Top 6 Travel Hacks to Explore China on a Budget

budget travel hacks for visiting China

Inbound tourism for China is expected to boom in 2024, as the country becomes more accessible for international travellers. 

China, with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture, is an enticing destination for travellers. 

Embarking on a budget-friendly journey through China requires a combination of strategic planning, resourcefulness, and a willingness to embrace local experiences. 

While exploring this vast and dynamic country may seem like an expensive endeavour, there are numerous budget travel hacks that can help you experience the wonders of China without breaking the bank.  From buying a local sim card to eating local food, China is a great option for an affordable adventure.

Unlock the beauty, history, and flavours of the Middle Kingdom without straining your wallet. 

Tip 1: Money

Organisation is key to a great holiday to ensure you’re left with out-of-pocket expenses. Before setting off on your dream vacation to China, converting your spending money from AUD to Yen before boarding your flight is something to consider to avoid any potential financial issues on arrival.

Have both cash and a debit or credit card when you travel, as some businesses in China do not accept cash, whereas other smaller town will only take cash.

Tip 2: Transportation

China boasts an extensive and efficient public transportation system. In major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, metro systems are well-connected and cost-effective, providing a convenient way to explore.

China’s high-speed rail network connects major cities, providing a comfortable and efficient means of transportation. Booking tickets in advance often comes with discounts.

Embrace the local culture by renting a bicycle to explore cities and scenic areas. Many cities in China have bike-sharing programs, making it an eco-friendly and economical way to get around.

Tip 3: Accommodation

In small towns and rural areas, guesthouses are prevalent and often more affordable than hotels. They provide a chance to experience local hospitality and immerse yourself in the community.

When in the city, look for share accommodation or even rented apartments, or if you’re a social butterfly, look at 5-stare rated hostels, where you can meet other like-minded travellers.

Use online platforms to compare prices and find the best deals on accommodation. Websites and apps like, Hostelworld, and Airbnb often have promotions and discounts, particularly during off-peak seasons.

Tip 4: Food

China is renowned for its delicious street food. Explore local markets and street vendors to savour authentic dishes at a fraction of the cost of restaurants. From dumplings to noodles, the options are endless.

To curb expenses, stock up on snacks and bottled water from local convenience stores or supermarkets. This helps avoid impulsive purchases while exploring, ensuring you stay fuelled throughout the day.

Tip 5: Sightseeing

Visit popular tourist sites during off-peak hours to avoid crowds and potentially benefit from discounted admission fees. 

For example, The Great Wall of China, which is one of the official Seven Wonders of the World and welcomes more than 10 million tourists annually. Avoid the peak summer months from June to August, as it is the busiest time of the year. And consider going beyond Badaling and visiting the less popular sections of the wall, like Mutianyu.

China is home to numerous free attractions, such as parks, temples, and markets. Take advantage of these opportunities to explore the local culture and history without spending a dime.

In major cities, consider purchasing city passes that offer discounted access to multiple attractions. These passes can significantly reduce the overall cost of sightseeing. 

Like visiting the Terracotta Army of Xi’an, which is one of the great archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. At certain times of the year, you can visit these statues for half the price, and consider even staying at accommodation in the local nearby villages, so you have less time travel there and can choose a quitter time of the day to visit.

Tip 6: Communication

Purchase a local SIM card for your phone upon arrival. This provides affordable access to mobile data and ensures you can stay connected, use navigation apps, and access translation services during your travels.

Look at using translation apps that can assist you in communicating with locals. Apps like Google Translate can be invaluable when navigating menus and asking for directions.

Often when you can’t communicate, you may not be able to get the best price for something. It’s true that many Chinese people can speak English to some point. However, it can be challenging to get the best price for something if nothing is communicated properly. 

Rebecca Wilkinson

Beauty Editor

Rebecca is a freelance content creator and beauty editor for Bondi Beauty. She is a pescatarian, who may yet become vegan. She loves all things beauty, health & travel, has a weakness for coffee and is obsessed with cats and yoga. If she's not answering her mobile - it's probably because she's trying out the latest beauty trend, like massaging crushed pearls into her skin for the ultimate collagen and vitamin boost to skin cells.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.