Female Solo Travel in China – My Experience

Author Carina Klein
· 7 min read · 0 comments

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This year, I went to China solo – and I can only recommend it!

In case you’ve been following us for a while, you might know the drill by now. I always write blogposts in the “we” form because this is my and Philipps shared travel blog. The truth is that we sometimes travel together and sometimes we don’t.

This year, I went to China solo. And I had the best time ever!

Solo Travel China FAQ

What Is it Like to Travel Around China as a Woman?

Was I worried before going to China solo? Yes. You don’t meet a lot of women you have travelled to China solo – I have met 0. You also don’t find many reports online – and if you do they are rarely recent. I was super anxious because I didn’t know what to expect.

In hindsight, there was absolutely no need to be worried. Every single person I met in China was super friendly and kind and I had the best time ever!

Travelling China solo was surprisingly easy. In fact, it wasn’t harder than travelling around Japan solo (which I did on the same trip).

My Best Experience Solo Travelling in China

By accident, I was in Yangshuo during the time of the Zhuang Folk Song Festival. As soon as I arrived, the lovely ladies pulled me into the first dance.

Looking around, I soon realised that I was the only foreign tourist. As soon as the dance had ended, everybody asked questions and answered my questions and I had many lovely conversations. Yes, in contrast to the common misconception, many of them spoke perfect English.

We danced many more dances and they even wrote a poem for me. This was one of my best travel experiences ever.

Picture of Yangshuo Zhuang Folk Song Festival
Yangshuo Zhuang Folk Song Festival

My Worst Experience Solo Travelling in China

The only people who seriously annoyed me in China were the taxi drivers. I knew about the taxi scams so I tried to use Didi (the Chinese Uber).

When I arrived in Xi’an, I went to the pickup point. I was immediately swarmed by taxi drivers. I thought maybe they were trying to help me because everybody else had been super nice so far. Instead, one of them pushed the cancel button on my phone. I was so overwhelmed by the situation that I turned around and figured out the public transport system – which was not complicated at all. Maybe I should thank the taxi drivers.

Unfortunately, this was not my only bad experience with Chinese taxi drivers. In Hua Shan, the taxi drivers told me that there are no buses. Fortunately, a local took pity on me and showed me the bus station where in fact there were free shuttle buses.

Where Did I Visit?

In 14 days, I visited

  • Guilin
  • Xi’an
  • Beijing
  • Shanghai

Where Did I Stay?

I always stayed in hostel dorms. The dorms and in fact, the whole hostels were always clean and well-equipped. I could always stay in female-only dorms.

The only downside was a lack of other travellers hence there was not much of a hostel vibe. It was hard to find people to hang out with and do activities with.

Picture of All female hostel dorm in China
All female hostel dorm in China

Where Did I Meet Locals when Traveling Solo in China?

I might not have met a lot of foreign travellers but I have sure met a lot of locals – potentially more than in every other country I have visited so far. Here are just a few examples:

  • In Yangshuo, a local woman asked me if we wanted to share a bamboo raft to split the cost. She was a domestic traveller from another Chinese province and we had a great time.
  • In Xi’An, I met lovely ladies on the subway who complimented my looks (that would never happen in Germany).
  • In Beijing, my Chinese dorm mate took me out to dinner. This was great because never before did I know exactly what I was eating in China.

I experienced the Chinese people as exceptionally open, interested, friendly, and kind.

How Much Did I Spend?

In Yangshuo, I spent as little as 20$ per person and day.

Beijing is more expensive and I spent around 40$ per person and day.

By far the biggest part of my budget went into train tickets. Expect to pay around 90$ to go from city to city – regardless of whether you travel by train or by plane.

Picture of Chinese money
Chinese money

How Did I Move from City to City?

I always moved from city to city on high-speed trains. I bought my tickets in advance on Trip.com which worked perfectly. As the rides are quite long, I took several naps on the trains and felt super safe doing it.

Picture of Chinese long distance train
Chinese long distance train

How Did I Move within Cities?

As my first taxi experience was not very pleasant, I moved around the cities with public transport only. The metro systems in Xi’an, Beijing, and Shanghai were easy to navigate. The signs and announcements are bilingual. You have to pass a security check to enter the stations and there’s loads of security and CCTV so I always felt very safe.

Picture of Subway in Xi’An
Subway in Xi’An

Did I Feel Safe?

Yes, I always felt safe. China has very low crime rates. There’s a lot of CCTV and police presence everywhere. I walked around cities like Beijing and Shanghai at night and never had any incident – not even a minor one.

What Did I Eat in China?

I am an omnivore which means I literally eat everything. This was so much fun in China. Honestly, most of the time, I did not even bother with a translation app. I just pointed at the food, at pictures, or at dishes other people were having that looked appealing. I enjoyed every single meal I ordered this way.

All of my hostels and many restaurants offered free drinking water so I never bought a single bottle of water in China.

I mostly ate delicious street food and sometimes went to restaurants. If I wanted to go to a proper restaurant, I rarely had a problem finding one with an English menu.

I never had any stomach problems in China. I also managed to never order food which was too spicy for me – and I have a very low tolerance.

Picture of Chinese street food
Chinese street food

What Recommendations Do I Have for Solo Travelers in China?

  1. Get WeChat and or Alipay.
  2. Get an Airalo eSIM card so you can use WeChat and Alipay.
  3. Get a VPN if you want to use WiFi.
  4. Google Maps doesn’t work so get Baidu Maps (only in Chinese) and Organic Maps.
  5. Always have your passport with you.

Backpacking guide Kachel

What Are Some Tips for Solo Travel in China as a Non-Chinese Speaker?

I never had any problems at all as a solo travelling woman who does not speak any Chinese.

People either spoke English, we used sign language, or we used a translation app. What I loved about China was that absolutely everybody was willing to communicate with me.

Picture of Lost in translation?
Lost in translation?

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