"Beg-packers" are giving Western tourists a bad name.
Begging American Backpackers
Credit: Peter Ptschelinzew/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Western backpackers are giving travelers a bad name in Southeast Asia by using unsavory tactics to fund their journeys.

According to photos circulating on social media, young Western travelers are starting to sit along roadsides in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore, offering up small trinkets in exchange for spare change to use on their vacation.

“It was the first time I’ve seen something like that and it stopped me in my tracks,” Maisarah Abu Samah of Singapore told France 24 Observers. “First of all, you don’t see many people selling knick-knacks or playing music in the street in Singapore because there are strict rules governing these activities.”

“I’ve also never seen white people doing that," she added.

The Star Online walked the streets of Bukit Bintang in Malaysia for one evening and counted seven foreigners begging or busking. “Among them, two were selling caricature drawings, one was peddling aerosol spray paintings, two were busking, and one was seen panhandling,” The Star reported.

The begging has reportedly become so prolific that locals in Thailand have dubbed the travelers “beg-packers.”

While tactless and disrespectful at best, the travelers may also be breaking the law. As the Daily Mail reported, in Singapore, only visitors with a work visa are allowed to busk on the streets.

“We find it extremely strange to ask other people for money to help you travel. Selling things in the street or begging isn't considered respectable,” Samah noted. “People who do so are really in need: they beg in order to buy food, pay their children's school fees or pay off debts. But not in order to do something seen as a luxury.”

While begging for travel money on the streets of foreign nations seems disrespectful, the act of asking for funds is nothing new. As Australia’s News.com pointed out, the rise of sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter have led to a flood of globetrotters asking friends and family to spare a few bucks so they can experience the finer things in life for free.