Meal Standard of China Tour Operators

Generally speaking, most China tour packages include meals, except those stating clearly that meals are exclusive. The meal standard for each guest is CNY 20 to 50 per meal. Breakfast are usually provided by hotels, while lunch and dinner are served at tourist restaurants or public restaurants. In normal cases, tourists will enjoy pre-arranged set-menu meals. However, some top-notch travel agencies also offer a la carte meals at higher standards. Besides, you can arrange meals by yourself or ask for tailor-made meals if you have special dietary habits. 

What does B, L, and D stand for in China tour itineraries?

B, L, and D stand for the meals included. B is for breakfast, L for lunch and D for dinner.

Do China tour packages include meals?

Most China tour packages offer breakfast at least. Some may also include lunch and dinner. Some tour itineraries, day trips in particular, don’t include meals. When booking tour itineraries, pay attention to the meal issues stated. If the package does not include all meals, you may need to arrange some meals at your own expense.

Read more: 5 Things to Do before Making a Reservation of China Tour

How are the meal standards?

Generally speaking, the meal standard is CNY 20 – 50 per person per meal. Breakfasts are often western or Chinese style buffet served at your hotel, including fruits, cold and hot dishes, bread, milk, porridge, Chinese dim sum, etc. Lunch and dinner are usually arranged at tourist restaurants or public restaurants. They are usually not buffet and the food, including special local food or regular western food are served directly to your table. A standard lunch and dinner include two cups of soft drink free of charge for each. Some restaurants offer fresh juice, tea, milk, and coffee. Other drinks including beer, coke, and Chinese wine, are usually sold by bottle. You can find the prices on the drink menu. Hot water is free.

Our a la carte meal service
Our a la carte meal service
Our a la carte meal service
Our a la carte meal service 

Special high-end meal service – A la carte

To guarantee food hygiene and quality and for the convenience of China tour operators, most of the meals are pre-arranged in the government approved restaurants, which are all set-menu meals. You cannot make your own orders at this point. However, some China tour operators like TravelChinaGuide also arrange a la carte meals in some elaborately-selected restaurants which course are also inspected by the government. By this way, you can enjoy meals that most suits your taste and try some authentic Chinese food. Correspondingly, the cost for such meals are relatively higher. The standard price is about CNY 150 per guest and normally each guest at a table can order at least a dish.

Flexible meal service

If you don’t want to have pre-arranged meals offered by China tour operators, you can negotiate with the operator to see if you can arrange meals by yourself. The price of travel itineraries excluding meals should be cheaper than similar products including meals.

How to arrange meals by yourself?

If your tour package does not include all meals, you may need to arrange some meals by yourself. You do not need to worry, however, about where or what to have for meals. In each Chinese city, there are many good things to eat. Usually, you can ask your tour guide to give you some advice on the best restaurants to go and the must-try foods. Appointment is not required in a large number of restaurants. In some remote tourist attractions, only a few restaurants can be found nearby. The food may charge high and the quality is not guaranteed. You should be prepared for that.

How much does a meal cost in China?

The meal price depends on the grade of the restaurant you choose and the dishes you order. Generally speaking, a simple dinner costs CNY 20 to 30. If you want to enjoy a richer meal, the cost is CNY 50 to CNY 100 per person. Comparatively, breakfast costs less, usually about CNY 10 - 20 per person.

Credit cards are only accepted in large hotels and fancy restaurants. In most of the restaurants in China, Chinese cash and online payment are more popular. Therefore, we advise you to keep some cash at hand. If possible, you can grant WeChat Pay or Alipay in advance. This will save you much trouble.

Tailor-made meal service

Dumpling Dinner for Our Clients
Dumpling dinner for our clients

To accommodate the special needs of some guests, some China tour operators do provide tailor-made meal service, such as vegetarian, Muslim, and Indian meals. Therefore, if you have some special dietetic habits, tell them to your travel consultants and see if they can offer tailor-made meal service for you. However, this is mostly only applicable to those joining private tours. If you are on a group tour, you may have to enjoy the same food as other group members.

Do we share tables with others?

If you are on a private tour, you will have your own table. But if you join in a group tour you will have to share a large table with other members of your group. In normal cases, a large table can allow ten guests, who will be served ten dishes, one soup, and rice or steamed buns as the staple food.

The guide and the driver will dine at the same restaurant with you, but they will not share a table with you.

How to prepare snacks?

If you will travel to some large tourist attractions that require a full day for visiting, for example, the Badaling Great Wall or Shanghai Disneyland Park, you may have to eat inside the scenic area. However, not all scenic areas have dining rooms, so you may need to prepare some snacks in advance. Please always confirm with your tour guide for the next-day’s itinerary. If there is such a case, buy some snacks in advance. Bread, dried beef, chocolate, cookies, and bottled water are some commonest snacks to prepare.

Further Reading: Chinese Food & Drink

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Vehicles & Drivers Used by China Tour Operators
China Tour Package Price

- Last updated on May. 30, 2023 by Catherine He -
Questions & Answers on Food Service
Asked by Ms.Peking Duck from JAPAN | May. 07, 2009 07:36Reply
I think that food is the most important thing in your life so it should always be interesting or exciting!
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr.HABA from CHINA | Jul. 24, 2010 02:01

Agree with you.
As our Chinese say,民以食为天,Which means:to the people foodstuff is all-important!
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