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

Should you visit Shanghai or Beijing?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Shanghai and Beijing. 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.

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".

Beijing

Beijing is the capital of China and, with 21.5 million people, it is the second most populated city in the world after Shanghai. It is a city that keeps pockets of its history hidden in old neighborhoods or back alleys, despite the constant change and modernization that goes on around it. As the capital city of China, there is plenty of history and culture. You can still get yourself lost in one of the last remaining hutongs, which are old neighborhoods that remain untouched by the city's modernization. The alleys that weave between the old homes are lined with drying clothes, corner markets, and people going about their daily lives the way they have for centuries. Surrounding these hutongs you'll find modern buildings and a booming economy, all threatening to destroying these last bits of Beijing's history. Beijing offers a glimpse into a microcosm that represents the entire country of China. Make sure you give yourself enough time in China to truly experience Beijing. You can pass a lot of time soaking up life in the city, which remains as diverse as the country it resides within.

Which city is cheaper, Beijing or Shanghai?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Shanghai is $103, while the average daily cost in Beijing is $69. 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 Shanghai and Beijing in more detail.



Accommodation

Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $146 for a double occupancy room in Shanghai.

The average price for accommodation for two people in Beijing is $70. This is for two people sharing a typical double occupancy hotel room.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Shanghai $73
    Beijing $35
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Shanghai $146
    Beijing $70

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.

In Beijing travelers spend around $19 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Shanghai $19
    Beijing $19
Typical Food prices in Shanghai

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


  • Dumpling Breakfast
    $1.55
  • Desserts in Jinmao Building Observatory
    $23
  • Ajisen Lunch for Two
    $8.07
  • Cantelope
    $1.86
  • Dumplings and Soup
    $2.33
  • Duck Dinner
    $4.65
  • Pastries
    $3.26
  • Barbeque Dinner
    $9.93

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
  • Chengdu Private Food Tour (With Visit to Kuanzhai Alley and Hotpot Experience): $32
  • 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
  • Chengdu Jinsha Site Museum and Sanxingdui Museum Private Day Tour with Hotpot Dinner: $76
  • Dim Sum Cooking Class and Wet Market Visit in Shanghai: $78

Typical Food prices in Beijing

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Beijing:


  • Popcorn
    $0.93
  • Hot Pot Dinner
    $7.76
  • Dumpling Breakfast for Two
    $3.10
  • Watermelon
    $2.17
  • Peking Duck Dinner for 2
    $18
  • Two Popsicles
    $0.93

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Beijing

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

  • Online Cooking Class: $25
  • Path Hutong Food Tour: $30
  • Chengdu Private Food Tour (With Visit to Kuanzhai Alley and Hotpot Experience): $32
  • Kung fu Show and Peking Roasted Duck Dinner: $58
  • Private Temple of Heaven Walking Tour with Peking Duck Dinner or Kung Fu Show: $62
  • Acrobatic Show w/ Peking Duck Dinner Private: $68
  • Beijing Historical Center with Peking Opera and Duck Dinner: $69
  • 3 hours Morning or Afternoon Tea Tasting on Maliandao Street and Tea Restaurant Lunch or Dinner Tour: $69
  • Beijing Hutong Breakfast Food Tour: $69
  • Chengdu Jinsha Site Museum and Sanxingdui Museum Private Day Tour with Hotpot Dinner: $76
  • Dim Sum Cooking Class and Wet Market Visit in Shanghai: $78
  • Old Beijing Dinner Tour: $80

Local Transportation

The average price of local transportation around Shanghai is $3.48 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.

While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $6.86 per day to get around in Beijing.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Shanghai $3.48
    Beijing $6.86
Typical Local Transportation prices in Shanghai

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


  • Taxi Ride
    $4.03
  • Two Subway Tickets
    $0.93

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • 1 Day-Pass for Disneyland Shanghai and Transfer service Mini Group package: $146
  • 1-way Private Transfer From Shanghai Pudong Airport to Hangzhou: $123
  • 1-way Private Transfer From Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou New District-SND: $117
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and Kunshan Per Vehicle Price: $74
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Jiaxing: $153
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Kunshan Per Vehicle Price: $95
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Yiwu Per Vehicle Price: $388
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai and Nanxun Water Town Per Vehicle Price: $164
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai and Wuzhen Water Town Per Vehicle Price: $159
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai and Zhouzhuang Water Town Per Vehicle Price: $93
  • 1-way Transfer between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Changshu Per Vehicle Price: $135
  • 1way Transfer from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou Downtown: $48

Typical Local Transportation prices in Beijing

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Beijing:


  • Taxi
    $5.29
  • Train from Airport for Two
    $7.76
  • Taxi to Hotel
    $9.31
  • 2 Metro Passes
    $2.48
  • Metro
    $0.62

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Beijing

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Beijing:

  • Shared Coach Transfers between Shenzhen Bay Port and Hong Kong (Trans-island): $6.45
  • Shared Coach Transfers between Panyu and Hong Kong by Eternal East Bus: $11
  • Mutianyu Great Wall Bus Transfer with Options: $12
  • Shared Shenzhen Airport (SZX) Coach Transfers for Hong Kong (Trans-Island): $12
  • Shared Coach Transfers Between Hong Kong and Zhaoqing by EE Bus: $12
  • Shared Coach Transfers between Foshan and Hong Kong by Eternal East Bus: $13
  • Shared Coach Transfers between Hong Kong and Huadu by Eternal East Bus: $13
  • Shared Coach Transfers Between Guangzhou and Hong Kong: $14
  • Shared Coach Transfers between Shunde and Hong Kong: $14
  • Shared Coach Transfers between Foshan and Hong Kong: $14
  • Beijing Railway Station - Hotel Transfer and Vice Versa: $14
  • Shared Coach Transfers Between Heyuan and Hong Kong by EE Bus: $15

Is it cheaper to fly into Shanghai or Beijing?

Prices for flights to both Beijing and Shanghai 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

Shanghai's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $7.57 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.

Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $21 per person, per day in Beijing. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Shanghai $7.57
    Beijing $21
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
    $16

Tours and Activities in Shanghai

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

  • Hupao Park Ticket in Hangzhou (For Mainland China ID Holders): $2.35
  • China Red Sandalwood Museum Ticket in Beijing : $2.79
  • Simatai Great Wall Admission with Cable Car Ticket in Beijing: $3.09
  • Giant Panda Breeding Research Base Ticket Chengdu - ID Card Direct Entry: $4.19
  • half day tour of shanghai: $5.34
  • Evergreen Resort Ticket in Shenzhen: $6.19
  • Jinxi Ancient Town Attractions Combo Ticket: $6.99
  • Gulangyu Seashell Museum Ticket: $7.45
  • Ferry Round Trip Ticket between Xiamen City and Gulangyu Sanqiutian Pier: $8.55
  • Wuyishan Xiamei Ancient Village Admission Ticket: $8.55
  • Ferry Round Trip Ticket between Xiamen City and Gulangyu Neicuoao Pier: $8.55
  • Shanghai Joy City Rooftop Ferris Wheel - Sky Ring Ticket: $9.29

Typical Entertainment prices in Beijing

Here are a few typical costs in Beijing for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Entry to Summer Palace for Two
    $9.31
  • Two Opera Tickets
    $66
  • Temple of Heaven Park Entrance (for 2)
    $11
  • Forbidden City (for 2)
    $19
  • Forbidden City Tickets
    $19
  • Audio Guides at Forbidden City
    $12

Tours and Activities in Beijing

Here are a few actual costs in Beijing for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Hupao Park Ticket in Hangzhou (For Mainland China ID Holders): $2.35
  • China Red Sandalwood Museum Ticket in Beijing : $2.79
  • Simatai Great Wall Admission with Cable Car Ticket in Beijing: $3.09
  • Temple of Heaven Tickets Booking: $4.00
  • Giant Panda Breeding Research Base Ticket Chengdu - ID Card Direct Entry: $4.19
  • MTY test product for tours: $5.00
  • Beijing Summer Palace Admission Ticket: $5.13
  • Train Tickets in China: $5.34
  • Private Tailor made tour for your family only in China around: $5.34
  • Evergreen Resort Ticket in Shenzhen: $6.19
  • Beijing National Center for the Performing Arts Admission Ticket: $6.45
  • Jinxi Ancient Town Attractions Combo Ticket: $6.99

Alcohol

The average person spends about $6.61 on alcoholic beverages in Shanghai per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Beijing may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $10 per day on alcoholic beverages.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Shanghai $6.61
    Beijing $10

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

Sample the Local Flavors in Beijing

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Beijing:

  • Evening Food Private Tour with Brewery Taproom Hopping at Slow Boat in Beijing: $138
  • 5-Hour Private Changyu Chateau Wine Tasting Tour from Beijing: $178
  • Private Wonderful Beijing Bar Crawl Tour: $195
  • Private Changyu Chateau Wine Tasting Tour and Mutianyu Great Wall Visit: $228


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

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Shanghai vs. Beijing Travel Comparison

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