Hi, first I'd like to say that I'm experienced with backpacking on a budget and i don't care about staying in uncomfortable bedrooms and all that stuff!
I'm planning on doing a big Asia route soon. As well as returning to South East Asia which I'm very familiar with, I want to go to China and Japan before. I was wondering if someone could tell me what the prices are like in these two areas compared to South East Asia if you were to be backpacking on a big budget! I know that places like Beijing and Shanghai will be more expensive already. Just wanted an idea of a daily budget or something and maybe how much a standard hostel accommodation would be in certain areas?
Don't be put off by the higher prices in Japan. It's an amazing country with no equal. Accommodation may be higher than the other countries mentioned, but it's not as crazy as the rumours say it is. I've recently come back from a long stay in Tokyo and had no problem finding a good meal for less than $5. Friends told me that the smaller towns were even cheaper. But it's still a far cry from Thailand or Indonesia (where you can live like a king for $25/day, or 'get by' for $10.) Have a great trip!!
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From my experience, I would rank the major items for budgeting as follow:
1. plane ticket - really depending how lucky you could get what discount; stick with the economic airline such as asian airline and familiar with search engine for cheap tickets could get you really far (there is a
Chinese website www.qunar.com with great deals, I am afraid it's not available in English yet)
2. lodging - Japan is generally more expensive than China, but you could always get reasonable deal from airbnb or hostels GBP30-40/night/person is reasonalbe for a clean but maybe small place (for example check out my listing in airbnb https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2909529?checkin=07%2F01%2F2014&checkout=07%2F02%2F2014&locale=en)
3.local transportation - if you want to visit different cities to get various exposure, local train is a must as a budget transportation. One way ticket could easily costs GBP50-100. Plan how many cities you want to go based on your time and budget. It's about the same with Japan and China, of course various depending where you want to go.
4.Food - this could vary huge depending on how much you want to spend. Even in Bejing and Shanghai (probably the most expensive cities in China), you could find GBP1/meal easily. It is more expensive in Japan though. There is no upper limit in either country.
Not sure whether this answers your question. Hopefully it could help. If you have more specific questions, you could list out here. I think more anwers will come.
As long as you avoid the major cities, the prices are usually pretty cheap. However depending on the business or area, they may raise the price as a part of the "foreigner tax". This is more common with hotels. Stick with hostels, China has some of the best hostels I ever stayed at. The people running the hostels tend to be more open minded and understands foreigners better.
Can't really speak for Japan since I have never been there.
Dear Elliott Giles：
There are many hotels in Shanghai and Beijing, their price will be a lot cheaper. If you can read Chinese, you can download some hotel reservation APP, can through the Internet booking hotel at discount. And, of course, you don't understand Chinese, you can ask the local young friends, you will speak basic English. If you want to find a cheaper hotel, you can choose to live on the edge of the big cities, away from the central city, the price will be much cheaper. Finally, you can also choose in the heart of the city block, block looking for cheap accommodation, environment may be poor, but the price is cheap. Such as hidden in some small youth hostel in Beijing Hutong. Hope to help you!
I've been to Japan several times. As someone else has said, you can eat fairly cheaply. Budget Accommodation is more expensive than South East Asia. However, you can find cheap dorm beds. Although, I generally did not stay in dorms, I often had a private room with a shared bath. The Japanese are very clean. As far as getting around, consider a bus pass. That's what I did, and so much cheaper than the train. Plus, you can take night buses and save on accommodation. The buses are very comfortable. Here is the link Willer Express.