How Much Does it Cost to Travel? China & Tibet

Welcome to our ongoing series that asks: How Much Does it Cost to Travel?

The goal of this series is to provide you with real budgets people have used for trips they have actually taken. This could be anything from a long weekend in Miami to 6 months backpacking around South East Asia. It’s our hope that by shining a spotlight on what people are actually spending- and the value they get for it, you will have a better idea of what it really costs to travel.

All of the travel budgets will live on this dedicated page.

Today’s budget is from Jill of Jack and Jill Travel.


Where did you go?

I went to Tibet/China

Briefly, what was your itinerary?

Beijing: 2 days,

Xi’An: 3 days,

Hua Shan: 2 day,

Tibet 8 days.

How much money did you spend overall?

I spent about $2900 – which includes flights, the cost of 8 days tour of Tibet, visa, trains, activities, and accommodations for 2 weeks in China/Tibet.

The detailed breakdown is below:


Chinese visa: $140

SIM card: $30

Flight to SFO – Beijing, Lhasa – SFO: $1114

Tibet tour: $930 (8 days)

Train tickets:

Beijing – Xi’an $41.50

Xian – Beijing $61

Beijing – Lhasa train $292


Great Wall Hiking Tour: $46

Terracota Warrior: $22.90

Hua Shan: $70 (entrance ticket, cable cars, and buses)

Bike rental  in Xi’an $7

Tomb of Emperor Jingdi $14


$36.63 (hostel dorm in Beijing, 2 nights),

$23 (3 nights in Xian)

$25.34 (2 nights in Huashan)

How much did you spend on transportation?



Beijing – Xi’an $41.50

Xian – Beijing $61

Beijing – Lhasa train $292


SFO – Beijing, Lhasa – SFO: $1114

Local buses/subway, etc: $15

What kind of accommodation did you stay in? 

I stayed in hostel dorm rooms while in mainland China, and 3-star hotels while in Tibet (with 1 night in Everest Base Camp). Our accommodation in Tibet is included as part of the tour. The cost of my dorm rooms in China is a follow:

$36.63 (hostel dorm in Beijing, 2 nights),

$23 (3 nights in Xian)

$25.34 (2 nights in Huashan)

What sort of activities did you do?


In Beijing, I took a guided hiking trip to the Jinshanling part of the Great Wall ($46). The rest of the time I spent walking around seeing the sights in Beijing, and trying to survive the hot, humid weather. Then I took a night train to Xi’an ($41.50) where I went to the night market in the Muslim quarter and rode a bike on top of the city wall ($7). I visited the Terra-cotta Warrior ($22.90) as well as the smaller tomb of Emperor Jingdi ($14)

From Xi’an I went to Hua Shan, a national park famous for its “plank walk” ($70), the most dangerous hike in the world. The cost here includes entrance fee, cable cars, and shuttle buses.

Then onward to Tibet on a 2-day long train ride from Beijing ($292). Unless you have a Chinese passport, you must join an organized tour to visit Tibet. An 8 day tour costs $930 and it includes all transportation, 3-star hotels, a guide, and some meals. On that tour, we visited a bunch of places some of the highlights include:  Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Manla Dam Lake, Korola Glacier, and Everest Base Camp.

What did you splurge on? Was it worth it?

I took a 2 day train ride from Beijing to Lhasa for $290. I believe you can fly for about the same price or cheaper and obviously get to Lhasa so much faster. So this was not only a splurge in cost, but also in time.  Looking back… I’m glad I did it because I got to hang out with a bunch of cool people, but I wouldn’t have done it on my own.

Hua Shan Mountain was expensive to get in and around, but it was so nice to be away in the mountains, far from the big city hustle and bustle. There are trails that you can take to get to the peaks instead of paying for pricey cable cars, but because of time constraint, I gladly paid for them.

What did you scrimp on? Are you happy with that decision?


I guess you can say that I scrimped on accommodation by staying in a dorm room, but I really don’t mind. Other than that, I don’t think I scrimped on anything. Food and local transportation in China was pretty cheap so even though it might seem like I didn’t spend much on them, I didn’t really go out of my way to find the cheapest food/transport.

Did you purchase any special souvenirs?

I bought a handmade paper-cut wall hanging for $2 – including frames! I know, right? Big spender.

Did you do anything special to save up for this trip?


Do you have any regrets regarding how you budgeted this trip? Would you do things differently next time?


I don’t think I have any regrets. Although man, after you added everything up, it turned out to be a pricer trip that I expected 🙂

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