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The hit Chinese comedy film “Lost in Thailand” has resulted in large numbers of tourists from China flocking to the campus of Chiang Mai University, which was featured in the movie.
Chiang Mai University and its peaceful lakeside surroundings has become a top priority of places to visit in Thailand, and is getting up to 500 Chinese tourists per day roaming around the campus and disrupting the running of the university, according to Associate Professor Rome Chiranukrom, who is in charge of international relations at the university.
The university has announced it will start charging tourists to visit its campus after a series of strange events in recent weeks involving Chinese tourists, said a Bangkok Post report.
The behaviour includes sneaking into classrooms to take photos of teachers and students, causing car accidents, leaving a mess in the canteen, and pitching a tent near the lake and writing “we are here” in paint on the ground.
The most bizarre behaviour, however, is the practice of costume play where the tourists buy or rent school uniforms and pose for photos, a practice which is widely encouraged on Chinese travel websites, according to reports. Many of these visitors also sneak into classrooms in school uniforms and attend lessons, said Mr Rome.
But it is against university regulations for non-students to wear the uniforms – which consist of dark slacks or skirt, a white top, and a purple tie.
Under Thai laws, an offender could be fined up to US$3,076 (100,000 baht) or face a jail sentence of up to one year.
Beginning this Tuesday, the university will offer 30-minute mini-bus tours of the school charging adults $1.54 (50 baht) and children $.62 (20 baht), with guides speaking both English and Chinese.
Tourists on bicycles will be charged 50 baht for a four-hour visit or 100 baht for the whole day. Parking fees will also be charged for motorbikes, cars, and vans.
According to the university’s research on tourism, the number of Chinese tourists coming to Thailand more than doubled from 1.7 million in 2011 to 3.5 million in 2013.