Typical spend for meals in China


Nov 17th, 2013, 04:04 PM
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Typical spend for meals in China

Traveling to Shanghai, Beijing, HK, Macau and I am wondering how much I would pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
cali88 is offline  
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Nov 17th, 2013, 04:14 PM
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Meals are inexpensive; the most that we paid was our Peking Duck dinner at Da Dong (2x) one at $58 and another $75). Lunch, usually about $10-12 (for my husband and I).
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Nov 17th, 2013, 05:52 PM
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In HK, you can spend US$6 for a dinner, and you can spend $300. Depends on what and where you want to eat. Both $6 and $300 can be typical - depends on who you ask.
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Nov 17th, 2013, 08:39 PM
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How much do you pay where you live? (And can we not use spend as a noun, please.)
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Nov 17th, 2013, 09:41 PM
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A basic bfast in the states is $6 for mcdonalds and $10 at a local bfast diner joint.

lunch is around $8 to 12 for a sandwich or pasta entree in the states

dinner is usually 12 to 20 depending where I go in the states.

I am not looking for super cheap street food nor a fancy 5 star restaurant. If I compare my meals here in the states would it be higher than what I am currently paying in the states vs. what I would pay in china?

Is Shanghai more than Beijing is Beijing more than HK? I want to get a feel for the avg price per meal so I know I am not being ripped off since I am tourist.
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Nov 18th, 2013, 12:58 AM
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Nearly all restaurants offer a menu with prices stated. some have photos, some even offer english. If no english on menu nor any photos then surprise! awaits you but not on the price. I had a great spicy hunan dish last night with a bowl of rice and paid under US2, that would be 13rmb. Big hotel breakfast buffet (western, japanese and chinese food) in this city about US12. Typical small or large chinese restaurant you may figure not more than 50 rmb per person. But i would advise you to avoid looking only at price or you might miss the best cuisine in the world.
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Nov 18th, 2013, 01:34 AM
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> I want to get a feel for the avg price per meal so I know I am not being ripped off since I am tourist.

I don't think you're paying attention to the point being made even by your own comment on what you pay in the US. The price of meals varies dramatically according to their content and the location in which they are taken. 'What is the average price for a meal' is the same as, 'How long is a piece of string?' The long pieces are long, and the short pieces are short. The ones in the middle, however, are somewhere in the middle.

But, if instead your concern is that you should not be 'ripped off', taken to mean that you should not pay any more than local people do, then it is possible to give some sensible advice.

Within mainland China if you eat breakfast in a foreign-managed five-star hotel, then you'll pay the same as anyone else (around US$17 or so). Prices are clearly stated in multi-lingual menus.

If you eat a Chinese breakfast (jiaozi, miantiao, youtiao, dou jiang, mantou, baozi, zhou, or whatever) in some ordinary backstreet restaurant where you're the only foreigners, the menu will likely be in Chinese only, but no one will think of ripping you off as you point to order, and you'll just pay the same as everyone else (the equivalent of US$1, perhaps, depending on what you order and how much of it).

As far as rip-offs go, the dangers (far fewer than they once were) lie only in some restaurants right by high-traffic tourist destinations, often with some English on prominent display. Occasionally these will provide menus in English with either double prices, or with a much more limited selection of dishes consisting of only the more expensive ones. If you're on a tour and go where the tour company takes you then you are at high risk of simply receive food of far less variety and far poorer quality than you would find looking on your own.

The solutions are simple:

Walk away from major tourist sites and from clusters of five-star hotels before selecting a restaurant

Look at the menu before sitting down

Keep a running total in your head as you order, and check your figure with the waitress

Don't forget that, depending on where you eat, there may be a token sum for your plate/bowl/cup/packet of tissues, and/or another for tea

If you are asked to order tea and specify a type, pay close attention as a pot may occasionally cost as much as your main dish (although not strictly a rip-off--it's the same for local people, too)

In case you feel there's any ambiguity, have a go at learning 'Duoshao qian'(duōshǎo qián, 多少钱), which is 'How much?' (for money only). Or print out the characters, or take a decent phrase book or sensible guidebook and just show the characters. You'll find pages with them on all over the Internet, as well as audio clips telling you how to say them. Try nciku.com, for instance. The answer can be written down for you, shown on a calculator, or on a mobile phone.

But really, these problems are pretty rare. Once every meal was a fight, and foreigners were viewed by restaurateurs as legitimate targets for every scam imaginable, but this is now rare.

Note that in the larger cities picture menus with appalling translations of the Chinese and clear prices are commonplace even in basic jiachangcai (home cooking/everyday) restaurants. These cities also have expat-run English-language magazines with reviews of new openings and listings of restaurants with brief descriptions and price indications. Reviews may often be influenced by the willingness of the establishment to advertise, and on average the selections are expat-friendly establishments with prices above the average if ordinary Chinese restaurants are taken into account (well above, in many cases), but when they come to listing a huge variety of local Chinese cuisines rarely seen outside mainland China, but which are its glory, things get a little more realistic. A little Googling would have given you a lot of data, e.g.:


The content of Time Out isn't always the brainiest, but note 'Five Great Beijing Meals under ¥10' (so that's about US$1.30):


On the other hand, the guide's 100 best restaurant lists opens with one with a six-course tasting menu at around $90.


But of course you should be eating Chinese, and others on the list are excellent value: Haidilao and Feiteng Yuxiang for instance.

Other views on Beijing food can be found at The Beijing magazine (which can often be crass, but still):


Its Chinese list opens with Haidilao (many branches), with Chuan Ban (generally agreed to be the best Sichuan in town) a little further down. I've no idea what Jin Ding Xuan is doing there as the dim sum is very basic, but at least the review admits that and points out the attraction is the 24-hours opening time. There's not much on prices here, but you're going to be paying the same as everyone else.

A little Googling will find you similar publications with an on-line presence for your other destinations. Hong Kong and Macau will be more expensive than the mainland cities, but with very little chance of rip-offs, and very modestly priced meals still legion.

You can still easily get a filling and enjoyable meal for two in adequately comfortable surroundings for ¥100 in the mainland's big cities--indeed that's such a generous sum that it would provide so many opportunities that you'd have to stay years to cover all the available restaurants in Beijing alone. And the restaurants that are more expensive, and those that are much cheaper are equally as numberless as the hairs on an ox.

Of course, if you what you actually want to eat is what you eat at home then a 'Happy Meal' (was ever food--if you can call it that--less appropriately named?) is about US$3.50. A stab at a Western sandwich or pasta dish taken in foreigner-targeting chains outside the big hotels perhaps US$3 to $6. A American-style western dinner outside the big hotels perhaps $10 and up for the main course (but still with wide variation), and not necessarily to your liking.

But rip-off? Except to your health, none of them.

When in China discover that you actually have no idea how vastly varied Chinese food is, very little of it even remotely resembling what is labelled as that in restaurants in North America. And much if it, even if you did end up paying double, still worth the price.
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Nov 18th, 2013, 10:45 AM
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Wow thank you so much temppeternh!

This is really good information!
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