China Travel Answer

Q: Is it safe to stay at the cheaper hotels of Shanghai, Wenzhou and guanzhau? Is it safe travelling within China through the local road transport services, at any hour?

In China there are relatively few violent crimes again foreign visitors. However, property-related crimes, such as pick-pocketing and burglary, are frequent occurrences, especially at crowded places such as railway stations, buses, ticket offices, etc. Most hotels are safe. Foreign visitors normally do not stay at the cheapest hotels. The issue is not just safety but also sanitation, etc. It used to be that foreign visitors can only stay at certain specially designated hotels. It seems the government has recently scrapped this rule, at least in major cities. In some places, you may still find that some cheap guesthouses do not accommodate foreign visitors. So, it may be the case that you want to stay at a place but the host will not let you do so. In any event, frankly, there are places where one should not even consider staying. The economic disparity in China is such that if you go for the cheapest accommodation, you may find the places really shabby, unclean, and possibly unsafe.

But how cheap is cheap? With US$30-50 you can probably find tolerable, even decent, and safe accommodation. But it may take some searching to find such places. Is it worth the trouble? Hard to say.

As for transportation, if you travel by legit buses, cabs, etc., it is generally safe. Such services are licensed by the government, and one can easily trace back to them by their numbers and so on if anything goes wrong. Do not trust anyone who just comes up to you and volunteers his or her services. Get on a bus at a real bus station; hail a taxi at a hotel. Safety should always be the priority.

Generally, criminals in China tend to stay away from foreign visitors. They know the government can be rather severe with offenses against foreign tourists. That is an additional risk that many of them do not want to take. On the other hand, it is still a common notion in China that foreigners, regardless where they're from, are rich. So, be careful with your belongings and always think about your safety when you travel in China.