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scams and tips

Houston, Texas
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scams and tips

Do not use rickshaws/pedicabs/bicycle taxis. No traveler reported an honest experience. Australian couple was quoted "three", which they thought would be Yuan, but turned out to be 300, each! Their rickshaw unloaded them in a shady side street where they were fearful of arguing. I was pestered to take a pedicab about 2 miles to the club district, quoted 20 by the woman driver on her cell phone, responded with 10 fingers, to which she agreed, but upon arrival she wanted 20 US Dollars. I paid her 30 Yuan, double what an air-conditioned, faster, much safer metered automobile taxi would have cost, and she still yelled and screamed at me for 5 minutes.

Do not use a 100 Yuan note to pay a wandering vendor for a 15 Yuan t-shirt, watch, purse, etc. The change will be fake. Pay the exact amount. I met a German senior tourist given Belarussian 20 notes in change. Same size and color.

There are some fake 100s in circulation. Never take a 100 from a wandering vendor, or be helpful and provide change.

Taxis are in general honest, quick, air-conditioned, and cheap. Both yellow cabs and the red ones charge the same. Insist on the meter. It begins with a welcome announcement in English, and finishes with a thank you announcement in English and a receipt. Nobody tips. If a cab insists on negotiating a rate, they are dishonest, and might be dangerous and steal from you. Traffic can be horrible–that is not the driver's fault. 30 Yuan or 4 dollars will take you across town. The summer palace to the closest subway station is less than 50 Yuan. Marco Polo bridge to the Military Museum was about 35. Railway station to workers stadium nightclub district was 15 or 20 Yuan. Many taxis have a cage between the driver and passengers.

Don't pay too much. The fake Rolex watches can be had for 20 Yuan (I heard two travelers who bought their watches for just 10 Yuan), even though the salesman started at 150 Yuan (or in the case of an older, wealthier tourist 500 Yuan asking price!). Fake Prada purses can be had for as little as 50, maybe cheaper, starting price was 500. T-shirts on the Great Wall asked 150 and came down to 25 before I walked away.

Subway system is excellent. Clean, fast, well-marked. Cost is just 3 yuan. A local map of the neighborhood is in each station, but mostly in Chinese. The place to stand in line is marked. I never heard any problem about pickpockets on the subway. Beggars (lepers, deformed, handicapped) sometimes come on board, but are not aggressive.

The organized tours to the Badaling sector of the Great Wall are crap. The typical tour starts at 8 at your hotel, arrives about 10 at the first jade shop for a half hour, then after a 30 minute visit to a Ming tomb goes to a second jade shop for another half hour, then spends an hour at a bland lunch spot which is also a souvenir shop, and finally arrives in the heat of the day about 2:15 p.m. for the visit to the wall, with the bus returning starting at 4 p.m. About 6:20 p.m. you arrive at a tea shop for a formal tea ceremony, and only get back to the hotel about 7:30 p.m. Quality of the English and the commentary was poor. Bus could not use air conditioning for part of the congested trip. Our tour did not go to the Chang tomb, as advertised, but instead to another, lesser tomb. I would suggest to either go to another sector, or to take public transport or a taxi to Badaling in the morning when it is cooler.

Students, interns and workers who were staying many months in China reported the local water supply was safe throughout the country, maybe tastes a little of chloride.

Legitimate massage is cheap. Places like Pavilion near Guomao, and Baodhi behind Olive restaurant on the north side of Workers Stadium were recommended. About $25 for an hour.

Strangers, mostly student age, will approach on the street and practice their English. Sometimes they have motives to sell you art, or a visit to a tea shop, or ask you to buy them a drink. I am told Shanghai is worse.

Public toilets are fairly plentiful and reasonably clean.

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1. Re: scams and tips

great trip report

Beijing, China
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2. Re: scams and tips

This tip is exactly true.Hope most tourists see this before they travelling here.

One thing is i still don't think you can drink the tap water here.

Now summer is comming,when you buy mineral water,it is better in the good super market or shops,even in the Forbidden City some times the water not sealed good enough(i guess they just fill the tap water in.

The Danbi road in the Temple of Heaven was closed for renovation.Now you can travel througth a underground passage to another side.I don't like that passage,in ancient thats the turnel for the sacrical animals.....but if you don't go this way,you will walk a long way around the park......no other choice : (

Good luck everyone:)

Miami Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Shanghai Region
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6,528 posts
132 reviews
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3. Re: scams and tips

True, Beijing is not perfect. But also it is not a pack of thieves wanting to take your good cash and giving you fake in return.

The safest thing is to take common transportation, which does not include pedicabs/bike rickshaws. The taxis are about as honest as anywhere. Some say their hotels condone cheating and overcharging, but I always have found the concierge (get Chinese written destination on a card, with the return card in Chinese back to hotel) and door men to be honest. Never leave without your destinations written out in Chinese, including returning to the hotel.

Chinese do not accept any bills torn or ragged, so do not accept any bills like that. If someone claims your bill is counterfeit, just hold onto it and use it elsewhere. Always look carefully at your money.

Anyone reading this forum (or others, for that matter) knows about the groups tours throughout China including obligatory shopping/refreshment stops. They are time-wasting aggravations. Just say no to group tours.

Never drink the tap water anywhere at any time. On a short vacation, do you want to give up one to three days to constant intestinal discomfort? Long-stay visitors do become acclimated after going through the sometimes weeks-long intestinal problems. Bottled water at the ubiquitous corner quick marts are 2 Y for a liter or two. Brush your tea with it, make tea or coffee in your room with it, and carry it with you at all times to sip to help with any pollution problems.

Beijing is a lot of fun, and some common sense will make your visit very enjoyable. Study up before hand, and buy a printed guide book. As I have said many times in travel forums, people will pay $2,000 for a vacation but not spend $30 for a printed tour book to give them all the requisite dos and don'ts.

4. Re: scams and tips

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