Travel Cost Comparison Australia vs. China

Australia or China: which country is more expensive?

This comparison of travel costs between China and Australia examines average prices across multiple categories. Please visit each country's individual budget page for more detailed information.

  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day
    Australia $195
    China $77
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Australia $108
    China $44
  • Food Meals for one day
    Australia $33
    China $16
  • Water Bottled water for one day
    Australia $2.99
    China $0.88
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Australia $33
    China $9.45
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Australia $41
    China $11
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Australia $12
    China $5.70
Should you visit Australia or China?
China and Australia are two large countries that both bring in many visitors. Australia is more expensive for a variety of reasons, such as the higher cost of living. But both countries have a lot to offer, from beautiful natural scenery to culture and nightlife to adventure and outdoor activities.

Australia is a large and diverse country both in its landscapes and cultures. On the coasts you'll find great beautiful beaches and big cities. In the north are tropical areas known for wildlife. And in the center is deserts, forests, and geological wonders like no place else on Earth. The Outback, the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains, Ayers Rock, Surfer's Paradise, and the Sydney Opera House are just a few of the world famous locations to see in Australia.

China is massive, diverse, enigmatic, beautiful, and chaotic. And you should definitely go! But it's hard to summarize the price of everything in a country as large as this. From sprawling metropolises to sparsely populated countryside, the price of travel in China is as diverse as its attractions. Large cities are generally higher in price than the countryside, but overall China is surprisingly affordable.
When is the best time to visit Australia and China?
Three Sisters Lookout, Echo Point Katoomba, Blue Mountains Three Sisters Lookout, Echo Point Katoomba, Blue Mountains
Australia, being in the southern hemisphere, experiences warm summer months from November to April, and colder winter months from May to October. However, northern Australia is fairly close to the equator, and experiences warmer weather year-round. At the same time, southern Australia experiences four full seasons (much like the U.S. and Europe), with cold winters and warm, humid summers.

Much of northern Australia can be visited year-round due to the warm tropical climate and mild winters. However, the best time to visit Australia's beaches and big cities of the southeast is in the Spring, Summer, and Fall (avoiding June, July, and August as they are the coldest months). Traveling to Australia in the shoulder seasons can often lead to cheaper prices.

As China is geographically large, the weather varies by region. The northeast experiences four seasons, while the south is fairly mild and tropical. The west can be cold in the winter as well, and sometimes harsh in the high plateaus and mountains.

In northeastern China, winters can be very cold and less tourists visit during this time. However, some areas have winter festivals (such as Harbin) which bring in large crowds despite the chill. Summers in the northeast can be warm, and sometimes hot and humid. This is still the peak season in this region, especially in Beijing. Traveling in the shoulder season will usually give you lower prices and good weather.

In the south, from Shanghai down and across to southwest China, expect warm weather almost all year. While winters do get a little cooler, it's not much to worry about. For this reason, travelers visit southern China year-round. Some even avoid the warmer summers in favor of the cooler winters.

In the west, the mountains make everything a little more complicated. Even in the usually warm southwest, higher elevations equate to colder weather. As you venture into the northwest, expect frigid winters but mild summers.

Other than weather, the only thing to look out for are the Chinese national holidays. During these times, which usually last a weekend or a whole week, many local Chinese people will be traveling to experience their own country's grand beauty. Expect hotels to be full and transportation to be crowded. You may wish to avoid the country during these times, or hunker down in a smaller city. Make reservations in advance if you can.
Why is Australia more expensive than China?
Australia is a modern, first world nation with a high cost of living, modern technological and industrial economy, and thriving middle class. All of these factors raise the overall prices for travel in Australia compared to much of the world, especially some of its Pacific and Asian neighbors.

Modern hotels and restaurants can be found everywhere, providing the level of luxury and modern conveniences that western tourists from the U.S. and Europe expect. However, this level of luxury comes at a higher price.

China is still a fairly affordable country to visit for a number of reasons. Although the economy is growing and the Chinese middle class is traveling more, competition for tourists and low wages is keeping the overall price of travel lower than most developed nations.

A pro-business economy means that there are more hotels, restaurants, taxis, and attractions for you to visit, and all of the locals are essentially fighting for your attention and money. Budget hotels in China are growing by leaps and bounds, as local families and large companies open independent and chain hotels and restaurants. Generally, prices for hotels in China are cheaper due to the huge number of hostels and budget-friendly hotels throughout the country. While major cities have many hostels, even smaller cities and small towns are starting to jump on the hostel bandwagon, providing both dorms and private rooms for everyone from students to backpackers to families with kids
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in Australia and China?
Dali, Yunnan, China Dali, Yunnan, China
The beach areas of Australia can be fairly expensive, especially in the peak summer months. The east coast beaches in Queensland from Bisbane and the Gold Coast all the way up to Cairns are full of higher-end hotels and restaurants. However, cheaper options can be found as there are also plenty of hostels, budget hotels, and less expensive restaurants. The areas around the Whitsunday Islands and the launching points for the Great Barrier Reef can also be pricey.

The larger cities of Australia, especially those in the southeast, can get expensive as well. While budget options are available, expect prices to be generally higher for most services.

Tours and excursions into the Outback and central areas of Australia can sometimes be expensive due to the great distances that must be traveled as well as the prices for activities such as visiting national parks, hiking and trekking, etc.

Like large cities in any part of the world, with more people comes more diversity in prices. Some of the most expensive hotels and restaurants in China can be found in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as other touristy areas. But at the same time, these crowded cities also offer cheaper options.

Western China can be an expensive region due to its remote location. Here, transportation is pricey, food is more scarce and thus more expensive, and hotels are less frequent. But this enigmatic region can be worth the visit, and isn't too much more expensive than the more populated eastern regions.

Otherwise, some of the most expensive places in China are those that require more activities. A cruise through the famous three gorges, for example, is a must-see, but not so cheap. Hiking in the mountains or visiting famous parks that require entrance tickets, while worth the visit, can add to your travel budget.

Tibet is also relatively expensive due to travel restrictions, remote locations, and a lack of infrastructure.
How you can save money when visiting Australia and China?
In Australia, booking ahead for hotels and hostels can often save you money and provide the ability to shop around. Many hotels and hostels are online in China, but not all. Online shopping can sometimes save you money, but it can prevent you from negotiating for a better rate if you arrive in person first.

Public transportation in Australian cities is cheap and efficient, and sometimes even free. Use it whenever possible. Look for long distance bus routes between major cities if renting a car is too expensive. Also, the train can be an affordable and relaxing option. China's network of trains between cities has grown lately, and high speed rail lines connect every major city in the east, as well as some in the west. Not only is it fast, but it's also affordable.

Instead of staying at a hotel or hostel, consider alternatives such as camping, couch surfing, or a home stay.

Look into the price of flights. The Chinese government subsidizes many flights and airlines, leaving you with plenty of ways to get around this huge country fairly quickly.

Stay at locally owned hotels, and eat at local restaurants. The prices are great, the service is great, and you'll have a more enjoyable and authentic experience.

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