Top Tips for Travelling in China on a Budget

By Natasha Cohen14/04/2021 Tourism

Trying to work out how much it’ll cost you to travel to China? You don’t need a big budget for the trip of a lifetime.

There are lots of simple ways to make savings while making the most of your time abroad. These four tips will show you how to make your trip without breaking the bank.

1. Travel when nobody else is travelling

Plane ticket prices are at their lowest when there’s the least demand for them. Avoid travelling during peak times if you can, like school holidays, public holidays and weekends. This includes China’s public holidays: for example, many people travel to and within China for Chinese New Year to see family, so prices go up around this time. Similarly, lots of people like to go on holiday during China’s ‘Golden Week’ in October.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are also often the cheapest days to travel by air – it could save you hundreds of pounds compared to travelling on a Friday or Saturday. This is because a lot of people like to fly back home for the weekend before they go back to work on Monday.

2. Visit small cities or towns

While big ‘Tier 1’ cities like Beijing and Shanghai have remained super popular with tourists over the years, their popularity also makes them pricier to stay in – from hotels to restaurants. For example, based on June 2021 prices, Holiday Inn Express at Beijing Dongzhimen costs £72 for one night, while Holiday Inn Shijiazhuang Central costs £51 for the same night. Staying in Shijiazhuang for five nights, in this case, would save you £105.

Smaller spots like Shijiazhuang, Kunming and many more have just as much to offer in terms of natural beauty, places of cultural interest and food. Because they’re classed as lower tiers by the Chinese government based on things like population size, tourism and business opportunities, labour costs and salaries are lower in these places. So overall living costs are lower as a result.

3. Make the most of trains

If you’re visiting more than one city during your stay in China, it might be tempting to hop on another plane. But you could save hundreds (and potentially thousands) of pounds by taking a train instead. Plus, you’ll get to see the scenery around you as you travel, while all you’ll see from the sky are clouds.

To save even more on hotel fees, consider taking an overnight train. Sleeper trains are popular with Chinese travellers who are also travelling on a budget because of their high speed and comfortable sleeping compartments. You can also choose the type of compartment you sleep in based on your budget, for example hard and soft sleepers (with hard being the cheapest).

Once you’re within a city, using the metro or the bus is a cheap and convenient way to get from A to B. Taxis are also relatively inexpensive, but you can also download Didi Chuxing (China’s version of Uber) or other ride-sharing apps on your mobile phone instead. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hire rental bikes like Mobike and Ofo.

4. Book a homestay trip

With our all-year-round homestay service, you can choose to experience smaller cities – including Shijiazhuang and Kunming – as well as big ones like Shanghai and Chengdu. Your host teacher will help you register at the local police station, and you’ll also be able to choose between half or full board home-cooked meals. So you don’t have to worry about preparing meals yourself if you don’t want to.

Not to mention you’ll also be getting an amazing Mandarin-learning experience at a relatively low cost while living with a language teacher.

Read more about homestaying in China with Lingoinn on our Services page.

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