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Beginners Guide to Canton Fair : Resources – Staying Safe and Avoiding Scams in China

Start your Canton Fair Journey Here

China, in general, is a pretty safe country to visit. There are no political unrest and the rates of violent crimes are quite low. This is one of the reasons why you see plenty of solo and family travelers in China. That said, traveling China is not without its problem. While violent and dangerous crimes threats are relatively low, the same cannot be said with regards to economic crime. As a visitor to the Canton Fair in the city of Guangzhou, this is something to be aware of.

For a megacity, Guangzhou is relatively safe, the presence of police and security guards just about everywhere and mandatory scanning prior to entering public places such as train station and big malls adds to the sense of security. However, here are some of the economic crimes that are common in Guangzhou and the rest of China you need to be aware of :



Counterfeit Money

China has a huge counterfeit currency problem. The usage Visa and Mastercard bank electronic payments are limited in China. So you will rely heavily on cash. As a solution, get your cash from a reputable source. We change some yuans in Australia and withdraw the rest from reputable ATMs eg: Bank of China or Citibank. Most counterfeit money comes in a form of 100 yuan bills. Be sure to check all the 100 yuan bills you have with you and make sure there is no tell-tale sign of fake money.

Learn how to detect counterfeit money here

Another thing is, always have your cash with you no matter what. Never leave your money unattended, even in your hotel safe or when getting a message. The duty of care is not really Chinese businesses strong suit.

Tips: When using services such as taxi’s, try not to pay with 100 yuan bills.  You may get dodgy taxi drivers switching your money to a fake one. They then proceed to tell you that the money you initially gave was fake.




This is one of our biggest problems when traveling in China. We have been to China nearly 10 times and we have been pickpocketed 7 times. Out of that 7 times, they were successful once, where we lost our camera. Once we even caught a thieve while she was digging into our backpack.

Beware of pickpocketers in public areas such as subway, buses, shopping areas, and at tourist sites. Thieves target cash, credit cards, cell phones, cameras, and basically anything of value.

Tips: Make sure to check your travel insurance policy on the process you need to know once you have been pickpocketed for an insurance claim.




Confidence Scheme

They saw you coming in China. Confidence scheme comes in all shapes and sizes. They would gain your confidence and trust before attempting to defraud you. The sad thing is in China, because of this, it is quite difficult for us to make friends with the locals because you don’t know if they are legit.

Scams like these can be scary. For instance with the Massage Parlour scam, Men would be approached on the street for normal massage services, they would naively accept it. Massage turned into something naughty and during that time, Massage Parlour boss would turn up and demand further payment, usually 10 times the amount you initially paid for an innocent massage.

If you are approached by a person from out of nowhere (they are always from out of nowhere! wtf) offering help and services such as entry to a KTV/Nightclub, Massages, learning English, Tea Ceremony or just about anything… just walk away.

Tips : If you DO think the good in people and decide to strike up a conversation with these friendly, well-spoken Chinese people who approached you, never let them take you to a place suggested by them.



Fake Goods

China is the master of copying everything, so expect plenty and plenty of fake goods to be sold here. This can be a bit of an issue for those who genuinely want cheaper branded products. International imported goods and designer brands are generally more expensive in China due to the import taxes. So if you feel like the prices are too good to be true it probably is. If you are after cheaper international brands electronics or designer fashion, you are better off buying it in Hong Kong



How to Avoid Them

There are many more scams and low-level crimes that occur on a daily basis to tourist in China. But the fundamentals are basically like the ones listed above. You can always practice some due diligence to protect yourself from these scams.  Some of the things you can do when you face an unfavourable situation is to:

  • Ignore and walk away when being approached
  • Inspect cash and if required take a photo of the serial number every time you dish out 100 yuan cash
  • If you catch someone trying to scam or steal from you, confront them. The Chinese do not like confrontation very much.
  • Buy branded items from flagship stores
  • Always take licensed public transportations
  • When acquiring goods and services, always get prices agreed FIRST before you commit
  • Keep your valuables with you at all times
  • Threaten to call the cops. Make sure you have the emergency numbers with you.
  • When making credit card purchases, make sure credit card is swiped in front of you. Ensure the correct amount being charged.

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