Archive for the ‘Beijing Tour Reviews’ Category

How to use ATM in China (Tips & Notices)

Saturday, January 15th, 2022
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Plan your China tour? Generally speaking, China is a very ATM friendly country, especially in the large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hongkong, Macao and the list can be much longer.

How to use ATMs in China?

Most of the local ATMs machines accept Visa and Master. CITIBANK card and HSBC are also very popular in China because Citibank and HSBC have an agreement with UnionPay.

For other cards, you may check the ATMs you are going to use and see if they have the logos and signs for your credit cards.

These are some useful ideas and tips when you are thinking of using ATM in China.

Cash your money through ATMs

It is a good idea to get most of cash you are going to use in China through ATMs by using your credit card or debit cards, and don’t be bothered with great amount of cash before your departure carrying from your home country.

Inform your credit card company

Don’t forget to inform your credit card company that you’ll be visiting China or oversea so they don’t block your purchases.

Keep copies of your cards

Scan your cards (front and back), keep emergency numbers separately in case you lose your credit cards.

Take some home-currency cash with you

You ought to take some home-currency cash with you to exchange at the airport or your hotel upon arrival for taxis or other small expenses, mainly in case that ATMs don’t work or run out of money. Takes one ATM card and possibly a back-up.

Major ATMs of the local banks in China

The major ATMs of the local banks in China include Bank of China, Merchants Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and China Agriculture Bank.

VISA and MasterCard debit cards

VISA and MasterCard debit cards work in most Bank of China ATMs. For the ATMs of the other major banks, please look for a network symbol on the machine that matches a network symbol on the back of your card.

CITIBANK card and HSBC card can work in most ATM in China because Citibank and HSBC have an agreement with UnionPay.

Most Atms distribute the foreign languages

6. Most Atms distribute the foreign languages including Chinese(simplified), Chinese(traditional), English, French, Spanish, Portuguese…

Chinese Currency

Most Chinese banks distribute 100 yuan note(You can withdraw 100 yuan minimum.). Check out “How to recognize Chinese currency?“.

Transaction fees may be different

Most ATM cards issued by major networks can be used in China, transaction fees may be different though, most charge around RMB20 or RMB30 for a one time transaction of RMB2500.

ATM Debit card & Credit Card

If you are using an ATM Debit card, usually the charges are comparable to drawing money in your own country. If you are using a Credit Card, it can be extremely expensive depending on your bank and how long you take to pay back the money.

Keep your ATM receipts

Keep your ATM receipts so you can re-exchange your Chinese currency back for your home currency on your way out.

China is safe

Basically taking cash out of the ATMs in China is very safe. But still be vigilant.

Further Readings


Top 10 Places to Visit in China
How to Pack for your China Trip
Plugs and Sockets in China
China Tour Packages
Learning Useful Chinese Phrases for Travellers 
How to Recognise Chinese Currency

Top 10 Travel Experiences in China
10 Most Scenic Drives in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Mountains in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Lakes in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Grasslands in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Rivers in China
Top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in China
Top 10 Places to See Autumn Leaves in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Villages in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful old towns in China
Top 10 Most Beautiful Museums in China
Top 10 China Tourist Scams
Top 10 Souvenirs in China

Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing

Thursday, January 13th, 2022
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Dear Travelers

We’d like to have the following travel guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors coming to Beijing.

If anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!

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.”

Latest feedback from Denis:
Hi, you website is very helpful. I can share my experience about another scam:

We used an official taxi with the meter, so when the ride was over, we wanted to pay with 100 RMB, as we didn’t have any other bills. The taxi driver didn’t like the bill we gave to him and asked for another one. Then for another one and so on (every time giving back the previous one of course).

He was also friendly but insisted on the other bill and we couldn’t understand what’s wrong and what did he wanted, so we just kindly gave him different bills to try out. At some point we just decided to leave because it started to become annoying.

After some more negotiations he finally took one of our bills, gave us the change and left. The next day, when we tried to pay by cash at a grocery store it appeared that 4 of our bills are fake and I’m quite sure they were not fake before.

Not such a big amount for learning a new type of scam (I have forgotten already that there is such a thing as fake money on the streets) though.

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 2:  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 teashops or ceremony. The whole ceremony proceeds 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  pretend 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  will 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 3: “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 an 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 prices. Simply say 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 4: 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 pedicab 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 pedicab.

1) Rickshaw Scam at the North Gate of Forbidden 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 occur at any other places in Beijing. Be Vigilant!

 Scam 5: “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 around some major tourist attractions such as Summer Palace, Forbidden 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 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:Outside Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao

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 need 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 7: Scams at Tiananmen and Forbidden City

The area around Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City is a favorite hangout for scammers.  Below is a 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 8: Scams from Itinerant Tour Companies at Streets

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 a legal one, from important sites.

Scam 9: Scams 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 Forbidden 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.

Scam 10:  The Counterfeit Money Scam

Hi there – another scam to add to the list is the counterfeit money. We used a standalone ATM at the silk markets and received many hundreds of RMB that was fake. We didn’t know of course – its nearly impossible to tell. Now we have some lovely souvenirs that look like 100 RMB notes 🙂
The advice would be to use a bank ATM I guess.

More Tourist Scams:

Tourist scam on Chinese Medicine ( Feedback from christian Holscher )
There is a tourist scam where people pretend to be part of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. They pretend to be doctors and ‘diagnose’ an illness just by taking the pulse. Then, they sell very expensive pills which are most likely just herbal remedies.

The company does not give receipts for their sale, and no address or contact number was provided. They clearly do not pay tax. All what they give to the customer is a worthless certificate with no address. The real of this company can be found on the credit card receipt.

Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go for self-guided tours and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Package
Great Wall Tour
Beijing Tour
Beijing Winter Tour
Car Rental in Beijing
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings


Best Time to Visit Beijing
How to plan a trip to Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

Best Time to visit Beijing (Tips, Photos & Map)

Monday, October 4th, 2021
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As a cosmopolitan capital for business and leisure, Beijing is basically busy all year round. Coming from different corners of the world, people have their own favorite time or seasons to plan Beijing Tour.

The Best Time to Visit Beijing

The winter time is not as bad as most people think, a good time to save money and see less visitors, thus avoiding tourist crowds.

Many foreign visitors prefer choosing spring or autumn to visit Beijing due to the mild and comfortable weather.

But the sporadic sandstorm in spring has kept people on alert when they plan their spring trip to Beijing. 

In the recent years Beijing’s spring is getting better in terms of air quality and weather conditions.

Autumn is unanimously regarded as the best season to visit Beijing with sunny and azure sky and mild weather.

Beijing Tourist Seasons

•High tourist season: April, May, Sept and October
•Shoulder season: March, June, July and August
•Lower season: Nov. 15 till Feb 28 next year

Beijing Winter (Nov. 15 – next year Mar 15)

Winter time lasts four months from Nov. 15 till next year March 15. Yes, it is very cold in winter, especially if there is a strong northwest wind. If no wind, then the feeling temperature will be much higher due to the dry weather in Beijing.

The winter time is not as bad as most people think, a good time to save money and see less visitors, thus avoiding tourist crowds. Chekc out How to dress for visiting Great Wall in winter for more information on climbing the Wall in winter.

Further reading:
Beijing winter tour
How to Visit Beijing in November
How to Visit Beijing in December
How to Visit Beijing in January
How to Visit Beijing in February

Beijing Spring ( March 15 – May 15)

Spring lasts 60 days from March 15 to May 15. But a warmer spring usually starts early April and ends early May. So a warm springtime in Beijing lasts over one month.

Kindly reminder: Wind and dust can be possible in the March. Generally speaking, Beijing is dry and windy in spring.

Further reading:
Beijing Springtime tour
How to Visit Beijing in March
How to Visit Beijing in April
How to Visit Bijing in May

Beijing Summer (June, July and August)

Beijing Summer time falls on June, July and August, also a rainy season in Beijing, wet and humid. But July and August are the hottest months in Beijing.

You will expect a long queue and wait at the most of the attractions in Beijing mainly due to the large number of domestic tourists because of school vacations.

Further reading:
Beijing Summer tour
How to Visit Beijing in June
How to Visit Beijing in July
How to Visit Beijing in August

Beijing Autumn ( Sep 05 – Nov 15)

Autumn lasts 60 days from September 05 to November 15. Autumn is unanimously regarded as the best season to visit Beijing with sunny and azure sky and mild weather. 

Get out and enjoy the best fall colors period from October 15 throughout November 15 in Beijing .

Further reading:
Beijing Autumn tour
How to Visit Beijing in September
How to Visit Beijing in October
How to Visit Beijing in November

Crowd Information

Beijing gets very crowded and busy during school vacations and public holidays (July and August) in Beijing.

You are kindly advised to skip over the Official Chinese Holidays when you plan your Beijing tour.  Please jot down the following public holidays:

New Year’Day ( 1st Jan, three-day holiday )
Chinese New Year ( later Jan and early Feb )
Tomb Sweeping Day ( Early April, 3-day holiday )
Mid-Autumn festival ( Aug-Sept, 3-day holiday )
May Day ( 1st May, three-day holiday)
National Day (1st Oct, week-long holiday)

Closure Information

Most of the attractions in Beijing are open all year round, but most of the museums in Beijing are close on Mondays. The Beijing attractions mostly stop selling tickets after 4:30pm though you can keep on visiting till 6 or 9 pm if you have bought the entrance tickets before 4:30pm.

All the sections of Great Wall are open in winter though you may have no access to hiking the Wall if there is a heavy snow blocking your road to the Great Wall. Chekc out How to dress for visiting Great Wall in winter for more information.

Winter time to Save

If you are going to cope with cold weather, you can enjoy and lower-priced hotel rooms, special deals from Dec 01 till next year Feb 28. 

During that time of year, it’s also worth trying to negotiate a discount directly from your hotel.

In Beijing, hotels offer lower rated on weekends to lure tourists, who may go to the suburbs for weekend vacations. 

The department store sales take place during the first later December for the Christmas and new year as well as the time before Chinese lunar new year when very substantial bargains can be found, particularly on clothes and consumer electronics.

Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

Beijing Winter Tour
Beijing Springtime Tour
Beijing Autumn Tour
Beijing Summer Tour

Further Readings


Best Time to Visit Beijing
How to plan a trip to Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street
Any questions,  just drop a line.