Nothing gets me more steamed than being taken for a sucker. And although the Chinese on the whole are honest, hard-working people, you’re bound to have some bad apples in a country with such a huge (and still mostly poor) population. For some, the seemingly endless supply of rich and easy-to-fool laowai (foreigner) is too tempting. May the following tips be helpful for having the pleasant China tours.
I think the reason many foreign tourists get scammed in China is because they let their guard down. As I pointed out in the “Safety & Crime” section, they reason (correctly) that the harsh criminal penalties deter people from crime. But there’s a considerable difference between committing an outright crime (like theft) and scamming tourists.
The smarter con artists and scammers operate in “grey area” of the law, where the only proof against them is your word against theirs (yes, even in China, the police need proof). In other words, many scams have a high reward-to-risk ratio. In most cases, the police won’t or can’t do anything if you’ve been duped. In fact, some of these scams are completely legal and so will continue to take in suckers for years to come. Before you are enjoying your China travel deals, you could ask advise from your tour operator as much as possible.
Chinese police are often dumbfounded by how foreigners are so easily fooled. Con artists (who can speak English) love foreigners compared to Chinese locals for a number of reasons: (1) Generally carry more cash, and (2) are often happy to engage in conversation with a total stranger. They know that Westerners are more conditioned to “not be rude” by walking away. In contrast, the Chinese are very slow to trust strangers and will often completely ignore anyone who approaches them on the street. They’re often savvy to common scams too. (3) Foreign tourists are less likely to call the police because of the language and time constraints. I imagine most are embarrassed and just write off the loss as an unrecoverable “lesson learned.” So, along your China travel, you should be cautious and never trust strangers easily.
And don’t think that you’re too savvy to be fooled. These scams can be sophisticated and continue to snare even the most experienced travelers. No matter what kind of China tours you are having, Yangtze River cruises or others, bearing in mind the above tips proves quite wise. Hope you have a nice China trip!
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