the behavior of these beggars? At least in the case of these beggars its a personal choice to give them money. Much harder for lowly hotel staff to stand up to Sebastian’s bullying DYKWIA attitude.

  • ACmelb

    How many people are we talking about? Two or three? There are hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting Asia. This behaviour would be isolated to a handful of people. Sounds like they are making a mountain out of a molehill.

    • Aris Triprasetyo

      Not only in Malaysia. It has been common sight within Indonesia, especially Bali.

    • This has become more frequent. There is even a term for it now: “begpacker”!
      I hope it doesn’t turn into a “trend” and find it appalling – if you run out of money for some reason, you can try some work. Or get your family and friends back home to pay for the return ticket with a go-fund-me page!

    • BenniHK

      It’s not two or three overall but more than three within stone-throw area in hk nowadays!!! Yes we called them begpackers and always need to call the authority to “clean up” the place.

  • frischky

    I think this is an outgrowth of what I used to see in my teens… (25+ years ago). You had “weekend homeless kids” who would sit on the main streets and beg, party then go home to their upper-middle-class family homes and back to school during the work week.

    If I ever come across these types, I will try and buy their smartphone for $5 or something… if they REALLY need the money, they will sell it… somehow I doubt they will.

    • Paul

      Lol, but how will they post their selfies and snaps without their smartphone?

  • Dr.Florida

    Have seen it in Bangkok and Rio …. No opinion . I would be ashamed

  • Khaarl

    We have plenty here in Hong Kong, but most of them do a little something instead of just begging. Street music mostly. That’s acceptable to me. Just begging while seating here is not.
    Would be nice to avoid double standards…