Cost of Traveling in China (in the province of Yunnan)
In one word, China was … unexpected. Despite being aware that some travelers consider China to be a great travel destination, it never quite appealed to us. This was probably more due to lack of knowledge rather than to any other reason, since we never actually did much research about either where to go or the cost of traveling in China.
Having said that, we eventually only traveled around one area of China, namely the Yunnan province, so our cost of traveling in China is better translated into the cost of traveling in Yunnan. We do believe, however that the costs of traveling in Yunnan are anyway representative of the costs of traveling in China.
We have taken a note of all our travel expenses in Yunnan, and compiled them into this post to give you an idea of the cost of traveling in China!
Cost of Traveling in China – € 64.42/day (for two people)
Now here’s a breakdown of that figure:
Accommodation – € 12.82/day (for two people)
Good accommodation at affordable prices is not hard to find in China. The hotels & guesthouses we stayed at in Lijiang and Dali were more comfortable than most of the accommodation we experienced in Southeast Asia, whilst the tea houses on the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek were so much better than what we thought they would be!
Accommodation expenses did not contribute significantly to the higher cost of traveling in China when compared to many of the other countries in Asia.
Transport – € 18.22/day (for two people)
This was one of our greater expenses in Yunnan and includes several metro rides, long-distance bus rides and overnight train rides. When using trains, we chose ‘soft sleeper’ which were about 1.5 times more expensive than the ‘hard sleeper’ options, but seemed to be way more comfortable.
Although we like to save money when traveling wherever possible, such choices ensure that we get a restful night’s sleep so that we can wake up semi-refreshed and eager to explore our destination on the following day.
Train tickets can be booked online using the website CTrip. Tickets are booked and can be paid for online, and will be issued at the station upon presentation of your passport.
Related: The Best 10 Things to do in Lijiang
Food – € 18.83/day (for two people)
It’s not that food is very expensive in general, but we literally could not stop eating in Yunnan and this contributed significantly to our cost of traveling in China. We have rarely spent this much on food, normally keeping our expenses at around €12 – €14 per day for both of us.
The food in China is not more expensive than in other parts of Asia, so it is actually really easy to keep food expenses low, but we enjoyed the cuisine so much and wanted to sample so many dishes on offer, that we would order four main dishes instead of two, also supplementing those with dumplings and skewers, and anything else that caught our fancy at any time of the day.
If we tried hard enough, we could have easily kept our expenses at around €10/day for both of us, but we were so taken in by the different flavours and variety, that we splurged our way around Yunnan’s local food outlets with little consideration to cost.
Connectivity – € 1.13/day (for two people)
Remember that you need a VPN for accessing Google and sites such as Facebook and YouTube in China! Luckily, ExpressVPN suited our needs perfectly!
Our Unicom sim card cost 150 RMB (about €19.50) including 20GB of data. We used this on our portable mifi router so that we could both make use of it on our phones and laptops!
Entrance Fees and Excursions – € 12.69/day (for two people)
I’d say that along with food, this is what contributed significantly to our cost of traveling in China since this average was high when compared with average expenditure on entrance fees and excusrions in other countries. In fact, it was a little more than what we spent in Indonesia where expensive activities such as diving contributed significantly to this parameter.
The entrance fees to temples and parks in China are rather steep, so if you’re on a limited budget, you should plan and choose where to visit carefully. For example, the entrance to the Chongsheng Temple (Three Pagodas) in Dali is 121 RMB (about €15.50) per person, the cable car to Glacier Park on the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang is 180 RMB (€23) per person, whilst the entrance to Black Dragon Pond Park in Lijiang is 80 RMB (about €10.25) per person (this is synonymous to the Lijiang Protection Fee ticket, so there’s no need to pay this entrance if you already have the Lijiang ticket).
These fees are a lot higher than entrance costs in other parts of Asia, but we felt that the attractions were worth viewing.
Related: How to Visit the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Other China Travel Expenses € 0.73/day (for two people)
These include the minor purchases we made along the way such as toiletries and accessories. In China we needed to buy beanies and gloves due to the cold, but we found these items to be really cheap especially at markets and shops in the surrounding areas!