A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Kuala Lumpur vs. Shanghai for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Kuala Lumpur or Shanghai?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai. We’ll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget. So, let's dig into it.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, often referred to as KL, is the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia. It is also the largest city in the country, having grown out of a small Chinese mining village. Today Kuala Lumpur is a microcosm of the country of Malaysia. The population is split between the Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures which you can see reflected in the city's neighborhoods, cuisine, and entertainment. It's also an incredibly affordable city, even if you're looking for the comforts of a five star hotel or a luxury restaurant. Prices are almost always a fraction of what you would pay in Europe or the United States.

Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest and most modern city in China. With a population of over 23 million, it is the economic and financial hub of the country. It also continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in China with regular changes to the city's layout and skyline. It is not uncommon for buildings to be torn down, rebuilt and then torn down and rebuilt again. The city also has skyscrapers that rank among the tallest in the world. It has an ever changing downtown and street scape. In Shanghai, the general mantra remains "out with the old, in with the new".

Which city is cheaper, Shanghai or Kuala Lumpur?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Kuala Lumpur is $52, while the average daily cost in Shanghai is $103. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai in more detail.



Accommodation

For a normal double-occupancy room in Kuala Lumpur, $62 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Kuala Lumpur, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $31, such as in a hostel.

Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $144 for a double occupancy room in Shanghai.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Kuala Lumpur $31
    Shanghai $72
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Kuala Lumpur $62
    Shanghai $144

Food

The average traveler spends about $11 per day in Kuala Lumpur for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.

The average traveler spends about $19 per day in Shanghai for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Kuala Lumpur $11
    Shanghai $19
Typical Food prices in Kuala Lumpur

For Kuala Lumpur, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Dinner at Ding Tai Fung
    $9.55
  • Roti Bread
    $0.24
  • Food Court Lunch
    $3.44
  • Dinner at Indian Restaurant (for Two)
    $5.13

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Kuala Lumpur

For Kuala Lumpur, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Amazing Local Food Tour in Kuala Lumpur: $29
  • Discover the Best Local Food Tour by Night in Kuala Lumpur: $39
  • Malaysian Ramadhan Buffet Dinner Cultural Show - nearby KLCC: $40
  • Small group epic food tour! Immerse yourself in the local culture too!: $44
  • Best Local Food Tour by Night at Kuala Lumpur: $45
  • Market Visit & Garden-to-Table Cooking Class: $47
  • Yummy Yummy Street Food Tour - Kuala Lumpur By Night (Guided With Transport): $53
  • Old Markets & Beyond: Kuala Lumpur Food Tour: $55
  • Cultural Night Tour with Dinner: $55
  • Kuala Lumpur Food Tour: $59
  • Withlocals The 10 Tastings: Kuala Lumpur Private Street Food Tour: $61
  • Fireflies Night Tour with Seafood Dinner: $61

Typical Food prices in Shanghai

Some typical examples of dining costs in Shanghai are as follows:


  • Dumpling Breakfast
    $1.54
  • Desserts in Jinmao Building Observatory
    $23
  • Ajisen Lunch for Two
    $8.03
  • Cantelope
    $1.85
  • Dumplings and Soup
    $2.32
  • Duck Dinner
    $4.63
  • Pastries
    $3.24
  • Barbeque Dinner
    $9.88

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Shanghai

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Shanghai.

  • Online Chinese Cooking Class: $22
  • Old Shanghai Breakfast Food Tour: $52
  • Cooking Class of Dumplings and Chinese Buns: $56
  • 3-Hour Shanghai Summer Night Local Dinner and Shopping Private Tour: $65
  • Private Chinese Cooking Class in Shanghai with Vegetarian Option: $69
  • Private Authentic Chinese Cooking Class in Shanghai with a Lovely Local: $70
  • 3-Hour Shanghai City Walking Tour with Dinner: $74
  • Shanghai yummy food tour: $75
  • Chinese Cooking Class in a Family Home: $75
  • A Bite of Shanghai Small-Group Food Tour: $80
  • River Cruise, Yuyuan, Tianzifang and Wonton Cooking Class: $85
  • Shanghai Hairy Crab Dinner: $85

Local Transportation

To get around in Kuala Lumpur, the average visitor spends $5.43 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.

The average price of local transportation around Shanghai is $3.46 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Kuala Lumpur $5.43
    Shanghai $3.46
Typical Local Transportation prices in Kuala Lumpur

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Kuala Lumpur are as follows:


  • Taxi Ride
    $3.58
  • Metro Ride (for Two)
    $0.76
  • Short Taxi Ride
    $3.58
  • Taxi From Airport
    $21
  • Bus from Airport
    $1.91
  • Train & Boat to Pulau Ketam
    $2.86

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Kuala Lumpur

Also for Kuala Lumpur, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer : Kuala Lumpur Attractions: $7.84
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport Departure Transfer: $10
  • Airport Transfer: $11
  • Kuala Lumpur Shared Attraction Transfers: $11
  • Kuala Lumpur Hotels to Sunway Lagoon Theme Park Transfer (1-way): $12
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport Transfer- Departure: $12
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport Departure Transfer: $12
  • Budget Kuala Lumpur Airport Transfer-Departure: $12
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport Departure Transfer: $12
  • Private: Kuala Lumpur International Airport Departure Transfer: $13
  • Departure Transfer : Kuala Lumpur International Airport: $13
  • Private Airport Transfer: from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Lumpur Int. Airport (KUL): $17

Typical Local Transportation prices in Shanghai

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Shanghai:


  • Taxi Ride
    $4.01
  • Two Subway Tickets
    $0.93

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • Zhujiajiao Water Town and Shanghai City Self-Guide 10-Hour Private Transfer Tour: $129
  • Zhujiajiao Water Town Self-Guided Tour with Private Transfer from Shanghai: $64
  • Zhouzhuang and Tongli Water Town Private Transfer Service from Shanghai: $93
  • Xitang Water Town Self-Guided Tour from Shanghai with Private Transfer: $88
  • Wuzhen and Xitang Water Town Private Transfer from Shanghai: $132
  • Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal-Pudong Airport One Way Private Transfer: $34
  • Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal-Downtown Hotel Private One Way Transfer: $32
  • Wusongkou Cruise Terminal to Hongqiao Airport Chauffeur Service, Port Transfer: $87
  • Wusongkou Cruise Terminal Share Transfer Service, Baoshan Port Pick up Service: $29
  • Transfer in private minivan from Shanghai City to Hongqiao Airport: $57
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from Shanghai City to Hongqiao Airport: $33
  • Transfer in Private Minivan from Shanghai City to Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG): $57

Is it cheaper to fly into Kuala Lumpur or Shanghai?

Prices for flights to both Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Entertainment

In Kuala Lumpur, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $12 per person, per day.

Shanghai's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $7.53 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Kuala Lumpur $12
    Shanghai $7.53
Typical Entertainment prices in Kuala Lumpur

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Kuala Lumpur's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • KL Tower Admission (for Two)
    $11
  • Canopy Walk at FRIM Forest Reserve
    $1.19

Tours and Activities in Kuala Lumpur

For Kuala Lumpur, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Great Kuala Lumpur Tour with 21 Attractions: $5.00
  • Consultation Services for Your Tour Program: $5.00
  • City Highlights and Cultural Landmarks: An audio tour exploring KL's melting pot: $5.99
  • Skip the Line: Chocolate Factory Tour Ticket: $7.74
  • Skip the Line: KL Tower Mini Zoo Admission Ticket in Kuala Lumpur: $8.19
  • Laser Battle Experience in Kuala Lumpur: $8.30
  • Skip the Line: KL Tower Observation Deck Entry Ticket: $9.00
  • Kuala Lumpur City Tour: $9.43
  • KL Tower Admission Ticket: $9.49
  • KL Tower Admission Ticket: $9.72
  • KL Half Day City Tour SHARED: $10
  • Half Day City Tour-Xmas Special (25 Dec Only): $10

Typical Entertainment prices in Shanghai

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Shanghai are as follows:


  • 30 Minute River Cruise for Two
    $31
  • Zoo for Two
    $15

Tours and Activities in Shanghai

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Shanghai are as follows:

  • 1 Day Bus Tour in Amazing Shanghai Highlights: $113
  • 1 Day Hangzhou Private Tour: $312
  • 1 Day Shanghai Airport Layover Private Tour for City Highlights: $202
  • 1 Day Shanghai Highlight Small Group Tour: $124
  • 1 Day of Shanghai Premiere Experience: $730
  • 1 day Nanjing tour from Shanghai by train: $400
  • 1 day Shanghai City Mini Group tour: $92
  • 1-Day Authentic Shanghai Tour by Walking & Metro: $193
  • 1-Day Private Shanghai City Tour to See Its Past, Present and Future: $204
  • 1-Day Private Shanghai to Wuzhen Tour to Admire the Classical Water Town: $271
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Hangzhou by car from Shanghai: $305
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Shanghai Museum,Yu Garden, the Bund and Nanjing Road: $178

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Kuala Lumpur spend on average $5.66 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

The average person spends about $6.57 on alcoholic beverages in Shanghai per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Kuala Lumpur $5.66
    Shanghai $6.57
Typical Alcohol prices in Kuala Lumpur

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Kuala Lumpur are as follows:


  • Bottle of Wine
    $11

Sample the Local Flavors in Shanghai

Also in Shanghai, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Shanghai Luxury Bar Crawl in 5-star Hotel or Boutique Hotel: $255
  • 3 Hour Local Craft Beer Crawl with Brewery Tour: $350


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, we can see that Shanghai is more expensive. And not only is Kuala Lumpur much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Kuala Lumpur would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Kuala Lumpur and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Shanghai would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Shanghai than you might in Kuala Lumpur.

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Kuala Lumpur vs. Shanghai Travel Comparison

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