How it works:
- Very cheap tours are advertised.
- Version 1: their main revenue comes from commission shops pay when they bring tourists there – you find yourself spending more time at shops than at attractions. Also you may fall for shopping scams, as well as the typical traps such as fake jade, fake wild honey and the traditional Chinese medicine scam.
- Version 2: no guides provided or guides provided do not speak English.
- Version 3: poorly maintained transportation.
- Version 4: tricking you into paying much more than necessary to enter attractions.
- Version 5: bringing you to a less scenic spot of the place you want to see (e.g. Juyong Pass at the Great Wall instead of the Mutianyu section).
- Version 6: hidden fees which are charged on the spot (i.e. on the day of the tour) – if you do not pay, you will be abandoned.
- Anywhere (e.g. Beijing: Forbidden City; Shanghai: People’s Square; Lijiang: Old Town of Lijiang)
What to do:
- Offline operators: ask – is the operator licensed? Does it have “Travel Service” in the company’s name? Does it belong to a tourism organization with a membership number? Is there a website, office and working phone number? Are there real online reviews? What does the price cover – is it too cheap?
- Online platforms: Klook (best day tour platform in Asia) – also has some popular tours (e.g. Huangpu River, Mutianyu Great Wall, Xi’an Terracotta Army, etc).
- Paying: avoid paying in full upfront (unless reputable operator) or off the (online) platform.