China is widely considered to be an affordable destination but with so much ground to cover, the pennies can add up quicker than anticipated. Backpackers often spend weeks pouring over travel guides, sifting through forums and surfing the web, trying to find the most efficient and inexpensive ways around. However, if you don’t speak the language, the most useful information and the best bargains can be out of reach. Wuhan is generally an affordable city, however if you want to stretch your Yuan as far as possible, check out these useful tips.
From the Airport
Wuhan Tianhe Airport is a reasonable distance outside of the centre and like any major city, taxi rides to and from the airport are pricey. Unless you’re arriving in the middle of the night, avoid heckling cab drivers and instead opt for public transport. The cheapest option by far is the subway. However it is worth noting that Wuhan’s underground network is still under-construction, so if there is no stop close to your destination, take the subway downtown and you will find connecting buses, bikes and cabs.
Out and About
In Western society, monthly travel expenses can be extortionate. Fortunately for budget travellers, this is far from the case in Wuhan. The cheapest and most convenient form of transport is the bus. For non-native speakers it can be a little tricky to navigate, however if you download a suitable English language map, the app will do the work for you. Wuhan’s expanding subway network is also an option, with a single journey rarely exceeding 3¥. If you plan to stay in town for a few days, it’s worth purchasing a travel card for 20¥ at the subway station which can be used on all city buses too.
Like in many Asian cities, the go to place for cheap eats is the street stalls. Wuhan has an abundance of delicious street snacks available for under 10¥, however the prices tend to inflate the closer you are to tourist traps, so best venture out a little. If you fancy something slightly more formal, there are also plenty of affordable restaurants to choose from. Should you get stuck for somewhere to start, try one of the restaurants just off Youyi Avenue, opposite Hubei University’s front gate. The only downside with some of the lower priced eateries is they tend to only offer Chinese menus. The trick here is to be prepared. Research some popular dishes and food words and write them down. Even better, invite a Chinese-speaking friend along to help you translate.
Wuhan is a city bursting with free activities. Hubei Provincial Museum and Hubei Museum of Art are just two of the many government funded cultural institutions in the city. If the weather is on your side, then East Lake scenic area and all of Wuhan’s parks can be added to the day’s agenda. Those with a few Yuan to spare should also head down to one of Wuhan’s many historical Buddhist or Taoist temples, such as Baotong Temple. These sites are all uniquely fascinating and inexpensive. If this is not your thing, instead take a walk down one of Wuhan’s many picturesque streets; Han Street, Jianghan Lu or Tan Hua lin, and treat yourself to a bargain bubble milk tea!
Contrary to popular belief, drinking doesn’t have to be pricey and Wuhan is living proof of this. For an inexpensive beer, simply find any local restaurant and pull up a stool and ask the waiter for a 啤酒 (pijiu). If you prefer something a little livelier, delve into the international scene to find cheap and possibly even free events around the city. The best way to do this is through Wuhan’s expat news and lifestyle website, Wuhan Social, which promotes all of the international clubbing, dining and social events.
Finding budget accommodation can be the difference between saving and throwing money down the drain. Fortunately, Wuhan has a number of low-priced options if you know where to look. The most cost-effective place to stay is a bed in a hostel. Using a Chinese website such as eLong will be cheaper than its Western counterparts, and most have English translations. If you are in a group, AirBnb is also a good budget option, with the additional benefit of more privacy. Just be sure to double check with your host that they speak English, should you need directions.