Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing

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.

 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.

Any questions, just drop a line.


Tags: ,

106 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.

Questions and Answers: