Kings and queens of the road

By Xu Lin ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-04-23 08:37:27

Kings and queens of the road

The Icefields Parkway, a scenic road in Alberta, Canada, attracts many road trip aficionados. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A tourist bus pulls up near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Trafalgar Square in London, or any other tourist attraction in Europe you care to name, and troop out a mass of Chinese, with cameras, selfie sticks and UnionPay cards at the ready.

These are stereotypical Chinese tourists on a stereotypical tourist jaunt, one that will have them "doing Europe" in seven days and back at work on a Monday morning, ready to regale their workmates with tales of where they stayed, what they saw and what they bought.

Now consider Li Xiaowei, aged 40, hunched over a computer in her Beijing home, admiring dazzling motor vehicles of all types, colors and models, before she chooses one of them and uploads photos of hers and her husband's driving licenses.

Li is one of a growing band of Chinese travelers who have turned their backs on package holidays in the company of strangers and embraced a way of travel that they can intimately share with their nearest and dearest.

This travel comes in several types, including renting cars and staying in hotels, renting campervans or caravans and staying in camping grounds and buying a campervan or caravan for getting around.

The key word in all of these is independence, and according to China's Outbound Road Trip Report for last year many Chinese people are renting cars online, 28 percent of those bookings coming from mobile devices.

That report was jointly published recently by the Chinese tourism information-sharing website and the Chinese website, which rents cars outside China. This is based on data related to the latter's more than 1.4 million car rentals last year.

Among Chinese making road trips overseas, Chinese tourists last year spent the longest time on average in North America, a little more than eight days, and the shortest time in Southeast Asia, a little under five days, the report says, and many of those who made these trips were accompanied by their children, partners and parents.

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