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Ultimate China Backpacking Travel Guide 2020

Traveling in a large country like China is like a roller coaster ride through an ancient civilization; iconic pieces of architecture, sacred temples, and century-old cities make this Asian nation one of the most varied countries in terms of culture. But China’s fairy tale doesn’t end with old civilizations stories alone. Snow-capped peaks, endless deserts, unique flora and fauna, and divine rivers make this vast country a haven for nature lovers at the same time.China Backpacking Travel Guide is complete tour guide for China. With hyper-modern metropolises such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, and many travelers might just find all needed travel thrills just within this single country.

China at a Glace

Language

Standard Chinese

Currency

Renminbi (yuan) (CNY)

Best Money Exchange

Beijing airport's arrival area

Local Dishes

Sweet and Sour Pork

Drones Allowed

Yes

Is water safe to drink

No

Vaccinations

Check CDC

Power Plug Type

A, I, C, F

Car Sharing Options

Car2Share, EVCard

Peak Season

Spring and Autumn

Backpacker Friendly

Yes

Hitch hiker Friendly

Not well known

Credit Cards Accepted

Yes

Preffered Payment Method

Cash

Low Season

November to (early) March

Top 5 Things to See and Do in China

1. Beijing

The capital displays its beauty in the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the fractions of the Great Wall

2. Xi'an

Not only home to the well-known Terracotta Army; it has an amazing historical city wall and impressive Buddhist pagodas as well.

3. Shanghai

This harbor city is an exciting blend of skyscrapers and timeworn neighborhoods, with fascinating museums and parks anywhere.

4. Chengdu

China’s most fluffy icon, the giant panda, can be found in conservation centers in this central Chinese province.

5. Yangtze-River

This source of life for millions of Chinese is surrounded by gorgeous mountain landscapes.

Other Things to See and Do in China

1. Tibet

Vivid monasteries, razor-sharp Himalayan peaks, and trekking opportunities make this region very attractive for adventure seekers and active travelers. The culture is unique, and the landscapes are unlike any you’ll find elsewhere.

2. Urumqi

Lakes, snowy summits and a Muslim culture make this northwestern city stand out. Bazaars and beautiful mosques give Urumqi almost a Middle Eastern vibe.

3. Guangzhou

Often referred to as the ‘food capital of China’, this trading city takes its cuisine seriously. Go on a food eating spree and sample specialties like dim sum, wonton noodles, and roasted goose.

4. Hainan

This subtropical island is a perfect getaway for beach bums. Besides the sandy shores, Hainan is famous for its fresh fruits. Use the opportunity to feast on bananas, coconuts, and papaya.

5. Lijaing

The Old Town of this mountainous escape is listed as a World Heritage Site for a good reason; Lijiang has been inhabited for thousands of years, displayed in the old houses and palaces.

6. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Also known as the Avatar Mountains, this national park has alien-like karst mountains shaped like pinnacles. Soak in the scenery from the viewpoints and hikes through the forests.

8. Hangzhou

In this lovely city, you can hang out at the banks of the idyllic West Lake, visit the spectacular Língyǐn cave temple, and stroll around at Qinghefang Old Street.

Typical Costs

WPCS 2.1.4

Transportation

Getting around in China is quite affordable, especially when you stay in larger cities and use public transit. A bus ride usually costs you $0.30. Metros are generally only slightly more expensive, at $0.50. Overall, domestic flights are relatively expensive, but your only option on specific routes. The train is a cheap and fast alternative. For example, a one-way fare from Beijing to Shanghai is approximately $35.00

Accommodation

If you’re willing to share housing with other travelers, you’ll find dorm beds for as cheap as $5.00. Simple double rooms start at $12.00, and you definitely don’t have to exceed $20.00  for a decent double bed ( 2 people in one room).

Save for a more substantial budget when staying in Beijing, the capital isn’t the most budget-friendly destination.

Food

This is the area you can save most when it comes to your budget. Food stalls and local restaurants are the way to go for low-cost staples like noodles ($2.00 ) and fried rice ($1.50 ). You can splurge on seafood for a mere hundred dollars ( joking, that’s a lot), but bowls of seafood soup usually are served in restaurants for about $5.00, which is pretty reasonable. Food in the supermarket is very cheap, which is helpful if you stay in a hostel with a kitchen.

Activities

Reserve a larger portion of your travel budget for activities and entrance fees. A peek into the Forbidden City in Beijing sets you back $10.00, while inspecting the Terracotta Army in Xi’an comes with a larger price tag of $20.00. In lesser-known places, the prices drop drastically, so these are just examples of some of the larger common fees.

Suggested Budget

How much does it cost to travel around China? This section details the suggested daily budget in China per day.
Travel Style Accommodation (per night) Food (3 Meals) Transportation Activities (Per activity) Daily Cost
Backpacker
$4.00 - $7.00
$5.00 - $10.00
$2.00 - $5.00
$10.00
$25.00
Mid - Range
$10.00 - $20.00
$10.00 - $20.00
$10.00 - $20.00
$30.00
$75.00
High - End
$50.00-$200.00
$20.00-$150.00
$70.00
$50.00
$250.00

Budgeting Tips

1. Avoid Tours

As in most countries, it’s financially more attractive to figure out your own schedule rather than taking tours. Taking local transportation and paying the entrance fees for yourself usually saves you lots of cash, and makes you a more flexible traveler as well. I’ve made many friends while just wondering about, it’s worth it!

2. Show up without bookings

Larger Chinese cities have a lot of (similarly priced) hostels, so you don’t have to reserve in advance. This way, you don’t have to pay a booking fee and can get better rates in person.

3. Avoid Flights

Flying within China is more expensive than one may think, so if you get the chance, take the train, it’s more enjoyable than flying too!. By doing so, you’ll get to see some stunning scenery along the way on a much smaller budget.

4.Withdraw big amounts

Foreign cards are charged heavily  with bank fees when withdrawing in China, and the same applies to credit cards. It’s best to withdraw the maximum amount possible, to avoid repeating costs. Take it from someone who spent $30 in fees for making 3 smaller withdrawals.

5.Join a free walking tour

In places like Beijing, Hangzhou, Xi’an, and Shanghai, you can explore the city for free with a guide. This is a fantastic way to get to know the culture, architecture, and stories of a place. Of course, it’s nice to tip the guide afterward, it’s how they make their pay for the day.

Where To Stay

Shanghai

The Phoenix

Xi'an

Xi’an See Tang Hostel

Other

TBD

How To Get Around

Bus

Buses are common in cities, as well as for intercity journeys. Extensive networks and tickets that cost an average of $0.30 cents make the bus an accessible mode of transportation for any tourist.

Metro

More than 30 Chinese cities have a metro network. For $0.50  cents you can hop on for a smooth ride across densely populated metropolises, muchh cheaper than a taxi.

RideSharing

With a base fare of $1.75 in most places and $4.00   for a 15-minute ride, it’s worth considering taking a taxi when you travel in a small group.

Trains

Eastern China is especially well-connected through a network of bullet trains. These trains take you from Beijing to Kunming in 12 hours, for $160.00 . You can save by taking the regular train for $45.00 , but this journey lasts at least 34 hours.  

Airlines

Airfares aren’t a joke in China; you’ll have to pay serious money for a flight. Flying on the route Beijing – Urumqi costs a minor fortune for a backpacker, $220.00 (one-way), while the cost from Shanghai to Xi’an is at least $100.00.

Resources

https://12go.asia/en : This link will get you buses, trains, taxis, ferries and flights for most major routes in Asia.

When To Go

China is such a large country that the best time of the year totally depends on the region you want to visit. Avoid China’s center and east from June to September, when the blistering heat makes traveling unpleasant, and typhoons regularly hit the coast. For Tibet and the west, these are the best months. Southeast China is a great destination throughout the year, thanks to its subtropical climate.

How To Stay Safe and Aware of Scams

With common sense, you’ll get a long way in China, don’t be too off put by lingering eyes, sometimes people are just curious about your colored hair or style, which is different from there.  Don’t even be surprised if someone asks to take a picture with you! Just be careful of your things.

1. Protect yourself from pickpockets Scam

Thugs easily mingle in the crowds in touristic places, like the Forbidden City in Beijing. Always keep your valuables close to your body and leave as much as you can in your hostel. Don’t carry all your cash on you.

2. Inspect banknotes Drivers

Fake bank notes are a big issue in China, and it’s not unusual to shamelessly check the change you get. I was a victim of this while buying souvenirs my first day in China.

3. Be careful in traffic

Although this is a large country, China accounts for a shocking 20 percent of fatalities in traffic accidents worldwide. Use underground passages or bridges whenever you can, and travel by train or plane on longer distances. Cars won’t stop for you. Get ready for a game of real life flogger.

4. Only catch a driving taxi

Drivers waiting for passengers tend to charge more than the ones driving around. Explicitly tell the driver to use the meter.

5. Stay away from red-light districts and gamble cafes

The country’s law has zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and a law violation may lead to high-profile convictions and arrests. So, avoid anything related to drugs completely.

 

Packing List

2 Pairs of Shorts

5 long sleeve

8 pairs of underwear

Medicine

2 Pair of jeans

Flip flops

Toiletries

Locks

Swim Trunks

Comfortable Sneakers

Quick dry towel

Laundry Bag

5 shirts

8 pairs of socks

Dedorant

Hand Sanitizer

Power bank

Insect repellent

VPN for unlimited internet access

Ear plugs

Power Adaptor

Money Belt

All-season Clothes

Did I Miss Something? Let Me Know In The Comments!

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