Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing

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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.

The remark below is quoted from Percy from USA:
Thank you for having this site. As a traveler and student of human nature, I appreciate the scam warnings and the comments. I am a native New Yorker, and I feel it important to remind people that scams are not only in China.

Anywhere around the world where there are larger groups of humans, there will be more opportunities for scams. It seems the way of the Universe that these will be filled. You should always be aware, do research and remember that if it seems off, or too good, it is probably a scam. This is true in China, the U.S., or any other place where humans exist.”

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, Wangfujing Street…),  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.

For more information on taxi, please visit Beijing Taxi.

Scam # 6: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 ranges from CNY 2 to 10.

Scam #07:  Scams Occurring Around Tiananmen and Forbidden City
The area around Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City is a favorite hangout for scammers.  Below is a trip trip by a scam victim named  Akalan:

In fact this was my 4th trip to China, but first trip to Beijing. Many a times many people, usually young ladies chatted with me and they helped me a lot. Even on the same day morning I went to the Great Wall and a young girl with good English walked with me. All those I met earlier were genuine people who just wanted to help a visitor to their country. Most of the time they did not even allow me to pay a bill, ticket price or taxi fare.

With that sort of experience, I had no suspicion on this woman. Still my priority was to get into the Forbidden city ASAP, as it was passed 3pm and I knew that the ticket sales would stop at 4 pm. This lady said that she would show me the “East gate” where I can enter without a long queue. Yes, there was a queue of people at the main entrance.

I simply followed her advice and she walked with me to “show” the entrance. On the way she said she is from Xi’An (a city I visited 1 month ago) and we had quite a good conversation on history, culture and languages. She also explained some history of the area.

She said her friends from another province are there and they will meet her in 10 min. If I can wait 10 min, they also can join me to go inside the Forbidden city. While waiting for them, she suggested me to sit some where and have a tea or fruit juice. In fact after walking and climbing whole morning in Great Wall area, I was thirsty and wanted to sit and stretch my legs. So I agreed.

I tried to sit on some chairs laid outside, but she suggested to go inside – less noisy, less dust and air conditioned! I picked a Chinese tea and the scam began!

You know the rest. Yes, she split the bill, still I lost a few hundred! Worst thing was that she took me to a gate, assuring that I could enter from there, but obviously there were no ticket counters. I had to get to an electric car. The driver charged 20, instead of 2, as he sensed my urgency!

He actually did not take me to the ticket counters, instead, he stopped somewhere and a woman approached me. She was telling me that the ticket counters are closed and she would sell a ticket to me for 100 ! I did not want to let some one rip me off for 3rd time, within 15 min. Finally when I found the ticket counters, they were closed! So I missed the Forbidden City!

Scam #08: Avoid Itinerant Tour Companies at Street
AVOID TOURISM COMPANIES, the ones who talk to you at street, promising a great price to go meet Great Wall (for example), they will make you pay more inside the bus, will take you to the worse section of the Great Wall, and prepare yourself for a long day stopping at market places, really awful experience.

If you want sightseeing, get an legal one, from important sites.

Scam #09: Cheating Rampant at North Gate to Forbidden City 
There are two main gates 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 north gate, which is officially set as a one-way south to north travel route.

So don’t try to go to the North Gate to Forbidden City.  The North Gate now only serves an exit gate.  If you get to a wrong gate ( the north gate ),  just walk along the streets circling Forbbiden City and move on to the south gate. In this case, you are not encouraged to use a rickshaw or a 3-wheel motorcycle taxi at the north gate of Forbidden City.  Some  of the rickshaw and 3-wheel motorcycle taxi drivers are just disgusting swindlers.  Avoid Them!  Below is the account by Bill of the victim at the North Gate to Forbidden City.

I was a victim of two scams in the same day! The first was with a 3-wheel motorcycle taxi at the north gate of the forbidden city. I was offered a ride to the south gate for 3 Yuan. The taxi drove through a maze of narrow alleys and he stopped at an isolated spot. Then he demanded 300 Yuan, about $48.

The second incident was the tea shop routine. A nice couple invited me to a local place near Tiananmen square. I told them about the taxi incident and they sounded shocked and empathetic! We were given snacks (2 Yuan per bag in the store), some high quality tea, orange juice, and about 1-2 ounces of wine. The bill was 1200 Yuan plus 100 for the tip. He paid half (money probably borrowed from the owner), but I was still squeezed for over $100.

The next day, near the same square, a woman began a nice friendly conversation with me and tried to do the same thing. The good-bye was very quick

Any questions, just drop a line.

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133 Responses to “Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing”

  1. Elaine says:

    I had a great time in China and only fell victim to the “Art scam” at the summer palace. But this wasn’t so much a scam as a rouse. I bought an oil painting for $60 – a reasonably fair price and I still have the ‘art’. And I wasn’t pressured at all so that was all me. None of the other scams happened to me and I think that’s because I was with a tour group. There are downsides to traveling in tour groups but the upside was that our guide took great care of us. With his warnings and guidance (and apparently much needed protection) we had a great time. I also helped some *genuine* students (a class of 13-year-olds) practice their English at a historic site. And these sweet kids just talked with us for 10 minutes or so-they didn’t ask us to go anywhere or try to sell us anything. I left with a very favorable impression of Chinese people :)

  2. James P. says:

    I’ve been compiling a list of all of the travel scams in Asia, and the fake ticket booth isn’t just limited to Mao’s tomb…I’ve seen it at the Batu Caves, and in places at Siem Reap.

  3. R Man says:

    Hi need help !! I just travel beijing during Chinese New Year having bad experience tourist agent bring us to place selling jade which most likely all fake as now still waiting for result to prove whether issit fake! and all of us bout 20 PAx seems like kinda scam almost s$10k and I back to my country now issit anyway to call china consumer to file a complain get back our. money ?thank so much ..

  4. Daniel says:

    Hello R Man,

    Happy Chinese New Year!

    1. First of all, you may contact your travel agent to get your money back by returning your jade items.

    2. If your travel agent refuses to help you fix the problem, you may turn to the orgnaizations concerned to get your money back.

    In my opinion, the first method is fast and simple and the second method would be long and a bit complicated.

    You may contact China National Tourism Administration for assistance and its contact information as below:

    Complaint Telephone Numbers
    Institute to Receive Complain of China Tourism:
    Tourism Quality Supervision Management Institute of National Tourism Administration
    Working time: 8:30-12:00 14:30-17:00
    Voice Tel: (010)65275315
    ADD:A9 Jianguomennei Avenue, Beijing
    Postal Code: 100740

  5. Jo says:

    Just want to say thanks for putting up this website. Wish I had read up on this before my visit! I would have saved myself some $$.

  6. Daniel says:

    Hello Jo,

    Thanks! Life is just a process of experience. Never too late to learn. Be happy with our life.

  7. Rich says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Really Thanks for post this. It is just great information for tourist. I had been scammed (happily not much), but I realize is not uncommon, so I feel not so stupid :-P. As you say, is never too late to learn.

  8. Daniel says:

    Hello Rich,

    Much delighted this post is of some practical use to Beijing visitors. Enjoy your Beijing trip!

  9. steve says:

    enhanced scam no 2: tea scam

    i met group of three chinese men in their 30ties at tia anmen square claiming they are working for IBM in Shanghai and visiting Beijing due to conference. but today they have day off and have time for sight seeing. they will tell you to go different way as you planned, forbidenn city is closed, open at 3pm..etc and that they want to go there but later, they even did not mention the tea and walk with you chatt, good conversation, taking pctures and then they ask for business card, email, nobady has pen so lets go for a beer. as only you and one from these three scamers are drinking beer other two ordered tea but of course invite to taste and it goes so on…will also tell ypu that in chu=ina is usal to drink red wine when making friends…so be c arefull

  10. Stephen says:

    I met these same men in Tienamen Square, identical story. I later thought that if I took my camera out and began to snap their picture, they would have gone away. They are very friendly and engaging. They gave much information and spent two and a half hours with me. I did not have much money so they got only a little. What they did not know was that I would have bought drinks and paid them to talk, for what they got, there was no need to cheat. They only made 10 dollars an hour each for the time they spent, jokes on them. They probably make more most of the time, they got very aggressive. My question: if this site knows about them why do not the police take care of it, clearly the people on the street knew what was happening and the shop is in collusion.

  11. Mug says:

    Wish I’d read this before
    Heavily caught with the taxi scam with some official looking people at the airport; went out for a walk and got the artist scam but really don’t like Chinese art and it looked fairly crap – which it obviously is – so didn’t buy. Then got the karaoke bar scam this evening – alarm bells ringing in my head but ignored because I believe in the basic goodness of human nature. That cost me 400 yuan to extract myself from.
    The ‘artist’ and the karaoke girls were so charming and convincing that I have difficulty believing they were the scamsters that they obviously were.
    So I’ve been here for a little over 12 hours and am probably £100+ down as a result
    I will still believe in the goodness of human nature but will check for each new city I visit the scams I can expect.
    Like everyone else I just feel so stupid at being taken in!
    And I see that Snickers Bar in the shop across the street are 50yuan – bet that’s not what you pay if you’re not a gullible foreigner

  12. Roddy says:

    Thank you so much, I am heading out there in June.
    cheers,
    Roddy.

  13. Akalan says:

    I wish I read this page 1 week earlier! I was a victim to the “Tea House” scam. The scammer, a lady was very clever. I came to the Tiananmen area and was going to buy the ticket to enter the forbidden city. A lady who was walking besides me casually said “Hello” and started a chat while walking.
    In fact this was my 4th trip to China, but first trip to Beijing. Many a times many people, usually young ladies chatted with me and they helped me a lot. Even on the same day morning I went to the Great Wall and a young girl with good English walked with me. All those I met earlier were genuine people who just wanted to help a visitor to their country. Most of the time they did not even allow me to pay a bill, ticket price or taxi fare.

    With that sort of experience, I had no suspicion on this woman. Still my priority was to get into the Forbidden city ASAP, as it was passed 3pm and I knew that the ticket sales would stop at 4 pm. This lady said that she would show me the “East gate” where I can enter without a long queue. Yes, there was a queue of people at the main entrance.
    I simply followed her advice and she walked with me to “show” the entrance. On the way she said she is from Xi’An (a city I visited 1 month ago) and we had quite a good conversation on history, culture and languages. She also explained some history of the area.
    She said her friends from another province are there and they will meet them in 10 min. If I can wait 10 min, they also can join me to go inside the Forbidden city. While waiting for them, she suggested me to sit somewhere and have a tea or fruit juice. In fact after walking and climbing whole morning in Great Wall area, I was thirsty and wanted to sit and stretch my legs. So I agreed.
    I tried to sit on some chairs laid outside, but she suggested to go inside – less noisy, less dust and air conditioned!
    I picked a Chinese tea and the scam began! You know the rest. Yes, she split the bill, still I lost a few hundred! Worst thing was that she took me to a gate, assuring that I could enter from there, but obviously there were no ticket counters. I had to get to an electric car. The driver charged 20, instead of 2, as he sensed my urgency!
    He actually did not take me to the ticket counters, instead, he stopped somewhere and a woman approached me. She was telling me that the ticket counters are closed and she would sell a ticket to me for 100 ! I did not want to let some one rip me off for 3rd time, within 15 min. Finally when I found the ticket counters, they were closed! So I missed the Forbidden City!

  14. maia says:

    thank you for this site. it really helps a lot eventhough im just planning to go to Beijing next year. im still in the process of doing my own research for my DIY travel to Beijing. And im glad ive come up to this site.

  15. Bill says:

    I was a victim of two scams in the same day! The first was with a 3-wheel motorcycle taxi at the north gate of the forbidden city. I was offered a ride to the south gate for 3 Yuan. The taxi drove through a maze of narrow alleys and he stopped at an isolated spot. Then he demanded 300 Yuan, about $48.
    The second incident was the tea shop routine. A nice couple invited me to a local place near Tiananmen square. I told them about the taxi incident and they sounded shocked and empathetic! We were given snacks (2 Yuan per bag in the store), some high quality tea, orange juice, and about 1-2 ounces of wine. The bill was 1200 Yuan plus 100 for the tip. He paid half (money probably borrowed from the owner), but I was still squeezed for over $100. The next day, near the same square, a woman began a nice friendly conversation with me and tried to do the same thing. The good-bye was very quick.

  16. Diane says:

    I wished we had read this before we went to Beijing. Never again will we ever travel to China or buy anything that supports China in the U.S.

    A miserable country with greedy, cheating people. Went to the taxi line and asked for a state taxi-should have been 80 to the hotel. Instead he pushed us towards the black cab. The driver yanked our bags from our hands and threw them in the trunk.

    As soon as we got in we asked him how much. He just took off-got outside the airport and pulled over to the side of the road and demanded that we pay him 550 cash right then.

    We asked him to take us back to the airport and he refused, basically holding us hostage. I believe if we got off he would have taken off with the bags and of course neither of us wanted to be left alone with him. Needless to say, we were forced to pay up. It flavored our whole trip to Beijing and I will share our story wide and far so others do not get cheated as we were.

    There are too many other places to see in the world that aren’t affected by gender, human, and animals rights issues. Yes they do treat animals extremely cruelly…eating cat and dog (companion animals) and torturing them terribly. Just check out the internet.

  17. Benson says:

    Want to go from port of Tianjin to hotel in Beijing and am being told $185 each way ( spending the night) is the a shared ride or cheaper taxi. Thanks

  18. Daniel says:

    Hello Benson,

    As far as I know, the market price for the one way private transfer between hotel in Beijing and Tianjin Port is approx.USD 185 per car ( a standard Chinese car ( for two person with two large pieces of suitcases). If you have extra large suitcases, you’d better off reserving a van which costs about USD 250.

    If you feel the price is above your budget, you may take the highspeed train from Beijing South Railway Station to Tanggu Railway Station where you take a local taxi going to Tianjin Cruise Port. If you go in this way ( train + taxi ), you need to take care of your suitcases all the way.

    Have a smooth transfer!

  19. Percy says:

    Thank you for having this site. As a traveler and student of human nature, I appreciate the scam warnings and the comments. I am a native New Yorker, and I feel it important to remind people that scams are not only in China. Anywhere around the world where there are larger groups of humans, there will be more opportunities for scams. It seems the way of the Universe that these will be filled. You should always be aware, do research and remember that if it seems off, or too good, it is probably a scam. This is true in China, the U.S., or any other place where humans exist.

  20. Daniel says:

    Hello Percy,

    Much appreciated! We’ve quoted your remark in the beginning of the Top 10 Scams in Beijing. Thanks again!

  21. John says:

    So I was in Tianamen Square and was approached by a man offering a tour of the forbidden city, he said he would take me to see all the important parts and give me the history. Well we agreed on a price of 50 rmb and he was actually very knowledgeable and took me to some places that I definitely wouldn’t have gone on my own. At the end he showed me how to take the subway back and didn’t change the price.

    Anyway he said he can do a Great Wall tour for 250kuai which included the train tickets. He seems very genuine and warned me to watch out for the tea scams, pedicabs, and black taxis. My question being do you think it would be safe to do the Great Wall tour with him. He said he only goes straight to the wall and doesn’t stop at any BS shops or anything…surely there are some tour guides in Beijing that do legitimate business like this right?

  22. Daniel says:

    Hello John,

    He may be a good guy, who only wants to make some money covertly without paying any taxes. But his way of doing business is definitely illegal. Your transaction with him is not protected by the rule of law in China. It is a private trade between you and him. You do it only based on your wish that he is a good man, not a swindler. But we should not put our safety in the hands of “wish” though sometimes some of the guys do offer very good service.

    You are better off contacting a legitimate travel agency if you need guiding service, especially when you travel in a foreign country. Legality and safety are the most important factors when we travel abroad.

    What I say above is just for your reference. You have the final say to choose your mode of travel in Beijing. Have a good time in Beijing!

  23. Norman Millar says:

    It is easy to visit several locations of the Great Wall using local buses and no guide, no hassles. A great place to go is Shanhaiguan where the start of the Wall rises out of the Yellow Sea. On one lovely section at Jiumenkou there were only about 6 other tourists and they were Chinese! You can get a high speed train (2-3 hrs) from main station across from Tiananmen Sq.
    We also experienced the tea scam. We paid $200 but returned later, made a fuss, took lots of photos of price lists etc. and refused to leave. They got an interpreter and eventually we got most of our money back.
    Next day we took a rickshaw from north entrance of Forbidden City, having agreed to 3 Yuan!! They tried to disorient us by taking an obscure route stopping 10 min. short of the destination then produced the “official” price list demanding 300Y. I handed them the 3Y. They wouldn’t take it so I threw it on the ground and we quickly walked away learning a few Chinese swear words from the 2 angry drivers as we never looked back. I had actually intended to give them more for their effort than the tiny price we agreed upon.
    Wish I had read this blog before our trip but still love Beijing.

  24. Kriz says:

    Wish I had researched this before my trip to Beijing!! As I was leaving the Forbidden City a lady started chatting with me, seemed nice enough then suggested we grab a cup of tea. Went into a small “hole-in-the-wall” type place and my host ordered tea for both us. Looking back she was drinking quite fast, and before I knew it she had reorder a pot of tea for the both of us, as well as a glass of wine each.

    After our 3rd pot of tea and another glass of wine, the bill came out and as I would expect to split the bill, my share came out as just over AU$400!!! I argued and still ended paying $200, but hopefully I will be able to put a complaint through my bank to have the money refunded.

    I should have looked at the menu prior to ordering, she naturally ordered the most expensive things on the menu!! My lesson has definitely been learnt.

  25. Zetuga says:

    I was scammed in july2014, near the forbiden city

    I took a rickshaw that agreed to take me to wangfuging with 4 yuans
    at some point in the middle of the chaotic traffic he made me jump to another rickshaw, a friend of his, wich i did, i was loving the ride. 1 minute later this guys starts going throug small alleys in those “hutungs”. Even at this point i was not aware something wrong was going on, and i thought it was maybe a shortcut to wangfuging( the place i told them i wanted to go).

    All of a sudden, he stops the bike, no one nearby except a big guy that when the bike stopped, came out of a house that seemed to be friend to the driver… he started asking for 400 yuan.. i said price was 4!!! i had just arrived in beijing a couple of hours before!!! i had hundreds of euros and yuans, passport smartphone, and at that point i felt threatened!!! i did not want to pay but also did not want to lose hundreds of euros and my passport in the first day! they both were yelling at me and starting to approach to much like they were going to check for my pockets. No one was nearby i felt really threatened and had no idea were i was. I just started sprinting and getting away as fast as i could.thos alleys looked like a maze, i ran trhough them almost for 1km and luckily went the right corners and no dead ends. then came to a busy street and still went on to run because i was a bit scared.. Eventually i got to the hotel , it was a nice adventure and i did not payed them even 1 yuan, so i was happy :)

  26. Blue Peter says:

    So my first visit to China and I thought I’d see some of the usual tourist sites. I worked out how to get to the forbidden city via the Subway – which by the way I found very easy and quick.

    On arriving and taking a picture for an American lady with her two children I was approached by a Young Lady who spoke good English and wished to have a conversation to improve her English so she asked if I wanted a coffee with her.

    Well my first thoughts were it wasn’t going to be a coffee shop but she seemed genuine enough and I tend to think I am a shrewd judge of character if it was anything else I could just walk away.

    We went into a small building which had a number of private rooms with a table some chairs a tea pot and cups. the lady asked for the menu and was extremely shrewd in asking me to order which tea I wanted.

    I ordered a pot of Jasmine tea for two and she added a plate of small nibbles which were like sweets. As another person has mentioned she drank very quickly and soon ordered another pot of tea.

    As the conversation had dried up and I wanted to get on to see the Forbidden City I asked for the bill and it then only hit me what had been going on as the bill came to 830 Yuan (about £80).

    I actually thought how clever they had been as I tried to work out what to do, the lady offered half the bill and even though I hadn’t read about this scam previously as soon as this young girl offered to pay over 400 Yuan I knew it was a scam.

    So what to do, I had the Tea and a few of the sweets so I felt obliged to pay something and that something was what I felt it was worth so I placed 50 Yuan on the table stood up and said that if the owner wasn’t happy he could call the police as I knew exactly what had happened. I promptly walked out leaving the girl saying she couldn’t pay the rest.

    I’m sure she was ok as it was all part of the act and this was verified later as I saw her with her “friend” at the North Gate, she still wouldn’t admit to it being a scam but at least it hadn’t cost me a lot.

    Needless to say I was hit on for pretty much all the other scams as well but was having none of it. It is a shame that it is so rife but Europeans and Americans make easy targets as we stand out so much, particularly if you are 6′ 3″ tall like I am.

    My advise, just be strong in your rejections and do what you have gone for and don’t let anything detract you away from that.

  27. Boba says:

    First scam was like deposit in hotel – 1200 Yen. After 2 days I payed 900 YEN and refunded deposit. But, the deposit was payed in my credit card. Was too late because I checked my card in other city. I was very nervous. I was stopped to trust in this people.

    The taxi driver told with me for 50 yen for about 10 km and I sad OK. When I come to the destination he told me 500 yen. I was nervous. There was no one around and I’ve broken him face and I payed nothing. He started to cry and I’ve took his car keys and I threw them in the shaft. And went.

  28. Daniel says:

    Dear Boba,

    That notorious driver has got what he should get.

    As for the deposit in hotel, don’t get nervous. I’ve also had the same experiences for quite a few times with the hotels. Basically they only ask your credit card banks for authorization for a sum of money as a deposit while you check in, not the actual charge from your banks. Life is still beautiful though we have to be vigilant against possible tourist scams which may happen in each tourist destination.

  29. Cho says:

    Wished I read all these Beijing scams ahead of my trip. Was scammed by the pedicab today. Rmb3 became rmb600. The same modus operandi of dropping me n father off in an alley. we got on a pedicab with the intention to get from the forbidden city back end to the front end. At first it was 1 driver then came another driver claiming we are overweight (we are thin size) and need 2 pedicabs so I was separated from my father. It was really scary because a third man turn up and cornered me (a female) with my elderly father. I screamed and shouted loudly and insist I would pay if I see the forbidden city. The men turned aggresive and almost wanted to snatch my bag.
    We walked very fast through the maze and finally reached main road and screamed very loudly all the way. The men vanished.
    Don’t waste time visit Beijing. The scam really stressed us out.
    We have travelled to hangzhou, guangzhou, yiwu, chaozhou, Shanghai on our own many times and never experience scam before. My advice is.. Save the trip and just watch some travel documentary from home. It’s not worth risking your life in Beijing.

  30. Tee says:

    First time in Beijing, just had the ‘tea scam’ on Wangfujing but for us the offer was beer. I smelled a rat as soon as she asked, but then she turned very nasty and started shouting abuse at my wife whilst walking away (knowing we were onto her). Actually almost as bad is that we immediately walked to a police van to ask “can you help us?” but was told flatly “no”. Really disappointed as we could have helped catch her. Any advice on who can help in these situations would be good as it seems regular police don’t care!
    Most Chinese we have met are lovely, but the scammers are horrible. Take care everyone.

  31. Si says:

    Yes same thing happened to me. Have been abroad backpacking about 4 years out of the last 17. Never been scammed before except the odd small overcharging or driving in a circle by taxi drivers. Often saved my friends from being scammed many times, or got us out of scam situations.

    So I’m about to go into the Forbidden City when a girl starts talking to me. Very nice and very friendly and suggests we go for a coffee. My scam meter immediately goes off and I say “no I’m going to go into the Forbidden City now. I’ve not enough time to see things otherwise”. She says “It’s too busy for me now, too many tourists at this time. I’ve been before. Maybe we go for coffee then come back later”.

    I say “ok lets meet later, I’ll give you my Chinese number” (without any intention of meeting later).

    She then changes her mind and actually pays to go with me into the Forbidden City. At this stage I think maybe I’ve misjudged – someone scamming is unlikely to pay to go into the attraction. I wondered if she was actually “interested” or maybe just very nice and friendly. Not that I was looking for pussy – I’m gay! She said before she was from Shenzhen and visiting friends in Beijing. This made some sense – Shenzhen is one of the wealthiest parts of the country and she looked like she had money.

    So we go in and she is rushing through a bit, but we are getting on well.

    She takes a few pictures for me, but says she doesn’t like being photographed (scam meter twitches a tiny little bit).

    As we leave she says which way you want to go, so I say this way (choosing the way we go my scam meter goes down again) and it is also the direction I want to go for the next attraction we’re viewing.

    She says “do you want to go for drink here”, so I say “yes ok sure”. We sit inside and I make sure I view the menu – it is very expensive. I think – maybe this is the scam. I order the cheapest tea. She suggests we try another and I say ok. I think ok – maybe I’ll pay 150 Yuan altogether here, but that is not too much. What I did not realize is the price I saw was for a cup of tea, not a pot of tea – I assumed (maybe stupidly) that price was for the pot, given how tiny the cups were. We also ordered a glass of wine each – obviously at her suggestion “In China people make friends by sharing a glass of wine each”. I got the cheapest (despite the protests that French wine ,much better). I think ok – 250 (£25, $40) Yuan total for 2 pots of tea and 2 glasses of wine – very expensive, but I can cope with that.

    Then the bill came through 910 Yuan (about £91 or $150). I say no way! At this stage I see I’ve definitely been scammed. I say ok lets split it “in China gentleman pays”, so I say, “but I’m English, not Chinese”. She ends up paying 300 (although I noticed 100 was HK dollars – as if a normal place would accept this!). So I was scammed 600 altogether (about £60, $100).

    I noticed there was a big MasterCard symbol on the wall which seemed out of place with such a small place and in China. Obviously so anyone that says they haven’t the cash will pay by card anyway. We both walked out after – me feeling properly pissed off, but a tiny bit wondering was I definitely definitely scammed? Of course I was – no doubt she’ll head straight back to the restaurant after going on the subway to collect her prize. I’m angry with myself for being so polite about it all. It’s hard to get so mad with a small girl who has been friendly to you for the past 2 hours.

    Moral of the story – always trust your first instincts. I’ve been to about 40 countries and made friends everywhere. Yet here none. The interactions I’ve been were with people I’ve been doing business with and guest house owners (who both had to be friendly anyway). Any with others (not related to service/business) have been cold, rude or like vultures, trying to sell some crap to me or liberate me away from money. Part of the reason I fell for this scam is I wanted to believe there was actually a nice Chinese person in China who actually had a soul and wanted to be friends and was not only out for their own self interest.

    I would not encourage any Westerner to come here. People are cold, unfriendly and their only interest is money. I thought it was anti-foreigner and although I think they are, I’ve seen plenty of examples of them being arseholes to each other also. Smiles and fun are few and far between here. The best friend the people have here is their mobile phones. Strangers mean less than nothing.

    It has the most heavy surveillance place of anywhere I’ve been. Passport for train travel, flashing cameras all over the roads recording transport, no Facebook or Google (my business email is hosted by Google, so this has really screwed me over), no Western TV channels. Although there are Facebook/Google/TV channels in expensive hotels (clearly the rich here are satisfied and will not uprise, so only the masses need oppressing). All proxy sites are also blocked, so there really is little way around this wall.

    I was already pissed with the place before I got scammed and this has made it even worse. Visiting the Great Wall tomorrow – it better be good! Visiting a part with not too many Chinese people which is a bonus! It’s a shame anyone reading this will probably only be reading it after the event. The scammers are quite sophisticated here.

    For anyone reading this before and visiting South East Asia/East Asia – go to where the beautiful people are – go to Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines and many others – friendly places, fun, value for money. Do not come here – all the major sites are swarming with tourists, so there’s little pleasure to be had. They could have beauty, but are ruined. Over touristic sites and very unfriendly selfish and greedy people (what is wrong with you Chinese people in China?). With this combination, what is the point?!

    Don’t like to generalize but I am anyway – been to every continent. This is by far the worst place I’ve been. Not necessarily in terms of things to see, but definitely in terms of people.

    I hate this place! Rant over – LOL.

    (Just read some of the other comments – maybe I will go back tomorrow, take photos and kick up a fuss and get some money back). Wish I’d paid on card so I could do a chargeback.

  32. Daniel says:

    Hi Si,

    Hopefully you’ve had a good time on the Wall with not too many local tourists. Thanks for your valuable time sharing your story with us. These notorious tea suckers die hard. If I were in Beijing, I would definitely invite you to have a drink at a bar in Houhai. Take care and enjoy your trip!

  33. Miles says:

    My method for coping with scammers in China?

    I don’t speak to anyone who approaches me, or take photos for anyone.

    I politely say “no, thanks” if approached; if they persist, I become very aggressive and scream at them using extremely coarse language and threats of physical violence.

    This approach has never failed me yet.

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