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Foreign tourist arrested

Popularity 8Viewed 4015 times 2017-1-15 20:12 |Personal category:Tourism|System category:Life| tourism, and, restricted, areas

China is very keen to develop tourism with its citizens, but more so with foreign travellers. However, many travel agents in China have little knowledge of restrictions to travel for foreigners. This can lead to worrying problems arising when a foreigner arrives at a booked destination only to find that they should not be there!
Several years ago I went with a Chinese tour group to Henan to climb a mountain. The agent that booked us knew I was a foreigner and even had a copy of my passport. On arriving at the mountain we all entered a large hall to get tickets and find our little bus to take us further up the mountain. I was immediately surrounded by police and soldiers. Much argument ensued between my Chinese colleagues and the police. My passport was taken away for examination. If you cannot speak Chinese it is very worrying when you ask what the matter is and get told not to worry!  It appeared that this was a restricted military area not open to foreign tourists. I was escorted out of the area and had a further very long trip on a bus to the nearest city. Our coach collected me on their way back. They said that the mountain views were amazing and they saw nothing "strange".
Last year some Chinese colleagues and I booked a trip with a travel agent to another famous and beautiful area of Henan. Once again it was made clear that I was a foreigner. Our first visit was to a mountain known for its spectacular waterfalls. It was indeed a most wonderful experience. We then went to some famous caves. On arrival, there were long queues of Chinese tourists waiting to go in. As soon as we were seen we were pushed to the front and into the caves! I thought it was because I was considered a foreign VIP!  These caves are the most amazing I have ever seen; enormous cathedrals of Stalactites and stalagmites. This place must be one of the wonders of the world (or should be). On leaving, I had time to wander around the park and look at the various stalls before meeting with my Chinese friends. We then took the coach to a mountain where we were going to stop the night before climbing it. Imagine my stress levels when I was not allowed out of the coach. It was explained that every place we had been to, and this mountain, was prohibited to foreigners! I could have been arrested at any time.  I had to spend the night and the following day in a hotel room out of sight, waiting for the coach to pick me up on the way home.
The resulting complaints resulted in full refunds of our money.
Chinese travel and tour companies do not always know where restrictions apply. Be warned.
If tourism is to be encouraged, particularly to such wonderful places, Chinese authorities and travel agents will have to sort these problems out.
The exact places visited etc. are not mentioned to protect those wonderful people who helped me avoid arrest.



(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report voice_cd 2017-1-17 08:40
thanks for sharing your story here, we would like to highlight it on the homepage.
Reply Report TedM 2017-1-18 18:59
Thanks. It may encourage travel companies to update their information about restricted areas.
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2017-1-18 21:20
Reminds me of a time I had to travel for work and was told that I was booked into a hotel, only to arrive and be refused a room because I was foreign. Had been assured there would be no problem, even after asking a few times prior to my arrival to check the booking was ok.
Thankfully not arrested, but wasted so much time because the organiser failed to check if the hotel was licenced for foreigners.
I got a much nicer place , for which I insisted the organiser pay.
Reply Report parcher 2017-1-19 21:12
Thanks for the info......
Reply Report 12dream 2017-1-22 17:16
TedM: Thanks. It may encourage travel companies to update their information about restricted areas.
Do share your real concern and it had been a nightmare to many tourists, local and foreigners , because tourist guides and government bodies did and could NOT merge their common info and knowledge about restrictions / out of bound areas. A case for local government authorities and travel / tourist guides to reach a common guidance.

The rather disturbing scenario had been ( not sure if it is fixed ) the poor quality of tourist guides ( hired by ad-hoc travel agents / government agencies ) who were out to make money and disregard national pride.
Reply Report 12dream 2017-1-22 17:25
BlondeAmber: Reminds me of a time I had to travel for work and was told that I was booked into a hotel, only to arrive and be refused a room because I was foreign. ...
OH yes, had experienced quite a few times around China especially those in the Central China region like Shanxi. Got there at midnight by trains hoping to sleep at the nearby hotels / motels but only to be told, " NOT  FOR FOREIGNERS ".  Kept looking via midnight caps or black caps, the bills cost us more than the night sleep at any 3 star hotel. The relief came when we reached the city or major township at 0200 Hr or about; slept at 0300Hr and departed for the next destination at 0700Hr. Great fun ?
Reply Report Gayle 2017-2-10 02:41
What is the reason that some hotels and motels would say "NOT FOR FOREIGNERS"?  I can understand if a place has military activities going on that they don't want foreigners to see, but why a hotel or motel?  What comes to my mind is that perhaps the hotel or motel is bad or dirty and they don't want foreigners to see that.  Is that the reason?
Reply Report MAN_UP 2017-2-24 19:07
@gayle. no. i was turned away from a brand new motel. real clean.
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2017-3-16 14:20
Gayle: What is the reason that some hotels and motels would say "NOT FOR FOREIGNERS"?  I can understand if a place has military activities going on ...
5 star hotels in China are usually of about (at best) 4 star standard or less in Europe.

my research has found that the hotels in China that refuse foreigners are usually of 3 star (local) standard or lower.
It could be something to do with 'face' or the fact that allowing foreigners in requires a licence that they can not afford.
Reply Report Gayle 2017-3-16 23:57
Blonde Amber: "It could be something to do with 'face' or the fact that allowing foreigners in requires a licence that they can not afford."

But you said "Thankfully not arrested"?  Why should a foreigner be arrested if the hotel is not great or doesn't have the special license? And the original blogger said "I could have been arrested at any time."  For visiting waterfalls and caves?  Doesn't China want to encourage its tourism industry?

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TedM

Education management advisor and English teacher

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