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How Much Money Should I Take On Holiday To China?

How Much Money Should I Take On Holiday To China?

China’s tourism industry has grown tremendously since the country relaxed its foreigners’ accommodation regulations a few years ago. Foreigners were previously restricted to staying only in four and five-star hotels, making it nearly impossible to visit the Asian country on a tight budget.

Today, tourists are free to rent hotel rooms, hostels, guest-rooms, and any other form of accommodation their budget can allow. The country has also opened all of its attraction sites to tourists for very affordable rates.

If you are planning to visit China any time soon, then you have come to the right place where we will answer your number one question: how much money should I take on holiday to China?

Well, a holiday trip to China will cost you as much or as little as you have- you don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun in China.

You will need as little as £50 per day for a backpacking trip and about £500 per day for a luxurious holiday. A mid-range trip falls in between.

Holiday ClassEstimated Amount Needed Per Day (Per Person)
Budget£50 Per Day
Mid-range£200 Per Day
High-end£600 Per Day
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Let’s break down these figures for you.


There is a variety of food options for you in China, but their prices vary from one city to the other and from one food joint to the other. Basic restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing, for example, sell their food at a slightly higher price than those you will find in smaller cities. On average, however, you will spend about £20-£25 on food per day.

The most popular breakfast options in China include steamed buns that go for about £1 per plate, soy milk/porridge for about £0.5 per bowl, and noodles for £1 per plate.

With about £3, you will afford a breakfast of milk and bread or yogurt and a cake in an upscale café while £2 will buy you a cup of coffee in a classy coffee shop.

If you choose to enjoy your breakfast in an air-conditioned restaurant, a train station, or an airport canteen, you may have to add an extra £1-£2 to your breakfast budget.

For lunch and supper, most Chinese restaurants serve rice/meat and noodles/meat combinations, each of which costs about £3 to £4 per plate. There are also many “snack streets” within the major cities from where you can eat roast meat skewers or deep-fried dough sticks, among other spicy snacks for anything between 20 cents and £2.

In case you miss western food during your trip, there are many McDonald’s and KFCs across China which sell at more or less the same prices as those you find back home.

Are you a fan of fast foods?

If yes, there are many cheap fast food restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai which sell meat, pastries, and soup for around £1 to £3 per meal. You will, however, have to put up with their crowding, low-quality food, and low hygiene standards.


China’s tap water isn’t fit for human consumption so you should avoid it at all cost. Luckily, the place isn’t too hot so you can survive with two liters of bottled water per day at £0.5/liter. A 500ml soda goes for £1 while a glass of fruit juice goes for £2 in upscale restaurants.

If you love alcoholic drinks, a 500ml bottle of Harbin Beer or any other Chinese beer will cost you from £2 to £4 in high-end restaurants and about £1 to £2 in basic beer shops. International beer brands such as Budweiser, on the other hand, will cost you from £4 to £7 per bottle.


Accommodation in China ranges between £3 and £200 but you can bargain for up to 30% discount. Most 5-star hotels in Beijing and Shanghai rent their rooms for between £100 and £200 per day, a 15% service charge, and a refundable room deposit of about £10. The rooms are self-contained, air-conditioned, have a TV, fridge, hot shower, and a phone. You will also be assigned an English-speaking attendant.

Are you planning for an extended vacation in China?

If yes, you can rent a fully-furnished apartment for about £2,000 per month (£67 per day).

With a low budget, you can sleep in a mid-range hotel room where you will pay around £20 to £50 per day. Such a room will have a TV, good ventilation, and a private bathroom. You will, however, have to cope with a dominantly Chinese-speaking staff.

With a backpacking budget, you check into the many budget guest rooms that are located near train and bus stations. You might have to share a bathroom and sometimes a room with other backpackers but that’s not too much to ask for only £2 to £5.


Buses, trains, motorbikes, and taxis are the most common means of transport in China. A 10-hour journey by bus will cost you anything between £10 and £15 while a train will charge you about £7 to £8 for the same distance. Plane tickets are 75-80% more expensive than long-distance trains.

Trains offer the best transport services for non-Chinese travellers because unlike buses, they have English-speaking staff and they are never caught up in slow traffic.

If you want more convenience, you can hire a taxi for about £1 per kilometer within the city and £1.5 per kilometer for long-distance trips. You can share the cost with three more passengers whenever you embark on a trip outside the city. That’s not all, major Chinese cities have metro and light trains that charge about 20 cents per subway ride.

Entrance Fee

Most of the major tourists’ attraction sites in China charge an entrance fee of between £2 and £25. If you will be visiting the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City of Beijing, the Beijing Zoo, or the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, for example, you will pay about £7, £12, £2 and £25 respectively. If you engage in fun activities such as boat riding, kayaking, etc., you will pay anything from £2 to £10.

Additional Tips

• Cases of pick-pocketing and counterfeit money are common in China so you will need to be extra vigilant with your money.

• If you visit Hong Kong, you will spend 3-5 times more money than what you could have spent in Shanghai, Beijing, and other mainland China cities.


China is a vast country with a lot to offer for every budget. You should, therefore, ensure that you carry enough money for your intended lifestyle, but be wise not to spend it on irrelevant things. Because you will find many local artefacts and souvenirs to bring home, you may need a small shopping budget.

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