China Travel Costs – On a Budget for 60 days



It’s a pretty apt title, because China does cost, especially if you want to see some of the more magnificent sights.We split our 60 day trip to China into two halves, the north and then (after Vietnam) the south and the south west.  Here’s the wrap up of our China Travel Costs.


In our first trip through China…
If you remember, WAY BACK WHEN, we arrived into China on a train, from Mongolia, after a trip that took in the Hanging Monastery, the Yungang Grottoes, X’ian and the Terracotta Army, we took in all of Beijing and the amazing, incredible Great Wall of China. We hiked Huashan and I realized a dream of walking on the plank walk, we believed enough to love Huangshan and we chilled out watching the skyline in Shanghai, getting our visa to Vietnam.

The first part of China cost us an average of $51.79 per day each, against a budget of $50. Our total spend each on accommodation was $160.03, but we also had 10 free nights (courtesy IHG and SPG awards that we were using up) and 2 nights on a train, which are accounted for in travel costs.


We generally take a double room, and aim, where it’s sensibly price to have an en-suite bathroom, so for instance, when I say that our cheapest accommodation was the Yongli Hostel in Huangshan, at $5.23 you need to double that to get the actual price of the room. You’ll be horrified when you double the cost of the Beihai hotel on Huangshan mountain itself, our segregated dorm rooms cost us $38.60 each for one night!. In total our average accommodation cost (which does NOT include free nights) was $12.31.

Yes, that’s right, we were paying less than US $25 a night, usually for a double room with an en-suite bathroom.

For the second pass at China we approached from the south…
We entered China by walking across a river from Vietnam, took numerous buses, the most memorable of which was the little pink bus from Hekou to XinJie, the worst of which was the horrid one from Xinjie to Kunming, where we had the longest bad day in the world. We gained altitude through Dali, Lijiang and hiked Tiger Leaping Gorge, which has to be my favorite place in China, saw the devastation of Shangri La and then headed further north into Sichuan country.


That’s where we saw the delightful Panda’s, ate food to sweat for and then headed to China’s Yosemite – Jiuzhaigou and then Huanglong, which is often called Yellowstone.

A 3 day trip down the Yangtze on a Chinese boat and then it was off to another mountain, Zhangjiajie followed by our final stops, Guilin with a trip down the River Li and the Dragon River to Yangshuo and the Longsheng Rice Terraces before we walked across the border into Hong Kong.

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Our costs went up a lot on this second trip. We averaged $75.66 a day each (Yowsers, that’s 50% over budget!!). Our most expensive night on the second time around was the Yangtze River Hostel in Chongqing at $16.09, the cheapest was a tie for the Hua Yu in Hekou and the Yingyoulian Guest House in XinJie at $4.83 a night. Total accommodation costs for 20 nights were $223.48, an average of $11.18 each night.

Included in the costs was $295.72 each on two flights, (from Shangri-La to Chengdu and from Jiuzhaigou to Chongqing, there were 3 free nights courtesy IHG, two nights on a train, one in a train station waiting room and two nights on a Chinese ship on the Yangtze.

All in all, our second half was much more expensive than the first because we visited so many more places – and a lot of them expensive places – from the 310 Yuan cost (US$50) per day in Jiuzhaigou National Park, to the 245 Yuan cost (US$40) to enter Zhangjiajie. There’s also the small fact that we took a cruise on the Yangtze during the second time around. It also feels like we ate a whole lot more (and ate better!) the second time around. Perhaps we’d become more confident at just pointing, or perhaps there was less opportunity for instant noodles.

There were unforeseen costs…

We had unforeseen costs the second time in China, first of all a new Kindle for Nigel ate 900 Yuan (US $147) and a new iPhone cable, which turned out not to work anyways cost a whopping 198 Yuan (US $32.25).

Our overall costs for China came out at $128.80 average per day, taking our trip to date average to $125.81 as we left China. We’re now headed to Hong Kong, Macau and then the more expensive Korea and Japan, which are going to prove interesting on a budget, perhaps there are many more instant noodles in my near future!


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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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