This study examined travel motivations of Chinese backpackers and classified Chinese backpackers according to their travel motivations and related demographics. The study identified four motivation factors driving Chinese backpacker travels: social interaction, self-actualization, destination experience and escape and relaxation. K-means cluster analysis further identified three distinct Chinese backpacker segments with different travel motivations: self-actualizers, destination experiencers and social seekers. Explanations and discussions within the background of China's ongoing tremendous social and economic transformation are also provided. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.