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China Budget & Trip Report

Our itinerary, lodging info and detailed budget from our time traveling through China from 29 June to 29 July 2012.

In this post you’ll find our itinerary, lodging info and detailed budget from our time traveling through China from 29 June to 29 July 2012.

Our return flight home from Asia in December departs from Shanghai, so our future plans include travel from Hanoi to Shanghai via Guilin, Hong Kong and a few other stops along the way. That’s Round 2 — this post covers Round 1.

All of the following information comes as a result of tracking our expenses with the help of our TripTracker.

China Travel Overview

We originally intended on traveling through northern China and Tibet during the July stretch of our journey, saving southern China for December when weather is generally more favorable.

We knew it would be summer in northern China during round one, but had no idea how hot and humid it would get in some areas.

We had done a bit of research, but as it turned out, China’s weather in July 2012 ended up straying far from an average July in terms of high temperatures and rainfall.

Weather, train ticket availability, and China’s closing of Tibet to all foreigners (for an indefinite amount of time) proved the three most significant factors affecting our travel plans.

Our One Month China Itinerary

We spent 31 days total in China, getting around primarily by train with a few other forms of transport thrown in for good measure:

DATELOCATIONLENGTH OF STAYTRAVEL TIME (TO)
29 Jun – 03 AugShanghai4 nights16 hrs via air
03 Aug – 05 AugSuzhou2 nights40 min via G-train
05 Aug – 06 AugTai’an1 night6 hrs via G-train
06 Aug – 07 AugTaishan1 night4 hrs on foot
07 Aug – 11 AugBeijing4 nights5 hrs via G-train
11 Aug – 16 AugPingyao5 nights4 hrs D-train + 2 hrs K-train
16 Aug – 18 AugXi’an2 nights10 hrs via K-train
18 Aug – 19 AugKunming1 night2 hrs via air
19 Aug – 22 AugLijiang3 nights7 hrs via K-train
22 Aug – 24 AugTiger Leaping Gorge2 nights3 hrs via private hire
24 Aug – 26 AugShangri-la (Zhongdian)2 nights2 hrs via bus
26 Aug – 29 AugDali3 nights7 hrs via bus
29 AugKunmingN/A5 hrs via bus

Our China Lodging

We stayed at 13 different hotels, hostels and guesthouses in China.

Average cost per night for two people was $21.30 USD, with the most expensive accommodations being atop Mt. Tai (Taishan) at $47/night, and cheapest being at Tea Horse Guesthouse in Tiger Leaping Gorge ($11/night for two people and shared bath).

Harmony, Mama Naxi’s and Jade Roo tie for the hostels/guesthouses with the most non-Chinese guests, while Mingtown gets the award for most Chinese.

Chateau de Woody was one of our favorites for several reasons, but gets the award for least crowded (and most fabulous!) — we were the only guests that night.

Lodging by location (in order of our stay):

PROPERTYLOCATIONPRICETYPENOTES
White MansionShanghaiUS $33/nightHotelen suite double
MingtownSuzhouUS $25/night(HI) Hostelen suite single
TaishanTai’anUS $14(HI) Hosteldorm room
Xian JuTaishanUS $47Hotelen suite twin
Lama TempleBeijingUS $31(HI) Hostelen suite double
HarmonyPingyaoUS $19Guesthouseen suite single
WarriorsXi’anUS $16Hostelen suite twin
CamelliaKunmingUS $19(HI) Hostelen suite twin
Mama Naxi’sLijiangUS $17Guesthousetwin (shared bath)
Tea HorseTiger Leaping GorgeUS $11Guesthousetwin (shared bath)
Chateau de WoodyTiger Leaping GorgeUS $13Guesthouseen suite twin
DragoncloudShangri-laUS $19Hostelen suite double
Jade RooDaliUS $13Hosteltwin (shared bath)

Our China Budget

The following is an overview of our average expenses (for TWO travelers — a husband/wife couple) in each location we visited.

The table does not include transport or communication costs or incidentals such as water, toilet paper, etc. — but should give you an idea of what it might cost to travel to various places in China for in July.

As mentioned before, Lori and I were able to get 50% off cultural sights using our Student ID cards, so that helped cut costs as well. With that said, if you’re curious, our transport costs (taking “D” & “G” bullet trains in the northeast and “K” day trains & tourist buses everywhere else) was $142 ($71 per person). This also includes all taxis, metro and local buses, but does not include the one flight we took from Xi’an to Kunming.

Average spent per day (for two people), categorized by DAY, FOOD, LODGING, and SIGHTSEEING:

LOCATIONDAILY AVG.FOODLODGINGSIGHTSEEING
ShanghaiUS $76 /dayUS $31 /dayUS $34 /dayUS $11 /day
Suzhou$59$25$25$9
Beijing$75$16$31$28
Pingyao$49$20$19$10
Xi’an$46$18$16$12
Lijiang$44$25$17$2
Tiger Leaping Gorge$45$20$12$13
Shangri-la (Zhongdian)$58$27$19$12
Dali$35$16$13$6
OVERALL$54$22$21$11
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