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Backpacking in China: when tourism is a luxury good

I came to China totally unprepared. I had no knowledge of Mandarin, I just knew I want to go west. I did the same for India and the trip turned out great. Well, I was overly confident after that trip; so far it was totally different level of travelling. But it has been incredible fun and a huge adventure!

Frugal travelers might be stroke by the prices. There are huge contrasts: while food, transport, and accommodation rates are from extremely cheap to reasonable, the entrance fees get very steep. And I mean steep even with comparison with western Europe or Australia (where I was just before going to China).

There are two things which I reckon that drive this. First of all, tourism is a luxury good here (speaking in economic terms :-) ). Chinese work hard and get only few days off each year. That basically means that they don't mind to spend a lot on this.

Secondly, there is a huge demand. In fact, there is a HUGE demand. It is great example of what effect has the enourmous Chinese market. Despite steep prices, the major sites are overflowing with Chinese tourists. You often must  'Q' for several hours to see the major sites when you are unlucky. I cannot imagine how many people would be there if it was cheaper...

The funny things is that the tourists often seek after these famous sites. Often, you step few meters off the beaten track and there is noone. This is maybe driven by what tour companies offer, Chinese scarecely travel on their own.

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