Gi2C offers important tips on how to avoid scams while traveling in China
Traveling in China is exciting and interesting, yet every year thousands of tourists get taken advantage of while using China’s transportation system. At Gi2C, our goal is to make sure our Gi2C interns and China expats have the best experience possible in China. The last thing we want is for Gi2C interns or any foreigner to fall prey to any scams while out and about in China. In order to protect your personal possessions, pay attention to these key areas:
Black (illegal) cabs are not always black.
Official cabs in Chinese cities all look the same (although each city has their own colors). Make sure you know what your Chinese city’s official colored taxis look like and never get in the car with an unofficial cab driver. The illegal cars usually show up in areas where it’s hard to find a taxi or near subway stations after the subway has shut down and people are stranded. You’ll also find them at all airports and train stations. If a cab driver ever approaches you and tells you he has a taxi free for you, he is running an illegal taxi service. Run the other way. They often use their own cars and have no taximeter. This is not only dangerous but oftentimes you will be cheated out of a lot of money.
Avoid illegal taxis by having friends pick up if you are out late at night or by using official taxicab apps such as EasyTaxi, BJ Taxi, YY Zhao Che, and Didi Taxi. You will pay a small fee ($1) to book the taxi, but the app will tell you when he is close so you don’t need to stand outside late at night.
Getting scammed at the Great Wall and other tourist destinations. If you go with a group and a legit Chinese guide, you won’t need to worry about this. We escort new Gi2C interns to the Great Wall to ensure they aren’t scammed during the visit. However, if you are going by yourself be sure to watch out for a few things.
First, board the correct vehicle. If you are using public transport to get to your destination, make sure it’s a legal vehicle. While you’re waiting in line for the bus, you will be a target for black taxi drivers who will come up to you and tell you they have a personal car that will drop you off and wait for you to return for a large sum of cash. Stick with your $4 bus.
Second, all souvenirs are going to be overpriced so bargain hard if you really want something. A general rule is to cut the price down by 80% and then come up 5-10%.
Third, you may encounter locals who suddenly start walking with you. Don’t worry, they don’t mean any physical harm, but they would like to carry your backpack for you and then get some money at the end of your excursion. On some of the more dangerous parts of the wall, they will even hold your hand! These guys are doing some actual work for you so it’s not the worst thing in the world to pay them. However, we’ve found that many foreigners believe they are just being nice and are shocked when they ask for a good chunk of money at the end. If you’d like to use their service, agree on a sum ahead of time.
Fourth, bring your own water and snacks. You will find extremely overpriced food items strategically placed in areas where most tourists commonly run out of the things they brought.
Fifth, make sure you know how to get back. If you miss your bus, you’ll find a black taxi waiting around for suckers just like you, but don’t give them that opportunity by knowing exactly how and when you’ll be getting home.
Know your entrance fee costs. Most tourist locations in China have an entrance fee, which can range anywhere from $1 to $30 per person. Make sure that you know exactly how much it is. You may have some people come up to you and tell you that they know a back way in that is cheaper if you just pay them. This might be true, but better safe than sorry. If you’re a student, always ask for the student fee (show them your school ID card) which is much cheaper than regular admission.
Be friendly, but only up to a point. Chinese people know foreigners are often kind-hearted and think the best of everyone. As a result, certain scams are prevalent to take advantage of this naivety. You should be wary of anyone who approaches you for anything other than wanting to take a picture with you. People offering you a hotel, transport, or entrance tickets may deliver, but you will never know how much more you paid for that service than a Chinese person paid.
Speaking of accommodation while traveling in China, it’s important to check hotel reviews online to make sure your hotel has permission to have foreigners stay with their establishment.
Not all Chinese people are out to scam you, but nonetheless remember to be constantly aware of possible China scams. Although scams in China exist, they shouldn’t discourage you from missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime. Over 3, 000 Gi2C interns have been brave enough to come to China and the majority have had an amazing and positive experience. Follow the four suggestions above for avoiding China scams and prepare well for the unexpected. After that, don’t waste a second longer waiting to explore China!
This how-to guide in avoiding China scams is brought to you by Gi2C Group. Gi2C has been an internship provider in China since 2008 and has become a leader in the internship industry. Gi2C’s goal is to help students and young professionals not only safely get into China without falling prey to any scams but also to help them understand China and Chinese business culture. Gi2C interns write honest reviews of our programs which can be read on a variety of online third-party sources. Gi2C provides tailor-made opportunities for interns to work for a variety companies in multiple industries based in China.