25 Most Common Tourist Scams in China

Safety at Beijing, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Xi’an, Yangzhou, Chengdu, Hainan
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Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

 

As the world’s largest country, China has a myriad of world class attractions to offer in Asia.

You can be enthralled by the spectacular scenery, distinctive food, unique culture, the city buzz, the countryside serenity and many more!

However, as the factory of the world, China is also home to many fakes and scams. You have fake taxis, fake products, fake restaurants and even fake bus stops!

Coupled with the Oscar worthy performances by many of these scammers, one will be hard-pressed to walk away with one’s wallet intact.

So read on to learn how to protect yourself here!

 

 

A. TOURIST ACTIVITIES

1. English practice / offer to help

real scammers

Image source: hobohop.com

 

How it works:

This is a common scam around Beijing (Wangfujing, Houhai Lake) and Shanghai (Nanjin Road, People’s Park), where a scammer, in the form of an innocent looking girl, approaches lone travellers.

She will first chat with you to establish rapport. A common opener would be “where are you from”?

No matter which country you say, she will mention that she has a friend / relative there or mention some well-known fact of your country.

Once rapport has been built, the scammer will suggest going to an event or doing an activity together. This way, she can practise her English while you get to see local sights. Win-win!

Another variation is offering to bring you around to experience local Chinese culture. Or bringing you somewhere for tea while waiting for an event / the scammers’ friend to come.

You may go to a tea ceremony, a karaoke bar, an arts gallery or even a house where they force you to play poker or some card games!

Either way you will be scammed. E.g. by drinking lousy tea / beer / buying art pieces for high prices. Try to escape, and you will find yourself some new male “friends” for company..

 

What to do:

Be on your guard should you be approached by a stranger, as most Chinese tend to keep a distance from foreigners.

Next, never let them bring you to somewhere they suggest (similar to the “would you like a drink” scam in Turkey).

For a detailed account of such an experience, check out this link.

 

2. Tourist-oriented traditional chinese medicine (TCM) clinics

Traditional chinese medicine

Image source: aeon.co

 

How it works:

Knowing that these TCM clinics are tourist oriented should set alarm bells off immediately.

Their act is highly persuasive – free foot massages are given and you see men in white lab coats posing as doctors.

They first take your pulse and then diagnose your condition by guessing common factors that have caused you to get a certain disease.

For instance, they guess you have been sleeping late nights, which is something very likely to be true for working adults.

Once trust is built, they sell you overpriced fake herbs or liquids which are useless.

 

What to do:

Only go to reputable TCM clinics, such as Tong Ren Tang, a TCM shop with centuries of history.

Or check reviews online or get recommendations from your hotel / hostel staff.

Do be wary though, as there are many Tong Ren Tang copycats which use a similar sounding name.

 

3. Tea house scam

 

How it works:

This is usually done through scam #1, where you are approached by a stranger who wants to practise her English with you and who subsequently brings you to a tea house.

Major tourist attractions such as Tiananmen Square in Beijing, People’s Square in Shanghai etc are where these crooks hunt for targets.

Tours are another common avenue, as tea houses pay good commission to them.

Anyhow, you will end up with an astronomical bill for a few cups of tea.

 

What to do:

There are many teas of inferior quality sold for a high price by shady operators. Only buy if you have done your research / or if at a reputable tea house.

If you find yourself a victim of a scam, call the police down and these crooks will refund you in no time.

We also recommend concealing your valuables with a money belt / hidden pouch, and to use a cheap, spare wallet with little cash inside to act as a decoy (i.e. showing the scammers that there is little point in exploiting you).

 

4. Arts gallery / school scam

China art gallery

Image source: angelynbryce.blogspot.com

 

How it works:

This is very similar to scam #1 and scam #5 and also found in Indonesia.

However, in this case “art students” will approach you and invite you to check out some Chinese art at their studio.

Some will claim to be dealers in rare Chinese antiques, or that this is the last day of their school’s exhibition.

Once you are there, they will use many hard sell tactics to make you buy one of their works at an inflated price. Nonsensical claims such as this being the only one in circulation will be made.

 

What to do:

Only buy at reputable shops after doing some online research or checking with your hotel / hostel staff.

Do not follow any street tout / stranger who tells you otherwise.

Again, we recommend concealing your valuables with a money belt / hidden pouch, and to use a cheap, spare wallet with little cash inside to act as a decoy (i.e. showing the scammers that there is little point in exploiting you) if caught in such a situation.

If they do not want to let you go, threaten to call the police (number at end of this article).

 

5. The massage scam

 

How it works:

This is where a Chinese lady approaches you and offers a massage. Nanjing Road in Shanghai is a hotspot for this.

Should you accept, you will be led to a secluded apartment and asked to take off your clothes. There are many different ways this can develop.

For instance, halfway through a massage, an official looking person will come in to pretend to arrest both of you. At this point, the lady would have “escaped”, and with your wallet as well.

Another variation is where the pimp enters with a gang of thugs, and demand an outrageous bill compared to the initially agreed upon price.

 

What to do:

Do not accept such offers from touts on the streets.

 

6. Fake “officials” at Mao’s Tomb at Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

 

How it works:

There are scammers who go around claiming that that you need an official passport / ID and proper shoes before you can enter, which is nonsense.

Should you believe them, they will offer to sell you some documentation or shoes for you to enter the mausoleum.

 

What to do:

Brush them off.

 

7. Fake / over priced silk / jade / jewellery / pearl

Real vs fake jade

Image source: noblejades.com/how-to-tell-if-jade-is-fake.html

 

How it works:

This is another favourite stop of tour companies to bring you to.

As the title suggests, many of these jade shops sell fake or low quality jade at inflated price. What is impressive is the salesmanship of the scammers at these jade shops.

These scammers put in Oscar worthy performances. They act as if the shop has many years of experiences and had been patronised by big personalities.

They try to make it seem as if they are on your side, by bringing you into the VIP room, giving a free gift, having a staff screw up / making a mistake in front of the guests, and the owner scolding and punishing him / her for instance, and finally offering a friendship discount!

You can find screenshots of some of the Oscar worthy performances below:

Story #1

Story 1

Image source: virtualtourist.com

Story #2

Story 2

Image source: virtualtourist.com

 

What to do:

If you wish to buy, learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, or only visit licensed, experienced dealers with a good reputation.

You can find these by doing some online research (e.g. TripAdvisor) or by asking your hotel / hostel staff.

If you find researching too time-consuming, other options available include:

  • Using local connections: get a local to bring you around.
  • Shopping tour through Klook (best platform of day tours in Asia): get a professional guide to bring you around.

Stores to avoid: De Run Jewellery at Bird Nest Stadium, Jiu Jiu Fu gemstone shop, etc.

 

8. Shoe shine scam

 

How it works:

Like in Turkey, you may find scammers either putting a drop of shoe polish on your shoes or staining your shoes with some liquid.

Before you say no, they would have then helped you clear the stain and then demand money from you.

 

What to do:

Firmly decline and stay away if you spot them.

 

9. Cheap, low quality tours

China street

China street

 

How it works:

There are some very cheap tours marketed by street touts and advertisements at bus stops, but they are cheap for a reason:

  • Their main revenue comes from the commission shops pay when they bring tourists there.
  • Guides do not speak English, or in some cases there are no guides.
  • The transportation provided is generally overcrowded / poorly maintained.
  • Guide may trick you into paying more than necessary to enter a certain attraction.

Another variation of this scam is by street touts who pass themselves off as from a legitimate tour agency.

  • These scum usually hang around tourist attractions (e.g. Forbidden City) with fake name cards.
  • Should you engage them, on the tour day, they will ask for full payment upfront and then abandon you soon after.

 

What to do:

Engage a licensed, reputable tour operator which you can find via:

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • Klook: best day tours platform in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and vehicle transfer with best price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operators: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

To determine if an operator is legitimate, ask these questions:

  • Is the operator licensed and is there a professional website, physical office, business email and working telephone number?
  • Are there online reviews? Do they sound legitimate?
  • Is the price too low to be true? What does it cover (vehicles, guides, safety, insurance, hidden fees, etc)?

When paying:

  • Avoid paying in full upfront unless through a reputable platform / operator.
  • If using an online platform, do not make payment off the platform.

Some names to avoid: Beijing Capital International Travel Agency, China Dragon Travel Company, Beijing Youth Travel Great Wall tour, National Travel Service, etc.

Legitimate tour agencies which have had their names “stolen” by street touts: China International Travel Service, etc.

 

10. Fake monks

 

How it works:

If you can find this scam around the world (e.g. Australia, Hong Kong, USA), you can definitely find them in China.

It should be patently obvious that these monks are fake when they show you a donation book.

The book details all the donations people from around the world have made in different languages. This is an effective persuasion technique (social proof) to add credibility.

Further, it adds an element of guilt should you choose not to donate to a “charitable / religious cause” having seen so many others do so.

 

What to do:

Firmly reject.

 

11. Fake tickets

Image source: arounddeglobe.com

 

How it works:

Be wary if a stranger approaches you to sell a ticket at a lower price (e.g. for the Summer Palace or some musical performance).

This is because the ticket is likely fake or an inflated price is charged for an inferior seat.

 

What to do:

Reject the offer. Only buy a ticket through these sources:

  • Direct from company / official counters.
  • Licensed retailers.
  • Your hotel / hostel if such a service is provided.
  • Day tour platforms like Klook (best in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and vehicle transfer with best price guarantee).

 

12. The place is closed

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

 

How it works:

This is an extremely common scam around the world (Sri Lanka, Morocco, etc).

In China, should you fall for this scam (e.g. scammer claiming that an attraction such as the Great Wall of China is closed), you will be led to a tea shop for a tea break.

Another variation is carried out by cab drivers or touts at public transportation hubs in Guilin and Yangshuo, who tell you that your accommodation is closed.

 

What to do:

Stick to your plan. It would also be useful to know the opening hours of the main places you are visiting.

For accommodation, never take up a driver’s / street tout’s offer. Only book through legitimate platforms such as: 

  • Agoda: leader in Asia with the best selection and rates here generally.
  • HomeStay: if you are up for gaining genuine insights of China by staying with a local host!

 

B. TRANSPORT

1. Fake bus stop / fake bus

China fake bus stop

Image source: lifestylehappens.asia

 

How it works:

In China, anything can be faked, from fast food restaurants, an Apple store, and even an entire bank!

This fake bus stop scam has been reported by tourists heading to the Badaling Great Wall of China when transiting at the Jishuitan station.

The idea is simple. Taxi drivers have created a fake bus stop by setting up a signboard or simply using a sticker showing certain bus numbers.

As time passes, the number of tourists increases as there won’t actually be any bus passing by. This creates “social proof” as other tourists will believe this is the right bus stop.

As the tourists get frustrated from waiting, the taxi drivers now come out in full force.

They claim that the bus comes only once every hour, and so persuade tourists to share taxis which will be more affordable and faster.

Another variation of this scam is for fake buses to put up fake signs.

Should you board the bus, you will either be overcharged, or sent on a shopping trip before ending up at the Great Wall of China.

 

What to do:

Do your research if you are planning your own route.

There are several articles online sharing the different routes to take to the Badaling Great Wall, such as this link.

If you prefer to save yourself the trouble, then simply go with a tour by a reputable tour operator which you can find via: 

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • Klook: best day tours platform in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and vehicle transfer with best price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operators: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

 

2. Three wheeled rickshaw drivers

 

How it works:

Just like the tuk-tuks in Thailand and Vietnam, avoid this unless you want to be scammed.

Also, don’t be fooled by their friendly demeanour! Many of them can be really friendly and charming as they are extremely experienced in dealing with / scamming tourists.

For instance, even if you have agreed a price and have paid before the trip, the driver can claim to have heard it wrongly initially. He will bring you to a secluded spot and demand a higher fee.

If you refuse to pay, you will be lost.

They are usually found at the touristy spots, such as the Forbidden City or the Beijing Workers’ Club, but really, they can be anywhere tourists frequent.

 

What to do:

Avoid engaging.

Again, we recommend concealing your valuables with a money belt / hidden pouch or an anti-theft bag so that the scammer cannot steal from you easily.

 

3. Overcharging taxis

China fake taxi

Image source: scmp.com

 

How it works:

Many unlicensed / unofficial taxi drivers camp around the airport / touristy areas ready to overcharge you.

Tricks they use include:

  • Rigged meters
  • Covering a meter that has a higher preset starting charge with a cloth
  • Installing a fake meter
  • Driving off with your luggage
  • Claiming a pre-agreed fare was for each person rather than for the total trip
  • Suddenly jacking up a price. e.g. claiming 400 yuan when 40 yuan was originally agreed upon
  • Sleight of hand swapping of bill to a counterfeit note
  • Not using the meter and using an “official” looking list of prices instead
  • In China, there are even fake taxis made from abandoned parts of old taxis decommissioned by taxi companies. All it costs is about 30,000 Yuan.

 

What to do:

To save yourself from all these trouble, simply take a licensed taxi.

  • At airports especially, head to the official line where you can see a uniform dispatcher stationed there.
  • If in Beijing, only take taxis with “B” on their license plate and always use the meter.

Other tips are to:

  • Avoid taking cabs at touristy areas. If possible, walk to a less touristy spot.
  • Take a photo of the car license plate and also of the driver’s license in case anything goes wrong.

If you wan to spare yourself from these hassle, you can also consider:

  • Booking a rental car via AutoEurope (over 60 years of industry experience, super reliable with best price guarantee).
  • Arranging private transport through your hotel / hostel.
  • Or day tour platforms like Klook (best in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and vehicle transfer with best price guarantee).

 

4. Flower girls

 

How it works:

You will find these little girls with flowers roaming around crowded public transportation hubs targeting foreign couples.

What they will do is to pass the flower to the female and then hold on tight to her leg, not letting go until you pay for the overpriced flower.

She is actually part of a gang, and will have a few more accomplices around, who may either surround and pressure you, or pick your pockets.

 

What to do:

Decline firmly and stay away.

 

C. MISCELLANEOUS

1. Pickpockets

 

How it works:

Pickpocketing happens especially around the crowded tourist spots in the big cities (e.g. People’s Square in Beijing, the Bund in Shanghai, etc) and transportation hubs.

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected phone / jewelry / valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they will surround him or her and then work like this:

  • One keeps a lookout and blocks passer-bys from seeing the scene.
  • Another blocks, pushes or distracts you (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it).
  • A third steals your valuable / slashes your bag and then passes it on.
  • The last hides the loot under a jacket / coat / newspaper and then escapes.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

Further, make it impossible for thieves to steal from you with these methods:

  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead of the actual one.
  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch, large valuables in a slash-resistant and lockable anti-theft bag.
  • Leave most valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe, secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) which covers loss of valuables.

 

2. Counterfeit Yuan / money or even Vietnamese Dong

China determine real Yuan

Image source: theworldofchinese.com

 

How it works:

There are reportedly many fake 50 and 100 yuan notes in circulation. There have also been reports of fake notes been given out by ATMs in secluded spots.

One variation to watch out for is the sleight of hand trick by rogue shopkeepers. They take your 100 yuan and swap it with a counterfeit.

If you were to pay another 100, you would have paid double effectively. There are many other sleight of hand tricks, which are common in PhilippinesMexico, etc.

Another variation of this scam is when someone claims not to have enough change. So he asks that you top up and he will pass you a 50 or 100 yuan change.

Another very creative scam is that some shopkeepers mix Vietnamese Dong with Chinese Yuan when returning change. Note: 1 Yuan = 3000+ Vietnamese Dong.

 

What to do:

Learn how a real note should look and feel like, and reject any that you think might be counterfeit. Avoid old or torn looking notes.

See if the note is smooth and crisp and when placed under a UV light, it should not glow.

Also examine the top left corner – the serial number and characters should be clear. To be safe, withdraw money only at controlled environments such as in the bank.

Finally, keep small notes to pay for small amounts. When paying, watch the shopkeeper once you pass your cash over and check your change carefully.

 

3. Restaurants / bars with tourist menus

Image source: zzoob.com

 

How it works:

Some shady restaurants and bars in China have two menus.

One before and one after your meal where they charge you extra. This is easier to pull off in bars when you get tipsy and might not remember the original prices.

Another variation is having a “local” menu and a “foreigner” menu, where prices are well jacked up.

Unfortunately, this is a common scam globally, such as in Morocco or Italy so do be wary!

 

What to do:

Only eat at reputable places / research reviews online / ask for recommendations from your hotel / hostel staff.

If researching is too much of a hassle, you can also consider joining a fun local food tour!

  • Klook: best day tours platform in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and vehicle transfer with best price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operator: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

Be wary of hidden prices, footnotes in a language different from the menu and also have a rough gauge of the cost of your meal.

 

4. Fake beggars

 

How it works:

These beggars (kids especially) on the street are part of organized gangs, similar to those in Europe (France, Spain, Italy).

Some will go as far as hounding you in restaurants, asking for food if you do not give any money.

These are some of the stories / tricks they use:

  • Claim to have been robbed, and ask if you can spare some change for them to take transport
  • Some cling onto you, and might pickpocket you if you are careless
  • Ask for a donation for some cause
  • Disabled beggars
  • Silent beggars

 

What to do:

Firmly reject and avoid.

 

5. Bar scam

Image source: Flickr – Eton Kwok

 

How it works:

This is usually led on by the first scam of the article, where someone approaches and offers to bring you around.

Either way, when you find yourself at a bar and girls are offered to sit and chat with you, get out.

Their modus operandi is to get you to buy drinks for the girls and to get as drunk as possible, while the girls drink watered down alcoholic beverages.

When you plan to exit, you will be hit with an extravagant bill.

 

What to do:

Do not head to a suggested bar together with a random stranger on the streets.

But if you do want to make new local friends, some questions to ponder:

  • Does the restaurant / bar seem legitimate (see TripAdvisor)? Are there customers?
  • Is the stranger reading from a script? Evasive about things?
  • Is he / she only bringing you to a particular restaurant or bar?

Some other tricks you can use:

  • Pretend that you have company by suggesting to go another place where you have a few friends at.
  • Ask for prices before ordering. Only drink what your waiter or you have poured.
  • Take a photo together.
  • Leave your valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe secured further with hotel safety tools.

If you fell into the trap:

Pay with a credit card but call the bank to dispute your charges immediately after leaving.

 

6. Card swipers at stores

Image source: cnet.com

 

How it works:

There have been reported cases of shops feigning card swipers as a credit card machine.

 

What to do:

Avoid paying with your credit cards, especially at secluded stores. Also, always keep your credit card in sight if you do use it for payment.

Although not directly relevant, consider using a RFID blocking wallet.

That will prevent your cards’ details from being skimmed by thieves with a mobile RFID reader / scanner.

 

7. Counterfeit items

 

How it works:

As everyone knows, China is infamous for its counterfeit products, so take extra caution before buy anything.

 

What to do:

If you don’t mind fakes, then bargain.

Else, do some online research or check with your hotel / hostel staff on where to go to buy authentic items.

 

8. The item swap

 

How it works:

Like in Hong Kong, there are shops in malls or markets which swap items after you hand over payment.

 

What to do:

Do not pay first and always check your items after receiving, especially if they have been handled or repackaged by the vendor.

 

9. Price gouging

Image source: travelzoo.com

 

How it works:

At markets where there are no official price tags, stall owners will start with an outrageous price when you enquire about the price.

 

What to do:

Bargain as much as possible, sometimes even as much as 80-90% off the price.

However be prepared to pay more just for being a foreigner.

 

D. KEY SAFETY ISSUES

This is not a fear mongering exercise, as most visits are trouble free as long as you exercise some common sense.

However, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Information below has been compiled from:

                                                     

1. Violent crime, hazards, hotspots, terrorism, civil unrest

Image source: smartraveller.gov.au

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Violent crime: rare. Be more wary of petty crime and scams.
  • Hazards: n.a.
  • Hotspots: risk of armed bandit attacks in remote areas bordering Siberia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Russia.
  • Terrorism: risk of attacks in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region by Uyghur separatists with possible links to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
  • Civil unrest: ongoing political and ethnic tensions in Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region, and Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.

 

What to do:

Stay alert, avoid secluded areas and don’t look like an easy victim (e.g. looking like a tourist / flaunting valuables).

Monitor local media in case of any threats. Avoid the danger zones and demonstrations.

 

2. Medical care

Image source: chinadaily.com.cn – VCG

 

How it works:

Good medical care in cities but not so good elsewhere. Main issue you might face is the language barrier.

Diseases to vaccinate against / watch out for include:

  • Insect borne diseases: dengue, chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, malaria, Japanese Encephalitis.
  • Food and water borne diseases: travellers’ diarrhoea, typhoid, hepatitis, schistosomiasis.
  • Animal borne diseases: avian influenza, rabies.
  • Human borne diseases: hand, foot, and mouth disease, tuberculosis, HIV.
  • Others: air pollution from congested roads and mainland factories, altitude sickness (Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, Western Sichuan).

 

What to do:

If you can’t afford travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads – our review), you can’t afford to travel, as:

  • Emergency health services can cost a bomb.
  • Insurance providers can make complex logistical arrangements to get you the best medical treatment fast.

Vaccinations to consider:

  • All travellers: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, flu shot.
  • Most travellers: Hepatitis A, typhoid
  • Some travellers: Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis (if visiting rural areas), polio (if visiting Xinjiang), rabies (outdoor activities, activities involving animals), malaria

Prevent insect bites:

  • Protective clothing
  • Insect repellents
  • Insecticide treated bed / cot nets
  • Plug-in insecticides
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass

Food safety:

  • Practise safe hygiene such as washing hands with soap
  • Only drink bottled water or water that has been boiled.
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, ice cubes, uncooked and undercooked food.

Activities:

  • Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds).

 

3. Natural disasters

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Earthquakes: major earthquakes and tsunamis can occur in China.
  • Rainy season: May to November
    • Can cause flooding in central, western and southern China, particularly areas near Yangtze River.
    • Potential landslides can make Karakoram and Khunjerab Pass routes dangerous.
    • Typhoons can occur along southern and eastern coasts can disrupt daily life.

 

What to do:

Effective preparation and prevention involves staying at the “right” place, travelling at the “right” time and getting travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) that covers natural disasters.

Check the latest media reportsweather forecasts and sources such as:

Reacting to one:

  • Earthquakes: drop (to hands and knees), cover (head and neck with arms), hold on (to sturdy furniture; expect aftershocks.

 

4. Transport safety

 

How it works:

Driving here can be difficult if you are unprepared, some factors:

  • Traffic can be chaotic with high volumes of traffic, reckless driving and pedestrians not having the right of way.
  • Rules are not consistently enforced.
  • Depending on where you are, road conditions can be poor.

Other transport concerns:

  • Public transport is safe and extensive. However, watch out for thefts.
  • The Trans-Mongolian express train is noted for smuggling so do lock your cabin.

 

What to do:

Make sure your travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) covers travel accidents.

Driving:

  • Only book via legitimate platforms (e.g. AutoEurope – over 60 years of industry experience, super reliable with best price guarantee).
  • Check latest media reports and weather forecast.
  • Stay alert, wear seatbelts, keep doors locked and windows up.

 

E. GETTING HELP

1. Emergency numbers to call

China police

Image source: sputniknews.com

 

  • Police (calling): 110
  • Police (text message): 12110
  • First-aid ambulance: 120
  • Fire: 119
  • Traffic accidents: 122

Join the community!

Get protected!

13 Comments

  1. Paul

    Does the police stand on your side in for example an obvious case double menus? Other cases? Any experiences?

    Reply
    • mac

      I have encoutered at least two,to addition to what you said some men or ladies will approach you showing you an expensive phone,forming that he pick it up then telling you to bring any amount and take it, sometimes its spiolt phone and also might be fake phone…this mostly happen in commercial city of Guangzhou

      Reply
    • Blons

      Maybe not.
      Most of the shops where the tour will bring you are claimed atleast 51% owned by the government. That was what our tour guide told us. One would think that since it’s partly government owned, prices will be regulated.Mostly in other countries, buying from factories means lower price since no transport cost is added yet. It is completely different in China. Particularly in Beijing.

      Reply
    • 亚克

      Usually, if your mandarin is poor or inexistant, it can be very difficult for you to be understood, so they can’t help you much.

      Reply
  2. blons

    It is also important to know that google doesn’t work in China. So as FB and messengers. Either install VPN or ensure you are equipt with enough infos you need before going there. If you happen to end up in a shopping trip, it is safest to decline any offer.

    Reply
  3. Rham

    I was scammed by someone selling an iPhone X he told me he cant go home because he doesn’t have any money. He showed me the receipt and original iPhone. After checking the phone its original and all stuff. Now he was trying to sell me the phone for 4,000 yuan and i told him i dont have money. Then i decided to get it for 2500 yuan. Cause i might sell it for higher price. After how many hours checking. He pressured me to hurry cause he still needs to go to hong kong. He gave me the phone in the box and gave him the cash. When i checked whats in the box. Its a fake iPhoneX. I was really sad and my trust has been broken. I have his picture.

    Reply
  4. Nobel01

    Nice blog and nice information.it is very helpful for who travels safe and not be cheated

    Reply
  5. shirish

    WOUld Taiwan have the same scams or there are any original ones for Taiwan itself ? Or for that matter Hong Kong or/and Macau.

    Reply
  6. Steve

    Regarding ‘Traditional’ Chinese medicine, why on earth you would choose it over ‘proper’ western medicine escapes me. It doesn’t work, So tourist oriented or not, its still a waste of money.

    Reply
  7. Rick Mont

    I am a Chinese American businessman in Shanghai and staying by East Nanjing Road. At night, men and women will aggressively approach me as they apparently can easily tell I am a foreigner. I do my best to blend in but these people are able to tell. Last night, I went for a foot massage (which was great) and on my way back to my hotel on Nanjing Road, I was approached by a lady who spoke good-enough English. She offered the same service as countless of others before her but since I had just experienced a good massage, I asked her how much was it for normal, non-sexual massage. That was my first mistake. She engaged me and gave me “recommendations” on where to get massages for locals. She insisted I go with her so she could show me places where I can get normal massages or sexual massages. She assured me that it was perfectly fine to just look so that I could go there tomorrow by myself. I figured, since I only had 1 credit card and 30RMB on me nothing could really go wrong. Also, I was under the impression I was going to a general area with multiple venues. This was my second mistake. So, we get on this motorcycle taxi to a tall building in a seemingly ok part of the city about 5 miles away. As soon as we got there, she walked fast in front of me to guide me inside the building and then to an upper floor. At that point, I sensed she was taking me to a sexual massage place and not the regular massage place I was looking for and I politely told her that maybe we shouldn’t waste time. But again, she insisted I just take a quick look and if I didn’t like it, she would take me to the massage place. I said ok and followed her into this open apartment with maybe 4–5 not-very happing looking prostitutes. As soon as I got in, she asked me to sit down in one of the rooms in the back so that I could meet everyone. I sat right next to her as I didn’t want to get swarmed by these women but as soon as I sat down, she left to “get water” and the mama san asked me which one I thought was pretty. I told her I wasn’t looking for sex at all and that they were all pretty. She then asked me what was my type, I said slim ones and she chose one and left me in the room with her. At that point, I was confused as to what was expected of me. The girl couldn’t speak English and she did not exactly look happy to be there either. So when the mama san came back after a minute, I asked her what was I doing there. I told her again that I had no money. She said I could “try” a little and if I like then I could come back the next day and pay 400 RMB and then left. I tried to be nice to the girl and told her that I was more sleepy than anything else and that I wasn’t a good prospect. After this, she called the mama san and they both left and told me she was going to get the scout that got me there in the first place. Then, to my surprise, two men came in the room with one man acting as the boss/bill collector and the other as muscle and shut the door close. Technically speaking, I could have taken on both of them as I am strong and skilled in fighting. However, there was no way to know who else was out there or if they had any weapons, plus I just didn’t know how bad it could get if things got violent. So, I realized that I had to oblige to everything they said to get out of the situation. The bill collector demanded money for using the room and spending time with the girl. I told him I only had 30 RMB and I had explicitly told the scout and the mama san that I had no money on me. Then he said, the services were going to cost me 29,000 RMB and that I had to find a way to pay him. I remained calmed but acted nervous, I explained to him that I had no way to get cash since I wasn’t carrying an ATM card but that he could try charging my credit card that had a limit of $3000. He then called a third person that came with a bag of point-of-sale machines and started swiping my card. After charging me 23,000 RMB, he said I would get a discount and to be careful in Shanghai. I said ok and I reminded him I had no money to get back to my hotel, so he asked someone in the front and got me 100 RMB for a taxi. I quickly left the premises escorted by the guy who came with the bag of machines and he was even talkative and friendly, he got the taxi and waved goodbye as if nothing had happened.

    As soon as I got to the hotel, I called my credit card to report the incident and to dishonor all charges. The credit card company issued me another card and I am sure the scammers will not only get a single RMB out of me. Instead, they actually lost money by giving me 100 RMB for the taxi home. I am always cautious when I travel abroad and I am glad that my cautious plan of taking only 1 credit card and some cash out worked in this case. In almost 30 years of traveling internationally, I never had an experience as bad this one and this serves as a reminder that one should NEVER trust anyone approaching you on the street, especially in China. It’s rather sad that authorities seem to turn a blind eye on this issue as there are numerous scouts on Nanjing Road approaching foreigners with the police present. I was lucky to not lose money and learn from the experience but I am sure many others are not. These practices stain the image of China and my hope is to contribute my story so that it can help others in avoiding scams.

    Reply
  8. Mike

    Thank you for sharing your story. I had almost the exact same experience except I walked back to my hotel and was looking over my shoulder constantly in fear that I was being followed. It was frightening to be trapped in the room and pressured to pay. I also considered fighting my way out but, same as you, didn’t know if they had weapons. I told them to call the police if they thought I owe them the ridiculous sum of money they’d demanded. They said they’d call the mafia to handle me. It was awful. It really soured my overall experience in China and makes me distrust everyone in this country now.

    Reply
  9. sanjib majumdar

    i want to know about one travel agency whether it is fake or not,pls let me know,the name of the site is china traveloverseastravel dot com,tks.

    Reply
  10. Daniel

    We got a moped/taxi in Beijing near Hooters on the corner by the main road. I paid the guy 100 yuan (even though we agreed 80, we were trying to be nice) and, after I’d turned away, the guy tapped me on the shoulder and showed me the note I’d given him was ripped so could he have another. I’d had a few beers, gave him another note and realised instantly I’d been scammed but didn’t know what to say. I work with cash and am pretty aware of scams and it was possibly because I’d been drinking but I thought I’d let you guys know because I didn’t see it coming 🙁

    Reply

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