Hi, I was wondering about peoples views that have travelled to both destinations on the contrasts of these two destinations in terms of cost, backpacking infrastructure, safety, highlights, lowlights and which one they prefer overall. Tough question I know but any views would be much appreciated...
Costs per person/ day (on a shoestring, including some transportation):
- China: $15, travelling on long distances and visiting too many tourist sights may blow your budget.
- SE Asia: $15 (on mainland), $25 (island), partying/organized tours will increase your budget
- South America: between $20 and $40 - depending on country (Argentina, Chile, big cities in Brazil are the more expensive). This excludes partying and doing outdoor stuff. Outdoor activities can multiple your costs.
- China: backpacking infrastructure is still low, but exists/growing in main tourist spots. However, general infrastructure is very good, especially in populated areas.
- SE Asia: it has the most developed backpacking infr. from all regions around the world. However, general infrastructure is improving but still poor.
- South America: most places that are in the guidebook will have what backpackers need.
- China: can be a hit or a miss. Most people however like it very much. Try to combine big cities with visiting the countryside! It has areas that are equally beautiful to south america, very diverse, interesting culturally, will give you a very different image on china what you probably had before. Food is great!
- SE Asia: all backpackers' favourite. However, experienced travellers admit that it's more like fun than a real exploration. First time really beautiful, exciting and interesting. But on a longer run a bit monotonous. Food is great!
- South America: most beautiful "continent" for nature. Culturally nice but not as interesting and diverse as the other regions. Food is good.
- China and SE Asia: very safe, for female travellers as well. Note: scams throught SE Asia!
- South America: safety concerns will always be an issue and you will have to be very prepared and know the situation in the actual area. It can be totally safe or you can't even enter. However, you shouldn't be discouraged, just be prepared and don't carry valuables.
My favourite is China. However, all areas are beautiful and very interesting.
I would probably combine a SE Asia and South China tour. And next go to South America.
See some other comments i made to threads:
Have a great trip!
Um, I think $15/day in China would be tight. A very, very crappy hotel would cost at least $8/night (for a foreigner) and would be hard to find in some cities. That leaves you $7/day for everything else, which even in China is not much. Let's see: that's about 45 yuan. One big meal at a decent restaurant and your budget is blown.
For China, I think you should at least double that. And for each trip between cities, budget another $5/100 km (for train travel). If you are travelling for more than 8 hours at a time, get a "hard sleeper" ticket (that's for a bed). It's so worth it!
BTW, I wouldn't recommend long distance bus travel in China. It can be hit-and-miss. Sometimes it's faster than the train, and just as comfortable. But once I was on a long distance bus that got stuck in a traffic jam- which turned a 6 hour trip into a 12 hour trip. In the winter, with a heater that didn't work well. Also, buses aren't as safe. You are more likely to be in an accident, or robbed, on a bus than a train, in China.
Here is a more complete list of prices. Note: this is more for a traveller on a shoestring, eating at cheap, local places, taking relatively cheap accommodation (although doesn't necessarily mean bad).
Exchange rates: xe.com
- hostel bed/person in Shanghai/Beijing, other big cities along the east coast: Y50-60
- hostel bed/person in other cities: Y20-35
- hotel room (1-2 persons) in Shanghai/Beijing, other big cities along the east coast: Y200-250
- hotel room (1-2 persons) in other, smaller cities: Y50-60
- basic lodging (1-2 persons) in rural areas: Y20-40
- food: dumpling breakfast/noodle soup: Y4-7, main meal Y10-20
- transportation: bus a bit more expensive 5hours Y50-70, 12hours Y100-120, it depends of course on distance, so on fast highways cost/hour is higher.
- trains: sleeper recommended, see http://www.chinatravelguide.com/ctgwiki/Special:CNTrainSearch?method=1
- domestic flights - see elong.com or ctrip.com
- public transport in cities: in general Y1-2, except shanghai (Y3-4 for a metro ride)
- admission to sights is the single most expensive thing: Y50-200
- renting bicycle: Y10-40 / day, buying one: Y100
In general, if you keep tight budget, you should be able to get by for Y100 / day / person. It depends on your needs, where you travel (shanghai or "countryside"), how long distances you cover, how many tourist sights you want to see.