Knowing about tourist traps is an important part of every journey. Although some of these tips mentioned below might not be considered as bad by some, we are trying to help you with the things that might make you feel disappointed, cheated, or simply bored.
Before going in further, let’s emphasize that Chinese people are honest and helpful and the crime rate is generally lower than the Western countries. Most of it is because of the heavy penalties set by the government and you will have a safe trip to China. Most travelers to China would have no problem at all, especially the cautious ones, but as it is better to be “Safe Than Sorry” we will check the tourist scams you may encounter.
Tourist Traps about Souvenirs, Retail, & Restaurant
When entering a shop as a tourist, some shopkeepers try to overprice the item that you are interested in. It’s always better to set foot inside a shop with your guide so that you can have someone to help you with the prices. Keep in mind that this situation is mostly related to shops without price tags and you can always consult the price with your guide.
If you have set your mind on a specific product, you can ask about it from our tour guides and they will help you with the best place to buy the things you want. Bear in mind that there are some thoughts in shopkeepers’ minds as local price and tourist or foreigner price and if it seems right, always try to haggle over the price a little bit. When visiting remote locations like mountains, the food and beverages may be a bit more expensive than what you have experienced in the town or the city but that seems reasonable.
When walking down the streets, you may find some people from restaurants or shops trying to get you to eat at their restaurant or buy what they sell. These places may be fine but that’s just a probability and the reasonable action is to avoid such places and visit a place with actual customers going in and out.
If you enter a restaurant to enjoy Chinese cuisine, find out the prices before ordering the food, and to have no misunderstanding, you can write the price they tell you down or the other way. There might be some extra prices for things such as tea, tissue packs, or rice bowls but it should not be much. Always be sure about every item you ask or you may end up drinking a super expensive tea you did not know about.
When you want to take a taxi, use genuine ones that have genuine meters and always ask for a receipt you get out. Getting a receipt helps you in case you have left something in the car. If you don’t use genuine taxis they may have rigged meters that would overcharge you. They also may take you to the wrong destination or say that the price is per person and not the total price you need to pay, or in the worst case take your luggage with themselves.
When going to a massage place, take into consideration that sometimes a private room is going to cost more than you expect. So before you decide to get the service, clearly ask for the whole price. Some massages have a sexual nature and something that happens in the end, may cost you a lot more as you did not understand and if the masseur starts the job, they will charge you, so clearly ask about your massage. Although most massage parlors are honest and good for their value, be careful about private rooms because that might lead to something you did not have in mind.
Always have this in mind, that nothing is cheap without a reason. There have been offers of cheap tours that turned out to take you to souvenir outlets and pressure you to buy something. Low-quality transfer, food, and guides are other parts of such tours and also not spending enough time at the attraction site.
Pick-Pocketing and Stealing
These things usually may happen in crowded areas visited by tourists, such as walking streets, sights, markets, buses, etc. These people mostly work together and you may face more than one person and beware that if you tackle them, they might take out the knives they have to run away.
A common way of stealing is that one of the thieves might bump into you or distract you and the other would steal your valuables. Try using money belts or put your valuables in places that are out of the thieves’ reach.
Avoid carrying more valuable items than you can handle and use your hotel safe box for things you do not need. If you are going for a long bus or train ride that you may fall asleep, be prepared because professional thieves would take your things from your pockets without waking you up.
In China like many other popular travel destinations, the criminal has developed methods to take advantage of the tourists and in some cases, even the police could not be much of help and it’s better to be careful and avoid them. This kind of criminal behavior is at its most especially during holidays when the number of tourists is high and they tend to let their guards down.
Only exchange your currency inside a branch of the Bank of China or at a star-rated hotel avoid exchanging with the people on the street at all costs because this may not work the way you hope for.
Counterfeit or Wrong Change
After you have paid for an item with a banknote, always count the change back and also check if the money they return you is clean, undamaged, and genuine. If you ever felt like the money you have received does not check all the boxes, you can ask them to change it for you, don’t be shy.
Reports on this one have gone up recently. Always avoid suspicious ATMs because there have been reports of fake ATMs that would steal your information and PIN. Also, it is advised to use ATMs during the daytime and if you are traveling with other people, have them beside you. Also, keep in mind that the banknotes you receive from ATMs are trust-able and if some tell you they are counterfeit and they would change it for you, don’t fall for that.
Typical Learning English Scam
There have been some reports on this one. You may face some people telling you that they want to practice English with you and go to a café or a tea house. Then, they will disappear and you’re left with the bill.
Fallen Money on the Street
This one is a bit irregular. If you see a roll of money on the ground, don’t pick it up. Some scam artists put them on the ground and when someone picks them up, then the scam artist would approach and ask you to share the money. They usually ask for money from your wallet or purse and then you will understand that the money roll that you picked is counterfeit and doesn’t worth anything.
Like most of the countries on the planet, there are beggars in China too, especially in larger cities. Keep in mind that it’s your choice to give them money or not and in most cases, you should not feel threatened but if something happens immediately report it to the police. Have some change to give them and remember, not all beggars are telling the truth about their bad fortune.
A common story about begging is that the person asks for some cash to go back home. There are also some little girls who sell flowers. They are professional and persistent and if they get near you, it will be difficult to get away until you buy something from them. Cripples beggars in strategic locations are another way of begging through your compassion, just remember it’s your choice whether to donate them or not.