7-Day China Itinerary With Guide + Budget (Pinoy Solo Traveler)

7-Day China Itinerary With Guide + Budget (Pinoy Solo Traveler)

By DAN FORTEZA

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Although China is a massive country, I have always kind-of known where to go if ever I visit Mainland China someday. And that someday happened last November!

Because most economy flights from Manila fly to Shanghai and Beijing, it’s pretty easy to jumpstart a traveler’s China itinerary in either of these two Chinese cities. My travel itinerary, you ask? It’s Shanghai – Zhangjiajie – Beijing – and back to Shanghai!

And I made it all happened in only 7 days!

With my detailed day-to-day expenses included also in this blog, I’m sure budget travelers will find very helpful to estimate their overall travel cost when traveling to Mainland China.

Dan Travels to Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China | Dantravels.org

Hi there! First of all, I am Daniel – a solo backpacker from the Philippines. If you don’t know my story yet, feel free to read this article where I talked about how I quit my job in order to travel. This article was also featured on TripZilla Philippines.

DO YOU NEED A VISA?

First things first–do you need a visa to travel to China?

NOTE: China we know today is formally known as the People’s Republic of China. Don’t confuse it with the Republic of China which is another term for Taiwan.

If you’re also a Philippine Passport holder, you need to secure a Chinese tourist visa first.

Read my blog on how to get your Chinese tourist visa for Filipinos.

If you’re from another country, you might want to check first the visa policy of China to verify whether you need a visa or not.

CHINA 🇨🇳

Language: Chinese (Mandarin)
Capital City: Beijing
Currency: Chinese Yuan (CNY, RMB)
Int’l Airports in this trip: PVG, DYG, PEK, SHA
Preferred mode of transportation: Flights, Trains, Metro
Time Zone: GMT +8

MY CHINESE MAP ITINERARY

Chinese Map Itinerary for Filipinos

1ST STOP: Shanghai –  It is the most populous urban area in China and the second-most populous city proper in the world. Shanghai is a global center for finance, innovation and transportation and the Port of Shanghai is the world’s busiest container port.

2ND STOP: Zhangjiajie –  It contains the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area which was a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. One of the park’s quartz-sandstone pillars, the 1,080-metre (3,540 ft) Southern Sky Column, was officially renamed “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” in honor of the movie Avatar in January 2010.

3RD STOP: Beijing – It is the world’s most populous capital city, with over 21 million residents. Beijing is an important world capital and global power city, and one of the world’s leading centers for culture, diplomacy, and politics, business and economy, education, language, and science and technology.

HOW I GOT TO CHINA

Finding a cheap flight ticket to Japan from the Asia-Pacific region is easy breezy. In my case, I got “piso fare” promo round trip flight tickets from Cebu Pacific!

Here were my flight + train itineraries with costs:

    • Flight Roundtrip, Cebu Pacific: Manila (PHL) – Shanghai (CHN) – Manila (PHL) [$42.24]
    • Train: Shanghai (CHN) – Zhangjiajie (China [$35]
    • Flight, Air China: Zhangjiajie (CHN) – Beijing (CHN) [$105.24]
    • Flight, Juneyao Airlines: Beijing (CHN) – Shanghai (CHN) [$70.21]
    • Subtotal: $252.69

If you’re also coming from the Philippines (or wherever in the world actually), I suggest you check Kayak as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites. Per my experience, they’re the best! Refer to Kayak’s widget below.

WHERE DID I STAY IN CHINA

My Room Accommodations:

  • Shanghai, China
    •  (Note: I basically slept at PVG airport’s waiting area upon arrival and then went to downtown Shanghai the next morning.)
  • Zhangjiajie, China
    • Name: Tujia Impression Inn
    • Room type: Bunk Bed in Mixed Dormitory Room
    • Cost: refer to the day-to-day expenses below
  • Beijing, China

You can book a room at any hotel in Japan through Agoda or Booking.com. I usually book my room accommodations through booking.com. Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

If hotel isn’t to your liking, try AirBnb. Airbnbs are immersed in neighborhoods, condos, and townhomes. There is a feeling you get when you stay in an Airbnb that makes you feel like you belong in that city or town. Since it is someone’s home, there is a certain amount of pride you feel while staying there. I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to 43 USD free travel credit by signing up via this link

MY 7-DAY CHINA ITINERARY with EXPENSES

NOTE: I created a more detailed itinerary and guide of my trips to Shanghai, Zhangjiajie, and Beijing. Each has a separate blog as listed on the link below.

DAY 1: DOWNTOWN SHANGHAI

  • CNY 200 – Sim card, 10GB data, see note 1
  • CNY 7 – Subway: Pudong Airport (PVG) station to Nanjing East station
  • CNY 5 – Bottled Water
  • CNY 2 – Ferry boat
  • CNY 8 – Subway: Metro Shanghai station to South Shanghai Railway station, see note 4
  • CNY 10 – 2x Bottled Water
  • Subtotal: CNY 232 [$32.6]

NOTE

1 – Unfortunately Google, Facebook, Instagram and other American-based social media / websites are blocked in mainland China. If you’re like me who likes to access Instagram and Facebook on-the-go, you can use a VPN app. When I was in China, I used “Betternet” which has free trial for the first 7 days. I just canceled it before my 7-day trial ended haha! Go and check it out!

2 – My Chinese friend, Peng, toured me around on my first day in China. We later met again on my last day (Day 7 of my China itinerary,) the day I returned to Shanghai.

3 – I brought some snacks from the Philippines such as bread, oreos and even kiat kiat oranges that’s why you probably would notice I haven’t bought any food on my first day in China. Plus, Peng also treat me out for lunch on this day!

4 – At around 6 PM, I went to the railway station to aboard on the railway train going to Zhangjiajie which took 20+ hours!

DAY 2: EN ROUTE TO ZHANGJIAJIE

  • CNY 156 – Hostel: 2 Night stay
  • CNY 4.5 – Food: Instant noodles
  • CNY 3 – Bottled water
  • Subtotal: CNY 163.5 [$23]

NOTES

1 – This was a 20+ hour journey. But you’d be awed with the amazing and scenic views on your way to Zhangjiajie! 

2 – There are also other types of train classes ( e.g., sleeper class: the one where you can lie down and sleep comfortably,) but comes with a price. Personally, I preferred to go with this one they call “hard seat” class since I’m on a budget. You can book your train ticket here.

3 – The train ticket fee is already accounted for in my flight + train ticket itinerary cost above.

DAY 3: WULINGYAN NATIONAL FOREST PARK

  • CNY 20 – Minibus: Zhangjiajie city terminal to Wulingyuan
  • CNY 245 – Fee: Park Entrance ticket price
  • CNY 38 – Fee: Trolley Ticket to the ’10-Mile Gallery’ peaks
  • CNY 72 – Fee: Cable Car to Tianzi mountain (one way)
  • CNY 5 – 2x Bottled water
  • CNY 72 – Fee: Bailong elevator (one way)
  • CNY 20 – Minibus: Wulingyuan to Zhangjiajie city center
  • CNY 4 – Food: Instant noodles
  • Subtotal: CNY 476 [$67]

NOTES:

1 – Ticket Price of CNY 245 is valid for 4 days. This includes bus rides inside the park as well as insurance. Apparently, there are additional fees for other attractions inside Zhajiajie National Forest Park such trolley, cable car and elevator rides.

DAY 4: TIANMEN MOUNTAIN

  • CNY 261 – Fee: Entrance ticket to Tianmen Mountain Park
  • CNY 5 – Fee: Luggage storage at Ticketing Office
  • CNY 5 – Fee: Glass walkway
  • CNY 5 – Food: hotdog
  • CNY 5 – Food: hotdog
  • CNY 5 – Food: corn
  • CNY 3 – Bottled water
  • CNY 10 – Food: Oranges
  • CNY 9 – Food: 2x Cup noodles
  • CNY 1 – Bus: Zhangjiajie city center to Zhangjiajie-Hueha airport
  • Subtotal: CNY 309 [$43.5]

NOTES:

1 – Ticket Price of CNY 261 includes the cableway ride and bus ride. Valid for one day only.

2 – To get there: just simply find the ticketing office of the Tianmen Mountain in the Zhangjiajie downtown. That’s the one where the cableway line starts. I got there just by walking from my hostel. Once you have your ticket, you can reach the mountain by either bus or cablecar. However, you can only use the bus and the cablecar once: e.g. if you opt to go up by cable car, you’ll have to go down by bus.

3 – Later that day (around 5 PM), I went to Zhangjiajie-Hueha airport to catch my flight to Beijing, China.

DAY 5: DAY TOUR TO THE GREAT WALL

  • CNY 110 – Taxi: Beijing Airport (PEK) to my hostel in downtown Beijing.
  • USD 54 – Tour fee to Jinshanling Great Wall (booked in advance), note 1
  • CNY 18.5 – Food: hiking snacks
  • CNY 30 – Bei jing Kao Ya (Peking Roast Duck) at Nanluo St.
  • CNY 3 – Metro: Nanluo station to Dongsi station, note 3
  • Subtotal: CNY 161.5 + USD 54 [$76.8]

NOTES:

1 –  In order to get away from the crowds at the usual Badaling or Mutianyu Great Wall (Great Wall nearest to Beijing), I booked a group day-tour via Viator to take me a less crowded Great Wall in Jinshanling (actually no crowd at all, just us!) So together with other 20+ foreign travelers, we headed northeast to see this amazing Great Wall! Travel time by bus from downtown Beijing to Jinshanling was almost 3 hours! Meet up point is somewhere at Nanluoguxiang or Nanluo St.

2 – The day-tour meet-up point at Nanluo St. is about 15-minute walk from my hostel. There is also a nearby metro (Nanluo station) but I really preferred to walk.

3 – Dongsi station is the nearest subway station to my hostel.

DAY 6: DOWNTOWN BEIJING

  • CNY 3 – Metro: Dongsi station to Tiananmen East station
  • CNY 40 – Fee: Imperial Palace Entrance
  • CNY 5 – Fee: Beihei Park Entrance
  • CNY 8 – Food: Hotdog and water
  • CNY 18 – Food: Tomato and Egg rice
  • CNY 3 – Metro: Sichahai station to Olympic Sport Center station
  • CNY 5 – Olympic Sport Center station to Guomao station
  • CNY 6 – Food: Vendo drink
  • CNY 6 – Food: 2x hotdog
  • CNY 4 – Metro: Guamao station to Yonghegong station
  • CNY 3 – Food: Hotdog
  • CNY 23 – Food: Rice with Chicken
  • CNY 2 – Bottled water
  • CNY 3 – Metro: Shichahai station to Dongzhimen station
  • CNY 25 – Metro: Dongzhimen station  – Beijing Airport station
  • Subtotal: CNY 154 [$21.7]

NOTES:

1 – Later that night, I went to Beijing Airport to catch my flight back to Shanghai while the metro is still up and running. Flight is scheduled to depart at around 6:00 AM the next day.

DAY 7: BACK TO SHANGHAI, THEN RETURN TO PHL

  • CNY 5 – Metro: Shanghai Airport (SHA) station to People Square station
  • CNY 4 – Metro: People Square station to Century Avenue station
  • CNY 3 – Metro: Shangcheng station to Longyang station
  • CNY 2 – Fee: Baggage Locker
  • CNY 10 – Fee: Century Park entrance ticket
  • CNY 22 – Food: Some Chinese Noodles
  • CNY 4 – Metro: Longyang road to Lujiazu station
  • CNY 4 – Metro: Lujiazu station to Longyang Rd. station
  • CNY 8 – Metro: Longyang station to airport Pudong Airport (PVG) station
  • Subtotal: CNY 62 [$8.7]

NOTES: 

1 – Restless and tired, I still manage to roam around on my last day in China. I was with my friend Peng as pictured above. Peng and I went on biking near Century Park and explored the financial district of Shanghai at Lujiazui.

And there you have it!

Including the flight costs, here is the overall total of my expenses in China for one week:

TOTAL: $252.69 (flights + railway ticket) + $273.3 (daily costs)

TOTAL: $526.0

RECOMMENDED TOUR PACKAGES

BOOKING ESSENTIALS

  • Hotel / Hostel
    • Booking.com. I usually book my hostel accommodation at booking.com. Thus, I recommend you guys trying it as well for your China Itinerary.  Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.
    • Airbnb. Try Airbnb in finding comfy and cozy rooms for your China itinerary! I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to 43 USD (2,200 Php) off your first stay. Click this link to get that discount.

  • Flights
    • KAYAK. All of my flight bookings are all from KAYAK. Kayak is one of the world’s leading travel search engines and searches hundreds of travel sites.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

  • Train in China
  • Other Package tours in China
    • Viator. Viator is the world’s leading resource for researching, finding and booking the best travel experiences worldwide. Perfect for your China itinerary!

Click here to find the best Viator deals in China

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