As China’s top travel destination, Sanya receives more than 10 million tourists from all over the world every year. Unfortunately, due to its popularity a holiday here can be full of scams. For those coming to Sanya for the first time, here are some tips and pointers, written by those who have trodden the path before you, to help you avoid unnecessary troubles.
Source: Cory Doctorow
1) Be careful of taxis and tuk-tuks demanding prices
With regard to taxis: in Sanya, even regular taxi companies will sometimes have drivers that do not voluntarily turn on their meter, so make sure you specifically request the driver to by asking him to ‘dabiao’, or turn on the meter. Also make sure you know the approximate journey price in case the driver tries to ask for more money. If you end up having a disagreement over the price, please write down the license plate number and taxi driver certification number and hold onto your receipt. These bits of information will be useful for a further investigation.
Secondly, do not take illegal taxis. There are many reasons for this, firstly they will try and raise their prices to extort you, sometimes up to three times the price of a normal taxi. On top of that, they are dangerous and unregistered, so it is better not to take these especially at night if you are traveling by yourself.
And thirdly, with regards to tuk-tuks, they drive extremely dangerously, and some of them will only take foreign tourists in order to entice them into visiting a certain to a restaurant or a tourist destination. Here, the prices will be jacked up and the tuk-tuk driver gets a commission for anything you eat, or buy. They will also usually leave you there.
2) Be careful of Chinese Massages on the beach
Sanya’s beach is lined with hotels and spas – if you want to have a Chinese Massage, please ask at any of the big hotels whether they provide this service, or ask them where the nearest hotel or spa that does is. Arrange the price in advance, and do not get tricked into a massage on the beach. Not only will you be likely to enter into a disagreement over the price, but the person performing the massage is probably not qualified.
3) Be careful of prostitutes.
Sometimes when foreign tourists arrive at the hotel, the door man or the security guard will offer to help you explore Sanya’s ‘nightlife’; in fact, they are acting as middle men as they are paid by brothels to advertise their services. The same can happen in a hotel massage room or spa, where a ‘special services’ are on offer. Being aware of these scams can help you avoid unnecessary trouble.
4) Be careful of sightseeing buses.
Some of Sanya’s hotels offer their own sightseeing buses, but these buses often will take tourists to some of their own stores, or lesser known tourist sights. Here, anything you buy will add up to commission for them, so they are very pushy. Often, once you get on the bus, it is hard to get off, so make sure that you are clear of where a bus is going and what the expectations are before you board it.
5) Be careful of price scams at restaurants, check the prices in advance.
Most tourists coming to Sanya will want to sample the amazing seafood, and so you should! However, many of the bigger restaurants in popular tourist areas will have extortionately high prices and will have sneaky tricks to make you pay more. For example, if there is a 580 RMB price tag on a fish, this usually means 580 RMB per pound of fish, rather than for the entire dish. Please make sure that you are clearly in agreement over the price before ordering, and whether or not you are expected to pay ‘seafood processing fees’. Alternatively, avoid the restaurants promoting ‘high quality sea food’, as these are usually the restaurant selling normal seafood but charging higher prices.
To find the best restaurants, check travel websites online or ask your hotel or hostels’ local staff as they will be more up to date on the restaurant situation.
6) Be careful of strangers pushing to take you to bars or tea houses
Just like in many other big Chinese city, there are people in Sanya who will strike up a conversation in English, generally younger Chinese women, often appearing to be normal tourists, but with the final goal of taking foreign tourists to a high end bar or tea house. Here you’ll be unpleasantly surprised with a huge bill, so it is better to go to places you decide on yourself, and avoid tea houses or bars that you have never heard of before. Unfortunately, some of the friendly strangers will be part of a scam, so be vigilant.
7) 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 Sanya’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 Sanya City Branch: 0898 12301 (No English hot line, but some staff do speak English)
Hainan Tourism Quality Supervision Management Bureau: 0898 8839 2211
Sanya Tourism Service Bureau: 0898 6535 8451
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Keywords: Avoiding Getting Ripped Off in Sanya Sanya Scams
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