A few weeks ago, I wanted to give friends abroad an idea of Beijing prices, so I posted a bunch of stuff I bought one morning and the cost in US$, CA$ and Euros.
Like any city, Beijing has stuff that tends to be more expensive than back home (rent!) and cheaper (taxis!). When it comes to food and drink, it’s a mix of both. You can spend obscene amounts on cocktails, wine and fine meals but also load a backpack vegetables, noodles and local takeout for relatively little.
Here’s the breakdown from a May morning.
I wanted a quick breakfast so I went to McDonald’s and used the app to punch in my order. I accidentally added too many egg McMuffin / coffee combos–I ended up with three, along with some congee.
Total: 元30 / CA$6 / US$4.4, EUR3.9
(Exchange rates: CA$ = 元5, US$ = 元7, EUR = 元7.7)
To be fair, McMuffin-coffee combos were on sale for 元7 versus a regular price of 元9, but even then it would have totaled just 元36.I poured two of the three cups into my Tim Horton’s travel mug and saved one of the egg McMuffins for later.
Also, I often go to local breakfast joints, where items such as dumplings (jiaozi), steamed buns (baozi) and deep-fried dough sticks (youtiao) are cheap but sometimes need an egg McMuffin–and a quick inexpensive coffee.
Imported goods shop April Gourmet, just across the street in the bottom of the TopWin Center. I grabbed a six-pack of Mission tortilla wraps (元14.9), 220 grams (half-pound) of La Costena refried beans (元8.5), a can of kidney beans (元5.9) and two large Nestle waters (元7.2).
Total: 元36.5 or around CA$7.3 / US$5.2 / EUR4.7
April Gourmet has many deals on products with near due dates, from potato chips to beer to chocolate to coconut juice to, well, you get the idea, often packaged as buy one get one free or with heavy discounts, from 50%.
I wanted to make some salsa to go with my wraps, so visited a street-side vegetable vendor for two onions, three tomatoes, six green peppers and a sheaf of spinach.
Total: 元18 / CA$3.6 / US$2.6 / EUR2.3
Half a block from home, I walked past a table outside a restaurant where the staff were shouting the names of dishes for takeaway. I did a U-turn and got some “liang pi”: thick noodles topped with shredded cucumber and bread crumbs, with a mixing sauce that has chili oil, sesame paste and vinegar. (My photo does not do it justice.)
Total: 元10 / CA$2 / US$1.4 / EUR1.3
The grand total: 元94.5 / CA$18.9 / US$13.5 / EUR12.3.
Pretty reasonable for a sprawling metropolis like Beijing, yes? But don’t ask me about my rent.
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