We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Warning: tea house scam

Stockport, United...
Level Contributor
56 posts
82 reviews
69 helpful votes
Warning: tea house scam

Warning. If "friendly young Chinese students" ask you to take their photo, then take yours, and indulge in earnest chatting, expect this to lead to an invitation to something like a "tea festival". At the end you will be faced with a bill of hundreds to thousands of RMB. Although you will probably be able to "haggle" this down, it will still end up as a complete rip off. As you are in "their territory", there is little you can do at this stage other than pay up and get out.

Advice. If approached by "friendly students", walk away. A pity we didn't. We are now RMB 2000 the wiser.

We were accosted in People's Park near the metro. Apparently a common location for this sort of thing.

111 replies to this topic
Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
5,716 posts
47 reviews
117 helpful votes
1. Re: Warning: tea house scam

Too bad it happens again and again.And with so many people coming in it is happening even more often.So much for commercialism and luxuries,many unethical ways of cheats to instant richness.,some masterminded by locals and some by migrants.Just hate this thing going on.

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
48,982 posts
870 reviews
493 helpful votes
2. Re: Warning: tea house scam

This is well documented on thisforum. Always search for scams on TA when visiting a new place.

Level Contributor
310 posts
71 reviews
79 helpful votes
3. Re: Warning: tea house scam

I have to admit that I was also scammed by two young women at the Bund. They told me they were tourists from Harbin, asked me to take their photo and then invited me to a nearby "festival." I should have known better but they were very nice, telling me that one is a teacher and the other a student studying English. I followed them to this "festival" and when I walked in and saw the tea room, I knew I was going to be scammed. I should have just walked out but I didn't...so it was my fault. I got scammed for 580RMB for tasting six different types of teas and I walked away with a small container of tea. I should have confronted the girls but I didn't. It was a 580RMB learning experience (at least it wasn't 1000 or 2000RMB...I guess they were easy on me). Oh well...I got Shanghaied in Shanghai!! Ha Ha.

Edited: 10:52 pm, November 01, 2012
Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
5,716 posts
47 reviews
117 helpful votes
4. Re: Warning: tea house scam

welcome to shanghai, when come to Rome you get baptised and romanised ,when come Shanghai you get womanised and shanghaied. Shanghai has many things pretty...culture,history,food,buildings, architecture,people watching,entertainment.Its better not to be overzealous when venturing into the unknown...

Beijing, China
4 posts
5. Re: Warning: tea house scam

Travelers should always be wary of locals who approach you on the street speaking unusually good English.  Despite their often young, innocent-looking appearance, these locals are looking for tourists to scam.  Common premises involve inviting travelers to visit an “art gallery” or teahouse, where clients are pressured into buying useless art or paying for a tea they did not order—always at extortionate prices.  Even if a catalogue or menu is offered, prices are not listed so the final bill often comes as a surprise.

Scams like these are more common in the touristy areas of the major cities of Beijing (around Wangfujing, Tiananmen Square, and near 5-Star hotels) and Shanghai (along the Bund, Nanjing Lu, and Renmin Square).  A polite, “No, I am not interested”, usually works to dissuade these advances.

We do not mean to discourage you from interacting with locals—many are eager to help with directions or other questions you might have.  Just be aware that these scams can and do occur and avoid following strangers into unknown establishments.  If you have more questions feel free to contact us at info@wildchina.com

Miami Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Shanghai Region
Level Contributor
6,588 posts
156 reviews
292 helpful votes
6. Re: Warning: tea house scam

In right-hand column is the best overall info about Shanghai:

"Top Questions about Shanghai"

Fifth item is "What about $$$ scams in Shanghai?"

You can post your experiences of being scammed, showing you did not read this website, but within a week or two the posts will be buried by more recent posts so no one will see it any more.

Edited: 7:07 pm, November 02, 2012
Hangzhou, China
Level Contributor
192 posts
3 reviews
2 helpful votes
7. Re: Warning: tea house scam

There is a thing called POLICE...

why none of the victoms call the POLICE?????

110 in the emergence call number.

CHINESE POLICE TAKE COMPLAINS OF FOREIGNER SRSLY...much srs than complains of Chinese.

And complain to the Embassy in China, let them give formal complain, a few times like this, this SCAM will disapear, at least for quite a while.

Edited: 12:44 am, November 07, 2012
Waverly, Ohio
Level Contributor
6 posts
10 reviews
5 helpful votes
8. Re: Warning: tea house scam

This just happened to me yesterday, twice, in People's Park. Because I had read this forum, I knew just what to do and was not scammed. Thank you all who make these helpful posts. It's such a shame as the young people who approached me were very friendly and I can see how it's nice to speak to someone in English when visiting in a strange city.

Dublin, California
Level Contributor
25,623 posts
49 reviews
17 helpful votes
9. Re: Warning: tea house scam

First of all, not many visitors know the number to call the police. Also not many tourists have cell phones. And then what crime are they reporting? "I went to a tea house and they charged me too much?" Did they force you to go to the tea house? No. Did they force you to drink tea? No. Did they tell you how much and then charge you much more? No. So what's the crime?

Shanghai, China
9 posts
10. Re: Warning: tea house scam

yes, why not calling the police? why there're more and more people scamed? cause we accept it, since we didn't lose too much! As far as I know, such girls are highly paid, like 200RMB from 580RMB, so they can earn 5000-10000RMB per month. But once they're found by police, they will lose everything if the university knows this. And the students and tea house are more crazy, and more and more people are scamed. When you're faced with such thing, call the police.

Reply to: Warning: tea house scam
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted