The 5 Tourist Scams to Avoid When Visiting the Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army is on everyone’s bucket list for a trip to China. Located in Xi’an, the biggest city in northwest China, it enjoys easy access for travelers with different budgets thanks to the well-developed transportation, like highspeed train, overnight train, flight or long-distance buses. You are probably equipped with a lot of historic information before hitting the road. But knowing about these scams before your visit helps make your journey more smooth and safe.
1. Fake Tourist Bus
Never mistakenly take the wrong bus to get to the museum. The right public bus going to the Terracotta Army Museum is Bus. 306(Bus No.5).
When you arrive at the railway station and look for the public bus going to the Terracotta Army Museum as suggested in your guide book, please notice there will be people approaching you and trying to guide you to the bus. Never trust any of these people. Where they lead you to will be the fake bus.
To Avoid the Fake Bus: Find the right one on your own. Usually, the right bus has a queue while the counterfeit one never sees one. And the conductor of the real bus never leaves the bus to canvass passengers.
2. Illegal Taxis
Taking a taxi to get to the museum is a good choice as the price for taxis is much lower than in bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai, for example. Meanwhile it will also save you the trouble of getting trapped on the wrong bus. But be careful to avoid the illegal ones. Hailing a taxi in China is easy. You need simply stand on the side of the road and wave when you see one. Illegal taxis always stop even if you don’t wave at them, and the driver offers to take you to your destination. They usually ask for a lot more than it should be.
To Avoid the Illegal Taxis: Just ignore what the driver tries to say to you and wait patiently until a regular taxi which is green to pass by. You can ask the driver to use the meter and get the receipt when you arrive. The journey usually lasts for about 50 minutes.
3. Super cheap tours
Booking the super cheap tours means that you will spend your precious time and hard-earned money on commissioned shopping stops and get souvenirs of poor quality at ridiculously high prices. The super cheap tour often goes like before visiting the museum, you will be taken to a factory or shop where all sorts of souvenirs are displayed. You are expected to buy and ship things home if they are large ones. And you will end up spending a lot more money on this tour with a lot of your time wasted than a higher priced genuine one.
To Avoid Super Cheap Tours: Find trust-able and government authorized travel agencies offering No-commissioned Shopping tours. You may pay a higher price than those cheap ones. Yet you will find the tour worth the value without wasting a single minute of your time.
4. Fake Terracotta Army Museum: Horrible but true!
Upon your arrival at the parking lot of the museum, some kind villagers will soon approach to you and start to offer help with very sincere looks on their faces, claiming that they could give discounts for the tickets, or persuading you to take their ride as the museum is too far that you will have problem finding it. Be careful of these people. A man-made attraction featuring Emperor Qin’s tomb with several fake terracotta warriors close by is where you will be taken to, where your lifetime trip to see the Eighth World Wonder will be ruined. Yes, it is unbelievable but it is true.
To Avoid the Fake Museum: Once arriving at the parking lot, it is only 3-5 minutes’ walk towards the main entrance of the real museum and you don’t need any help finding it. You could also follow large tour groups, either Chinese or western groups to get to the entrance. Please notice the entrance fee for the real Terracotta Army Museum is RMB150(Mar. to Nov.) and RMB120(Dec. to Feb.) and the price for the fake museum is RMB128.
5. Vendors Stealthily Peddling Stuff in the Museum
While you are visiting the museum, you are still at the risk to be ripped off. There are two kinds of vendors stealthily peddling the terracotta soldiers (could be other terracotta figures) in their backpacks. One is those who tell you some very touching stories of how difficult their whole family have been striving to keep the original figures but due to the failures of their family business, you are lucky to get a real antique at a very low price. The other ones come straight to you with their poor-quality souvenirs at seemingly low prices (lower than the price of the ‘antique’), expecting you to haggle a bit and buy while you will find similar stuff outside the museum that is way cheaper.
To Avoid the Trap: Just ignore the vendors no matter how hard they are trying to sell. Your hesitation will get yourself a tail that keeps bothering you during your visit.
I believe tourist scams are universal at popular scenic spots, not typical at the Terracotta Warriors and Horses museum. So, do not be discouraged. The stunning world wonder is absolutely worth a go. You need only keep these traps in mind and enjoy a hassle-free tour.
About the Author:
Sarah is a frequent traveler, currently working as the editor of Elysian Tour, a trustable travel agency offering true value tours. This article is written to help more and more fellow travelers to plan a worry-free trip to visit China’s man-made wonder of the Terracotta Army over 2,000 years old.