Travel Smart: Top 4 most common scams to avoid in China

Water not safe to drink and not free

Either the hotel will say that the water is not safe to drink or they wont mention anything so you would just assume. They would also have bottles of water in your room but they will not be marked as complementary and when you checkout you’ll be charged for them

After travelling for some 13 hours and reaching the hotel at 1am we had the water that we had assumed as complementary but ended up being charged USD5 for a bottle of water.

How to avoid

First of all, before going to any place make sure to check whether the water is drinkable or not. That holds true for every place.

Second of all, and once again this isnt just for the hotels but is good practice in general, always carry water with you. On your way back to the hotel always stop by the super market and get some water since it’ll be cheaper for sure and plus you’ll definitely need it the next day.

Finally, make sure that the water is complementary. Hotels will normally have a tag that they put on the bottles that says something to that effect.

Per person charge

It’s not common for taxis to do this but tuk-tuks and minibuses. Just make sure to clear up the amount before hand and then adamantly refuse anything other then what you agreed upon.

Free or cheap taxi / tours

Be very skeptical of any bus/taxi/tour that’s free or very cheap. Worst case scenario is that they’re a straight up funnel for robberies but the best case scenario is that your entire day is wasted being trucked around from factory to factory where you’re expected to buy things or you wouldn’t be allowed back on the bus.

These operators get commissions, of course, from all of the places they drop you off and the amount you pay initially is just to make it look like a good deal. They’ll make a lot more from the shops themselves.

In many places they’ll also drop you off to places that have fake items (clothes or gems) so be wary of deals that are too good to be true in general.

Also happens in Thailand and Vietnam with tuk-tuks and tour minibuses.

How to avoid

So, if you aren’t using Uber etc. you need to categorically agree on what places you want to visit and the timetable and how much it’ll cost. In Cambodia we had a wonder experience with a tuk tuk driver where we agreed what time he should come to the hotel, where we’ll go, how long we’ll stay, and how much we’ll pay and everything went off without a hitch.

If however, you see you’re being taken for a ride, ask the driver to stop, or if you’re far away from anything wait till you reach, then pay for the part of the trip that you had already taken, thank him and walk away. I guarantee he’s going to come back and plead and say sorry and that he’ll continue and wont take you anywhere else but do not trust that. The next destination will be one of your choosing but the restaurant he’ll choose and it will be neither cheap nor good.

Short changing

Not really a travel issue since you could be short changed in your local supermarket but something to take care of since as a tourist you’re more likely to be a target.

Also, be aware of the seller saying no change. If that happens immediately insist on your money back and get louder and louder especially if there are many people around.

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