A Travel Price Comparison for China Lhasa vs. Shanghai for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Lhasa or Shanghai?

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

Should I visit Lhasa or Shanghai? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Where Should I go: Lhasa or Shanghai?

Lhasa

Lhasa is the famed capital of Tibet, and is one of the most fascinating cities in the world to visit. It's name means "Land of the Gods" and the city dates back more than 1,300 years. It's elevation is 3,650 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest cities in the world. It sits on the northern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains by the Lhasa River and is the second largest city on the Tibetan Plateau after Xining.

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".

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Sightseeing Tours in China, The Best Cultural Tours in China, The Best Luxury Tours to China, and The Best Budget Tours to China.


Which place is cheaper, Shanghai or Lhasa?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Lhasa is $71, while the average daily cost in Shanghai is $115. 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 Lhasa and Shanghai in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lhasa $39
    Shanghai $81
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lhasa $78
    Shanghai $162
Compare Hotels in Lhasa and Shanghai

Looking for a hotel in Lhasa or Shanghai? 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 Lhasa


Hotels in Shanghai


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.
    Lhasa $2.56
    Shanghai $3.87

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Lhasa

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

  • [Airport Transfer] Lhasa Kunga Airport ⇔ Lhasa City Transfer ☆ High reputation for service! <Charter charter>: $89
  • Lhasa Kongga Airport Chauffeur Service, Lhasa Airport Transfer, Pickup: $260

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Shanghai

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


  • Taxi Ride
    $3.59
  • Two Subway Tickets
    $0.83

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • private transfer from Wusongkou CruisePort to Disneyland and back: $64
  • [Airport Transfer] Shanghai Pudong Airport / Hongqiao Airport ⇔ Shanghai City Transfer ☆ High reputation for service! <Charter charter>: $27
  • Zhujiajiao Water Town Self-Guided Tour with Private Transfer from Shanghai: $75
  • Yiwu Airport Private Departure Transfer from City Area : $20
  • Yiwu Airport Private Arrival Transfer to City Area : $20
  • Xitang Water Town Self-Guided Tour from Shanghai with Private Transfer: $100
  • Wuzhen and Xitang Water Town Private Transfer from Shanghai: $132
  • Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal-Pudong Airport One Way Private Transfer: $35
  • Wusongkou Cruise Terminal to Pudong Airport Chauffeur Service, Port Transfer: $95
  • Wusongkou Cruise Terminal to Hongqiao Airport Chauffeur Service, Port Transfer: $87
  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in Shanghai APT-HTL (PVG,SHA): $51
  • Transfer From City to Shanghai Pudong Airport (English Driver): $68

Is it cheaper to fly into Lhasa or Shanghai?

Prices for flights to both Shanghai and Lhasa 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
    Lhasa $26
    Shanghai $21

Typical Food Prices in Shanghai

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


  • Dumpling Breakfast
    $1.38
  • Desserts in Jinmao Building Observatory
    $20
  • Ajisen Lunch for Two
    $7.17
  • Cantelope
    $1.66
  • Dumplings and Soup
    $2.07
  • Duck Dinner
    $4.14
  • Pastries
    $2.90
  • Barbeque Dinner
    $8.83

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Shanghai

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

  • Online Cooking Class Dim Sum by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Online Cooking Class Sesame Chicken by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Online Cooking Class Fried Rice by Sunflower Li : $20
  • Private Cooking Class: Make Your Own Dim Sum In Shanghai: $67
  • Evening Walking Food Tour: $69
  • 3-Hour Biking and Local Food Tour: $70
  • Authentic Local Food Tour in Central Shanghai: $79
  • Late night food tour in Shanghai's French Concession: $88
  • Late Night Food Tour in the Shanghai's French Concession: $89
  • Eat Like A Local: Shanghai Night Food Tour: $90
  • 4-Hour Food Tour in Qibao Water Town from Shanghai by Subway: $95
  • 2.5hrs Chinese Kitchen Cooking Class: Xiaolongbao Soup Dumplings: $99

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lhasa $17
    Shanghai $8.42

Tours and Activities in Lhasa

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

  • 4 Days Lhasa City Essence Tour: $644
  • 4 Days Lhasa City Tibet Tour included Permit issued: $760
  • Private Full-Day Tour w/ Lunch: $800
  • 5 Days Classic Lhasa Tour with Yamdrok Lake in Tibet: $999
  • Tibet Overland Tour - 08 Days: $1,440
  • Nepal Tibet Tour 8 Days: $2,721

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
    $28
  • Zoo for Two
    $14

Tours and Activities in Shanghai

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

  • Half-Day Private Tour of Shanghai Bund with River Cruise or Tower View: $90
  • Private Shanghai Flexible City Highlight Tour with Night Cruise: $221
  • Private Shanghai Full Day City Tour with Old and New Highlights: $108
  • Shanghai Layover Tour to Xinchang Water Town with City Highlights Option : $135
  • Yiwu International Trade City Private Day Tour from Shanghai by Bullet Train: $183
  • Yuyuan Garden and Shanghai Museum Private Shanghai Day Tour: $175
  • Zhouzhuang Water Town Self-Guided Day Tour from Shanghai: $88
  • water village of shagnhai tour: $248
  • 1 Day Shanghai Airport Layover Private Tour for City Highlights: $202
  • 1 Day Shanghai Highlight Small Group Tour: $124
  • 1 Day Shanghai Private Tour: $180
  • 1 Days Shanghai Quality Group Tour: $110

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lhasa $6.90
    Shanghai $7.34

Sample the Local Flavors in Shanghai

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

  • Shanghai Pub Crawl - Bar-hopping/Night life tour: $19


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Lhasa and Shanghai, we can see that Shanghai is more expensive. And not only is Lhasa much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Lhasa would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Lhasa 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 Lhasa.

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


Which is Bigger, Lhasa or Shanghai?

Shanghai has a larger population, and is about 120 times larger than the population of Lhasa. When comparing the sizes of Lhasa and Shanghai, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.