In my previous installment, I tackled ways to make transportation cheaper. Now, let's have a look at lodging!
Why the cost is unavoidable:
Despite what we say about "sleeping under the stars," it sure is nice to have a roof over our heads to sleep through the night.
What can be done about it:
If you're traveling with a partner, it's usually easier to find 2-bed hotel rooms, or "standard rooms" just about anywhere. If you land in a smaller city and don't know where to go, TIP: go to the big hotel and ask for a room without computers or windows, and it could be as cheap as 50 RMB/person (about the cost of most hostels). If you have capable Chinese, you can download one of these apps: 去哪儿 (qu nar), 美团 (meituan), or 携程 (xiecheng) which have all kinds of hotel listings, including those standard rooms I mentioned. (And, since most hotels are in pursuit of high ratings, you might even get free pick up service!)
If you're traveling alone (which I often do), definitely take advantage of China's hostel network. You can check yhachina.com, or hostelworld.com, the latter of which has listings in English all over China. Hostels are a great way to save money because they have a wide range of accommodations, and also to meet other travelers and plan sight-seeing trips around the area. No joke, I have done as little as book a hostel, show up, and ask the front desk what I should do, and still have had great trips.
Almost Free: If you feel inclined to give back to the community as well as find a free place to live, consider volunteering. There is a WWOOFing (Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms) China program, though be aware that it's different from international WWOOFing, in that I ended up teaching English instead of farming (who's surprised?). I also found a volunteering opportunity through Couchsurfing, which allowed me to volunteer at a hostel in Sanya for a couple weeks. Search around! Knowing Chinese helps a lot, of course, but don't let that stop you!
**NOTE Be prepared to work! Free lodging should not be your only motivation to volunteer.
If you want to meet more locals, consider Couchsurfing. It is a fun way to meet people (and stay in their place, free of charge). Of course, use good judgment by reading reviews, and also be warned: do not treat either option as a free hotel room! Be prepared to be chatty and get to know people. I would say that if you're not feeling social, just opt for a hostel or hotel room.
Cheapest (AKA Adventure Mode): Camp. Bring a tent and camp out around China. Of course, this means you'd have to get a tent to begin with, but it could really save some money in the long run. (And if you choose this option, let me know how it goes! I have yet to try).
Now that you know more about transportation and lodging, I'll bet you feel ready to get out and explore China! But what about some other costs, like sight-seeing and food Stay tuned for more.Categories: Travel