*These are indicative prices and are subject to change over times*
WHAT ABOUT CHINA
Largest City: Shanghai
Official language: Chinese
Population: Over 1.4 billions as of 2016
Religion: Mainly Chinese folk religion and Buddhism
Political system: Socialist republic
Currency: Renminbi / Yuan / CNY
Time zone: UTC+8
WHAT ABOUT TRAVELING CHINA
Wet season: June to September
Best season to travel: Since China is as big as a whole continent, the best season to travel is based on the provinces you are planning to explore. I would just avoid traveling China during the wet season.
Visa: It depends on your nationality. Most countries if not all have to go through a complex application process before traveling to China. The cheapest way to process your visa application is from Hong Kong. Make sure to check out the latest info on the Immigration Website.
Hotel: Usually as cheap as 3€ to 5€ (3.5$ to 6$ USD) for a bed in a dorm. Dorms are everywhere – even in the most remote and off the beaten track locations. In some areas, a female dorm can be as cheap as 2€ (2.3$ USD). If you do not book a hostel in advance, be aware that you will have to bargain to get the same price as Booking.com. Yeah, China is one of these countries!
Food: Usually as cheap as 1€ to 2.5€ (1.20$ to 3$ USD) for a basic streetfood meal (Fried rice, fried noodles and cheap food specials).
Food specials: There are as many food specials as there are provinces!
Transportation: Transportation is the biggest budget killer for the ones backpacking China on a budget! It is mostly impossible to define an average price for buses and trains as it varies a lot for each destination and province. Plan to spend at least two or three times more on transportation than any other South East Asian country for the same distance. Below are a couple tips to help you optimize your budget. If you plan on getting a minivan transfer, you have to bargain hard to get a better deal. Minivans are usually overquoted for foreigners. If possible, you have to stick with buying a ticket from a bus terminal or hopping on a cheap local bus. When it comes to train journeys, I would recommend getting a hard seat ticket. The price difference between a seat and a sleeper ranges from 1 to 3x or 4x. Since most people get sleepers, seats are quite empty at night time. You have plenty of space to lie down on a 3-seater. For short and mid distance, hitchhicking works pretty well in China – especially in remote areas.
Bargaining: I did not feel that the bargaining culture is a strong as it used to be a couple years ago. As long as you feel you are not paying the right price, you need to bargain. Use your common sense!
Budget: This is mostly impossible to define an average budget. Your budget will highly depends on your travel itinerary. There are mainly 2 budget killers in China: transportation and entrance fees. Stick with cheap dorms and cheap local food to lower down your costs. Even doing that, be aware that your budget might double or triple based on where you are heading to. From 700€ to 800€ for a month in Yunnan and Sishuan (840$ to 960$ USD).
Thank you: Xiè xiè
Yes: Zhèng què
No: Cuò wù
Goodbye: Zài jiàn
If traveling to remote provinces, be aware that English is mostly inexistant. Learn a few basics like numbers and greetings. China is not tough to travel even though you do not speak a word of Chinese and locals do not speak a word of English. The real barrier is once you are trying to get an interesting conversation. Always get your destination written in Chinese characters (Most people can’t read pinyin). You can also download Google Traduction which works offline (Use it to traduce a word or two ; sentences are inaccurate).
TRAVEL APPS AND WEBSITES
GPS: An amazing offline GPS application that highlights hostel, food and even the tiniest hiking paths in your area (Maps.me )
Hostels: Use filters to sort out the cheapest price of the day. There is usually no need to book in advance. You might find cheaper accomodations on-site. In some remote areas, these are not advertised online. (Booking, Agoda, Hostelworld)
Meeting people: Couchsurfing integrate a new ‘people around me’ feature. You will usually meet plenty of people at your hostel but it does happen sometines that you are the only one there. Tinder is not ‘only’ what you think! More and more people use it to meet locals or travelers to explore a destination (Couchsurfing, Tinder)
Money sharing: If traveling by group, Tricount is an amazing application for organizing group expenses (Tricount)
Backpack: Pack as light as you can. Ten kilos should be a maximum. You won’t need these 15 tshirts and 5 pairs of shoes, will you? Remember that you will carry all this weight on your shoulders. There is one more thing. Checking in with a carry-on luggage only is way cheaper!
Cash: Always keep a 50€ or 50$ USD banknote in your wallet. You never now what might happen. It can be really helful in case your credit card get blocked for a few days. Never ever wait to run out of cash before withdrawing in a local currency! Before leaving a country, try to get rid of coins and small banknotes. You won’t be able to exchange them later!
Toilet paper: Yeah, you can laugh at this one. However, be aware that most Asian countries do not use any. You better get one roll in your backpack!
YUNNAN AND SISHUAN TRAVEL ITINERARY