Average Prices in China

China is generally a very cheap country by Western standards. You can live on practically nothing if you are so inclined. Although in cities like Shanghai there are plenty of ways to spend a lot of money. Theoretically you could survive on as little as ¥80 ($11.40) per day (if your only requirements are food and a roof over your head). Realistically, you should budget for a minimum of ¥300 ($43) per day.

The following list of prices apply to major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Smaller or less prosperous cities are somewhat cheaper, while towns and villages are much cheaper.

Renminbi NotesA taxi ride: About ¥15-17 ($2-2.50) for a 5km journey.
A dorm bed in a youth hostel: ¥40-45 (around $6)
A private room (with bathroom) in a youth hostel: ¥200 ($28.50)
A 3-star hotel room: $60
A 4-star hotel room: $80-90
A 5-star hotel room: From $120 (you can find something for a good $500 or more if you want).
1 subway ride: ¥2-4 (30c-60c)
1 bus ride: ¥1-2 (15c-30c)
Train ticket (Beijing to Shanghai): ¥300-¥450 ($45-$65)
Plane ticket (Beijing to Shanghai): ¥500 and up with tax ($75 and up)
A meal at a neighbourhood Chinese restaurant: ¥15 ($2)
A meal at a nice Western restaurant (with a drink): ¥120 ($17)
A large Big Mac Meal: ¥18 ($2.60)
A 500mL beer from a shop: ¥2 (30c)
A 500mL beer at a bar: ¥15-¥45 ($2-$6.50)