This article is all about warning tourists visiting China to watch out for scamsters in a place which is otherwise amazing and full of adorable people. Traveling to China can sometimes be tricky. Indeed, as China is becoming a more and more touristic country, locals are trying to take advantage of some tourists.
How do they proceed?
If you read testimonies on the Internet, you will see, it is ALWAYS the same story. Indeed, you were visiting a touristic place in China, two or three really friendly Chinese girls with a perfect English ran into you… Therefore, they began to be very excited about meeting you, wanted to take pictures with you, and finally, they wanted you to follow them to a Chinese Traditional Tea Ceremony. This is where the drama begins.
They got me pretty easily too. I was visiting Beijing for a few days last year with two friends. We were on Tiananmen Square when two Chinese girls about our ages started talking to us with a perfect English (which is really not common in China, even for young people).
However, they were so amazed because we were from Paris, they wanted to take pictures with us, gave us so many advice about the places to see in Beijing. The conversation lasted like 30 minutes and at the end, they asked us if we would like to eat something because they knew a really nice place with typical food from there. As they were really friendly, we followed them. Before going, I wanted to take a picture with them, as they did the same. One of them answered me, oh no, we cannot because of this morning’s prayer. Quite weird, considering the fact that they took pictures of us with their phone. Anyway, I was still not suspicious.
As we walked, the girls spoke in Chinese, pointing toward a small tea shop in a nearby hutong. We jumped in. After looking at the menu, we ordered three cups of tea which were at 50 RMB each.
We had a good time assisting to the tea ceremony, learning so much about Chinese tea. After 1 hour with them, we decided to go to continue our visit. And here, came the bill… 1500 RMB PER PERSON. We were sitting there in shock, trying to understand what has actually happened. Of course, we immediately refused to pay, but if you do not pay, they will never let you go, literally. However, after something like one more hour negotiating, we paid and left this tea house.
Feeling after being scammed
Being scammed is really one of the most maddening feelings. I was pissed, feeling betrayed. After that, to calm down, I checked on the Internet other testimonies and I was really happy to see that I have lost “only” about 200 euros compared to some people who have been scammed for more than 5,000 euros! This happened to me when I was still a quite naive and “an unexperimented” traveler, but it can really to anybody.
How to avoid these scamsters?
- Do you remember when your parents taught you “do never talk to strangers!” It is maybe the best way to avoid them. Mostly if they want to take you to a tea house, or grab some food;
- Be even more mistrustful, if their English is almost perfect;
- Take a picture of the menu with the prices, if you find the place suspicious;
- Make sure to take a photo of any receipt you sign.