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“Great park but beware of the tea ceremony scammers!”

Shanghai Renmin Park
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Old Shanghai Discovery Walking Tour with Tea Tasting at Confucius Temple
Reviewed December 23, 2013

This is a really nice, large park in the middle of the city that is a good place to relax, with a beautiful lotus pond or check out the famous Shanghai marriage market on the weekend.
However, this review will be mainly about the scammers that operate there to help people avoid falling into their trap! Because since this area is very popular with tourists, it is targeted by the less nice people of China who want to take advantage of lost foreigners.
I have been to Renmin Park twice, and both times I have been accosted by would-be scammers.
As a previous reviewer said, they tend to come up to you by asking you to take a photo of them because they are visiting here from another city, and then they seem to slip into a friendly conversation. This is the first step you should beware of - because Chinese people visiting other Chinese cities rarely have such good English, and they don't ask western people to take photos of them. Usually, it is the opposite - genuine Chinese tourists want to take photos with or of western people.
Secondly, watch out if they are not too bothered about the quality of the photo you take. Both times I was asked to take photos, there was nothing special in the background, and some of the group members didn't even bother to smile. On one occasion, the girl handed me her phone with a photo of the group already on it! This was probably taken by a previous unsuspecting person, and I hope they realised what this was and got away.
Thirdly, be aware that they may be unusually friendly, and have a wide vocabulary if they start asking you questions. Most Chinese people don't know English that well, so if somebody speaks to you in near perfect English, this should set alarm bells ringing. This is especially so because most Chinese who speak excellent English are educated or well-off, and these young people looked very poor. So look at their clothes and their faces, and if this doesn't match with their amazing quality of English, you should tread carefully.
Fourthly, tea ceremonies do not exist in China. There is no such thing. If they invite you to one, it means taking you to some dodgy backstreet, where their associates will charge you an arm and a leg to buy some "special" teas, and then probably try to steal your wallet on your way out.
I was lucky because I had already heard about these tea ceremony scammers thanks to my DK guidebook, but because I am quite naive and like to believe in the best of people, I did engage in a conversation with the first group of scammers that approached me. But because I knew of this, I asked them how much it would cost. When they said 200 RMB, I explained to them that I didn't have that kind of cash on me. You would not have believed how quickly they disappeared as soon as I said I had no money!
So be aware of suspiciously friendly people with good English, particularly around the metro station exits, where they wait around for tourists who look at bit lost and are just getting their bearings.
But don't be put off! This is a nice park and it's worth visiting, and once you are inside, you tend not to be bothered, as most Chinese will either ignore you or just point and say "Weiguoren!" also, be aware that food from the stalls there is very overpriced, maybe 5 to 10 times the price of what you can get in quieter places, so take your own drinks and food if you need them

2  Thank Eva H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"marriage market"
in 9 reviews
"parents and grandparents"
in 2 reviews
"big pond"
in 2 reviews
"card games"
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21 - 25 of 134 reviews

Reviewed August 15, 2013

We got up early and made our way to park around 6am. It was beastly hot during our stay in Shanghai so it is much more pleasant in the morning. Lots to see. Many people practicing Tai Chi, playing badminton, or exercising in the park. We came across a group of hardcore exercisers who welcomed us to watch them lift weights, and do routines on the high bar and rings. One was a 92 year old man! Since most of the people in the park are older, it really impressed us about the possibility of aging gracefully. On the way back to the hotel, there were more people out on Nanjing Donglu dancing and singing early in the morning. Our kids were glad they got up so early to see it.

Thank Mark B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2013

This park is lovely. It has a big pond which was full of lotus in flower when we visited, and offered enough shade to escape the heat (40 degrees centigrade and 90% humidity!). Being a Sunday, one section of the park was packed with parents and relatives advertising the attributes of their sons/daughters/nieces or nephews as prospective spouses. This was a sight I've never seen before and found extremely interesting.

Thank Susana61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 21, 2013

I live in Shanghai,... this park is in the heart of the city, has a cute little lake great for photos... what is special about it is that you can witness the 'marriage corner' yeap, parents and grandparents post their kids details by pegging them to trees bushes and plants... so people go to browse who is available, the information 'posted' is quite detailed, how tall, how much they make, languages spoken, and photo. Parents interchange details and a blind date is set.... is quite unique and efective...who needs dating website when you have a park :) on the other side is the 'english corner' expect to have strangers come up to you to practice their english...

Thank Nala1111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 26, 2013

I would like to share this experience we had at Renmin Park (near People's Park) in Shanghai. There were 3 Chinese "tourists" at who asked us if we can take a picture of them. After that, they started a conversation to make us believe they were really tourists. They said they were students from Beijing studying foreign languages, that is why they speak good English. They asked us what country we came from and what places we were planning to visit afterwards. Then they told us we can come with them because they were also going to The Bund (our next destination). The good thing was, I was familiar of this scam because I read it somewhere. We told them sorry but we were planning to drop by our hotel first before going to The Bund. They insisted, and even invited us to drink tea at the Annual Tea Festival. Again, this tea-drinking session was another scam. We said no and we told them we really had to go.

When we walked further, the same situation happened again. There was another group of Chinese "tourists" who approached us and asked if we can take a photo of them.

3  Thank DCL11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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