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Avoiding tourist traps

Many foreigner tourists come to China and want to enjoy a happy journey. However, the tourist traps during the tour have bad effects on their mind and impression on China.
Please let us to introduce some common tourist trap during the tours and you can learn to avoid them.

Souvenir Selling
You can avoid the large souvenir retail outlets that are included in the compulsory part of the standard Chinese group tour. Products sold often include tea, tea sets, Pearls, Jade, Chinese paintings, silk, calligraphy and many more localized specialties.

Retail at Tourist Attraction
Tourist traps could also take the form of shops, or lone hawkers, at genuine tourist attractions or other tourist-frequented locations, selling over-priced goods to a captive, or possibly unsuspecting, market.
There will often be a difference of opinion on what is a fair price. The “local price”, the “tourist price” and the “foreigner price” are a hard to remove principle in the minds of many vendors. Food and drink sold at remote locations, e.g. on mountains, may be reasonably expected to be a bit more expensive due to the cost of getting it there.

Touting in Hotels, Transport, Tours, Restaurants and Shops 
This category includes the people at airports, railway stations, and bus stations offering overpriced hotels or on an overpriced ride or tour. Beware: a reasonable price may change later. These people can sometimes be genuine and quite helpful, and the price is sometimes a good one, but if you are unsure why risk it?
There are also those who line popular tourist walking routes trying to get you to have meals at their restaurant or buy whatever they are selling. A general rule is to avoid places so desperate that they have to hold a menu on the street or hassle passers by, and find a place packed with locals, or that seems popular and smells good.

Scams and Other Underhand Practices 
Other “tourist traps” fall further outside the definition centering on exploitative tourist sights and services, and can be better defined as unscrupulous operators, con artists, and criminals who particularly prey on tourists – those who seem rich and unaware, especially foreigners. There are gray areas of the law in China where the police can do nothing, such as in a your-word-against-theirs situation.

Counterfeit Money
Watch out for counterfeit money. See Chinese Money for how to recognize counterfeits. 100 yuan notes that you get from a bank or ATM won’t be faked, so if anyone says they are and wants to change one of yours it is a scam. They might switch a note you used to pay for something for a fake and then ask for another 100 yuan note instead of “your” fake. The best thing to do here is definitely not to give them another 100 yuan. You should call the police if you know it to be a switch. If you are holding a fake note that someone has just handed you the police may be able to do something.

Giving counterfeit money out in exchange for foreign currency takes advantage of new arrivals in China by offering good rates of exchange on the street near popular entry points: airports, airport bust stations and first-day tourist attractions. Always do currency exchange at a Bank of China, a reputable hotel, or other recognized place.

Another common way of giving counterfeit money to the unsuspecting is in returned deposits, e.g. for bicycle hire or in change. If you notice a fake, you can always ask for another note.

Tea Ceremonies and Meals with Strangers
The classic scam involves a friendly stranger who asks you to go somewhere to drink tea or eat a meal (and perhaps practice English) and then you are left with a big bill. Make sure you choose the place.

Use genuine taxis with genuine meters. Get a receipt before you get out in case you accidentally leave something in the taxi. Illegal taxis may have rigged over-charging meters, leave you at the wrong place, claim the price was per person instead of in total, or drive off with your luggage.

Cheap Tours
You may be offered a cheap tour that will turn out to include a gauntlet of souvenir outlets with pressure to buy, and other commission earners like third-rate performances, and maybe low-quality transport, food and guide as well, with very little time at the actual attraction.

Always find out the price of everything before eating. If you suspect anything get it written down so there can be no “misunderstandings”. Extras that are commonly charged for at around 1 yuan each are tea (sometimes per person), crockery sets, packs of tissues, and bowls of rice. These may cost a little more at more expensive restaurants, but check you are not drinking a really expensive tea without realizing. If you are offered a private room, check that it does not have an exorbitant price attached.

Having covered all of these risks, it should be noted that most Chinese are honest and helpful, and crime nuisance, especially major crime, can be lower than in Western cities due to the large penalties and government controls. The majority of tourists have no trouble, especially those who take precautions and are wary of tourist traps. Don’t give the opportunists an opportunity and hopefully they will find something more honest and useful to do.

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