Shanghai, China

Shanghai-tourist-scamsShanghai is the biggest city in the world, with a population of more than 23 million people. With a futuristic skyline as impressive as that of New York, this is a true metropolis, in which anything is possible and everything is for sale. Shanghai is a true example for modern-day China, although it’s easy to forget this city is part of a communist country. Many travelers usually prefer a visit to Beijing or Hong Kong above a city trip to Shanghai. That may be because it’s not a city full of famous attractions, but Shanghai still has a lot to offer and is in many ways a unique city in China. Shanghai-tourist-rip_offsIt’s perhaps the most westernized city the country and it’s also one of the richest cities in China. With the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in the center, the rest of the city is an extension of this symbol of the future. There’s plenty in the city to enjoy at least a few days there. One of the advantages of Shanghai is that there’s a perfect subway network, all the attractions can be reached easily and cheaply by metro.

Shanghai is a city of extremes: it has ultra-modern and hip nightclubs but also intimate Chinese restaurants, glittering skyscrapers but also a romantic French Quarter, the most expensive designer clothes but also messy Chinese bazaars , flashy businessmen but also older Chinese practicing tai chi in a park.

Shanghai tourist scams

However, as in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” holiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

  • Be suspicious when a few friendly local girls invite you to experience a traditional Chinese Tea ceremony, as you’ll be charged a ridiculously high price and the girls are in on it.
  • Never accept a taxi that tries to negotiate a fixed price instead of running the meter, even if they try desperately to convince you it will be much cheaper. It won’t, so thank them and find the next one.
  • If you’re going for a relaxing massage, don’t accept any offers for a so-called “happy end”, even at no extra charge. Since prostitution is illegal in China, you are vulnerable to blackmail, and they will use it to extort enormous sums of money from you.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Yuan, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

Keep in mind: local Chinese (or most Asian) people are generally very timid towards foreigners and will never spontaneously approach them or start a conversation. Even if they speak English very well, they’ll wait for you to make the first contact. Any local who is daring enough to approach tourists spontaneously will have an agenda of his/her own, even if they seem friendly and helpful at first. It’s that simple!

tourist-scams-ShanghaiBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Shanghai is unsafe. It’s just as safe as any other metropolis like New York, Bangkok or Paris and because of the great contrast with rural China, it’s a must-see for every tourist visiting this extraordinary country.


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