We all love a great deal, especially when traveling, as money saved on hotels or flights can be spent on food, tours, and of course, shopping! But in China, this “getting the cheapest deal possible” mindset might not be all that satisfactory in the end. We’ll explain.
First, one should understand the local idea that ‘cheap equals low quality’; Hence a low-priced-deal is not necessarily indicative of a good deal. Of course, not all inexpensive things are sub-par and you definitely can find good quality products and services here, just don’t always expect the same quality you’re used to from home (or even basic good quality for that matter).
What are you paying for?
Despite common belief, China is not necessarily a cheap place anymore and service prices are changing every year. Yes, backpacking is still widely common, but between that and what you would regard as basic or good quality service back home, there is a gap. And this gap shows in the prices. Just go online and check prices for a well-located hostel versus a 4-star hotel (we skipped over the 3-star hotels because they are usually not more than a regular B&B in other countries, plus staff won’t be speaking English, so it’s not recommended).
Then, there is the issue of entrance fees; China tries to limit the number of travelers in every destination to preserve local history and natural parks. If you’ve seen pictures from national holiday travels here, you’d understand why. This means that entrance fees to local attractions will cost much more than expected in comparison to other places around the world. This can add a substantial amount to your travel budget.
How should you prepare?
First time Traveling to China? Plan ahead!
It all depends on what kind of travel experience you are looking for, but plan ahead, read about the places you want to visit, and adjust your budget accordingly. Read reviews, ask other travelers, find relevant blogs, and be sure to read the fine print, especially when booking tours.
Many guided tours will include shopping stops to present lower priced items to you. If you have no problem spending time in some tourists’ shops, then that might be a good option. But then again, lower your expectations from the trip itself. If you really don’t like to spend time in these so-called “tourists’ traps,” make sure you ask in advance if these shopping stops are included in your tour. Chinese travel companies are very straightforward about these things and it won’t be regarded as an insult.
Joining a group tour is a pretty simple way to reduce prices a bit. Alternatively, you can find some other travelers and book a private tour together. This might be more fun and provide a better tour experience, plus the price will just be divided among your group.
All in all, China truly is a wonderful country to visit, so you should probably plan a few tours, since you won’t be able to see it all in one trip. Just make sure you know what to expect in advance, so you can have the best travel experience possible!
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