Practical Travel Guide
Most nationalities need a visa to enter China. They can be a royal pain in the ass to obtain in some places, and super straightforward in others. Hong Kong is supposed to be a good place to obtain one, and Tehran used to be great.
Because there are vast differences in requirements between embassies, it’s best to check out the website of the embassy you wish to apply for. It’s also a good idea to search for trip and embassy reports on the Lonely Planet and Caravanistan forums.
China is such a huge place, that giving a uniform overview of average costs is almost impossible. And since we’ve only been to Xinjiang, we’ll give you the costs for this province.
China is relatively expensive compared to other countries we visited. Food is cheap, but transportation and sights are not. It’s possible to find cheap accommodation, but in many cases these don’t allow foreigners to stay. At the time of writing €1 was 7.30 RMB.
The following overview is based on prices for one person. For more detailed insights, check out our budget report.
Food and drinks
- Soda: 3 RMB
- 1 L of water: 1.5 – 3 RMB
- Breakfast: 7 – 20 RMB
- Lunch: 7 – 20 RMB
- Dinner: 15 – 30 RMB
- Dorm bed in a hostel: 45 – 90 RMB
- Private room in a hostel: 120 – 160 RMB
- Private room in a budget hotel: 100 – 200 RMB
Cultural outings and other sights
- Museums: free
- Mosques: 15 – 45 RMB
- Historical sights: 30 – 70 RMB
- Natural sights: 0 – 250 RMB
For details about transportation and other useful information about Xinjiang, head over to FarWest China.
Travel in Xinjiang usually covers very large distances. Most places are connected by train and bus.
Trains are probably the most comfortable mode of transport. Trains usually have three classes:
- Hard seat: the cheapest class. Not very comfortable and and not recommended for journeys longer than 10 hours.
- Hard sleeper: gives you a berth, and is more comfortable. Significantly more expensive than a hard seat, though.
- Soft sleeper: the most comfortable, and most expensive class. Gives you a nice and comfy berth.
Getting train tickets can be hell. Especially in bigger cities it can take up to four hours standing in line to get a ticket. Prepare your soul!
You can get to most significant towns and cities by bus. The price for a bus is about the same as the price for a hard sleeper on the train. We don’t really recommend it if you’re taller than 1.60 meters 😉
Taxis in China are very cheap, and all must use a meter. Fares start between 5 – 7 RMB, and a short ride around town wont cost more than 10 – 15 RMB. Drivers hardly ever refuse to use their meter, but if they do, just hail a different cab.
Entering and exiting
The best place to find up to date information on entry and exit formalities is Caravanistan.
Chinese culture is incredibly diverse, and people can, and do, write books about it. Some elements of Chinese behavior can seem rather boorish, but we don’t want to go into it too much. Instead, check out our post of why we didn’t like Xinjiang so much.