Affordable places in China are some of the most searched for keywords for anyone looking to visit the most populous country in the world.
That makes sense, since thousands of years of history, coupled with pioneering inventions in all areas of modern life and a bustling economy mean that exploring China can be quite expensive, sometimes even beyond measure.
Therefore, we decided to offer some advice for making the most of your trip to China, all the while focusing on not breaking the bank.
10. Hug It Out With Giant Pandas In Sichuan Province
…because, who doesn’t want to snuggle with these gentle giants? Now, this seems like an out-of-your-way journey that’s bound to cost you quite a bit, but here’s the thing: ticket prices range between 1.50 yuan and 4.29 yuan per person, depending on age.
Every visit to China on a budget should also include a visit to Dujiangyan Panda Base, which is situated on Futoushan Mountain. Currently the only research base near Chengdu where visitors are allowed to hug pandas, it’s situated just 40 minutes away from the city. And if hugging one of 50+ giant pandas takes its toll, you can always observe the infants in their incubators.
9. Go Shopping In Hong Kong
Why? Because top things to do in China are always going to include some form of shopping, mainly due to low prices combined with high quality. With literally tons of bargains looming around pretty much every corner, Hong Kong is world-famous for being a shopper’s paradise.
And one of the biggest reasons for that is the fact that the selection that’s offered to both locals and visitors is incredibly varied. Clothes, electronics, suits, computer equipment – you name it and you’ll be able to find it in Hong Kong at significantly lower prices than in Europe, USA or Australia.
Ultimately, there’s a good chance you come across limited or exclusive regional models or designs that aren’t available anywhere else in the world.
8. Visit The National Museum Of China (FREE)
Most museums in Beijing display precious historic relics that showcase the long history of the country. Most of them are also free for visitors, with the exception of the guide fee, but they offer a unique opportunity to get to know segments of China’s glorious past that spans more than 5,000 years.
Some of the top treasures of this great cultural institution include “the Stone Axe,” “the Jar Showing a Stork with a Fish,” and “the Painted Pottery Basin with Human Face and Fish Design.”
Large-scale exhibitions are also held in this popular location throughout the year, including ones showcasing ancient Buddhist sculptures, ancient Chinese porcelain art, ancient Chinese jade, ancient Chinese Bronze Art and many others that fascinate visitors from the world over.
7. Admire the Terracotta Army in Xi’an
This widely known imperial burial site is often referred to as an equal to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Any list of affordable places in China is bound to include a visit to the final resting place of Emperor Qin Shi Huang and his immense terracotta army, created to guard his burial site and protect his entry to the afterlife.
The breathtaking mausoleum of the first emperor of China from the Qin Dynasty, complete with his fierce army, was in 1987 listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Witnessing firsthand the sheer number of terracotta soldiers standing guard for their emperor is bound to make your trip to this part of the world more than memorable.
6. Explore Beijing’s Sanlitun Bar Street (Free)
When it comes to Beijing nightlife, it can be said that this legendary street is one of the most popular entertainment areas in the entire city.
The bar street is heavily frequented by local big shots, as well as foreigners living in Beijing. Sanlitun Bar Street has been deemed a “smoke and mirrors” street because of the fact that nobody is able to give a clear commercial meaning to it, especially since it’s constantly packed with people yelling, shouting, partying and walking around while exploring the sights, and all that while the background is filled with city noise and bright colors.
Open everyday until 2 a.m., this urban legend can be found just south of the embassy district. Even foreign embassies change their address numbers because of this famed party hotspot, which makes it a must-see if visiting China on a budget.
5. Walk The Great Wall
We could have easily put this one at the top, folks, but that would have been too obvious. Of course, it would be wrong to correlate the Great Wall’s location within this article to its importance on the overall list, because we’re talking here about a man-made miracle and a structure that can be seen from space.
Furthermore, its significance is by far one of the most understated facts among tourist attractions in China. That being said, there’s a saying in this country that “one who fails to reach the Great Wall shall not be considered a hero.” And given that it’s one of the first things many first-timers usually do when traveling to China, we’d say there’s much truth to this ancient wisdom.
4. Make Your Way To Tibet’s Lhasa By Railway
Affordable places in China can be found throughout the country, but taking a train to Lhasa of Tibet is a must-do experience for countless tourists visiting this ancient land. As the ancient saying goes, “sometimes the journey is more important than the destination;” that’s certainly the case here, as the railway route is one of the longest ones in the world, in addition to having one of the highest elevations.
The sight of towering, snow-capped mountains concealed by the clouds, yaks at the side of Qinghai Lake, clear skies and vultures circling about are all images you can expect to see while traversing one of the legendary train rides of the world.
3. Experience The Grand Tiananmen Square (Free)
Officially one of the largest city squares on the planet, Tiananmen Square is capable of accommodating a whopping one million people for a grand assembly. A famed tourist attraction situated in the nation’s capital, it covers 44,000 square meters and spans 500 meters from east to west and 880 meters from north to south.
This is an important historical and cultural site, as it was here that Chairman Mao Zedong stood when he proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. A hugely influential, mythical almost, site in Beijing, it is a must-see for visitors from the world over who are interested in the more recent history of this part of Asia.
2. Train Chinese Kung Fu At The Legendary Shaolin Temple
Now, nobody is saying you’ll go back home looking like Bruce Lee, but Chinese Kung Fu is revered for many of its beneficial properties for the human body. Most notably, it increases mental well-being, coordination, fitness and overall energy levels.
One of the most famous examples of traditional Chinese culture, Wu-Shu has been taught and practiced for centuries by pacifist monks in this legendary stronghold made famous mostly by a plethora of martial arts movies. While learning Kung Fu is a definite entry on the list of things to do in China, a visit to Shaolin is right there alongside it. In fact, why not do both at the same time?
1. Relax At A Yangtze River Cruise
If we’re talking about the most important bodies of water in all of China, culturally, historically and geographically-wise, then the Yangtze River is at the very top of the list.
Now, experiencing this mighty river can be done in a multitude of ways, but tourists usually opt for a cruise, which has numerous conveniences. Top things to do in China most definitely include a cruise on the Yangtze, especially since the trip typically lasts for 3 days and the prices are more than acceptable. Notably, they will vary depending on the class of cabin and entrance to select sites of interest scattered throughout both banks.
That being said, cruises typically take place between Yichang and Chongqing, as well as Chonqing and Zhichang. At the end of the day, there are worse ways of going about exploring this awesome and vast Goliath of a nation than cruise ships. But hey – it’s a start.