Welcome to Money Diaries, a blog series where we share with you how BigPay users spend their money — and we're tracking it down to every last ringgit.
We’re kicking off 2020 with an entry from a 23-year-old travel enthusiast from Kuala Lumpur, JT, as he accounts his spending on his recent trip with two friends to the People's Republic of China (PRC).
The travel season is upon us, my friends and I flew to PRC for a holiday. Here's what went down. 👇
Trip Location: PRC a.k.a China (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan)
Trip Length: 7 days
Travel Companions: AK & DC
Round trip to Baiyun Airport, Guangzhou RM2,214.60 (total) / RM738.20 (per pax)
Hotel in Sanyuanli District
RM241.50 / 408 Yuan (1 bedroom, 3 beds)
GrabCar to KLIA
Breakfast at KLIA
RM120.00 (3 pax)
Total: RM2641.10 (3pax)
6.00 am - My friends crashed at my place so we could share a Grab ride to the airport. RM65.
7.00 am - We arrived at KLIA although our flight was not till 9 am (we’re kiasu like that). We had our luggages checked-in and headed over to McDonald’s for breakfast. It was crowded, so we ended up “ballin” at PappaRich Signature next door. Not really the place you ought to go if you want to save cash. RM40 per pax for breakfast. 🙄
9.00 am - Boarded our 4-hour flight to Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou.
1.15 pm - We arrived at Baiyun Airport, bought local sim cards (RM106.50/ 180 Yuan) for 3 pax. The package came with 3GB of internet and 30 Yuan credit for local calls.
1.30 pm - We looked up a friend who lives in Guangzhou. It was a difficult process because the airport was undergoing upgrades, so the directions were all over the place. Eventually, we managed to find our friend.
2.30 pm - Checked-in at the Borrman Hotel in the Sanyuanli district. Paid with BigPay here as this was one of the hotels that accepts Visa/Mastercard. Not every hotel does.
4.30 pm - We went out with our local Chinese friend around the Sanyuanli district to get familiar with the surroundings and look for some local street food around the area.🍡
6.00 pm - We ended up at a restaurant because we couldn’t find any street food near our hotel. Dinner was RM88.80/150Yuan for 4 pax.
7.30 pm - We dropped by another local Chinese friend’s tea shop to say hi. 🍵 (It’s been two years since we last met.) After some tea, we called it a night.
Day one total: RM235.30
9.00 am - You know what they say: “breakfast for champions!” 😉
10.30 am - We did the most impromptu thing. After finding out that we had another friend working in Shenzhen. We thought why not visit him? 🤔 We left our luggage with the hotel reception, squeeze a day’s worth of clothes in our backpacks, and took the earliest high-speed train to Shenzhen north. Fee - RM177.58/ 300 Yuan for 3 pax.
12.00 pm - Departed from Guangzhou South station.
2.00 pm - Arrived at Shenzhen via the high-speed train. 🚄 It was a two-hour journey. There were no meals on-board. But that was fine, we wanted to grab a light bite in Shenzhen anyway.
2.15 pm - Once we reached Shenzhen north station, we took the Metro train towards Fumin. This is honestly one of the things I love most about China, the integration of their train lines was amazing! RM7.10/ 12 Yuan for 3 pax.
2.30 pm - Our friend picked us up from Fumin station and sent us to a nearby hotel. RM224.35 / 379 Yuan for 3 pax per night.
3.00 pm - We had some hotpot steamboat to eat just to fill our happy tummies till dinner. The food tasted amazing! RM56.80 / 96 Yuan for 3 pax.
6.30 pm - Our friend finally arrived! We ended up having a pricey dinner but our amazing catch-up session made it all worth it. RM710.30/ 1200 Yuan for 4 pax. This trip has been good so far. We could use BigPay here too so that was awesome. Another cool thing that happened? We got to meet the restaurant owner who turned out to be a cool Italian guy. Great night out.
Day two total: RM1,176.13
8.00 am - We had to wake up early for two reasons; one - hotel breakfast hours we early (7-10 am), two - we had to catch the next high-speed train back to Guangzhou and seats were running out real quick!
9.00 am - True enough, we couldn't get any tickets back to Guangzhou where our luggage were! 😔 So, we did the next best thing. We bought tickets to board the regular train to a province called Dongguan (It’s in the middle of Shenzhen and Guangzhou.) Our plan was to take a train there and get a bus back to Guangzhou. Train tickets RM 88.79/ 150 Yuan for 3 pax.
11.00 am - We reached DongGuan soon enough but were lost for a while as we couldn’t find the bus depot. It didn’t take us too long to find it though, and after securing our bus seats that would depart at 12.30 pm, we grabbed some brunch at the nearby street stall. Chinese noodles for the win! 🍜RM35.50/ 60 Yuan for 3 pax.
12.30 pm - It was about a two-hour journey. So, obviously nap time was coming. It wasn’t a fancy bus by any standards but we were desperate to get back to Guangzhou!
3.30 pm - It ended up being a three-hour journey because of the traffic! 🚗 We hopped onto the metro train and headed back to Sanyuanli. It was about 14 stations away and the train coaches were packed! Train fee - RM10.65/ 18 Yuan for 3 pax.
4.00pm - We re-checked in at our hotel in Sanyuanli and were reunited with our luggage! RM241.50 / 408 Yuan (1 bedroom, 3 beds)
4.15 pm - We thought we had to make the most of our stay here in the PRC. So, we did another crazy thing 🤪 took the metro train to the Canton Tower.
5.00pm - We reached the Canton Tower via the Metro train. RM7.10/ 12 Yuan for 3 pax. We walked amongst an estimated crowd of seven million people! That wasn’t even peak hour yet! People were pouring in like a swarm of locusts! I barely had space to breathe let alone squat.
8.30 pm - After spending half an hour of Google maps (which I didn’t think would work), and asking for directions to the next nearest metro station. We miraculously found it at the station, hopped on the train back to our hotel! Train fee - RM7.10/ 12 Yuan for 3 pax.
9.00 pm - We treated ourselves to a grand dinner next to our hotel (Borrman Hotel). We were tired and hungry after an adventurous day. Surprisingly, the bill wasn’t a bomb although we ordered a lot! Good meal at a good price! RM121.90/ 206 Yuan for 3 pax.
Day three total: RM512.54
7.00 am - Quick breakfast at the hotel before going to the famous Baiyun Mountain.
8.00 am - Got to Baiyun Mountain pretty early in the morning on. Traffic was really smooth.
8.30 am - It was RM9.47/ 16 Yuan for 4 pax for the entrance fee. Plus, an additional RM9.47/ 16 Yuan for 4 pax to enter the highest area of the Baiyun Mountain. ⛰️ We could have rented a buggy up the hill but we decided to walk up instead. It takes 4 hours if you take the longest trail up the hill but only 2 hours with the shorter but steeper trail. We opted for the latter because we did not want to waste time.
10.30 am - Reached the top of the Baiyun Mountain to be greeted by a breathtaking view! At 1,520 feet you do get a really good view. 🤩
12.30 pm - Two hours and 20,000 steps later, we reached the bottom of the hill. Needless to say, we were hungry.
1.00 pm - Thankfully, we have a local Chinese friend who knew where the good food was! All in at RM141.47/ 239 Yuan for 4 pax at a restaurant that served authentic Chinese cuisine. Worth. Every. Bite. 😋
2.00 pm - Nap time. 💤
8.00 pm - Yeap! We took a 6-hour nap. Grabbed dinner at a cafe (with an English name) called Tiramisu Cafe! Coffee and cakes. 🍰 RM15.39/ 26 Yuan per person.
9.00 pm - After all that dinner, we were still hungry. So, why not try the McDonald’s in China? We got ourselves the Angus beef. It did not disappoint. RM23.68/ 40 Yuan per person.
Day four total: RM 277.62
9.00 am - Business as usual with our routine hotel breakfast. The food was below average, kept us fuelled for the day’s adventure. Nothing more.
10.30 am - Our friend picked us up from our hotel and brought us to the CCTV Nanhai Movie and TV Town in Foshan. Admission tickets were pricey but worth it. RM165.74/ 280 Yuan for 4 pax.
If you ever visit China, you should check it out.
3.30 pm - We were there for a whole five hours! 😱 The whole place was beyond beautiful! A must-visit if you’re ever in Foshan! For fellow Malaysians, some places will even remind you of Malacca. It truly is worth the money and this was definitely the highlight of our trip!
4.00 pm - Late lunch today. We were cranky but not for long because our local friend brought us for some really good roasted duck with pan mee-like noodles! RM53.27/ 90 Yuan for 4 pax. After a hearty meal, it was nap time. 😴
8.00 pm - It was dinner time and we were bored of Chinese cuisines, so off to the steakhouse we went and it did not disappoint.RM137.92/ 233 Yuan for 3 pax.
Day five total: RM356.93
9.00 am - Today’s agenda: SHOP AND EAT. 🍲
1.00 pm - Lunch at a Chinese shop. Honestly, we didn’t know most names of places because they were all in Mandarin. This shop had a typical Malaysian “chap fan” style! So, it made us feel at home. For 2 dishes of meat, 1 vegetable, 1 soup, and free drinks! We were happy because it was cheap! RM35.52/ 60 Yuan only for 3 pax!
3.00 pm - Shopping damage. RM460.53/ 770 Yuan. 💸
6.00 pm - Taking it easy tonight. Ordered some drinks and had Chinese food for dinner. RM110.10/ 186 Yuan for 3 pax.
Day six total: RM606.15
11.00 am - Checked out of our hotel and headed straight to the airport. We booked a taxi from the hotel lobby. RM94.71/ 160 Yuan. It was a one-hour journey.
12.35pm - Checked in at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport and almost went to the wrong terminal! They have T1 and T2. One for domestic flights and one for international flights. So make sure you know which terminal your flight is in!
2.35pm - Boarded the plane back to KLIA. Again, it was a 4-hour flight so I watched Toy Story 4 and Dark Phoenix as I couldn't sleep.
6.40pm - Touched down at KLIA. Took a GrabCar back to my place. We ordered a Grab premium, so we paid a bit more. RM82.80 💸
Day seven total: RM177.51
Note: Daily total numbers were calculated based on group expenses each day.
End of diary.
When is your next trip? Which cash travel tip will you be putting into practice this time? Make sure to bring your BigPay card with you.