Home to the Great Wall, the picturesque rural villages of Guilin, the dizzying skyscrapers of Shanghai and the vast deserts of Xinjiang and Qinghai, China is an extremely affordable holiday destination, with prices well below what you might expect to pay in Europe or North America.
If you’re on a rock-bottom budget you’ll be able to find hostel beds for as little as 40 yuan and save money on accommodation by taking overnight trains and buses.
Mid-range and luxury travellers
For the mid-range traveller, a decent hotel room can cost around 300 yuan and at the top of the scale the sky’s the limit!
Prices are approximate and subject to change
Chinese currency tips
To get strong exchange rates on Chinese yuan, head to the Post Office and change your money before you get to the airport.
Notes come in denominations of 1 yuan, 5 yuan, 10 yuan, 20 yuan, 50 yuan and 100 yuan. You will also occasionally see notes of 1 jiao and 5 jiao, but these are rare, and almost worthless.
The yuan is divided into units of 10 jiao and 100 fen. The Chinese often refer to jiao as ‘mao’s
There are also coins worth 1 yuan, 1 jiao, 2 jiao, 5 jiao, 1 fen, 2 fen and 5 fen. Like the jiao denomination notes, most of these are worth almost nothing, and will probably end up weighing down your wallet by the end of your trip, rather than being spent.
Yuan is the only currency accepted in mainland China, so although currencies like dollars and euros can be exchanged in major tourist centres, it is advisable to carry enough Chinese currency to see you through your entire trip
Unlike many currencies, China’s biggest note (100 yuan) is for a relatively small amount. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to carry smaller notes to pay for taxis and small items in shops, especially if you are travelling outside of the larger urban areas
Counterfeit money can be a problem in China, so be aware of fake notes which are sometimes unloaded onto tourists since foreign visitors are less likely to notice discrepancies. Look carefully for the watermark on the left of the front side of the notes by holding them up to the light. Also check the holographic denomination ID on the bottom left of the front side
Credit is unpopular in China and it is common for people to carry cash However, tourists are more likely to be targeted by thieves, so make sure you spread your currency around different parts of your luggage, and use hidden travel wallets.
If you plan to visit the special administrative regions of Hong Kong or Macau, remember that they use their own currencies (the Hong Kong dollar and the Macau pataca) though you should be able to exchange yuan (and other currencies) fairly easily in most places
Want to keep track of your spending?
Keep track of your holiday spending and instantly convert local prices into pounds with our free smartphone apps. There are three handy apps to download for iOS and Android, including Travel Essentials, Travel Money Card Plus & Currency Converter. You can also download an instant currency converter for your Apple Watch.
Get your Chinese currency from us
We make it easy to get yuan before your trip:
Order online up to five days in advance – minimum £400 order applies online
Order at your local Post Office branch. Search for your nearest branch here
Order before 3pm on a working day for next-day delivery to your home or your nearest Post Office branch. Branch deliveries, and home delivery orders of £500 or over can be delivered for free, or for home delivery orders of under £500 there is a small delivery charge of £4.99
Orders placed before 3pm, on a working day, can generally be delivered the next working day. Where an order is placed on a Friday and delivery to your home is required on a Saturday, there will be a charge of £1.50
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