When people think of backpacking in Asia, they often don’t immediately think of China. This is a shame, as the country has some of the most amazing sights in the region, is famed for its interesting history, and is easy to visit on a budget if you know where to look.
Many people tend to favor other areas of Asia such as Thailand, but if you want to visit China on a budget then this is absolutely possible, and it is less expensive than many people realize.
How much do I need to budget?
Visiting China on a budget is very easy and you probably only need to budget $75 per day for two people. This budget will allow you a private room in a hostel, food and drinks including beer, and entry to attractions.
When you are backpacking in China on a budget you will find that one of the areas where you can save a lot of money is on food. There is a great culture of street food in China and you will be able to buy snacks such as dumplings, steamed buns, and noodle dishes for less than $1. If you want to eat in a restaurant then you can expect to pay anything from $3-$5 and you will be able to order a selection of dishes for this price. As such, you won’t have to worry about eating cheaply in China.
A lot of tourist sites in China are cheap to enter and most cost under $20. Famous places such as the Forbidden City in Beijing is $13.50 to enter, and the Great Wall of China is even cheaper at $7.50. If you want to visit the Terracotta Warriors in Xian then this costs $25.
Many people also don’t realize that China has a fantastic network of hostels all over the country, so if you are traveling on a tight budget then this is a great way to cut down you accommodation costs. Many hostels in China are clean and safe to use and you can either stay in a dormitory or go for a private room. If you choose to stay in a room with others then this can cost around $10 a night whereas if you want a private room then this can go up to $30. Whatever type of room you choose to go for however, you won’t need to pay to stay in expensive hotels during your stay if you are on a budget.
China Backpacking Routes
All you need to set off on a backpacking trip around China is some backpacking equipment and a rough idea of where you want to go. Backpacking around China is easy thanks to the good train systems and other public transportation like buses. China is a vast country and there are a huge number of places to visit, but some of the best that lend themselves well to backpacking include:
Shanghai is one of the most vibrant and modern cities in the world and this can be a great place to either start or end a trip. As Shanghai is a central hub it is easy to fly here from a variety of destinations and you can enjoy the fast paced city life before traveling onward to some of the more rural spots in China.
Chengdu is a large city and it doesn’t have a huge amount to recommend it in itself. The main reason that visitors flock here however is to visit the Giant Panda Breeding Center where you will be able to get up close to these amazing animals.
Located in An Hui, Tunxi is often overlooked by travelers but is well worth a visit if you are looking for something a little off the beaten track. The town is full of traditional Chinese architecture as well as little streets and alleys that are perfect if you want to explore on foot.
This area of China is known for its karst limestone formations and jagged scenery. You will also find rice paddies as far as the eye can see and this is a great spot for trekking and cycling.
Another top spot on the China backpack trail is Guilin which is home to the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. These take the form of emerald green terraces that are cut into the mountainside and date back over 500 years.
Xi’an is famous for its Terracotta Warrior army which is one of the most impressive sights in China. The army dates from 210 BC when it was made and buried with Qin Shi Huan, the first emperor of China. Certainly this is one place not to miss off your itinerary and many people will tell you that this is a highlight of a trip to China.
How to extend your trip:
China is a huge country and with that in mind you can easily backpack here for several months. If you don’t have the budget to do this however, then one great way to extend your trip is to search for part time jobs in China while traveling. This means that you can earn some extra money to fund your travels and you can travel for longer.
Depending on your skills there are a range of jobs in China that may be suitable, but one of the easiest and best choices is to look at TEFL jobs. Teaching English as a foreign language is big business in China and there are hundreds of schools looking for teachers. If you want to teach English in China then you will probably find it fairly easy to get a job, especially if you are a native speaker.
There may also be other jobs available depending on your background. One of the best places to look for jobs in China is online using a website such as www.laowaicareer.com which will list all the possible jobs and help you to quickly and easily see the different options that may be available to you.
About the author
Yuri Khlystov is the CEO and Co-Founder of LaowaiCareer. Originally from Belarus, Yuri has been living in Beijing for the past ten years where he has turned his passion for helping foreigners into a successful business. He enjoys football and once had a pet pig when Beijing was less of a modern city than it is today.