It’s one of the first things you think about when you are going to a new country; what currency do they use and what the exchange rate is? So here is a breakdown of the Chinese currency, what it looks like and what it’s worth.
The official currency of China is the Renminbi (RMB), while the unit of account is the yuán (Symbols: ¥ or 元 Code: CNY). One yuán is divided into 10 jiǎo while one jiǎo is divided into 10 fēn. You don’t really have to worry about fēn though as you won’t ever see them. Sounds simple enough but when I first got to China I didn’t here the word yuán from the local store owner but rather kuài which is how the yuán is known colloquially, likewise the jiǎo is referred to colloquially as máo.
So with that all cleared up here are some photos of the various denominations notes and coins that make up the Chinese Renminbi. As well as pictures of each I have also included the equivalent value in US Dollars (US$) and South African Rand (ZAR).**Currency conversion values were taken from www.xe.com on 15 June 2010.
With the smaller denominations of the mao there are notes and coins, although the notes are not very common. On my first night in Xiaoshan I went out with a fellow teacher and my new boss for noodles and when the bill came my boss asked if either of us had one yuán so he didn’t have to wait for change. Eager to impress I said “I do” and fished out my wallet. This was before I knew the breakdown of the currency and so I proudly proffered my note with a 1 on it only to be told that it was 1jiǎo (not 1 yuán) and merely a tenth of what was needed. The 1 jiǎo and 5 jiǎo notes are deceptively ornate considering their value although they are slightly smaller than the regular yuan notes.
Whether you are planning a holiday, being sent on a business trip or relocating to China now you know everything you need to know about the currency.