Be Your Own Advocate
5 Weeks in Asia: Costs
A Quick Trip Out of FRA
Money Problems in Beijing
72 Hour Visa Free Transit of Beijing
Scams in Beijing
The Angkor Experience
The VIP Sleeper Bus Experience in Cambodia
Sleepy Kep, Cambodia
Arranging Visas on the Move
The Adventure of A Ricetime: Mekong Delta
The Adventure of A Ricetime: Easy Riders Tour
The Adventure of A Ricetime: Tailored Hoi An
The Adventure of A Ricetime: Solo Motorbiking
The Adventure of A Ricetime: Halong Bay
The Adventure of A Ricetime: Sapa
Scams in Vietnam
6 Hours in Bangkok
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.
Without any money for a cab or rickshaw, how did you get back to your hostel?
oh, I walked….!
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!
Wow, that’s pretty impressive that you were able to settle for so much less! Most people that I’ve heard of who got hit with the scam weren’t so lucky.
It’s the most common scam in China.
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.