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Another Question for an Asian Solo Female Traveler: Does hate or discrimination exist?

Hi all,

I am a Malaysian, to be exact Chinese Malaysian. I heard some stories from friends that came back from Paris. They were being discriminated against seriously. Like being shouted at and chased away while taking photos in tourist spots whereas other "white" tourists had no such problem. They are also constantly being harassed and ignored by waiters in restaurants.

This made me worry as I am going to travel alone.

Do you think such a situation will happen in Portugal?

I have read about the kind and friendly people in Portugal but I am just a bit worried. Sorry for that. :(

Posted by
8660 posts

I am so very sorry to hear about your friends’ experience. I am even more sorry that we live in a world where you have to consider these possibilities.

Posted by
237 posts

Hi Hoon!

Sorry to say that you might face some issues. Not from portuguese people, that do not tolerate discrimination, but from all the others that will be on the touristic spots that you will probably be too. The question is not how kind and friendly portuguese are. The question is that you are going to be among other tourists, and sometimes they don't behave well. Anyway, there are always locals around, and we do not tolerate that kind behaviour. Try to stay and go where locals live and go. You will be protected then.

By the way, we are not "white".

Posted by
3803 posts

I'm sorry to say but there is racism and discrimination everywhere. Portugal is great but I can't think of anywhere that is free of incidences of discrimination or racism. I think it is somewhat idealistic to suggest that any racism or discrimination that might occur in Portugal is committed non-Portuguese people. As to being harassed and ignored by French waiters, welcome to the club.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi Helena Andrade,

haha I know Portuguese is not "white"
I am seriously very excited to go to Portugal because one of our states, Malacca in Malaysia was once controlled by the Portuguese and as such until today has some Portuguese influences. I cant wait to eat the tart, the peri peri and many more!!

I been to Paris way before Covid and I did not encounter such an incident before. I just sadden me it has escalated. But you are right, racism and discrimination are everywhere. But I guess this should not deter me from travelling.
I even encountered this in my own country.

Posted by
246 posts

I have friends that own restaurants in France. I think a lot of it comes because Chinese tourists have a different expectation of service and manners then Europeans. For example
Please Chinese tourist will often crowd, take selfish sticks and ignore other tourists in seeing areas. Also in restaurants they have a different idea of service. It's a cultural mis match that leads to this

Posted by
9 posts

Hi morvegil,

Its kinda sad for us Chinese from other countries (NOT CHINA).
My friends are Singaporean and I can say we do not behave like those from China.

Posted by
237 posts

"I think it is somewhat idealistic to suggest that any racism or discrimination that might occur in Portugal is committed non-Portuguese people."

Of course you do! Try to live here a month or two!

Posted by
237 posts


I'd just like to add that waiters (and hotel workers) are mainly portuguese, or brasilian. People from Brasil are portuguese with sugar, they are usually very kind. Of course we also have chinese (in fact, portuguese from Macau, noone remembers Malaca these days), indians (like our prime-minister, that is from Goa), or africans (like my colleague at work, she is a portuguese from Angola), etc. Everywhere you will find portuguese that don't look like europeans, because in fact we are a mix. So I believe you will feel safe and "home" here.

Or not! Your might find this a litle bit confusing! I hope, anyway, you will enjoy my country!

Posted by
7089 posts

I cannot comment about the specifics of Portugal, but Paris has unfortunately seen many events of casual and not-so-casual anti-Asian racism lately, so I am not surprised by your account.Several friends of Chinese origin who live here have had some major issues over the years... It is not quite to the point where I would advise you to avoid Paris altogether, but it is concerning.
Yet they are able to travel across Europe without hassle. I therefore expect Portugal to be better.

Posted by
9 posts

I guess a little bit of racism is unavoidable in many countries. For us traveler what we can do is just filter it all out to make the trip wonderful. thanks everyone for your insights.

Posted by
47 posts

We just spent 17 days in Portugal: Porto, Douro Valley, Lisbon, Sintra (and another 18 days in Spain after Portugal). I felt that the Prtugal people, especially people in Porto, are honest and very nice. Actually what impressed us the most in Porto was its people and I felt very safe there, I felt I was treated as an indivadul regardless my race (Chinese Canadian), sex (female) or age (senior). If you are a nice person and kind to others, you will get the same back there. Just remember to start your conversation with "Ola" and say "Obrigado" (to men) or "Obrigada" (to women), you will be fine.

Spain is a difference story, much less people there speak English (comparing to Portugal) so we felt distance, especially in Cordoba. But the surprise was in Frankfurt airport when a man tried to jump the line and was reminded not to, he then kept saying "weren't you the one brought the coronavirus?" and stopped only when my husband (a Caucasian) showed up.

Note we plan before to visit northen Europe sometime, but have decided not to go after reading this:

Have a good trip in Portugal.

Posted by
10370 posts

I have to address Emily and Al. The man's comment at the Frankfurt airport is stupid, racist, but also a typical aggressive jerk-move when people are called out for misbehaving. We had the same thing happened in France last week when a woman was called out for trying to jump our line. She, too, went on the offensive, not pulling a race card, but calling all of us a bunch of cows. Jerks get aggressive when they know they're wrong. Stereotyping is the laziest form.
As for the Twitter from the young lady: unless you know the young lady personally, what she has run up against, how she behaves, her level of integration during a time of pandemic and social upheaval, whether she knows the local language, you've decided to write off an entire country and its people based on her one tweet. Aren't you jumping to a conclusion pretty quickly, as well? We have racists crawling out of the woodwork all over the world at this moment, not just in Sweden.

Posted by
357 posts

I don't think the incident at the Frankfurt airport is on the same level as being called cows by another woman. 'Cow' is a pretty common woman to woman insult, even in my family. Not to be fear mongering here, but there have been many documented instances of Asian/Asian descent people being accused of causing the covid pandemic and sometimes having it escalate to physical violence.

I also think that the author of the tweet has a valid perspective. I saw and read the whole thread several days ago and it's not the first anecdote along the same vein by people who aren't white. I don't think Emily and Al should necessarily avoid traveling there but they also should be aware of what it can be like for some.

I think sometimes when people who aren't white (which I'm not) ask questions about the possibility of negative experiences based on race, there can be a knee-jeek reaction to explain why it could be something else, which then comes off like denial or brushing off a valid concern.

Posted by
47 posts

Thinking it back the incident at the Frankfurt airport, my position was more in the middle of the lineup, the man could have jumped the line much ahead of me, yet he chose to jump it right in my position where there were two other Asian Canadians behind me (note we didn’t know each other). It may be a coincidence, or it may be not.

Posted by
9 posts

A white lady with two adopted biracial kids once said to me, you won't know how frequently you are treated differently unless you are the object of racism. It's not easy to understand something that is so foreign to one's own experience!

Posted by
47 posts

Added (Nov 7th): Note my comment below was a response to a post by "Bets" about the incident in FRA. But "Bets" post has been removed/deleted between Nov 6th to 7th for unknown reason. The parts in " " were his/her words.


"The three of you had two characteristics he targeted: Asian and women. And an immigrant with limited English would have been a bully's trifecta."

Actually the two Asian people behind me were a M/F couple, and our English was better than the bully man, so he chose us just by our race.

"Was he North American"

I have no idea and I don't care. It was an incident happened to me at FRA, does it matter where he was from?

"I hope you gave him hell"

It was simple. I just turned my back to him and blocked his way into the line, like he didn't exist. That was the time he started yelling out "coronavirurs" repeatedly. The asian gentleman behind me said to him "we are Canadians from Canada" and decided to also ignore him afterwards. I felt shocked first, but I knew how to deal with a bully when I see one: ignore him and let him to give himself hell.

Posted by
1990 posts

I am an older woman who travels alone. I am of East European ancestry but considered white.

There is terrible discrimination against older woman who travel alone.

I went to Seattle in September to take a cruise to Alaska.

One restaurant would not seat me. The hostess sat a couple in front of me and then came back to me and told me that they were cutting off service (I do not recall what else she said)

She was Asian with a very strong foreign accent so she was possibly a newcomer.

Another restaurant was an Asian restaurant. I was seated and then ignored. I had to argue to get waited on. I finally got served but it was not very good and staff was not friendly to me. I was treated very rudely.

I believe this discrimination was because I was an older woman by myself. There are a lot of discriminations in the world.

It was very demeaning and insulting but still no one threw anything at me or yelled insults.

Restaurants are short on staff and one woman is worth a lot less than a couple or group.

I wonder if I was a man alone by myself would I have been treated the same.

Posted by
1 posts

My wife is Asian. She loves Portugal, never a problem with discrimination. You will have a great time!

Posted by
174 posts

Just a small correction: quite apart from the discrimination issue, a comment further above recommended, correctly, that it's generally useful to know at least a few polite words in Portuguese, like "Hi" and "thank you," but note that when saying "thank you," you ALWAYS say "obrigada" if you're a woman, and ALWAYS say "obrigado" if you're a man (regardless of the gender of the person you're speaking to).