Top 10 Tourist Scams in Beijing
Beijing is a great city in terms of its history, culture and as capital of China. While you are expecting your life long trip to Beijing, you are kindly reminded of the top 10 tourist traps which are also waiting for you, expecting you to fall in.
Scam #01: “Black” Taxis at Beijing Airport
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 10 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!
Scam # 02: “Fake” Badaling Great Wall
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 1057, 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.
Scam # 03: “Fake” Ming Tombs
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.
Scam # 04: “Official volunteers” at Bus 919 to Badaling
The cheapest way of going to Badaling Great Wall is to take the Bus 919 at Deshengmen. To get to the Bus 919, you are advised to take the subway and get off at Jishuitan Stop. Then you walk all the way to Deshengmen, which is a whole block east of the Jishuitan Subway Exit A.
There are about 5 lines of 919 in Beijing which lead to different places all throughout Beijing, a little bit confusing. So be sure to get the correct Bus 919 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.
Scam # 05: “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 organized bus tours through your hotel, or local tour operators.
Scam # 06: “Black 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. To put yourself in the hands of a black tour guide is dangerous!
Scam # 07: “Tea shop or tea ceremony”
At some heavy tourist areas, you will be approched by an attractive female or gentleman, who is willing to give you a free tour of hutong or chats with you in a polite way. She or he will talk about the interesting things in Beijing, or even talk about the culture or history of your home country. 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!
Scam # 08: “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.
Scam # 09: 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 you are stolen, or you find other being stolen, 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.
Scam # 10: 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