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

Should you visit Shanghai or Chengdu?

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 Shanghai and Chengdu. 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: Shanghai or Chengdu?


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".


Chengdu is in China's Sichuan Provence and is in what is known as the Red Basin. It is a particularly fertile region in China that is known for its agriculture. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as the "Land of Milk and Honey". The Funan River cuts through the city but has almost no boat traffic anymore. The city itself has a wonderful relaxed vibe compared to the rest of China and is filled with green parks and places to relax. It is considered one of the most livable cities in China.

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, Chengdu or Shanghai?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Shanghai is $114, while the average daily cost in Chengdu is $50. 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 Shanghai and Chengdu in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Shanghai $81
    Chengdu $21
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Shanghai $162
    Chengdu $42
Compare Hotels in Shanghai and Chengdu

Looking for a hotel in Shanghai or Chengdu? 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 Shanghai

Hotels in Chengdu

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.
    Shanghai $3.86
    Chengdu $5.91
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Shanghai

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

  • Taxi Ride
  • Two Subway Tickets

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • Mount Mogan Self-Guided Tour from Shanghai by Private Transfer: $108
  • Private Transfer between Shanghai Pudong Int'l Airport & Hongqiao Airport : $45
  • Private Transfer from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to City Center : $30
  • Private Transfer from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Pudong Airport : $43
  • 1 Day-Pass for Disneyland Shanghai and Private Transfer Package: $245
  • Amazing Shanghai Night Lights:River Cruise &Private Transfer: $125
  • Arrival Private Transfer Pudong Airport PVG to Shanghai City by Standard Sedan: $74
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Pudong Airport PVG to Shanghai in Business Car : $114
  • Chauffeur service, Limousine airport transfer in Shanghai-English speaking: $51
  • Departure Private Transfer: Shanghai to Pudong Airport PVG in Business Car: $114
  • Flexible Hours of Shanghai Layover and Transfer Tour with Driver Only: $119
  • Guangzhou Airport Transfer by 5 seat standard car: $53

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chengdu

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Chengdu:

  • Chengdu City to Chengdu Shuangliu Airport (CTU) - Departure Private Transfer: $19
  • Chengdu Panda Breeding Base Ticket w/ Optional Transfer or Guide: $20
  • Chengdu to Chengdu Airport (CTU) - Departure Private Transfer: $21
  • Chengdu Airport (CTU) to Chengdu - Arrival Private Transfer: $21
  • [Airport Transfer] Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport Kosheng City Transfer High reputation for service! : $22
  • Panda Breeding Base Tickets with Guide or Transfer: $23
  • Private Departure Transfer: Hotel to Chengdu International Airport (CTU): $23
  • Private Departure Transfer: Hotel to Chengdu Train Stations: $23
  • Private Arrival Transfer: Chengdu International Airport (CTU) to Hotel: $23
  • Private Transfer from Chengdu hotel to Chengdu Train Station: $27
  • Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport Transfer to Downtown Hotel: $32
  • Private Departure Transfer: Hotel to Chengdu Airport (CTU or TFU): $34

Is it cheaper to fly into Shanghai or Chengdu?

Prices for flights to both Chengdu 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.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Shanghai $21
    Chengdu $22
Typical Food Prices in Shanghai

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

  • Dumpling Breakfast
  • Desserts in Jinmao Building Observatory
  • Ajisen Lunch for Two
  • Cantelope
  • Dumplings and Soup
  • Duck Dinner
  • Pastries
  • Barbeque Dinner

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Shanghai

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

  • Online Cooking Class Sesame Chicken by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Online Cooking Class Dim Sum by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Evening Walking Food Tour: $69
  • 3-Hour Biking and Local Food Tour: $71
  • 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
  • Shanghai's Koreatown Food Tour: $91
  • 4-Hour Food Tour in Qibao Water Town from Shanghai by Subway: $95
  • 2.5hrs Chinese Kitchen Cooking Class: Xiaolongbao Soup Dumplings: $99
  • 3-Hour Flexible Private Shanghai Night Tour with Local Dinner Option: $100

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chengdu

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

  • Half-Day Chinese Bun Cooking Class with Local Spice Market Visit: $56
  • Private Sichuan Cooking Class including Local Wet Market Visit: $59
  • Chengdu evening food tour by local guide: $60
  • Half day Chengdu Dumpling making Cooking Class: Make from Scratch: $62
  • Discovery more Chengdu evening food tour with locals : $65
  • Half-Day Chengdu Cooking Class with Local Market Visit: $69
  • Tuktuk Food Tour Through Chengdu's Local Eats: $69
  • Half-Day Professional Mapo Tofu Cooking Class with Local Spice Market Visit: $69
  • Sichuan Opera Show VIP Seat Tickets w/ Transfer or Dinner: $71
  • Half day Sichuan Cuisine Cooking Class Tour(Cooking 3 dishes): $75
  • Half-Day Chengdu Farm Cooking Class & Spice Market Exploration: $75
  • Chengdu Evening Food Tour: $76

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Shanghai $8.40
    Chengdu $16
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
  • Zoo for Two

Tours and Activities in Shanghai

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

  • The History of the French Concession: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $9.99
  • Yu Garden Shanghai Entry Tickets Booking: $14
  • Hop-on Hop-off Bus Ticket and Optional Attractions: $14
  • Yu Garden (Artistic Courtyard) E-ticket: $17
  • Shanghai Yu Garden Tour´╝ÜHarmony & Spirituality in Garden Art: $20
  • Shanghai Highlights Walking Tour: $29
  • Shanghai French Concession Walking Tour: $29
  • Zotter Chocolate Indulgence Tour in Shanghai: $30
  • Like a Local Customized Guided Tour: $35
  • Shanghai Like a Local: Customized Private Tour: $35
  • Fudan University Student Guide Tour: $37
  • Shanghai Downtown Hotel to Baoshan Cruise Port:Private with Meet & Greet service: $38

Tours and Activities in Chengdu

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

  • Customize Your China Tour 2024/2025: $5.00
  • Agent ticket booking service: Online ticket booking in China: $5.00
  • local people's opera house experience: $10
  • Chengdu Panda Research Base Tickets And Half Day Tour(Private): $16
  • Chengdu Panda Base and Dujiangyan One-Day Private Tour: $17
  • Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding e-Ticket: $19
  • Private Tour of Chengdu's Top 3 Must-go Attractions w Photo Shoot: $20
  • Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Ticket pre-booking: $20
  • Skip the Line: Sichuan Opera Chengdu Ticket: $21
  • Panda Breeding Base Tickets Booking: $22
  • Chengdu Sichuan Opera Show Ticket - Shu Feng Ya Yun: $22
  • Giant Panda Breeding Research Base Ticket: $22

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Shanghai $7.32
    Chengdu $3.92

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 - 4 Hour Bar-hopping: $22
  • Shanghai Luxury Bar Crawl in 5-star Hotel or Boutique Hotel: $255

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

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

Which is Bigger, Shanghai or Chengdu?

Shanghai has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Chengdu. When comparing the sizes of Shanghai and Chengdu, 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.