Accommidations In China – How to Book Hostels and Hotels

Fly by Night Hostel - Dongcheng, Beijing


I have been getting a lot of questions about how I often choose between hostels and I would like to make a post that covers two different subjects in one.

1. How I personally select hostels and general information

2. The importance of sleep while traveling

General tips on accommodation in China:

  • Always bring your passport to check-in. (You cant check into a hotel without a passport and this rule is strictly enforced in most cities.)
  • Hostels are usually much cheaper than hotels.
  • When getting off overnight trains you will be approached by people trying to take advantage of your groggyness. You get what you pay for! Make sure you see it, turn the lights on a fully inspect your room before making a decision!
  • Smaller cities do not usually have hostels, but usually have inexpensive hotels. Do a quality inspection first!
  • Overnight trains can double as a nightly accommodation.
  • is huge in the big cities and you can easily find free accommodation.
  • Chinese citizens are often very reluctant to house foreigners.

Resouces for selecting accommodations in China:

  • - free site that links you up with expats and locals who can host you for free
  • YHA China - Awesome resource. YHA hostels are almost always fantastic!
  • - I actually prefer this site over hostelworld
  • Wikitravel - I often use wikitravel to find accommodations in smaller cities that do not have hostels. Look thoroughly before you buy!


The importance of sleep while traveling:

Now for story time...

The last week has really made me realize the importance of getting a good night sleep. Prior to last night, I had been getting an average of 3.5 - 4 hours of sleep per night over the last week. Because of my work schedule before I left for China, I had to work two overnight shifts. During this time the students were all heading home in the middle of the night back to their home countries. Compile that with 20 hours of traveling, jet lag, new enviroments, errands, polution, humidity,and uncomfortable beds. To sum it up I learned first hand the importance of getting a full nights sleep.

Two nights ago I slept in the Garden Hostel in Beijing. I could not sleep on their beds for the life of me and stayed up all night hanging out with other travelers. At about 3am I actually felt my body going into survival mode; for a few minutes I was beginning to worry that the people I had just met had alteior motives and became paranoid. This is a stage of sleep deprivation and this is the first time in my life I ever experienced this.

Last night for my birthday I checked into a pricey hostel in dongcheng, the "Fly By Night Hostel" and had a proper nights sleep. You should never underestimate the importance of getting a full night sleep, even if it costs a little more. Every once in a while, its worth it to splurge!


Written by Matt


Matt founded Backpack In China in 2010 to help travelers make the best of their trips to China. Since that time he has been living and working in Florida, USA. Each summer he for vacations in China for several weeks.

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