A Travel Price Comparison for China Kunming vs. Shangri-La for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Kunming or Shangri-La?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Kunming and Shangri-La. 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, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Where Should I go: Kunming or Shangri-La?

Kunming

Kunming, located in southern China, is the modern capital city of the Yunnan province. It is a transportation hub for visitors entering the region, and good transfer point to just about everywhere else in the province by train or bus. Within the city itself there are many things to see and do with a full range of parks and zoos, museums, temples, theatres, and scenic areas.

Shangri-La

The original Shangri-La existed in the fictional world of James Hilton's novel "The Lost Horizon." It was a hidden paradise, a place so beautiful that it couldn't possibly exist on earth. The Shangri-La that exists in Yunnan, China today was renamed from its former title Zhongdian in 2001 in order to associate the place with the mystical allure created in Hilton's novel. Visitors come to admire the traditional monasteries and temples set against a backdrop of mountain preserves and pristine lakes.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from Beijing, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to China, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in China, and The Best Historical Tours in China.


Which place is cheaper, Shangri-La or Kunming?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Kunming is $67, while the average daily cost in Shangri-La is $46. 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 destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Kunming and Shangri-La in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Kunming $33
    Shangri-La $18
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Kunming $66
    Shangri-La $36
Compare Hotels in Kunming and Shangri-La

Looking for a hotel in Kunming or Shangri-La? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Kunming


Hotels in Shangri-La


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Kunming $13
    Shangri-La $10
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Kunming

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


  • Taxi Ride
    $1.51

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Kunming

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

  • One way Kunming airport to hotel private transfer: $41
  • Kunming Changshui Airport Chauffeur Service, Kunming Airport Transfer, Pick up: $71
  • Kunming Changshui Airport Chauffeur Service, Kunming Airport Transfer, Pickup: $83
  • Kunming Private Round Trip Transfer to Fuxianhu Lake: $90
  • Private Transfer from Kunming hotel to Guizhou Xingyi hotel: $240

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shangri-La

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shangri-La:

  • Private Transfer from Shangri-La to Lijiang and Stops at Tiger Leaping Gorge: $160
  • Private Transfer from Shangri-la(Diqing) hotel to Lijiang/Shuhe hotel : $149

Is it cheaper to fly into Kunming or Shangri-La?

Prices for flights to both Shangri-La and Kunming 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.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Kunming $22
    Shangri-La $19

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Kunming

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

  • Kunming evening food tour with locals: $64
  • Private Kunming Night Tour with Dinner: $78
  • Half Day Private Tour of Kunming Flower Market and Flower Pastry Cooking Class: $165

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Kunming $18
    Shangri-La $16

Tours and Activities in Kunming

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Kunming.

  • One day tour to eastern coast region of Daichi Lake: $69
  • One day Kunming leisure city tour: $70
  • Half-Day History Tour in Kunming: $82
  • Private Night Tour to Enjoy Dynamic Yunnan Show: $86
  • 1-Day Self-Guided Stone Forest Geological Park Tour from Kunming: $106
  • Stone Forest Day Tour: $106
  • Private Day Tour of Jiuxiang Cave from Yunnan: $109
  • 4-Hour Tea-tasting and Cha Guo Zi (茶果子)Experience Tour: $112
  • 1-Day Civil Culture Tour in Kunming: $112
  • 1- Day Kunming Short Hiking Tour: $122
  • 1-Day Kunming Temple and Market Tour: $122
  • 1-Day Panorama Tour in Kunming: $122

Tours and Activities in Shangri-La

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Shangri-La are as follows:

  • 1 Day Shangri-la City Tour with Pudacuo National Park: $209
  • 1-Day Shangri-La Private Tour: Potatso National Park and Baiji Temple: $169
  • 1-Day Shangri-La Tour to Ganden Monastery, Nixi Pottery Village and Tibetan Town: $185
  • 1-Day Shangri-La tour with Ganden Monastery, Napahai Lake and Tibetan Town: $190
  • Private tour Songzanlin Monastry & Tibetan lunch from Zhongdian: $199

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Kunming $17
    Shangri-La $13


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Kunming and Shangri-La, we can see that Kunming is more expensive. And not only is Shangri-La much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Shangri-La would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Shangri-La 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 Kunming would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Kunming than you might in Shangri-La.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Kunming Expensive? and Is Shangri-La Expensive?.