In the good old days Yangshuo was the backpacker capital of China, then Chinese tourists joined the hordes, and for the locals a light bulb went off and they realized that if you rip people off there’s really no need to do much work. In fact in Chinese media Yangshuo has one of the worst reputations in the country. Now whilst the tourist numbers might have dropped dramatically, and the backpackers may have long gone, this has only meant that the scamming is now on overload. Here’s our top scams to avoid when you travel to Yangshuo.
6) The Yangshuo Bus Scam
The great thing about Yangshuo is that the scams start before you even arrive! When you get off the train in Guilin there will be lot of locals screaming YANGSHUO YANGSHUO and trying to manhandle you. There will even be booths set up that say “Yangshuo”. Do not talk to any of these people or you will be charged whatever ridiculous fee these spivs decide to add on; the booths will even give fake tickets. Oh and as for getting a taxi from Guilin to Yangshuo? It’s not even worth asking.
How to avoid this: take an honest – but still pretty pricey – DiDi (Chinese Uber) for around 200 RMB. If you’re on a budget, go to Guilin bus station and get a bus ticket to Yangshuo for around 25 RMB. Get your ticket from the official window inside. The dickhead touts outside are dickhead touts, no matter how much they may pretend they are legit.
5) The Yangshuo Restaurant Scam
It is a sad fact that 90% of Chinese restaurants in Yangshuo are grossly overpriced. What might set you back 15-20 RMB in genuine city will likely cost you 40-50 RMB in this quaint little hamlet. To add insult to injury, cooks in Yangshuo either don’t give a shit about the quality of their product or they simply can’t cook. Either way, the Chinese food tends to be dry, bland, overpriced garbage.
How to avoid this: there are two options: develop a relationship with locals, or eat foreign. A lot of the foreign restaurants are similarly overpriced, of course, so this presents its own problems. Ganga Namo Namo is a good option for Indian food, and there are several German/Italian places near West Street whose menus are worth looking over. Failing that, there are old standbys McDonald’s and KFC to consider, who for all their culinary failings do not price-gouge.
4) West Street
OK! So West Street in Yangshuo is not exactly a scam, but the loud bars with sexy ladies dancing on tables charge New York prices for drinks. Yangshuo is not New York. Your call.
How to avoid this: reasonably priced bars in Yangshuo can be counted on one hand: try Cheers, Rusty Bolt, Bad Panda or Monkey Jane’s. A beer in most of these fine establishments will set you back anywhere from 20-50 RMB depending on how imported it is.
3) Motorbike Taxis
Yangshuo has motorbike taxis, but unless you speak Chinese be prepared for them to rip you off. Basically it costs RMB 10 to go ANYWHERE in Yangshuo, it is a fixed price, but this will not stop them trying to change anything into the hundreds to for even a short ride.
How to avoid this: best thing to do is simply hold out a ten, or simply get off the bike, hand over a 10 and leave when you arrive. Failing that, Yangshuo is pretty small; you can walk anywhere you need to be within half an hour, usually.
2) BOOM BOOM
If you are a foreign gentleman walking the streets of Yangshuo after dark then you will be approached by the friendly tuk-tuk drivers coming up to you and saying BOOM BOOM. They are offering services of a carnal nature outside of town where you are quite likely to end up with a product you didn’t exactly order at a price you didn’t negotiate whilst being in the middle of the Yangshuo countryside. We make no judgments on what you might do for your jollies, but Yangshuo is not the place for a shifty massage.
How to avoid this: shake hands with the Governor of Love in the privacy of your own accommodation, friend. Or use your natural charisma to go a-wooin’ in one of the more reasonably priced bars.
1) The Yangshuo Scooter Scams
Ah the Yangshuo scooter scams! So many of them in fact it could and should be its own blog! Firstly, if you get into a crash on a motorbike in Yangshuo, you will have to pay, because you are foreign. Secondly people are known to jump out in front of bikes, and then you have to pay for the ‘hospital bills’. Or there’s the scam where you ride over something in the countryside and get stopped by angry mob of locals who demand money. And then there’s the people that rent the bikes who claim, when you bring the bike back, that it is damaged.
How to avoid this: it’s always worth driving more slowly and carefully in China than anywhere else, but this goes double in Yangshuo. Never go more than 20mph and always keep an eye on your surroundings.
These are our top 6 favourite scams in Yangshuo, drop us a line to let us know yours!