The one scam in China you’re the most likely to fall for, apparently
Picture the scene – you’ve arrived into Beijing a couple of days before your tour to the DPRK, and are contentedly wandering around somewhere like Tiananmen Square or other convenient tourist hotspot. If you’re a Westerner in China, the locals don’t exactly need to see you consulting a map to know that you’re not from around these parts.
An attractive Chinese student who would like to practice English smiles at you, or perhaps a nice young couple ask you to take a photo of them. You naturally get chatting, and they’re really friendly! You’re new in the city, so they offer to show you around, maybe helps you buy a few gifts, and subsequently suggests you go for a cup of tea at a nice teahouse or bar that they know. You share a cup of tea or a beer, perhaps even participate in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. If you’re lucky enough to get to see the menu you may wonder if the lack of prices are a cultural difference.
When the bill comes, it will be ridiculously high- sometimes hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Refuse to pay, and you may suddenly find yourself in the company of some large, angry gentlemen. They’ll even “escort you” to the ATM if you don’t have the cash on you.
Generally, if someone approaches you, speaking good English, and they want to go somewhere – err on the side of caution. If you are convinced that they are genuine, cool- but you should pick the cafe or the bar, and laugh in the face of anyone who gives you something you didn’t order, or shows you a price-free menu.
China is an amazing place, and part of the unique charm is arguably the unabashed, enthusiastic and widespread hustling. It’s much easier to agree with that when you’re not the unlucky and unaware participant!
Almost everywhere you go in China, there’s a tourist trap.
Except maybe this one place. We’d like you to know about it…
Lee has lived in China since 2006 and still doesn’t have bronchitis. He is YPT’s content manager and wrote a steampunk rip-off of Star Wars one time called ‘Tell no Tales’, available here: https://amzn.to/2SO7Qja