6 Most Common Tricks of Fraud Tour Operators in China

When facing a great deal of China tour operators, without a cool head and sharp eyes, it is easy for tourists to fall into some travel traps such as fake qualification, false advertisements, extreme low price, hidden fees, and compulsory purchase. Here we list 6 most common tricks of fraud tour operators that you should try to avoid:


 Fake Qualification Due to Illegal Subcontracting

You may find some travel agencies on the market, claiming themselves the branches of some well-known tour operators, but actually most of them are just 'affiliated' to these large agencies by paying a certain amount of fee. There are also travel agencies in China subcontracting a certain area of the workplace or even a business department to individuals. If you happen to meet such a self-employed tour operator with a decent title but actually limited experience, it's certain that a high-level and enjoyable China tour experience cannot be guaranteed.

 See more details about How to Identify the History of China Travel Agencies


 False Advertisements from 'Warm-Hearted' Hawkers

Ignore various sticker ads on billboards, utility poles, street lamp posts, or other roadside facilities, and also be cautious of flyers stuffed into your hands by strangers. A reputable travel agency won't do that way. Such advertisements are mostly false and services provided by them are absolutely not reliable.

Around the train stations, bus stations, or some commercial blocks in China, you need to be careful of the typical traps from some 'warm-hearted' guys speaking simple English that recommend you the so-called 'economy' tours or 'cheap' rides to tourist attractions. The same situation also happens around some scenic areas. 'Warm-hearted' tricksters will keep after you saying they can help you get the tickets at a low price or even lead you into the tourist spots for free. If this happens, we suggest you stop talking with them and leave. Always remember to ignore touts or people who offer you a free lunch.


 Extreme Low-Price Trap: Travel at No Cost?

There are some wicked tour operators, launching deceptive itineraries at extremely low prices. Customers easily buy on impulse when encountering cheap and enticing prices. However, wake up and think twice when you see a tour sold at an obvious below-cost price, or even at zero. Don't be naive to concern for the profit of the tour operator; you have to worry about your own pocket. Once joining such a tour, you are counted as one of the multipliers of their commission, when the guide continuously takes the group to the appointed stores with over-priced jewelry. Some tour operators even lower the service standard in dining, vehicles or accommodation to get the profit back. 

Read More: China Tour Package Price


 Hidden Fees and Surcharges

Vague tour contract is another commonest trap which usually features hidden fees and unannounced self-paid activities. There are visitors complaining that they are informed to pay extra fees on the spot, otherwise the guides would leave them by the roadside for hours, waiting for other group members taking the self-paid activities. Optional activities are common and acceptable when they are stated clearly in an itinerary to allow flexibility and personal preference, but you should be aware of them in advance, not be informed on the spot or forced to pay. Be careful to see all the inclusions, exclusions, optional items and their prices before start a travel booking. A decent travel agency will sure have all these essentials clearly showed in their web pages or brochures. 


 Unannounced Shopping Obligations & Compulsory Purchase

Shopping is a delightful supplement of a tour if being properly arranged, allowing travelers to learn about the local handicrafts and buy satisfactory souvenirs. However, be alert of tours with unclear shopping activities and obligations. Some mean tour operators may play tricks on this to add more shopping stops without informing the customers in advance. Small tour operators don’t have fixed local guides, let alone training or regulating them. As a result, some guides will probably cut the sightseeing time and threaten visitors to stay longer in the stores to buy things of low quality but at high prices in order to take kickbacks. Travelers are forced to buy and always end up with being ripped off!


 Bait-and-Switch Trick by Flattering Photos

Over-edited photos can cheat you. This happens mostly in accommodation, dining and bus services. Some tour operators are incapable of managing the service standard, and use over-edited or even deceitful photos to allure customers. A luxury hotel photo showing the international chained-brands’ style might turn out to be a plain lodging with substandard facilities or an inconvenient location; a so-called high-end restaurant is actually a fast-food eatery; a limousine on the photo might be replaced by a battered old car. Before booking, one could turn to the reviews and photos of real buyers to confirm the actual service standard of a China tour operator.

Further Reading: 5 Things to Do before Making a Reservation of China Tour

- Last updated on Oct. 30, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on 6 Most Common Tricks of Fraud Tour Operators in China
Asked by Vladimir from CZECH REPUBLIC | Sep. 10, 2019 21:59Reply
Possibility to travel from Airport Beijing to Changzhou by train
We should arrive to Beijing Airport on 26.10.2019 at 5:20 AM and we intend to travel from Beijing to Changzhou with the High Speed Bullet Train. From Beijing Airport to Beijing South Railway Station we want to use Airport Express No.2. We are 3 people each with cabin baggage plus big suitcase and we are worried about the entranceway and the traveling into the Airport Express No.2. Is there some checking similar to entrance into Metro? Do we have to book the tickets to the Express and to the Bullet Train in advance? We are afraid to do it, for we don’t know if the airplane from Europe will arrive without delay and how long will take the customs clearance and other procedures. Vladimir, Czech Republic.
Answers (2)
Answered by Akili from CANADA | Sep. 11, 2019 22:47

Don't worry. It will be ok for you to bring the lugggae. You don't need to book the airport express tickets in advance. But for train tickets, you are suggested to book in advance. TravelChinaGuide.com provides such service. If interested, their contact information is bookingtravelchinaguide.com.
Answered by Vladimir from CZECH REPUBLIC | Sep. 11, 2019 23:07

Thanks for your advice and have a nice day :-)
Asked by Ms J from USA | May. 14, 2019 21:29Reply
G6 train from Shanghai at 0700 and return from Beijing on G21 train at 1900
Hi i arrive in Shanghai in Jun & would like to know if I can travel to Mutianyu great wall by public bus there and back. Can I make it in time catching these two trains..G6 leaving Shanghai and G21 leaving Beijing?
Answers (1)
Answered by Nolan from UKRAINE | May. 15, 2019 19:49

Well, I am afraid not. The time is not enough for you to tour around Mutianyu Great Wall. You are suggested to tour around city downtown area, such as Tian'anmen Square, Wangfujing Street.....
Asked by Diana from USA | Mar. 30, 2019 14:35Reply
We are traveling to Beijing and I am looking to make hotel reservations in the Dongcheng area.
We are traveling with my adult son, so we specified that there are 3 adults. The hotel they show me have 1 full nbef or Queen/king bed and it always said sleep 3 adults but I don't see the 3rd bed. Then I read they charge for roller bed. What is the deal. The price the give me is for 3 persons with a roller bed included or they mean that a 3 person can sleep but needs to add a roller bed to the price given?

Answers (1)
Answered by Ben from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 31, 2019 19:28

It means that 3 person can sleep but needs to add a roller bed, and maybe you need to pay for the extra roller bed. Anyway, you are suggested to verify with the hotel again.
Asked by johntc from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 04, 2018 05:21Reply
hi, please advise best way (simple, fast, inexpensive) to travel from Dongtai to NKG on 22/12/2018?
hi, our flight departs NKG at 19.25 on 22/12/2018. So far the best way Ive found (to get from Dongtai to NKG) is Airport bus Wuxi Grand Hotel depart 15.30 Y60, (arr NKG 17.30).

Buses depart Dongtai 12.40 and 13.20, (we are hoping to meet friends for lunch in Dongtai and leave afterwards).

Please advise/estimate what time these buses should arrive at Wuxi. Is the Wuxi bus stop close to Wuxi Grand Hotel? Thank you for your advice, regards John, Australia
Answers (1)
Answered by Emma from CANADA | Nov. 04, 2018 21:47

Hi, I haven't found the airport bus you mentioned above. The only shuttle bus from Wuxi to Nanjing departs from the city terminal located at No. 88, Station Square, Liangxi District, 80m south to the Wuxi Railway Station. The bus departs at 15:20 and the fare is CNY70. (arrive NKG 17:30). The bus from Dongtai to Wuxi takes about 3 hours so you are suggested to depart before 12:00 and the bus fare is CNY66. The distance of the bus stop to the city terminal is about 15minutes' walk.

Another way is to take a train from Dontai to Nanjing and it takes about 2.5 hours and the fare is around CNY60. Then take a shuttle bus to the airport, which takes about 1.5 hours and it takes about CNY 20.
Asked by Sandra Anderson from AUSTRALIA | Feb. 12, 2018 18:43Reply
Baggage on Flights
We are travelling very soon back on China Southern Airlines from China and it says on their website that we can bring back 2 suitcases X 23kgs of luggage each. Is this correct?
Answers (1)
Answered by Kinsley from CANADA | Feb. 12, 2018 20:54

Do you refer to the international flight? If yes, the information is correct. For economy class seat, each passenger can bring 2 suitcase x 23kg each.
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