While traveling in Southeast Asia, I often was told that corruption was going on here & there.

But none of the information could be double checked online.

For instance, I would get different people living & working in a given area, saying that money tourists pay to get in the nearby national park mostly goes in the pocket of corrupted officials.

I would like to both:

  • Post a question whether other locals/travelers/tourists/expats heard or knew about this. And if yes, how could they back up this info
  • Report what I was told (in my question)

Is this something "on topic" for travel.stackexchange.com?

I appreciate your feedback.

I believe this is an extremely important topic where travelers/tourists could help improve situations, or at least bring light to very unfair situations. Report what is going on in very isolated places where locals are very "unempowered".

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    My gut feeling is that practical questions about dealing with corruption as a traveler (e.g. "how do I deal with a police checkpoint in Country X? Do I offer to pay a "fine" on the spot if stopped? How much do I pay?) would be on-topic here, as they provide actionable advice to someone traveling, while broader questions about behind-the-scenes corruption in the government are more in the nature of a political discussion and would be off-topic. At some point, the question about where the money goes, while an important one in the name of justice, has very little to do with travel anymore. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 19:04
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    @ZachLipton Your comment should be an answer :)
    – Adriano
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 9:25

4 Answers 4


The key point that decides whether a question is on-topic or not is typically whether it affects travellers. ‘Corruption’ is a broad topic that can be split into two, still very broad sub-topics:

  • the corruption that occurs directly between the traveller and somebody with minimal power they actually deal with when travelling

  • the more clandestine corruption in the system that does not directly affect the traveller.

By the way I phrased this, it should already be clear that the first bullet point is on-topic while the second bullet point is not. It should be easy to spot which questions belong to which bullet point.


No, what you're proposing would not be appropriate as a question here. We're a question and answer site, not a notice board on which to raise issues and not a clearing house for rumours.

Questions should be about "actual problems that you face". Whether or not other people have heard about corruption in south-east Asia is not an actual problem that you face; rather, it is a survey about how well- or badly-informed people are about an issue.

Questions about what travel-related corruption exists in specific areas, how that affects travellers and what to do about it would be on-topic. However, they would need to be more specific than "in south-east Asia", which is a large area spanning multiple countries.


I'd also agree with "no" vote. Notably, regarding your questions:

  • Post a question whether other locals/travelers/tourists/expats heard or knew about this. And if yes, how could they back up this info

  • Report what I was told (in my question)

This is certainly more about investigative journalism, as you'd be getting some rumors and digging through them. When posted in public forum, those tend to generate heated and heavy discussions. You can also expect different people to view the same issues differently - Westerns, at least in my experience, for some reasons seem to be much more judgmental to anything which doesn't exactly match Western way of life. I seen some of those discussions in various forums, and they are almost always worthless in terms of producing anything but rants. And this is probably as far away from travel topics as possible


The key question is whether the question resolves around a point that is something that would matter to someone doing travel. (That is, would someone alter their plans or change their actions if they knew the answer.)

There's a whole subsection of the tourist industry called "Ethical Tourism" - For many people it isn't simply enough to drop into a country, gawk at the locals, and fly out without thinking about how you, a foreign interloper, have affected the place you visited. Instead, people want to make sure that they aren't exploiting the locals (and the local environment) by their actions - or even to make sure that their visit has improved the place they're visiting.

So I disagree with an assertion that questions about "where the money goes" would be off topic, categorically, or that "behind the scenes" corruption that the traveler isn't directly participating is off topic.

General questions like "Is there corruption that affects the locals?" probably wouldn't be on topic, as it's about the locals and not travelers, but questions like "I hear there's a lot of corruption: is the entry fee to this national park going toward conservation efforts, like they say, or is it mostly lining the pockets of local bureaucrats?" would be.

The key difference is that the answer to the latter would (potentially) change your actions as a tourist. If the national park fees go to corruption rather than conservation, you may decide to go to a private game reserve which does devote their money to conservation. Or you may decide that you'll skip the park (or the trip) altogether, rather than support a system with corruption.

TL;DR: Asking if corruption exists, in a general fashion, is likely off-topic, but asking a question about how corruption affects a traveler is on topic - even if it's just a moral consideration.

  • Right on man. Right on..!
    – Adriano
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 17:51
  • I don't really see how the question about "where the entry fee/visa fee/exit tax goes to" is a travel topic at all. You might ask whether it is ethical for you as a tourist to visit country X, which would be a valid question (but then you'd have to define "ethical" - apparently even some "ethical tourists" have no issues buying stuff made in Myanmar, even though they're against visiting Myanmar - so even this is not clear.
    – George Y.
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 0:20
  • @GeorgeY. "you'd have to define "ethical"" -- Exactly! That's why questions on where the money goes is on topic. You ask where the money goes, people give an honest answer, and then from the answers you decide for yourself if paying for it is ethical under your personal standards. -- "Is this ethical?" is an unanswerable question - it's "too broad"/"unclear what you're asking". You have to ask particulars. e.g. "I'm concerned about ethical tourism. I'm concerned what effect my money will have on the locals. If I pay for X, am I supporting conservation or the local warlords?"
    – R.M.
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 16:08
  • "You ask where the money goes, people give an honest answer" - I wonder how many people here reliably know where the money goes to make the answer valuable?
    – George Y.
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 21:31

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