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China :: Trip Report & Budget

Our China route (Round One)

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.

 

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.

 

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:

DATE LOCATION LENGTH OF STAY TRAVEL TIME (TO)
29 Jun – 03 Aug Shanghai 4 nights 16 hrs via air
03 Aug – 05 Aug Suzhou 2 nights 40 min via G-train
05 Aug – 06 Aug Tai’an 1 night 6 hrs via G-train
06 Aug – 07 Aug Taishan 1 night 4 hrs on foot
07 Aug – 11 Aug Beijing 4 nights 5 hrs via G-train
11 Aug – 16 Aug Pingyao 5 nights 4 hrs D-train + 2 hrs K-train
16 Aug – 18 Aug Xi’an 2 nights 10 hrs via K-train
18 Aug – 19 Aug Kunming 1 night 2 hrs via air
19 Aug – 22 Aug Lijiang 3 nights 7 hrs via K-train
22 Aug – 24 Aug Tiger Leaping Gorge 2 nights 3 hrs via private hire
24 Aug – 26 Aug Shangri-la (Zhongdian) 2 nights 2 hrs via bus
26 Aug – 29 Aug Dali 3 nights 7 hrs via bus
29 Aug Kunming N/A 5 hrs via bus

 

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):

PROPERTY
LOCATION
PRICE
TYPE
NOTES
White Mansion
Shanghai
US $33/night
Hotel
en suite double
Mingtown
Suzhou
US $25/night
(HI) Hostel
en suite single
Taishan
Tai’an
US $14
(HI) Hostel
dorm room
Xian Ju
Taishan
US $47
Hotel
en suite twin
Lama Temple
Beijing
US $31
(HI) Hostel
en suite double
Harmony
Pingyao
US $19
Guesthouse
en suite single
Warriors
Xi’an
US $16
Hostel
en suite twin
Camellia
Kunming
US $19
(HI) Hostel
en suite twin
Mama Naxi’s
Lijiang
US $17
Guesthouse
twin (shared bath)
Tea Horse
Tiger Leaping Gorge
US $11
Guesthouse
twin (shared bath)
Chateau de Woody
Tiger Leaping Gorge
US $13
Guesthouse
en suite twin
Dragoncloud
Shangri-la
US $19
Hostel
en suite double
Jade Roo
Dali
US $13
Hostel
twin (shared bath)

 

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:

LOCATION
DAILY AVG.
FOOD
LODGING
SIGHTSEEING
Shanghai
US $76 /day
US $31 /day
US $34 /day
US $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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