What can I expect from China?

There are few countries in the world with a culture as distinct as China. A country of contrasts, China offers thriving Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, but also extremely rural and underdeveloped areas in the western part of the country. This is a country stuck between the developed and developing world.

Rapid change has attracted curious people from around the globe, so it’s a great time to dip your toes into this amazing culture and explore the country. Each day creates a new China. While I dislike the pollution of many of the big cities, the countryside and food are incredible. This travel guide to China can help you get the most from you visit!

Things to See and Do in China

Explore Shanghai
Get lost in Beijing
Visit Hong Kong
See the Great Wall of China
Visit the Forbidden City
Try local food
See Xi' An
Be amaze by the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Avatar Mountains)

“Yu Garden by night”

“The Bound by night”

Typical Costs When Travelling

Accommodation – Prices start at around 25 CNY for a dorm in many of the smaller cities. Expect to pay closer to 90 CNY in Hong Kong and Beijing. For a private room, prices begin around 125 CNY though expect to pay almost double that in the larger cities. Budget hotels begin around 75 CNY per night for basic accommodations, with higher prices in Hong Kong. Airbnb is plentiful in China, and can be found in all the major cities though it’s much less common in rural areas. Prices range from 260-780 CNY depending on the city. For anyone traveling with a tent, there are plenty of campgrounds around the country. Expect to pay around 20 CNY per night for a basic plot.

Food – Food in China is cheap. A meal from a street vendor usually goes for around 7-14 CNY. For this you might get noodles, rice, pork buns, or a soup. A full meal in a sit down restaurant will cost between 15-54 CNY plus the fee for a bowl of rice and clean bowls (yes, these cost extra!), which is often around 4 CNY. If you stick to the local food, you’ll find it hard to go broke.

For Western food, you can expect to pay much higher prices for food that will be a disappointment compared to home, if you’re outside of the more Westernized cities like Hong Kong. A western style sandwich can run about 40 CNY and a cup of coffee can be similarly-priced to back home.

Transportation – China may be a huge country, but it’s easy and cheap to get from one place to another. Buses are the most popular way to travel and usually cost between 1.50-3 CNY in a city. Major cities also have extensive underground systems that are less than 6 CNY per ride. Taxi fares start at about 6 CNY. On a high-speed train, the ticket from Beijing to Shanghai is around 545 CNY for 2nd class, around 930 CNY for 1st class, and around 1,800 CNY for a VIP seat. For the longer, full day train, a 2nd class seat is around 445 CNY and a 1st class seat is around 540 CNY. For overnight trains, keep in mind that the lower bunk is usually cheaper as it is closer to the noise. Top bunks will be more expensive, though they occasionally have very little space to offer (even though you pay more); it is not uncommon to be unable to sit all the way up. Buses are generally cheaper than trains. There are plenty of regional carriers in China when it comes to flights, including Air China, and China Eastern, Southern, and Southwest Airlines. Just keep in mind that many flights rarely leave on time, so be mindful of your connections when booking!

Suggested daily budget – 210-280 CNY / 30-40 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number.)

Money Saving Tips

Use sleeper trains Spending a night on the train will save you paying an extra night of accommodation. Lower bunks are less expensive, so purchase a few days in advance to take advantage of these savings.
Ask for Xiao Pan If eating alone, ask for “xiao pan”. These are small portions and work out at 70% of the size and price of a normal dish.
Hard Seats Travel on the “hard seats” on trains or buses. These are the cheapest and most basic seats but are not “hard” as the name would lead you to believe.
Negociate the prices Especially in some markets, when you are told a price, always try to negociate a little bit.


Here are a selection of our travel essentials !

What can I expect from China?

In general, sights are affordable in China — even popular attractions such as the Great Wall or the Forbidden City are under 68 CNY. While the Great Wall never kept out invaders, it’s beautiful and is only 48 CNY, the Forbidden City is 68 CNY. Smaller temples, activities and sights are much more reasonable priced and cost around 14 CNY.

If you are looking for a destination that is exotic, packed full of new sights and experiences, stimulating, and over all different, China is best in the world.


We are Elsa & Cyril, a French couple who left behind the French Art de Vivre to travel the world and chase our own dreams. Find out the rest of our story here !