How do tourists pay for things in China?

How do tourists pay for things in China

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How do tourists pay for things in China?

China has developed at such speed that they seemingly missed out on the whole ‘pay with card’ era. Moving straight from cash to advanced methods, mainly scanning a QR code with an app like Alipay or WeChat.

That’s how most of the locals pay for most of their daily essentials. It’s easy and extremely convenient. Great, but what about us traveller folk who aren’t allowed to use these fancy apps? How do tourists pay for things in China?

When we arrived in Shanghai we were blissfully unaware of how difficult getting from the train station to the hotel was going to be. It was late, but unsurprisingly, the subway was still running. This is Shanghai after all.

Our trouble began though when we got to the ticket machine, with nothing but our array of pre-paid debit and credit cards. They were loaded with cash and credit but they weren’t going to help us get a ticket. Only two things would and they were coins or the ability to scan the QR code. 

ATM Hunting

No one was around to help us so we had to go on the hunt for an ATM machine. The hunt was not successful. Loaded with full backpacks we walked around the gigantic train station expecting to find a cash machine hidden somewhere. But no, nothing.

So the train wasn’t happening, we had to find a taxi instead. And of course, taxi drivers didn’t take cards, nor did they speak English. So, after Google translating with a couple of drivers, we finally managed to get one who would accept cash and take us to an ATM on the way to the hotel.  

We asked the hotel – ‘how do tourists pay for things in China?’ – and they said that cash is definitely the easiest way. It’s worth noting, though, that not all ATMs accept foreign cards.

So don’t expect cash to come easy, even when you find an elusive machine, there’s no guarantee it’ll share its wealth! Hotels are likely to accept any usual cards but from my experience, for pretty much everything else it’s good to have a wad of cash on you. So don’t forget to pack your money clip.  

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the sketchy traveller
About the author – The Sketchy Traveller

I’m not really a stickman, but it seems that I like portraying myself as one.

I’m an English guy who’s been travelling since 2017. I was never good at taking photos, sketching just seems to work better for me, and in my opinion, why do you want to see other people’s 4K videos and pictures of the world? Surely it’s better to see it for yourself. You can get in touch through the contact page or Instagram.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy travelling.

The Sketchy Traveller