How it works:
- Version 1: you may encounter street touts who pass themselves off as from a reputable tour agency with fake name cards. Generally, they will tempt you by offering really cheap offers or deals. Should you engage, they will ask for full payment upfront and then disappear.
- Version 2: there are also some who pass themselves off as a branch of a reputable tour operator when the real situation is that they merely paid a fee to use the operator's name.
- Version 3: besides fake agencies, watch out for cheap, low quality agencies and operators as well.
Places to beware:
- Anywhere (e.g. Beijing: Forbidden City; Shanghai: People’s Square; Lijiang: Old Town of Lijiang; Shenzhen)
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.