'Begpacking’ refers to the practice of tourists begging, busking or selling trinkets at their travel destinations to finance their travel. Instances of begpacking have recently caused condemnation in mainstream and social media, fuelled by the perception that begpackers come from the rich Western world to take advantage of host communities in Asia. We undertake exploratory research of this phenomenon via qualitative research with begpackers in situ, combining this with social experiments in which a researcher-begpacker simulates begpacking to seek out reactions from the host community. We use our findings to characterise and conceptualise begpackers, and to investigate the interaction between begpackers and the host community. Finally, we discuss differences in perception of the phenomenon by media, the local community and the begpackers themselves.