Guilin and Yangshuo have an abundance of natural scenery hot spots and other tourist sites, and their mountains and rivers attract millions of domestic and foreign tourists every year. Due to the high volumes of people traveling here, there are a number of scams that you should be aware of that you can easily avoid if you are wise to their ways. This article will outline them, and give you some tips on how to make the most of your holiday without any unwanted troubles.
Photo: David Boté Estrada
1) Reject tour guides waiting at parking lots or docks
At the big tourist sites or by the ferries there will be a lot of self-proclaimed private tour guides waiting to offer their services. They often speak a little English, and aim to only get custom from foreigners, helping you get your tickets, hotels, and other things sorted, offering to take you to the biggest attractions. They are not real tour guides, and trick you with their lowest prices, but it is not worth the trouble. Some of the attractions they take you to will get them commission, meaning higher prices for you.
2) Take care with taxi drivers and motorbikes
Firstly, taxis often do not turn on their meter, so kindly remind them asking them to ‘dabiao’, or turn on the meter, and also make sure that you are roughly aware of the price of the trip you are taking, so that the taxi driver cannot ask for more and try to rip you off. If you feel that you are being cheated or you end up in an argument over price, please note down the license plate, the taxi drivers’ number, and save the receipt so that you can take action and report the driver later. Secondly, refuse to use taxi drivers promoting tourist attractions. Some of them will wait at the airport or around the big hotels, waiting to take you to a hostel, a tourist attraction, a restaurant or a shop. All of these places will be in cahoots with the driver and will pay them commission. Whether it is food or accommodation, there is no need to have the taxi driver help you as he has no benefits over regular travel agents.
With regards to motorbikes, it is best to avoid taking them, as they ignore traffic rules, endanger your safety, and sometimes will stop in the middle of nowhere and demand more money for the trip. There have been many reported cases of drivers getting aggressive and even threatening physical violence.
3) Buy tickets from official tourist offices or hotels
The ‘Impressional Sanjieliu’ is Guilin’s most famous performance, and is worth watching, however, please ensure that you get your tickets from an official travel agency or a big hotel. Some smaller travel companies will offer cheaper tickets but the seats will be really far from the stage where you can’t see or hear anything, and its not worth it. The same goes for touts selling tickets outside, which although cheaper, really do not give you great seats and are a waste of time. Generally the 198 RMB tickets are good, and you can really enjoy the show from these seats.
4) Don’t give your passport as a deposit for a rented bicycle
If you want to rent a bicycle in Guilin or Yangshuo, please go to Xijie’s travel agency. Generally the bikes are 20 RMB per day, with a 200 RMB deposit, you don’t need to give in your passport, and the deposit will be fully returned to you if there are no problems with the bicycle upon its return. Other bike rental places not only have higher prices but they will also sometimes demand that you give them your passport as a deposit, will use their second key to take your bicycle, and then demand that you pay a huge fee for the ‘lost’ bicycle in order to get your passport back. Near the big tourist destinations you can park your bikes for free and lock them up by the road. Even if you do have a fee for the bicycle parking lot, it is usually only between 1 and 2.5 RMB per bike.
It is also important to know that there are no uniform entrance fees for Butterfly Valley Scenic Area, and if you want to go there, it is important to pre-arrange transport.
5) Be careful of fake bank notes
When shopping, make sure that any change you get is real. The same goes for when you are exchanging money. Some of Guilin’s streets are no strangers to fake currency exchanges, and be vigilant if vendors ask whether or not you can break their large bills, or offer to give you change. The most common counterfeit denomination is the 100 RMB bill.
Useful Phone Numbers:
National Tourism Hotline Guilin City Branch: 0773 12301 (No English hot line, but some staff do speak English)
Guilin Tourism Quality Supervision Management Bureau: 0773 2800 315
Guilin Tourism Service Bureau: 0773 2825 890
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Keywords: Avoid Getting Ripped Off Guilin Scams
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