When traveling to any foreign country, there is always a risk of running into a tourist scam. To prepare for a trip to China, it's important to be aware of the biggest scams you might run into and how you can avoid them to make your China travels much smoother and more enjoyable!
Take a look at a few of the biggest China Tourist Scams below.
While there are variations on this scam. It might look like this:
A Chinese person, most likely a young girl, will start talking to you and gain your trust. She might ask for help practicing her English or want to show you something. Many foreigners are excited to have the chance to meet a local Chinese person and want to spend more time talking together. The Chinese person will lead you to sample some tea or unexpectedly take you to a shop, where you might be left with a huge bill.
At this point, the Chinese person you met may have disappeared, and the store owner will not let you leave until you pay.
This is one of the most popular scams in China and will happen most often in the touristy parts of a city, especially Beijing and Shanghai. Solo male travellers are often targeted.
There are a lot of counterfeit bills in China. It is very easy for people to give you a bill that looks real but is very fake. Taxi drivers might take your bill and tell you it's not real, but then give you a different bill back which is actually fake.
This could happen anywhere in China. Taxi's and shops are the places this is most likely to happen.
Illegal taxis (黑车 = literally “black car”) will often overcharge foreigners. They are not always black cars, but they usually are. They will have a red light but will not have a proper taxi sign. Sometimes, they'll have a fake meter to overcharge you, and they might drop you off then try to drive away with your luggage.
Note: In bigger cities a lot of taxi drivers might be inexperienced. Cities like Beijing are also constantly changing, so the g. So, try to assess if they really know the destination and don't assume straight away that they're scamming you (they might just be lost). The government cracked down on these taxis during the 2008 Olympics but still, there are still some out there.
Mostly around any airport and tourist hot spots.
When you're at the train station or airport, make sure you go to the official taxi line and check that the driver will use the meter.
You can also learn how to use the Didi app in China to order a taxi that you can trust! Learn how to here.
You might get lured onto a cheap tour. Someone will round you up onto a bus that will stop at many shops where they will get a commission. Unfortunately if you are far from the city you will have to endure these stops if you have no other way of going back.
Various place (especially Great Wall Tours in Beijing).
Many rickshaws will offer foreigners a ride and agree on one price, and then later say you didn't understand and charge you more.
Usually in tourist areas or smaller neighborhoods where there are not many taxis, especially in Beijing.
A bar or restaurant that serves drinks will overcharge you at the end of the night. Many places try to fool foreigners because they think foreigners will not check the price at the end or think they will be too drunk to notice.
Any bar or restaurant – usually cheap places.
Keep track of how many drinks you've had and check prices of everything before ordering.
Monks will come up to you on the street asking for a donation, they may even have some sort of donation book. Temples do not send monks on solo journeys for donations. This is not a common scam but it can still happen.
Around temple areas.
Be careful where you park your bike or scooter when near a mall or subway. It is usual to be asked to pay a parking fee, but sometimes after you walk away for a few hours or days, your bike or batteries may be stolen.
It is also common for some places to hold your passport as a deposit, but be careful because someone may follow you after you take the bike and steal it back from you. Then they won't give you your passport back until you pay to replace the bike.
Anywhere you can park up, mainly in busy areas in the city.
If you're going to travel to China or even wanting to move here, it's important to be knowledgeable of potential scams.
Don't let the idea of Tourist Scams worry you too much though! China is an amazing place to visit and a fantastic place to work. As long as you take some precautions and remain aware and smart while you are here, you'll have a great trip.
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