Money, Currency and Credit Card in Yunnan

In Yunnan, as in the rest of China, the official currency is the Chinese Yuan (CNY or RMB). Here’s what you need to know about money, currency, and credit cards in Yunnan:

Currency and Notes

  • Chinese Yuan (CNY/RMB): The official currency used throughout China, including Yunnan, is the Chinese Yuan. It’s abbreviated as CNY or RMB (Renminbi).
  • Denominations: Yuan notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. Coins are less common but are available in smaller denominations (1 Yuan, 0.5 Yuan, 0.1 Yuan, etc.).
  • Exchanging Currency: Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks, exchange counters, some hotels, and designated exchange shops. Banks typically offer better rates and are more reliable for large transactions.

Credit Cards and Payment Methods

  • Acceptance: Major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and UnionPay are widely accepted in larger cities, tourist areas, hotels, and upscale restaurants. Discover and Diners Club cards are less commonly accepted.
  • ATMs: ATMs are prevalent in urban centers and tourist destinations. International credit and debit cards can usually be used to withdraw cash. Stick to ATMs affiliated with major banks like Bank of China, ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), and CCB (China Construction Bank) for reliability.
  • Mobile Payments: WeChat Pay and Alipay are popular mobile payment methods in China. Many establishments, especially in urban areas, accept payments through these platforms via QR code scanning.

Traveler’s Checks and Currency Restrictions

  • Traveler’s Checks: Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted in China. It’s more convenient to use credit/debit cards or cash for transactions.
  • Currency Restrictions: There are no specific restrictions on the amount of foreign currency you can bring into China. However, amounts exceeding USD 5,000 (or equivalent) must be declared upon entry.

Tips for Handling Money

  • Cash vs. Cards: While major cities and tourist spots accept cards, it’s advisable to carry some cash, especially for small vendors, taxis, and markets where card acceptance may be limited.
  • Currency Exchange: Use reputable banks or exchange counters for currency exchange to avoid counterfeit money. Avoid exchanging money with street vendors.
  • Bargaining: Bargaining is common in markets and smaller shops, especially in less touristy areas. Having smaller denominations of cash can facilitate easier transactions.

Currency Symbols and Conversion

  • Symbols: The symbol for Chinese Yuan is ¥ or 元, and it’s often represented as CNY when dealing with international transactions.
  • Conversion Rates: Currency exchange rates fluctuate. Check with your bank or reliable sources for the current exchange rates before exchanging money.


Understanding the local currency, payment methods, and financial practices will enhance your travel experience in Yunnan. With a mix of cash and cards, and awareness of where each is best used, you’ll be well-prepared to manage your finances effectively during your visit to this diverse and beautiful province of China.