COST OF TRAVEL IN CHINA – Prices from one month travelling in China

Things to do in Xian China

Heading to China on a budget? Today we share the cost of travel in China, looking at how much we spent in one month travelling in China.

After living in China for two years and travelling the country extensively, we were fortunate to visit some amazing places. You can’t visit everywhere in one month (but the places not in this itinerary we have included prices for down the bottom in case you have longer!) but we are sharing the prices of accommodation, travel, food, drink and activities during one month travelling China.

This itinerary includes Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu and Hong Kong but more cost of travel guides can be found here.

Local man cooking food in China Chinese market Cost of Travel in China

Things to know before you visit China

  1. Visas – You will need a visa before arriving in China. These can be applied for online or via the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Unlike other destinations in Asia, you can’t get a visa on arrival. 
  2. Plan your trip including accommodation and transport – When applying for your visa, you will need to know where and when you will be in specific destinations as part of your application. Plan and book flights and hotels in advance, even just provisionally. 
  3. Get travel insurance – Insurance is not mandatory in China but it is better to be safe than sorry. There is a tendency for flights to be delayed in China and with the new spices and temperature, you may be needing a visit the doctors. We use World Nomads for our travels because it covers many destinations including those more off-the-beaten track places. Plus, a year insurance plan is affordable. 
  4. The language – In China, the locals speak Mandarin and it isn’t uncommon to struggle to find someone who speaks English. Learn some basic language and download some essential translator apps before arriving. Remember, Google Translate won’t always work whilst you are China unless you have a VPN.
  5. A VPN – Whilst in China, you won’t be able to access certain websites like social media or google. The only way of doing this is by downloading a VPN before you arrive in China and connecting to this when you want to use these apps. We use Express VPN because we found it the most reliable; you can pay per year or month and it can be used on multiple devices.
  6. The travel – The easiest way to travel around China is by high speed rail. You can book tickets in advance on the Ctrip app or purchase tickets as you arrive at the train station but these routes are affordable and quick. However, when you are planning your trip, check how easy your destinations are to get to. Trains to and from Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guilin and Hangzhou are pretty common but some destinations are a little harder to plan a route to. Plus, places like Hong Kong and Guangzhou are a lot further from Beijing as you may think, so it maybe worth getting a flight when travelling from one side of the country to the other. 
  7. When to visit – When to visit China is a very important decision to make because there are a few factors to include. Firstly, the weather. Shanghai and anywhere South of Shanghai can be visited from March through to November and you will experience warm weather. It can be a little too hot in August and September but there is plenty of air conditioning for you to enjoy too.  If you plan on visit the North of China, stick to the Spring and Summer months. These areas are very cold during the Winter and can also be polluted during these colder times too.  But also, be aware and avoid the Chinese holidays. The major holidays are Chinese New Year, which falls around the end of January or during February, and Golden Week, which is usually at the start of October. There are also national holidays during April so check these before you book any trips. 
  8. What to pack – China offers more and more Western products but there are a few things you need to remember to pack. Firstly, a pollution mask is a must if you are visiting the North for extended periods of time. Deodorant is harder to find in China and its always worth packing a lightweight rain jacket for those rainy days down south. 
  9. Chinese food – In China, don’t expect the same Chinese dishes you may have tried in the West. The food is just as good if not better but make sure to experiment with the unique flavours available; expect different types of fungi, bitter melon, exotic sea animals, snack, bok choi and massively contrasting spices and flavours. 
  10. Stay safe – China is an incredible safe place to visit. Pickpocketing and theft is rare and whilst we lived in China, we found many locals would leave their personal items on coffee tables as they popped to the bathroom or even out the shop to a nearby store. As for health, make sure to stick to bottled water as the tap water isn’t safe to drink and stick to public transport or didi taxis rather than try and drive a rental car.
hiking the great wall of China

China Prices Overview


Budget: ¥40 – ¥80 for dorm beds in hostels, with private rooms in budget hotels costing around ¥200.

Midrange: ¥200 – ¥600 for a private room in a nice hotel.

Luxury: ¥750+ with some beautiful courtyards available at midrange and luxury rates.

Transport: Most major cities have a Metro system with rides starting at ¥3 – you can get to most tourist attractions using the Metro.  You can also catch the local bus for ¥2. Alternatively, use the DIDI taxi for around 10 RMB for a 10-15 minute drive. 

The average cost of food:

Street food – ¥10

A local restaurant – ¥30 – ¥100

Western restaurant – ¥150 +

Cost Of One Month In China

Cost of Travel in China

We travelled from Hong Kong and worked our way north but this trip can be completed in the opposite direct and of course, destinations can be added on the way. 

Note: Prices are for two people unless otherwise stated and are stated in US Dollars.

Thinking about moving to Beijing? Check out this awesome cost of living in Beijing!

Day 1 – Hong Kong

Views in Hong Kong Cost of Travel in China
  • Accommodation: Dorsett Wanchai (formerly known as The Cosmopolitan) $170 per night.
  • Breakfast: Two bottles of water and two toasties from 7/11   $6
  • Bus to The Peak: $0.29 pp
  • Tram up to The Peak: adult fare $11.30 pp  ($22.60)
  • Views of the skyline: Priceless (had to add a bit of cheese!)
  • Lunch: Stir-fried Beef Noodles, french toast, frappuccino and a diet coke $14
  • Hong Kong Park: Free
  • St John’s Cathedral: Free
  • Dinner: A selection of Dim Sum for two with water for $24

Day 2 – Hong Kong

  • Hotel: Dorsett Wanchai (formerly known as The Cosmopolitan) $170 per night
  • Breakfast: Water and bakery snack from 7/11 $4
  • Bus to Central: $0.29 pp ($0.58)
  • Man Mo Temple: Free
  • Street food from the market for two: $6
    Dinner: Two courses, sit-down meal for two, including a pint of beer and a glass of wine $38

Day 3 – Hong Kong

  • Hotel: Dorsett Wanchai (formerly known as The Cosmopolitan) $170 per night.
  • Brunch: Breakfast dish pp with juice $8
  • Star Ferry: Free
  • Avenue of Stars: Free
  • Hong Kong Space Museum: Free
  • Dinner: Wonton Soup Noodles from a street vendor $3.80 pp
  • MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui Station to Wan Chai: $1.20 pp

Day 4 – Hong Kong

  • Hotel: Dorsett Wanchai (formerly known as The Cosmopolitan) $170 per night.
  • Brunch: Chinese dishes with fizzy drinks $6
  • Bus to The Peak: $0.29 pp ($0.58)
  • Tram up to The Peak for the sunset: adult fare $11.30 pp  ($22.60)
  • Taxi: back to the hotel $10.30
  • Dinner: Burger King meal for two people $11
Cost of travel in China

Day 5 – Hong Kong

Read our Hong Kong Travel Guide 

Day at Disneyland

Tickets: $70 per person (via Klook)

Metro to and from: $5.60 return per person

Lunch: at Starliner Diner (burger, fries and a drink for two): $26

Snacks: including soft drinks at Disneyland $12

Dinner: Noodle dishes with meat from a local hole-in-the-wall restaurant (for 2) $5

Macau famous places to visit Cost of Travel in China

Day 6 – Macau

  • Accommodation: The Venetian Hotel Macau $155 per night (we splurged)
  • Hong Kong hotel to ferry transport: $8 for taxi
  • Breakfast: Two Smoothies for $4
  • Ferry to Macau: $20 pp
  • Transfer to The Venetian hotel: Free
  • Dinner: Bolognese, soft drinks and gelato for two $50 at The Venetian
  • Casino spending: $20 (then we won)

WIN in the casino: We won $740 HK$ – about $95 USD

Inside the grand canal shopping area of The Venetian Macau hotel Cost of Travel in China

Day 7 – Macau

Accommodation: The Venetian Hotel Macau $155 per night
Breakfast: Room Service English breakfast $30 for two
The Titanic Exhibition: $15.90 pp
Skywalk around the Macau Tower:  $98 pp – Another big splurge for a fantastic experience
Drinks: A pint of beer and a pint of cider in The Venetian Hotel $4 pp
Dinner: Pizza, Caprese and soft drinks from the food court on the ground floor of the hotel $17.20

Read our Macau Travel Guide before you visit this unique destination. 

Day 8 – Chengdu

Accommodation: A private double room in Sam’s Guesthouse Hostel $20.50
Breakfast: Croissants from Venetian Bakery $6
Shuttle bus and Ferry from Macau to airport: $14 pp
Flight from Hong Kong to Chengdu: $90 pp
Lunch: Pizza Express with Peroni beer at the Hong Kong Airport $34 (Don’t judge!)
Taxi from Chengdu Airport to hotel: $7
Dinner: Snacks from a convenience store (we arrived late!) $6

Chengdu pandas in China

Day 9 – Chengdu

Accommodation: A private double room in Sam’s Guesthouse Hostel $20.50Breakfast: Noodles from a nearby noodle bar $1.80 for two

Hostels private day trip to Panda Base (including admission): $22
Lunch: Starbucks coffee and panini for two (again, don’t judge!): $9
Dinner: A large selection of Chinese dishes for two $9

Day 10 – Chengdu

Accommodation: A private double room in Sam’s Guesthouse Hostel $20.50
Breakfast: Scrambled egg on toast in hostel $1 per person
Hostels private day trip to the Leshan Buddha, including entrance: $50 (this place is a few hours away from Chengdu)
Lunch: Sweet and sour chicken, crispy pork and rice to share: $6
Dinner: Chinese dishes from the hostel’s restaurant $4

Read our Chengdu Travel Guide before you go.

Chongquing the start of Yangzte river Cost of travel in China

Day 11 – Yangtze River

Accommodation: Victoria Cruise boat $359pp for the whole trip, food included.
Brunch: Snacks from convenience store $4
Metro from Hostel to Chengdu train station: $1
Chengdu to Chongqing speed train: $13 pp.
Cream for a swollen arm thanks to a bite: $4.50
Dinner: Food included on the boat.

Day 12 – Yangtze River

Accommodation: Victoria Cruise boat
Breakfast: Food is included on the boat.
Paid extra excursion: $20 pp
Lunch: Food included on the boat.
Dinner: Food included on the boat.

Day 13 – Yangtze River

Accommodation: Victoria Cruise boat
Breakfast: Food is included on the boat.
Snack: I paid $1.50 (!!) for a chocolate bar from a street vendor outside a tourist attraction – I have a serious chocolate addiction!
Paid extra excursion: $20 pp
Lunch: Food included on the boat.
Dinner: Food included on the boat.

Day 14 – Yichang

Accommodation: Ramada Yichang Hotel $68
Breakfast: Food included on the boat.
Transport from boat to hotel: $1
Lunch: McDonalds for two $7
Magnets (x2): $2
Dinner: Room service for two $14
Alcohol from the cruise: $36

Close up of terracotta warriors Cost of Travel in China

Day 15 – Xi’an

Accommodation: Hantang Inn Hostel private room $24
Brunch: Beef noodle/chicken noodle and snacks from the Yichang Airport $4
Hotel to Airport: Free (taxi driver crashed into a lorry just outside the Airport so he didn’t charge us). It should ahve cost us around $2.20.
Flight from Yichang to Xi’an: $36 pp.
Taxi from Xi’an Airport to Yichang: $11
Dinner: Duck for two with two beers and two wines $14 (additional snacks for the room – 2 large bottles of water for our room, a large bag of crisps and a chocolate bar $3.40)

Day 16 – Xi’an

Accommodation: Hantang Inn Hostel private room $24
Breakfast: Cooked breakfast in the hostel bar $3.70 for two
Private driver (arranged by hotel) to and from the Terracotta Warriors: $20
Terracotta Warriors entrance: $17 pp
Lunch: Soup from a restaurant nearby the Warriors $6
Dinner: Several drinks and a pizza at the Hostel bar $16

Drum Tower in Xian best places to visit in china

Day 17 – Xi’an

Accommodation: Hantang Inn Hostel private room $24
Brunch: Cooked breakfast in the hostel bar $3.70 for two
Dinner: KFC for two $18

Read our Xi’an Travel Guide before you go.

Shanghai Times Square at night best places to visit in China

Day 18 – Shanghai

Accommodation: Shanghai Fish Inn Bund private room $38
Breakfast: Cereal from hotel bar $1.20
Xi’an to airport taxi: $10
Flight from Xi’an to Shanghai: $47 pp.
Lunch: Western food from a cafeteria style restaurant in Xi’an Airport $12

Attractions: Shanghai Time Square and walk along the Bung –  FREE
Dinner: Pizza hut (we found one in Shanghai!) $30

Day 19 – Shanghai

Accommodation: Shanghai Fish Inn Bund private room $38
Breakfast: Street food snacks $4.20
Sightseeing Tunnel: $7 pp.
Attraction: Pearl tower observation deck, Municipal History Museum and Huangpu River Cruise (combo ticket) $33
Lunch: Bakery items $5
Snacks fro the hotel room: $16 (fizzy drinks/sweets/crisps)
Dinner: Dum Sum selection with alcoholic drinks $35

Shanghai Yu Yuan Gardens

Day 20 – Shanghai

Accommodation: Shanghai Fish Inn Bund private room $38

Snacks: Sandwich from local convenience store $4
Shanghai Museum – Free

Attractions: Yu Yuan Gardens  $4 per person

Lunch: KFC lunch $10
Dinner: Street food selection $13

Shanghai Disneyland

Read our tips for visiting Shanghai Disneyland before you go. 

Day 21 – Shanghai

 Accommodation: Shanghai Fish Inn Bund private room $38

Breakfast in the hotel: $2 for two

Disneyland Shanghai tickets: $78 per person

Lunch: Peking duck pizza to share and drinks – $19

Snacks at Disney: $8

Merchandise bought: $35

Didi taxi to and from the park: $12 each way

Dinner back in city centre: $25

Great Wall of China in Beijing cost of travel in China

Day 22 – Beijing

Accommodation: Courtyard 7 private room $56
Shanghai hotel to airport: $18
Flight from Shanghai to Beijing: $68
Brunch: A rushed sandwich before boarding $8 for two
Train from Beijing Airport to hotel: $3.60 per person
Dinner: Peking Duck with wine and beer $23 for two in local restaurant
Snacks: Water, Diet Coke, unusually flavoured pot of Pringles and two green tea Kit Kats $6

Day 23 – Beijing

Accommodation: Courtyard 7 private room $56
Breakfast: included with the hotel
Lunch: A pizza cone £2.70 and some churros $2.10 (when in China?!)
Metro to Tiananmen Square: $0.40 per person, each way.
Forbidden city entrance: $8.70 pp.
Dinner: A four-course Chinese meal at our hotel Free (the hotel had some building work going on during the day so this was their way of apologising)
Snacks: Grilled scorpions from a street vendor $1 per stick

Woman in local market in Beijing china Cost of travel in china

Day 24 – Beijing

Accommodation: Courtyard 7 private room $56
Breakfast: included with the hotel
Metro to Temple of Heaven: $0.40 per person, each way.
Temple of Heaven: $1.40 pp.
Lunch: Street food snacks $3 for two
Dinner: Selection of 4 Chinese dishes to share with two soft drinks $16
Snacks: Two croissants, two orange juice small bottles and two apples $5

Two locals in china eat food and drinking tea cost of travel in china

Day 25 – Beijing

Accommodation: Courtyard 7 private room $56
Breakfast: Snacks we had purchased the day before
Great Wall Private tour including entrance: $65
Lunch: Subway at the Great Wall $4.50 per person
Bar: 2 beers and 2 wines $12
Dinner: Street food snacks $4.50 for two.

Places to visit in China

Day 26 Tianjin

Accommodation: Holiday Inn Tianjin Xiqing – $75 

Breakfast: Snacks from train station $4

High-speed train to Tianjin: $8 per person

Sight seeing around Tianjin: FREE

Lunch in the Italian Quarter: $22 for two

Tianjin Museum: FREE

Evening river cruise: $35 per person

Dinner: From local restaurant $14

Day 27 Tianjin

Accommodation: Holiday Inn Tianjin Xiqing – $75 

Breakfast: Included in hotel

Ancient Culture Street – FREE

Snack: Bought in Culture Street – $1.50

Tianjin Eye: $10 per person

Five Great Avenues: Free

Nanshi Food Street: Free, snacks in food street $5

Dinner: Korean hotpot in local chain – $12 for both

Harbin best places to visit in China

Day 28 Harbin

Accommodation: Earl Hotel – $30

Breakfast: Included in hotel

Flight: from Tianjin to Harbin – $96 per person

Breakfast at airport: Starbucks coffee and croissant, $4 each

Lunch: Rice dish from local vendor $3 for both

Zhongyang Dajie / Central Street: Free

Saint Sofia Cathedral: Free

Dinner: Duck meal overlooking Saint Sofia Cathedral $9 for a whole duck

Things to do in Harbin

Day 29 Harbin

Accommodation: Earl Hotel – $30

Breakfast: Bakery items from nearby western chain $5

Didi to and from the museum: $6 each way

Unit 731 Harbin Memorial and Museum: FREE and a must visit

Lunch: Pot noodles dish $2 for both

Didi to and from festival: $3 each way

Harbin Ice Festival: $50 per person

Day 30 – Heading home

Brunch: Meal at local restaurant – $8 for both

Didi to airport: $4

Snacks: Snacks at the airport before long flight home – $18

The Total Price

$5243.14 = for two people, for 1 month in China on a mid-range budget. 

So that was a break down of how much we spent during one month in China, giving you an idea of the cost of travel in China.

Of course, tours can be cheaper when you go as part of a group but we found if there is two of you, a private tour isn’t too much more than two spaces on  group tour.

Snack food is more expensive in China than many other places across Asia. Hotels can be found on a budget and hostels offer some good rates for private rooms. However, don’t expect anything special in these places. Plus, bring a pillow or neck pillow with you!

When we travelled, we found that the flights worked out cheaper than speed train but I believe prices are going down for speed trains so do your research before booking.

Any questions? Let us know in the comments below!

What to Pack

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What to pack

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  1. WOW–that’s some impressive note taking! Good job on that. I always love how cheap Asian street food is! Really helps out that wallet. 🙂

    • Haha we are pretty OCD with our spending!

  2. Love this guide! I did a similar guide for Santorini for 5 days and that was really hard to keep tab on. I can’t imagine how you did this for 25 days! That guide of mine is one of my most popular posts now so I’m guessing this one is going to be the same for you as it does give a great overview of the place. 🙂

    • I have a very big notebook! Thanks so much, will definitely head over and check out your guide on Santorini! Would love to visit!

  3. I wonder if you guys got sick on day 5 from eating the Burger King? Anyway, it saved you some money that day didn’t it! It’s good you had a splurge in Macau, I spent fortunes there too, on hotels, going out, and the bungee jump. Great you got a win in there, it was like a discount on the Venetian!

    • Haha there was actually signs up around the airport warning people about the bug and we had to get a doctor to come out – wish it was just the Burger King! Yeah Macau was pricey but great fun! definitely worth the splurge!

  4. Thank you for sharing this useful information about China. As a trip to China is still on my list this is great for figuring out an itinerary and budgeting on your data. Chinese street food is a great way to safe money and try something local.

    • Yeah the trip can be definitely done cheaper. I was a bit weary of eating street food so we ate in restaurants and western chains quite a bit! Plus, we did splurge on a few nice meals out!

  5. Really useful post – trying to work out the costs before going somewhere is a nightmare so this will seriously help my planning!

  6. That is an impressive amount of receipt counting!

    I found it really interesting! Thank you. I expected Hong Kong to be super expensive, but also I imagined Beijing to be a bank breaker too, but by the look of it it’s pretty reasonable. And as soon as you get out of the big cities the prices become much more manageable. This has definitely peaked my interest.

    Did you sleep rough on Day 4? 🙂

    • We were actually meant to have gone to Macau but we were sick so our hotel were amazing and let us stay and extra night and didn’t charge us! We did offer but they said they were quiet anyway 🙂

      HK is super expensive but it can be done cheaply. There are some cheaper hostels and hotels but it was our first trip so we didn’t have the skills to find cheaper rooms! Yeah Shanghai is a bit pricey but Beijing was surprisingly affordable!

  7. I went to China about 10 years back (it was my first ever international travel) and I spent a week there. I totally forgot how much I spent!!! Being a veggie I ended eating just fresh fruits and veggies for all my dinners!!! Yeah, I couldn’t find any restaurant with anything veggie. My lunches were Cheese sandwich and that very trip I gave up my idea to try become a vegan!!! I really want to visit China again esp for the Leshan Buddha!!!

    • Haha yeah the Leshan Buddha is a must! Would definitely recommend 🙂

  8. Wow what an amazing comprehensive look at the cost of living as a tourist for a month. This is great info especially because you can kind of work out how much it would be for shorter times as I cant travel for a whole month ( kittens at home haha ) Except for the sick day it looks like an awesome time!

  9. I am going to Russia in May and then to China…so this post is just perfect. China is yet to be discovered and there isnt too much info available about how to travel and how much will it cost. Thanks so much for sharing. Though I am worried….I guess I would be struggling a lot to communicate!

  10. Sounds like you had a great time in China! I just thought I’d add, China can be done a lot cheaper on a budget. It looks like you had an awesome trip and made the most out of a lot of things, but it’s worth noting that staying in the cheapest dorm rooms, eating solely street food and not taking taxis can reduce costs hugely.

    I did China for a month (excluding Hong Kong) on £900 on a super budget! Of course, it’s not always the most fun way to travel, and I imagine if I was travelling as a couple or could afford a private room on my own I’d opt for those sometimes too, but it can definitely be done cheaper for the real budget travellers 🙂

    • Oh yeah definitely! We are heading back to China to live and looking forward to budgeting a bit more!

  11. What a great detailed list! This is wonderful information for anyone planning a trip…or in our case a great way to get a feel for what things would cost if you were to move! I’m in the process of interviewing for a teaching position in Hong Kong. It looks like an amazing place!

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