Great travel destinations are not only for travelers that love to go on a splurge as those that are on a tight budget can also find cool ways to have fun. China is one of such places with several cultural and historical interests that attract lots of foreign nationals who come to get a glimpse of its exotic scenery each year.
Traveling to a new country comes with its challenges even for those that are experienced. With China’s growing economy, it is believed to be a very expensive country to visit, but there are several ways to save money on your trip and not miss the fascinating attractions.
Although prices are expected to rise in China with rapid economic growth, it is still possible to live within your means and travel cheap. Regardless of your budget, traveling around China can be a rewarding experience particularly for individuals that are traveling for the first time.
7 Tips for Saving Money While Traveling to China
You can find balance in your life and experience the world from a different perspective, which are the major advantages of traveling. From enjoying local dishes to visiting cultural heritage centers, it is possible to enjoy your stay amidst frivolous pleasures.
So, if you are wondering how to save money while traveling in China, the following seven tips will be of great help to you.
1 Make an Elaborate Plan
Comprehensive research before embarking on any trip will do you a lot of good as regards enjoying an inexpensive trip. Several great attractions showcase China’s rich cultural heritage and with a good travel itinerary, you can explore and discover exciting places of interest without exceeding your budget.
Making a list of places to visit at specific times while taking into consideration the route of travel ensures that you save costs without any hassle. Do not be in a hurry to crash into any event that you come across or make unnecessary purchases. There are several tourist brochures and travel maps that are available on the internet to help you make your trip a memorable one.
Read several travel stories from people on social media and travel blogs to get the ideas flowing. Use a good online translation service like The Word Point to get travel articles that are in other languages translated to the one that you understand.
2. Travel During Off-Peak Season
Most of China’s attractions like the Terracotta Army, Great Wall, and Forbidden City are teeming with tourists on most national holidays. On the off-peak season, flights and hotel accommodations cost less. You can also find discounted tickets to visit several spectacular attractions with lesser tourist crowds for a unique experience.
Although China can be very cold during the winter, it is usually the best time to make the trip as most hotels and airlines offer mouth-watering discounts. You can read up on the dates to avoid online, as the prices tend to go higher on Chinese public holidays.
3. Consider Cheaper Forms of Transport
The transportation system in China offers several options including trains and buses which costs a lot lesser than taxis and domestic flights. China’s bullet train which is one of the fastest in the world has a wide-reaching network that covers several cities and provinces daily. The train tickets which are cheaper than airfares can also be purchased online, which is very convenient.
Traveling by buses are also cost-effective but may not be as convenient due to limited space for luggage, as well as fixed routes and rigid timetables. With several stops within the city, getting between the main areas of interest becomes easier.
You may consider walking short distances, which is, in fact, good cardio exercise and more economical than using taxis.
4. Explore Smaller Cities
There is a lot to see in smaller provinces where you can easily get free souvenirs and cheaper accommodation. The crowds are smaller and attraction tickets cost way less than the price in the big cities, making it possible for you to experience the tranquility of ancient Chinese architecture.
You can visit several theme parks, beaches, and stroll around Tiananmen Square as well as other important landmarks for free. The free and low-budget attractions enable you to experience Chinese culture and traditions in ways the popular tourist sites do not.
Spending more time in small provinces does not mean that you should avoid big cities altogether. There are a couple of magnificent sights in Beijing, Yangtse, and Shanghai that you do not want to miss.
Accommodation is also cheaper in smaller cities where it is possible to get great value for your money regardless of the duration of your stay.
5 Consider Local Cuisines
You can save money by buying food from local street vendors like a native. Although street food is similar to fast food due to their method of preparation, their prices differ. Fast food like sandwiches, hamburgers, fries, pizza, and a few others that are obtainable in western countries, cost a bit more in China.
Most people worry about the risk of food poisoning, making them go for restaurant meals that cost way more. To enjoy these tasty alternatives from street vendors without problems, it is advised that you watch the food preparation. Your attention to detail will ensure that you do not get undercooked food with poorly washed ingredients that may not be fresh.
6. Explore Various Cash and Card Options
Although it is wise to have some cash in your pocket while traveling, you risk losing money to pickpockets or frivolous expenses. Exchange rates at airports are usually high, which is why exchanging just enough money to get you to your reserved accommodation is recommended.
There are a couple of ATMs that offer reasonable exchange rates and would require the use of your bank payment cards that are accepted overseas. Some cards attract huge transaction fees which is why you should consider using a one which has existing partnerships with Chinese banks that charge less.
There are several other payment methods like the use of bitcoin, WeChat, and Alipay, which does not involve physical cash and is widely accepted in several establishments in China. Regardless of your payment method, there are situations where the prices of the same goods and services may differ for some inexplicable reason. Try to explore several options before settling for any particular one.
7. Learn Some Chinese
Learning to speak in the local tongue would be of great value when traveling around China for the first time. Learn to speak some basic Chinese with the help of several online language resources like Udemy, Duolingo, iTALKI, and many others can come in very handy. It is amazing how the attitude of the locals towards you will change when they hear you speak their language.
Chinese is not so difficult to learn and basic knowledge of the language would make the streets easier for you to navigate. You can easily find your way to live shows and other events without getting lost. Bargaining would also be easier when trying to buy something you like from the street markets as the prices would drastically reduce when you speak like the locals.
You should avoid tourist supermarkets and hawkers at those major historic attractions that try to rip you off with exorbitant prices.
This post comes from William Rodgers, a freelance writer and a huge fan of traveling. As he speaks several foreign languages, William’s main focus is writing SEO articles for businesses which want to drive their brand in the international market.