BANGKOK -- Four Chinese tourists in their 20s tuck into an early lunch of "pad Thai," a stir-fried noodle dish cooked with egg and shrimp, at a restaurant on Khaosan Road, a popular backpackers' hub in the Thai capital. Two of the women, sporting wide-brimmed sun hats, search for travel information on their mobile phones. They are planning a trip to Pattaya, a seaside resort south of Bangkok.
"This is our third day in Thailand; so far it is good," one of their male companions, using a Chinese-English translation app on his smartphone to speak to the Nikkei Asian Review, said of their six-day stay. He did not want to be named, but said they were all from Beijing on their first trip to Thailand. The trip was planned through online searches, mobile phone bookings and visits to Ctrip.com, a popular Chinese online travel service provider.