Scams in China – What’s Common and How to Avoid Them
After living in China for well over 7 years, I’ve experienced first hand or heard from friends just about every scam out there. They exist everywhere, so be ready to face some interesting ones on your trip to China as well. My wife is from China and having many friends there, they hate when these things happen to both Chinese citizens and tourists as it completely takes away from such a rich experience!
I have listed here some of the commonly experienced scams in China so you can avoid them when a scammer approaches you.
Scams in China: Tea House or Practice English
Unfortunately this happens all too often, often with young tourists looking to meet new local friends.
The ‘tea house’ or ‘practice English’ scam is a very long-running and popular scam of the country and is practiced almost everywhere in the country. A scammer practicing this scam will approach you and engage you in a conversation. After a little while, that person will ask you to practice English, try a Chinese tea or go for karaoke in a restaurant nearby.
On reaching that restaurant, that person will excuse herself for using the restroom and soon, you’ll be presented with a huge bill. That person won’t return and you’ll be obliged to pay the bill.
To make sure that you don’t fall into this trap, you need to stay on a lookout for any attractive people, especially girls who might seem interested in talking to you. Your scammers could also be a friendly couple, or a group of young people. If you are approached by such people, you should politely refuse to talk to them and take another way. Even if you do talk to them, never go to any place with them.
Scams in China: Black Taxi Scams
Of all the scales in China, this one, I believe, happens the most.
Illegal taxis referred to as ‘black taxis’ are widespread in the country. They are mostly found around tourist spots and the airports in Beijing. If you sit in a black taxi, you will be at the mercy of the driver. The taxi driver could use a fake meter to produce a huge taxi fare based on wrong rates.
Besides that, the driver could drop you off at a random destination after collecting the fare from you; or he could drive off with your luggage after you get out of the taxi.
To protect yourself from this scam, you need to wait for a taxi by using the official queue for taxis at the airport. Moreover, always grab the taxi that has a license plate starting with ‘京 B.’ if a taxi driver approaches you, then either ask him to leave or tell him you have already booked a taxi.
Counterfeit Money Scam
This scam is practiced all across the country. There are many counterfeit notes in circulation and the tourists visiting the country are easily fooled by these bills. To make sure you are not offered a counterfeit bill, you should properly inspect all the notes given to you when you get change from a store or pay any bill (be sure to read my post about currency in China). Take care of the Y100 and Y50 bills and if a note feels slippery, thin or has a wrong watermark, you should reject it. If the person providing you with that note doesn’t take it back, then cancel the transaction.
Cheap Tour Scams
Tour scams are often practiced near the tourist spots like the ‘Great Wall of China.’ The scammers practicing will lure you into traveling on a cheap bus and will make you believe that you’ll get the best tour of your life. You will be charged way more than the actual worth of the tour. However, in reality, the tour will be extremely cheap and you won’t be shown the major tourist attractions.
To keep these scammers at bay, you need to avoid impulsively jumping on any tourist bus or paying for any tour without examining its details in depth. Moreover, ask several questions from your tour guide to ensure you are not being scammed. Another good tip is to select a tour organized by the hotel you are staying in.
I’m also collecting a list of top tour guides in China that I’ve personally used and would recommend.
Because language barrier can be such a problem, you have this problem, I have this problem. I went out and spent a full day researching it to find our solution. I found this, and so far I have to tell you, it’s working pretty well. Here’s the link so you can check it out for yourself: learn the Chinese Language with Rocket Chinese
Unfortunately, scams in China do exist and it’s for a variety of reasons that I’ll be writing about in other posts. But remember, you’re there for fun! Enjoy the ancient country, amazing sites and awesome food!