Erik Cohen Typology

Which Type of Tourist Are You?


“上车睡觉, 下车尿尿.”

This rhyming refrain is used to describe the ways of package tourists: Sleep on the bus; pee off the bus. Indeed, that was what I found myself doing when travelling overseas in my teenage years. And then my family started travelling free-and-easy. What easy?!

But travelling need not be placed in such a broad dichotomy. Erik Cohen (1972) outlined 4 types of tourists long before flying became affordable. Read the descriptions and see if you belong in one!

Organized Mass Tourist

You buy “a package-tour as if it were just another commodity.” Your itinerary is “fixed in advance, and all [your] stops are well-prepared and guided.” You prefer all decisions to be made for you, and travel should provide comforts familiar to you.

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Penang Entopia Alligator
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Penang [Jul 2016]: Entopia


Entopia, the real-life alternative to Zootopia. Instead of animals, the formerly-named Penang Butterfly Farm not only sets our hearts aflutter, but also makes our stomachs churn. Butterflies merely evoke an imagined utopia to lure us into the dungeon of scorpions and tarantulas!

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Penang Georgetown Hotel Balcony

Penang [Jul 2016]: Pick Roads, Not Hotels


Accommodation. As with all compromises, temporary housing solutions are often not too pleasing, especially if they reside on the lower rungs of our travel priorities. I personally care little, as long as basic needs and cleanliness are in order. Yet following my induction into planning, I was eager to avoid the amusement I had on a certain up-lift-ing night in HK.

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Penang Hill Love
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Penang [Jul 2016]: Romance of Penang Hill


Air Itam, the site of magnificence perched on hills. It’s a fitting name even if “air” doesn’t mean 20% 0xygen, and is actually pronounced with two vowels: “AH-eh” (simplified IPA: [ɑ.e]). Better yet, it means ‘water’!

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Upside Down Museum, Penang
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Penang [Jul 2016]: Upside Down Museum


Museum. The word evokes shared silence, a state of appreciation in honour of rare artifacts and dim lights. I’ve thought of wearing slippers to museums, because the flapping feet movements will turn me into an object of constant scrutiny, like I am an exhibit of historical or artistic value.

This time round, I happened to be in my slippers. Where better than to exercise our deviant streaks than in foreign lands? After all, this “upside down” museum certainly calls for the inversion of conventions. I realized my attire was fairly appropriate. We had to leave our footwear outside anyway. But by the end, I was left wondering if “museum” is a misnomer here.

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