Plan your Beijing tour? Most foreign travelers feel very safe when traveling in Beijing. But that doesn’t mean you should lower your vigilance on possible travel scams in Beijing. While you are expecting your trip to Beijing, please note the top 10 tourist traps which may happen.
Scam #1 Avoid KTV bars
Whether you enter on your own or taken by a Chinese “friend.”, in most cases you are in for a trap! It is a karaoke place. You enter the room to sing a few songs and have a few beers. Suddenly girls appear and want to drink with you. Then suddenly a cart appears with lots of snacks and beer.
The snacks are NOT free and they are expensive–but more on that later. The girl wants a brandy and you say okay. You will end up paying huge amount of money! Just avoid KTV!
Scam # 02: Tea Scam
At some heavy tourist areas (like Tiananmen Square), you will be approached by one or three attractive females or gentlemen, who are willing to have a natural and nice talk with you or even give you a free tour of hutong in a polite way. She or he will talk about the interesting things in Beijing, or talk about the culture or history of your home country and even world affairs!
Then if everything goes smoothly, then invite you to a traditional Chinese teashop or ceremony. The whole ceremony proceed then at the end of the ceremony your “friends” will ask you to pick out some favorite teas. So the scam start when it comes time to pay the bill, and it can again run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Simply don’t go for it!
To make the tea scam more natural, they protend to be very friendly. They even don’t suggest you pay the whole amount. It is to be split between you and your “friends”. So you wil see them pay their part. It is a scam!
It happens in central part of Beijing mainly, esp. in Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the surroundings.
Scam # 03: “Art Student” Scam
Also at some big tourist destinations, some young people, disguised as ” art student’”, will approach you. They offer you a free tour of a art show. Thus begins the “Art Student” scam.
Actually they will take you to an art shop selling all kinds of “art” stuff. This is just a waste of time. You can easily find these art pieces on the market. They sell the same “art” at higher prces. Simply say bye bye to them.
It happens mainly in historical sites, and public transport hubs. They are good actors(actresses) indeed. To us Chinese people they say they are out job-hunting and is penniless; to overseas travelers they say they are art students. Many of them are very properly dressed.
Scam # 04: Rickshaw Scam
Some first-time oversea or even domestic travelers visiting Beijing fall into the traps of some seemingly “humble rickshaw drivers”. For example, let’s say, you and a rickshaw driver agree on a price of RMB 40 for a pedicap ride. It will turn out to be RMB400!. The trick is that your rickshaw driver will pretend to be ignorant and he will pull out a laminated price list and say it is 400 yuan instead of 40 yuan. Better take a taxi than a pedicap.
1) Rickshaw Scam at the North Gate of Forbbiden City
There are two entrances to the Forbidden City – the south gate ( Meridian Gate – Wumen) and north gate( Gate of Divine – Shenwu Men). The south gate is linked to Tiananmen Square to the south. You have to enter Forbidden City from its south gate and exit from its northern gate, which is officially set as a one-way south to north travel route.
Make sure you are taken by your taxi to the south entrance of Forbidden City (better yet, take the subway line 1 – its very nice and very cheap!). Don’t ever take a Rickshaw at the north gate of Forbidden City unless you feel like getting lost and extorted.
So if you visit Forbidden City by getting to a wrong gate (north gate), don’t use a local rickshaw to get back to the south gate, just walk to the right gate (south gate). For the same reason, if you exit from the north gate after visiting Forbidden City, don’t use a rickshaw for your next place.
2) Rickshaw scams also occur at the entrance to the “Legend of Jinsha” which is performed at the Beijing Workers’ Club in Beijing.
3) Rickshaw scams possible at any places in Beijing
Rickshaw scams could occure at any other places in Beijing. Be Vigilant!
Scam #05: “Black” Taxis
When arriving at the airport, keep away from the taxi drivers who approach you in the terminal or outside the terminal as they will charge you much more than the actual price. Just following the sign pointing to the taxi line just outside the terminal. Taxi drivers should use their meter; make sure that the driver puts down the flag.
Taking a taxi from the airport to the downtown Beijing costs just over RMB 100 plus RMB 5 toll fee. Beijing legitimate taxi license plates will begin with the “Beijing B” otherwise it is possibly a black taxi!
After paying a legal taxi, you will get a legal computerized receipt in which you can find the taxi company’s phone number while a black driver only offers you a hand-written receipt with which you will never find him! A black driver would charge you RMB 400 – RMB 500 for the airport downtown drive! Normally a taxi ride from the airport to the downtown of Beijing costs you around RMB 120.
Black cars could be found around the subway stations, shopping malls, and also aound some major tourist attractions such as Summer Palace, Forbiden City and Wangfujing Street and Beijing Railway Station as well.
By the way, your taxi driver may pull out a very official looking list of all hotels and official airport price. Never belive so-called so-called official taxi-rate list of all hotels and official airport price. Never such a taxi-rate list!
It seems that there is a new kind of scam in Beijing when it comes down to the taxi’s. Taxi drivers are asking their passengers to get out of the car and help to push it / close the trunk. When the passengers are outside, the drivers takes of with all their belongings.
Badaling Great Wall is one of the five popular sections of the Great Wall around Beijing. The other four are Juyongguan Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall, Jinshanling Great Wall and Simatai Great Wall. Badaling Great Wall is the most visited section of the Great Wall of China. Opened to the public in 1957, it is the most well-preserved section of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It has a spectacular view, firm, magnificent, well preserved and leading to the all directions, hence the name of “Badaling”.
But along the Badaling Expressway between Juyongguan Great Wall and Badaling Great Wall is located another section of the Great Wall – Badaling Shuiguan Great Wall (Shuiguan or Water Pass Great Wall). The Shuiguan Great Wall is a short restored section which is created in an effort to reduce the tourist volume and overcrowding at Badaling Great Wall.
It’s not the best choice for your first trip to the Great Wall in Beijing. Some of the “black” tour buses use “Badaling Shuiguan Great Wall” to replace Badaling Great Wall covertly since the former is much cheaper than the latter.
Plan the itinerary yourself, NEVER RELY ON UNKNOWN TRAVEL AGENCIES FOR GREAT WALL TOUR. P.S. Badaling is always over-crowded. Two good option are visiting MuTianYu Great Wall or Shixiaguan Great Wall.
If you join a local group tour or bus tour visiting Badaling Great Wall, you are very often arranged to visit Ming Tombs on the way. When we say “visit Ming Tombs”, it is quite misleading. Actually there are 13 Ming Tombs, but only 3 of the 13 Ming Tombs are open to the public – Dingling (underground palace), Changling and Zhaoling.
Of the three, only Dingling has been excavated with its underground palace open to the public. Zhaoling is not so worth visiting as Dingling and Changling. If it is your first time to visit Ming Tomsbs, you are advised to visit either Dingling or Changling.
But it is a pity that some of the local tour travel agencies only organize day trips to Zhaoling in the name of ”Ming Tombs” instead of Dingling or Changling simply due to the fact that the entrance fee to Zhaoling is cheaper plus few tourists know the difference among the tombs.
The cheapest way of going to Badaling Great Wall is to take the Bus 877 at Deshengmen using Beijing public bus service. To get to the Bus 877, you are advised to take the subway Line 2 and get off at Jishuitan Stop (积水潭）. Then you walk all the way to Deshengmen（德胜门）, which is a whole block east of the Jishuitan Subway Stop Exit A. Be sure to get the correct Bus 877 to Badaling.
Kindly reminder: there will be allegedly “official tourist information volunteers” with red badges on, who will try to drive tourists to get on their minibuses with all sorts of excuses to lure you on. Just don’t go for it. Otherwise, you will be on a nightmare trip.
Just a kindly reminder: you may find advertisements on bus stops reading one-day travel to the Great wall with a telephone number–that’s totally a scam and the Bus Company is having a hard time removing it.
Scam # 09: “Black Tour Bus”
In Beijing, there are some illegal tour buses offering day tours to the Great Wall. You will have a terrible trip once you get on it. To promote their illegal tours, these sales people hand out business cards to passing-by travelers at some big destinations like Tiananmen Square, the entrance of Forbidden City…
Very often they use their “unbelievable low price” to attract those “blind” tourists.
But once you come aboard their bus for the Great Wall, they have to make you pay additional fees again and again. You are kindly advised not to take their card if you happen to meet them. Most of the black tour buses don’t offer English speaking tour guide service. You are suggested to use the slightly more expensive yet reliable Beijing Bus Tours through your hotels or local tour operators.
Scam # 10: “Illegal Tour Guide“
In China, to be a licensed tour guide, you must pass a national tour guide certificate examination sponsored by our China National Tourism Administation. In addition, to be a legal tour guide, you have to register at a travel agency. After your registration, you will get a tour guide IC card ( or tour guide offcial permit ) from the local tourism administration. Tour guides are requested to hang their IC card around their necks when they escort touists. Black tour guides have neither IC card nor travel plans from a travel agency.
They touch the tourists directly by using some low-cost sales channels like web forums, online chatting, phone calls, direct encounter at some scenic areas. Some trendy black tour guides also make a simple travel website and contact the internet travellers directly! You are kindly advised not to use their services even though their service charges are much lower maybe.
Just a kindly reminder: When communicating with strangers on travel is: if something is too good to be true, then it is problematic; and if someone is too amiable and hospitable within the initial 15 minutes of your conversation, avoid’em wisely. An extra rule: always beware. better keep your money in your pocket than being regarded indifferent.
To put yourself in the hands of a black tour guide is dangerous!
For more information on tour guide, please visit Beijing tour guide.
Scam # 11：Fake helpers/officials around Mao’s Tomb at Tiananmen Square
When you line up for entering Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, you will probably meet some fake helpers or officials who are trying to “grab” some money from you. To avoid being cheated, please read the following travel tips:
The admission to Mausoleum of Mao Zedong is free. No neend for passport ID check and no need for buying shoes to replace your sandals (though not encouraged). As with most mausoleums, strict rules are enforced for visitors. No bags and cameras are allowed inside the hall. One locker is located 500m to the east of the mausoleum. The deposit is not free ( yes, a little strange)! The charges on deposit locker listed as below:
1. Storage charge for cameras
One-time cameral: CNY2
Normal camera: CNY3
Long lens camera, Laptop, Video camera
2. Storage charge for bags
Less than 20 cm: CNY2
20cm – 30cm: CNY3
30cm – 40cm: CNY4
40cm – 50cm: CNY5
50cm – 60cm: CNY6
60cm – 70cm: CNY7
70cm – 80cm: CNY8
80cm – 100cm: CNY10
Scam # 12: Pickpockets
Pickpockets, like croaches, die hard. The thieves in Beijing are no exception like every large city in the world. The most endangered places are public bus lines, subways, airport, popular tourist spots and shopping centers as well. These crowded places are where pickpockets often cruise around. If things from you are stolen by thieves , or you have pickpocket clues, you are encouraged to call the anti-pickpocket hotline 110 or 64011327.
If you find you are not in the good position to call the hotline in case you will be endangered, you are kindly reminded to send a text message to the anti-pickpoket hotline mobile – 13911991234. They will be on the spot within 20 minutes. For more information on pickpockets, pease visit Pickpockets in Beijing.
Just a kindly reminder: But if you left something unnoticed for a long time in public places you probably won’t recover them. Sometimes they are taken away by cleaners and guards but you just don’t know where to find them if you can’t speak Chinese.
Scam # 13: Child Beggars
85% beggars in Beijing are professional beggars, only 15% are really poor men. In professional begging, using a child for panhandling is quite popular. It is said professional beggars are the members of a kind of beggars’organization, a large, complicated organism. Just avoid those child beggars. If you give money to child beggars, you may have the risk of getting a swarm of them.
Any questions, just drop a line.