The Chinese are travelling more to Europe. They have now surpassed the Russians, the Americans and the Japanese as the biggest spending tourists from outside the EU. While most of the bus tours stick to the classic sightseeing spots, The Economist explains in an enjoyable article that the new Chinese trend is to visit places that Westerners do not usually think of as typical sightseeing destinations, such as birthplaces of famous people (from Beethoven to Karl Marx), headquarters of globally renowned institutions (especially for brand clothes, but also Cambridge University or the EU Commission in Brussels), world-renowned wine-producing chateaux from the Bordeaux region, or places made famous in China thanks to TV series.

Britain is oddly left off by Chinese tourists. One probable explanation is that the UK is not a Schengen-area member, which means that China nationals must apply for a separate visa than the rest of the EU - a lot of hassle and paperwork, especially for a 1 or 2 week trip. The Economist explains that when Switzerland joined the Schengen visa zone in 2008 the number of Chinese tourists instantly soared.

The Chinese are not yet the new Japanese. Although both do spend a lot of money on shopping, with a taste for brands, it is surprising that the Chinese do not share their eastern neighbours' interest for foreign cuisine. While eating local specialities, and indeed shopping for food stuffs, is on top of almost every Japanese tourist's list, a survey found that half of the Chinese visiting European preferred to stick to Chinese food, and 10% never ate anything else than Chinese dishes while travelling abroad.

Chinese tourists are often criticised for their loudness and poor manners, so that the Chinese government has had to issue circulars to remind its citizens not to jump queues or haggle on fixed prices when travelling to Europe.