If you’ve followed my affordable travel finance blog for a while, you know that sharing how much I spend on trips around the world is one of my favorite things to do. If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! You probably stumbled on this article while searching for how much to budget for a trip to China or maybe you’re curious to see how much things generally cost. Before we dive in, I wanted to put it out there that my China trip was extremely affordable. I snagged a phenomenal 10-day trip to China for $299 USD per person (including airfare, hotels, daily breakfast etc). While your trip to China will look drastically different than mine, use my budget as a spending guide for planning your own trip. And be sure to grab the PDF version of this blog post so you’ll have all the information you need later on.
Press play and listen to this podcast episode where Kyle and I share additional tips for planning a trip to China.
How Much Does a Trip to China Cost?
Our China Vacation Budget for 2 People
10-Day Tour Cost: $960 USD for two people (or $480 USD per person)
I first saw this vacation package to China on TravelZoo’s Top 20 Deals in early December 2018.
My partner and I spent $299 USD per person on this 10 day vacation package with UTO Vacation including round-trip airfare from New York City to Beijing (return from Shanghai), breakfast, some lunch, transportation, activities and accommodation. Along with the 10 day tour, we also had to pay mandatory gratuity of $180 USD per person.
Our $299 USD China trip with UTO Vacation included:
- One-way economy flights from New York City to Beijing
- One-way economy flights from Shanghai to New York City
- One-way economy flights from Beijing to Shanghai
- Professional English speaking tour guide
- Ground transportation
- 4-Star hotel accommodations in 5 cities (Beijing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou and Shanghai)
- Daily breakfast buffet at each hotel
- Admission to the Great Wall of China
- Visit the Jade Store in Beijing
- Visit Chinese Herbal Institute in Beijing
- Suzhou Master of the Nets Garden (classical Chinese garden)
- Silk Spinning Factory
- Dragon Well Tea tasting at the Longjing Green Tea village
Total Chinese Visa Cost: $280 USD
Our Chinese tourist visas cost $280 USD total ($140 USD per 10-year visa).
There are only six Chinese consulates in the United States. In addition to an Embassy in Washington D.C., there are consulate offices in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston. Each state is assigned to one of these consulates. If you don’t live near an embassy, here are additional tips for getting a Chinese visa.
The Chinese Consulate only accepts Visa and MasterCard. No cash.
Total Transportation Cost: $92.54 USD
Transportation to/from NYC Chinese Consulate
Taxi to NYC Chinese Consulate: $20.76 USD
Taxi from NYC Chinese Consulate: $18.36 USD
Taxi to NYC Chinese Consulate (Second Attempt): $20.16 USD
Taxi from NYC Chinese Consulate (Second Attempt): $17.76 USD
As you may have guessed, I got turned away the first time I tried to pick up our visas because I was missing the receipt. I successfully picked up our visas during the second attempt.
Transportation to NYC Airport:
(2) AirTran fares to JFK Airport: $15.50 USD ($7.75 USD each)
Total China Food Costs for 2 People: $300 USD
How much do meals cost in China?
I recommend conservatively budgeting $30 USD or 211 CNY per day for meals in China. However, I think you’ll end up spending a lot less than that, especially if breakfast is complimentary at your hotel. To give you a sense of how much I spent on meals in China, here are some of my specifics.
Dinner for two at NYC JFK Airport: $24.07 USD ($12.03 USD per person)
Day 2 Meals: $18.17 USD or 128 CNY
Dinner for two at Beijing Chunhui Garden: $18.17 USD or 128 CNY
- (2) Singapore-style Noodles: $14 USD or 99 CNY (48 CNY per person)
- Beer: $3 USD or 20 CNY
Day 3 Meals: $ 21.49 USD or 151 CNY
(2) Hot chocolate at the Great Wall of China: $9.94 USD or 70 CNY
Lunch for two: $11.55 USD or 81 CNY
- 20 pieces of pork and cabbage dumplings: $4 USD or 28 CNY
- 20 pieces of shrimp dumplings: $6.55 USD or 46 CNY
- Beer: $1 USD or 7 CNY
Day 4 Meals: $17.25 USD or 122 CNY
KFC: $3.90 USD or 28 CNY
- Popcorn chicken: $1.77 USD or 12.50 CNY
- French fries: $2.13 USD or 15 CNY
Starbucks at Beijing airport: $13.35 USD or 94 CNY
- Medium latte: $4.97 USD or 35 CNY
- Black coffee: $2.55 USD or 18 CNY
- 2 sweet treats: $5.11 USD or 36 CNY
Day 6 Meals: $8.51 USD or 60 CNY
Beer: $3.97 USD or 28 CNY
Starbucks hot chocolate: $4.54 USD or 32 CNY
Day 7 Meals: $13 USD or 92 CNY
McDonalds for two people: $13 USD or 92 CNY
- 5 piece chicken: $1.63 USD or 11.50 CNY
- Cheese burger meal (includes drink and large french fries): $5.25 USD or 37 CNY
- Fish fillet meal (includes drink and large french fries): $6.17 USD or 43.50 CNY
Day 9 Meals: $2.27 USD or 16 CNY
Danish apple pie in Shanghai: $2.27 USD or 16 CNY
Day 10 Meals: $7.16 USD or 50 CNY
Starbucks at Shanghai airport: $7.16 USD or 50 CNY
- Medium latte: $4.58 USD or 32 CNY
- Sweet treat: $2.58 USD or 18 CNY
Total Activities Cost for 2 People: $490 USD
1-hour couples massage: $80 USD
Optional half-day Beijing tour with UTO Vacation: $150 USD ($75 USD per person)
- Tiananmen Square
- Forbidden City Admission
- Man-powered pedicab ride of Hutong
- Homemade Chinese lunch
Climb the Great Wall of China: $0 USD included in UTO tour
Traditional rickshaw around historic hutong in Beijing: $3 USD or 20 CNY tip
Foot massage at Herbal Institute: $3 USD or 20 CNY tip
Boat ride on Grand Canal in Suzhou: $60 USD total ($30 USD per person)
Dragon Well Tea tasting at the Longjing Green Tea village: $0 USD included in UTO tour
Shanghai Huangpu River Night Cruise: $90 USD ($45 USD per person)
- Shanghai night cruise upgrade (beer and cookies): $14 USD or 100 CNY
Optional half-day Shanghai tour with UTO Vacation: $90 USD ($45 USD per person)
- Shanghai Maglev train (~ $11 USD or 80 CNY)
- Shanghai China Town
- Shanghai Knock Off Market
Listen to this podcast episode where we share our experience climbing the Great Wall of China!
Total Souvenir Cost: $536 USD
Group photo at the Great Wall of China: $15 USD
Jade bracelet from Jade Factory in Beijing: $130.57 USD (hers) and $235 USD (his)
(2) Pearl bracelets: $90 USD ($45 USD each)
Dragon Well Tea: $40 USD
Other souvenirs: $25 USD
How much did our trip to China cost?
In summary, we spent approximately $3,000 USD (~ $1,500 USD per person) for our 10 day trip to China. That’s approximately $150 USD per person/day. This included tour costs, airfare, accommodation, food, souvenirs and plenty of activities. To be honest, we did not skimp out on much during this trip.
We shopped and ate really delicious food without batting an eye. Shopping and food are really affordable in China so take advantage. While we could have bought less gifts and opted out of the half-day tours offered by our tour company, we don’t regret our financial decisions at all. We enjoyed the conveniences and paid extra for certain luxuries. That’s the great thing about traveling to more affordable travel destinations. You can spend without regrets.
Out of the 27 countries I have visited so far, China is one of the most affordable. To compare, I spent approximately $1,300 USD during a four day trip to Iceland. Again, while a lot of costs were already accounted for in my tour like breakfast, ground transportation and 4-star hotels, I still recommend China as an affordable travel destination for financially savvy travelers.
Would I visit China again? Yes, absolutely! China is so large, incredibly diverse and there’s still so much we haven’t seen yet! We hope to return one day.
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Also, read my book Affording Travel for my top money-saving strategies for making travel a financial priority in your life. This is an easy read, less than 10,000 words!
Check out some of my other trip cost breakdowns:
My heart goes out to all those affected by the corona virus in China.
Please follow the recommendations of the CDC before booking a trip.