1 in 3 Chinese Tourist Packs Instant Ramen When Traveling…What Snack Do You Pack?

This week is “Golden Week,” the 7-day holiday around October 1, which is China’s National Day. Golden Week was implemented in year 2000, and is one of the busiest travel seasons for mainland Chinese tourists. This week, a whopping 589 million Chinese citizens will be traveling in mainland China, with another 6 million going abroad. This translates into about US$70 billion in tourism-related income, which is mind blowing.

1 in 3 Chinese tourist packs their own instant ramen when traveling (Photo by Xinhua)

1 in 3 Chinese tourist packs their own instant ramen when traveling (Photo by Xinhua)

According to Xinhua Net (article in Chinese), 31% of Chinese tourist pack instant ramen noodles when traveling. Another 58% of tourists might not pack them, but will buy them once they are at their destination. The numbers came from a recent study by AliTrip, Alibaba’s travel booking website. That is a mind-boggling high percentage—basically 1 in 3 Chinese tourist pack their own ramen, and more than half would buy it after they’ve arrived.

Here is a picture that went viral in Hong Kong last year, where a few Chinese “aunties” were eating their own ramen noodles in front of a Gucci store in Florence, Italy.

Chinese "aunties" eating instant ramens in front of a Gucci store in Florence, Italy

Chinese “aunties” eating instant ramens in front of a Gucci store in Florence, Italy

Chinese tourists tend to give off a stereotype of being avid shoppers and photo-takers. In 2014, only only 5% of Chinese citizens hold a passport, so one can assume that only those who are higher on the social ladder can afford to travel. An episode of Aljazeera’s 101 East supports this hypothesis. So why are Chinese tourists so obsessed with instant ramen noodles? The same AliTrip study revealed the top there reasons:

  1. They are not used to local food
  2. It saves them time from an otherwise busy itinerary
  3. Noodles are cheap

To be honest, I can kind of relate to all of those reasons. Growing up in Hong Kong largely affected the kind of food I enjoy; I almost always have to eat a hot meal, even for breakfast. When traveling in Europe, it’s not uncommon to see hotels offering only continental breakfast, and I sometimes find myself yearning for something more substantial. I’m all for experiencing local cultures, but I have to admit sometimes a cup of instant noodles just hits the spot.

On a side note, I think that also helps explain why Cathay Pacific’s Noodle Bar in their lounges have been so popular. It’s the same reason I am grateful for airport lounges that offer instant noodles among an otherwise all-cold food spread.

Instant noodles at the Lufthansa Senator Lounge in Washington Dulles (IAD)

Instant noodles at the Lufthansa Senator Lounge in Washington Dulles (IAD)

Are you surprised by these numbers? Do you have a go-to snack that you always pack for your trip?

Comments

  1. Haha what an awesome post!! I’m Chinese and I do it, born and raised in the US. I like the convenience of it. It helps to save some money that I could otherwise use to sight see or shop. It’s also quick to eat and allows me to get going and exploring faster if the hotel I’m staying at doesn’t offer breakfast. Another thing is, I grew up eating Asian food and there’s only so much European/American food I can eat before I start craving for something familiar.

  2. I travel with a variety of Lance crackers in the six pack vending machine package and crystal light individual envelopes. That can ward off a “want to eat NOW” feeling in a pinch, and lemonade make a bottle of water seem like a treat.

    • I’m a pack rat when it comes to traveĺing. I normally have trail mix, cashews, dried fruit and beef jerky in my carryon. I always have food in my purse too.

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