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Where can I use Chinese Yuan?

You can use the Chinese Yuan in the People’s Republic of China. Unofficially, you can also use the Chinese Yuan in the following countries:

  • Macau
  • Hong Kong
  • Laos
  • Cambodia
  • North Korea
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Vietnam (China- Vietnam border)
  • Zimbabwe

How much spending money do I need for China?

China is absolutely vast, and encompasses advanced urban hubs like Shanghai as well as rural villages where public transport and even running water can be in short supply. As with any country, developed areas and tourist sites come with higher price tags, but buying domestic produce will dramatically lower your costs, and fortunately many cultural sites can be accessed free of charge.

Product / service


Cost in GBP

Bottle of water



Local coffee



Imported beer



Big Mac



3-course meal for two



Budget your China trip

China is a vast country, so activities and budgets vary hugely depending on where you are. For this one we focused on Shanghai, China’s largest city – you’ll be hard pressed to find costs rising above these.

Low budget

Medium budget

High budget

Overall budget (per day):

130 ¥ (£14.50)

Overall budget (per day):

440 ¥ (£48)

Overall budget (per day):

2300 ¥ (£255)

Food, drink and accommodation in budget:

  • Hostel dorm bed (53 ¥)
  • Water, breakfast, lunch and dinner at supermarkets / local restaurants (65 ¥)
  • Two local beers (14 ¥)

Food, drink and accommodation in budget:

  • Hotel room (226 ¥)
  • Coffee, two large bottles of water, breakfast, lunch and dinner at mid-price local restaurants (155 ¥)
  • Two local beers (14 ¥)

Food, drink and accommodation in budget:

  • Upscale hotel room (1390 ¥)
  • Two coffees, two large bottles of water, breakfast, lunch and dinner at upscale local restaurants (255 ¥)
  • Bottle of wine and two cocktails (246 ¥)

Activities in budget:

  • Entry to Shanghai Museum (free)
  • Visit Xuhui Riverside Park (free)
  • Visit the French Concession (free)
  • See urban art at M50 (free)

Activities in budget:

  • Visit Jing’an Temple (20 ¥)
  • Entry to China Art Museum (20 ¥)
  • Ride the Shanghai Ferry (2 ¥)

Activities in budget:

  • Zhujiajiao Water Town cruise (150 ¥)
  • See Shanghai from above – Space Capsule ticket to Pearl Tower (220 ¥)
  • Visit Yu Garden (Yuyuan) (40 ¥)

China is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and one of its most fascinating. Ancient capitals like Xi’an and Beijing are home to thousand-year-old buildings, temples, museums and monuments that tell the story of China through the ages: ancient dynasties, the Silk Road, unification, the Cultural Revolution and its recent advance to economic superpower.

Every province in China (and some cities too) has its own culture, culinary style and distinct dialect. Sichuan is famous for its food, while traditional Miao performances can be seen in the remote towns of Guizhou province. Flower growing is integral to the culture in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, while in industrial Shanghai you’ll find skyscrapers, shopping malls and luxury hotels to rival Dubai.

Thousands of years of Chinese dynastic rule ended in 1912 and, after many decades of political turmoil, and the the reforms of the late 1970s, which triggered incredible economic and financial growth, China emerged on the world stage as a military and economic superpower in the late 2000s. Xi’Jin Ping, its current President and the leader of the Communist Party of China, is largely credited with the country’s recent industrialisation – a boom that has changed the fortunes of millions, as well as turning China into a major geopolitical player. Now, when China escalates the stakes in a trade war with the US, the global economy feels its impact – and exchange rates do too.

What denominations do Chinese Yuans come in?

The Chinese Yuan comes in the following denominations:

100¥, 50¥, 20¥, 10¥, 5¥, 1¥, 0.5¥ and 0.1¥

1¥, 0.5¥, 0.1¥

Leftover Chinese Yuan?

No problem. We’ll buy back Chinese Yuan you have leftover at excellent rates, leaving you with more cash in your pocket (and a tidier desk drawer).

Chinese Yuan FAQs

What currency is ¥?

¥ is the currency symbol for the Chinese Yuan Renminbi. This is the official currency of China and has two names: the renminbi, referring to the active currency among the population of China, and the yuan, referring to the country’s economic and financial systems. These names can generally be used interchangeably. Its abbreviation is CNY or RMB, which can also be used interchangeably.

Can I use US dollars in China?

US dollars can’t be used to make purchases in China, although they can be exchanged for Yuan Renminbi at most banks.

Will my phone work in China?

Although your phone will work in China, your mobile network will most likely will be blocked. Buying a local SIM card and using a VPN will allow you to access all the apps you’re used to, is highly recommended.

Do I need cash or card in China?

Cash is far more widely used than card in China, though major credit and debit cards can be used in urban areas. In urban areas locals will use WeChat, an app-based payment system, but accessing this as a tourist isn’t necessary if you’re carrying cash. The exchange rate is highly regulated so exchange fees don’t fluctuate much between banks and kiosks.

Should you use an ATM in China?

ATMs can be found throughout tourist areas in China, but are relatively uncommon outside these. ATMs do accept major international cards, but will charge fees of around £1.50-3 for a transaction, so withdrawing your spending money in advance of your trip is therefore highly recommended. To avoid your card being blocked, calling your bank in advance of a trip is highly recommended.

What language do they speak in China?

Mandarin Chinese is the official language and dialect of China, and the majority of the population speaks this. There are 7 groups of language in China, and over 200 other dialects.

Is China safe?

As with most countries, travellers can be a target for pickpockets in China, so it’s best to keep your possessions close. Aside from this crime rates are low in China.

How do you travel around China?

Trains and buses are the most commonly used forms of transport in China. It has an extensive and highly-developed train network, so long-distance trains are commonly used – but as a tourist, you’ll need to provide your passport to buy a ticket at the station. Domestic flights are available, but are not always a cost-effective and pleasant experience.

Do you need a visa for China?

British citizens will need to apply for a visa to visit China.

How much should you tip in China?

Tipping is customary in China, but not compulsory. Upscale restaurants and bars, where Western influence is stronger, will welcome a tip of 10-20% of the total bill. Tipping at street food stands and fast food restaurants is not expected. Tipping taxi drivers is not expected and, in certain areas, it can be illegal – so don’t be surprised if your tip is refused. Tipping tour guides and drivers is very common, though also not compulsory.

Read up before you go