Scams in Beijing

Be Your Own Advocate
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A Quick Trip Out of FRA
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72 Hour Visa Free Transit of Beijing
Scams in Beijing
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Scams in Bangkok
A First-Timer First Class Experience


I research scams in countries that I’m visiting before I travel. That doesn’t mean that I never fall for it, but it usually means that I at least avoid the big, bad ones. I only encountered one scam while on my 72-hour visa-free transit of Beijing… and here’s how it went down.

It had pretty much been a massive struggle of a day. I landed, went through customs and immigration, pulled enough money out of the ATM to get a cab (watch out for the black cabs at the airport!) to my hostel and pay for my bed, and then headed out for a walk around town. By this point I was pretty low on cash already, but since I had my Charles Schwab ATM card that reimburses ATM fees anywhere in the world, I just headed to another ATM… only to find out that I had very little money available to withdraw. I was hungry, thirsty, tired, jet-lagged, hot as hell, and over 3 miles away from my hostel at this point, with no money for a cab or rickshaw. I got a banana and some water from a small store so I didn’t die and set off back toward the hostel.

With less than a mile to go (and near the Forbidden City… this should have been tip off number 1) a Chinese girl who looks to be a few years older than me approaches me and starts speaking English. Grateful to have someone to talk to for the first time in over 24-hour I willing chatted back with her. We walked along, still heading in the direction of my hostel, for a while just chatting, and she asked me if I’d like to go get some coffee with her. I was like, “well, sure!”

We walk a little bit further to where she had her bike chained up, and she rode for a ways we me on the back, which was kind of a cool experience, and also way harder than it looks. Eventually she parks, tells me I am bigger than a Chinese girl (well, yeah…) and says we should take the bus instead. Alright, sounds like a good idea? So we take the bus a few stops, get out and walk around a bit. She finds a coffee shop and says we should go there, so we go inside, and I ask to see a menu. The menu prices were crazy! We’re talking $10 coffees, $200 bottles of wine crazy. At that point I tell her that I have very little money and can’t really afford a coffee, and we go our separate ways (after she tells me that they take credit card too). It’s probably a good thing for me that I had so little money otherwise I may not have worried about it so much. Honestly though, I was surprised that they had such high prices on their menu, it would have been a lot easier to scam me if it wasn’t so obviously a scam. Definitely something to watch out for in the future though.

 

To read about other common scams in Beijing, check out this article.

6 Comments

  1. My partner and I fell for the essentially same scam, the infamous Tea Ceremony. We enjoyed the 45 minute show, and were then presented with a bill for 200 usd. We settled for $14. It is a great memory!

  2. You asked for a menu, which means you didn’t fall for the scam. Plenty of people are taken to rustic-looking places, where they assume drinks would be cheap and got served with $100+ bill afterwards.
    Chinese people are mostly shy and would not go to coffee/tea with strangers. So, if some friendly-looking ones ask you to go eat/drink with them, it’s a scam 100% of time.

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