Budget Travel Tip for China - China Travel Stoies

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Budget Travel Tip for China

One of the best ways to make your money go farther in China is to exchange money on the black market where you will receive a rate 5-15% higher than what is offered by the state-controlled banks.

Most guidebooks recommend staying away from the black market because of the risk of being swindled, and the latest edition of Lonely Planet's China even suggests that black market rates are often lower, but the fact is that with proper caution the first concern rarely occurs and the second is untrue.

In four months of independent travel I never encountered a money-changer who tried to pass off fake bills or shortchange me. Furthermore I heard of only one such incident from fellow travelers: the person easily spotted the fake money and walked away.

The key is to make sure you get the Chinese currency before you hand over your money. This way you can count the money for yourself and check for counterfeit bills, which are very easy to spot -- just look for the watermark. Once you are satisfied just hand over your money and you are done.

Rates will vary with the best deals usually coming in large cities where you'll get 10-15% higher for dollars than the official exchange rate. Rates in places further off the beaten trail will most often be less but you'll still get 5-10% more for your cash.

In large cities like Chengdu or Guangzhou the best places to find money-changers are near large hotels that cater to tourists or foreign businessmen or in front of banks that are near the hotels. In smaller towns like Dali or Yangshuo it might be necessary to ask proprietors of restaurants, hotels or Internet cafes. Even if they don't change money they will usually be able to find someone that will.

Now many of you might be asking why people are willing to give black market rates 5-15% higher than banks. A friend who lives in China explained to me that the government wants more foreign currency reserves so it offers higher rates of return to people who deposit dollars in savings accounts than RMB. What this means is, a Chinese citizen who deposits 100 dollars will receive more interest from the bank than he or she would from an equal amount of RMB, thus the black market demand for dollars.

For the budget-minded traveler this quirk in Chinese fiscal policy is a boon. You can travel a bit farther on that dollar without sacrificing comfort, or afford the occasional splurge.

Story Courtesy to Amoore88

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