China - Money & Costs
Money & Costs in ChinaCurrency: Renminbi ('People's Money')
Generally, eastern China is much more expensive than the western part of the country. Visitors to eastern China could budget around US$50 a day, but it would be a challenge. Budget travellers in western China should be able to keep costs down to US$25 per day. The main drain on savings tends to be long train journeys. Food is cheap throughout China, and if you're careful you won't have to spend much more than US$7 a day on meals. However, the bottom line is that you'll be charged the 'tourist price' a lot of the time - it's a practice encouraged by the government.
Foreign currency and travellers' cheques can be changed at the main branches of the Bank of China, the tourist hotels, Friendship Stores and some department stores. Hotels usually charge the official rate. You will need to keep your exchange receipts if you want to change any of your remaining RMB at the end of your trip. Travellers' cheques are useful because the exchange rate is more favourable than that for cash; Thomas Cook, American Express and Visa are most commonly accepted.
Credit cards are gaining ground in China, with Visa, MasterCard, American Express (branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen), JCB and Diners Club the most common. Cards can be used in most mid to top-range hotels, Friendship and department stores, but cannot be used to finance your transportation costs. Cash advances can be made at head branches of the Bank of China (4% commission). Tipping is not really expected in mainland China - but bargaining is definitely OK. You can bargain in shops, street stalls, and hotels - but not in large stores.