China On A Budget: 5 Essential Tips

China is the third-largest country by area, has one of the largest economies, and has the highest population in the world. With all of that said it makes sense that China is one of the most-visited countries behind only Spain, the United States, and France. Still, it can cost a couple of thousand dollars for a couple to visit China, which may put off some people from making the trip.

There are plenty of reasons to visit China, from the people and food to the rich history and amazing architecture. If you’ve always wanted to experience China but don’t want to spend too much, here are five essential tips for visiting on a budget.

When and Where

One of the things that will save you the most money is finding the right flight to China. China, as you know, is a massive country, so there are going to be plenty of options to choose from. Like other large countries, you won’t get to see it all, but sticking to the region that’s closer to the cheaper airports can save you a lot of money. As for when you should go, the lowest prices are going to be from December to March.

This is, of course, with the exception of Chinese New Year in February. As for the airports that are easiest to fly to, Hong Kong is actually going to be your best bet. If you want to land on the mainland, then Beijing and Fuzhou are also cost-friendly. Shanghai and Guangzhou airports aren’t too expensive, but anything outside of those five can start to get into the $1,000 and up range if visiting from the United States.

See More By Train

There was once a time not long ago when traveling throughout China wasn’t very efficient or cost-friendly. These days, though, China has the busiest railways in the world and is always adding tracks. If you want to see as much of the country as possible, then riding the rails is a great option. Not only that, but China has invested heavily in high-speed rail, allowing people who are staying for longer to see more of the country.

Depending on where you want to go and how fast you want to get there. Booking a second-class ticket will save you a lot of money if you want to take the trip from, let’s say, Beijing to Shanghai. Prices vary but can cost as low as $36 and take around four hours. Don’t fall for the business class ticket, which can end up costing several hundred dollars.

Don’t Be Afraid of Taxis

When you’re in one of the larger cities in a foreign country, it’s easy to be apprehensive about taking a taxi service. Some of them tend to pick out people they perceive as tourists and can charge them an arm and a leg. This isn’t the case in major Chinese cities, and China has some of the cheapest (and most efficient) taxi cabs in the entire world.

If you’re only looking to go a mile or two, it will end up costing you a couple of bucks (try getting that in New York City). It’s not suggested to use taxis when coming to and from the airport if you’re trying to save money, but they’re a valuable commodity when in the city. Just make sure that you’re taking an official taxi cab, which is easy to identify. You’ll be able to tell when you see the official logo on top of the vehicle, with all of them being very colorful.

Do Not Tip

Here in the United States, just about every service is expected to be rewarded with a tip. Whether it be a taxi, baggage handler, restaurant server, etc. That’s not the case in China, so you can already take tipping out of your budget when thinking about your vacation.

In fact, don’t even try to tip anyone in China. In many places throughout China, it’s completely illegal to try and tip a service worker. Even where it is legal, it can be seen as an embarrassing ordeal. Having that knowledge alone will end up saving you hundreds of dollars compared to some of the other major cities throughout the world where tipping almost feels like a requirement.

Finding The Right Food

Of course, one of the biggest reasons why people want to visit China is to try some of the local cuisine. We talk about “authentic” Chinese food a lot in Western countries, and you can get it for extremely cheap throughout China. However, you’ll have to know what to look for when you want to save money.

For starters, a lot of Chinese restaurants are catered to tourists, which is why their menus are often listed in English. If you want the authentic Chinese experience, find where the locals are going  You’ll be floored by how cheap the prices can be at an authentic Chinese fast food restaurant will be, with meals costing as little as $1.50 in USD.

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