Overall, China is very safe for travelers. People are friendly and more than willing to help foreign travelers, even if they speak little to no English. Violent crimes are rare, and it is safe to walk alone on the streets any time of the day or night. Female travelers can also rest assured that they can walk the streets safely, use public transportation without any concern, and take cabs without incident. Even so, it’s important to take some safety precautions whenever you are traveling in a foreign country. Below are some tips to help you stay safe while traveling in China.
1. Avoid confrontations
Chinese people generally avoid confrontation, but fights can happen and it is important to avoid getting involved in any sort of physical confrontation with locals. This is a rule that applies to pretty much any country, including China. If you happen to see two locals ensnared in a fight, do not get involved.
It’s also worth noting that some Chinese people talk loudly in what can sound like harsh tones to foreign ears. This does not mean they are having a verbal confrontation, however; it’s just the way they speak.
2. Obey local laws
China may have different laws than your home country. It’s important to know that China has harsh penalties for people who possess or sell illegal drugs, and these rules and punishments apply to foreign citizens too. China may refuse entry to a foreigner caught trying to smuggle drugs into the country. Depending on the amount and the type of drug, violators can expect to receive sentences that range from a few years in prison to the death penalty, as well as a financial penalty.
3. Keep valuable possessions in a safe place
Pickpockets are uncommon but not unheard of in China, so keep your wallet or purse where only you can reach them. Do not leave your belongings unattended, and do not keep your phone in a place where someone can easily grab it. Be sure to write down your hotel’s phone number and keep it with you in case you leave something valuable in your room and need to contact the hotel.
4. Avoid illegal taxis
There are usually fixed places to hire taxis at large airports or train stations in big cities, and you can ask the staff where to get a taxi if you cannot find it. There may be people who approach you at the exit of the airport or train station and offer you a taxi ride. We suggest you ignore these people, however, because they may not be licensed taxi drivers, and their cars may not be in good condition. They may also try to overcharge you or give you false banknotes.
5. Road safety
In China, when crossing roads or bicycling, even if you are on a crosswalk, be careful of vehicles. Some Chinese drivers are reckless and do not give pedestrians the right of way.
6. Watch out for scams and tourist traps
One of the most common scams you’ll see as a tourist in China consists of people approaching you and offering you something politely, especially souvenir-type items at tourist sights. After you accept their offering, they may ask you to pay or donate some money. We suggest refusing any items that strangers offer you for no reason.
Another kind of scam involves young people pretending to befriend you to bring you to a nice bar or nightclub. The end result is an excessively priced cup of tea or drinks. Do not accept strangers' invitations no matter how friendly or insistent they are. If you refuse them, they will quickly move on to try to find another unsuspecting visitor.
Another common scam is people who will replace your genuine banknote with a fake one and then return the fake banknote to you claiming that the money you gave them is fake. This normally happens when paying cab drivers or street vendors. They usually do this with 100 yuan notes, since they are most valuable, although it may happen with 50 yuan notes too. Our suggestion is to keep some 10 or 50 yuan banknotes for small payments and avoid using 100 yuan notes when taking taxis or making small transactions.
At some tourist sights, you may see local people dressed in traditional clothes. Be sure to ask before taking a picture of or with them, because they may charge you for the photograph afterwards.
7. Ask for help from locals
If you are traveling on one of our tours, your guide and driver will accompany you and help you handle any hassles or difficult situations during the day. During your free time, your guide and travel specialist will be available 24/7 by phone or text and will be ready to help whenever you may need.
If you are traveling on your own and encounter an unsafe or urgent situation, you may ask for help from the local people around, especially those in uniforms. Before your trip, be sure to let your loved ones back home know where you will be and pass on your flight and hotel information.