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

Should you visit Shanghai or Dalian?

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 Dalian. 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 Dalian?

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".

Dalian

Dalian, China is a very large peninsula city located in the southernmost part of the Liaoning Province in northeast China. The area has a wealth of history, with roots in Russian and Japanese rule, resulting in unique architecture and many universities that attract foreign students and teachers. Dalian is also known for their beautiful green spaces and relaxing beaches which juxtapose a lot of the more industrial cities found throughout other areas of northern China.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Tours for Seniors to China, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Beijing, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Lhasa, and The Best 2-Week Tours from Beijing.


Which place is cheaper, Dalian 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 Dalian is $102. 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 Dalian in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Shanghai $81
    Dalian $54
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Shanghai $162
    Dalian $108
Compare Hotels in Shanghai and Dalian

Looking for a hotel in Shanghai or Dalian? 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 Dalian


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 $3.85
    Dalian $40
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Shanghai

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


  • Taxi Ride
    $3.58
  • Two Subway Tickets
    $0.83

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • Private Layover Transfer with Attractions Tickets: $515
  • 1 Day-Pass for Disneyland Shanghai and Private Transfer Package: $245
  • Shanghai to Xi’an Bullet Train Ticket with Local Hotel Private Transfers : $245
  • Shanghai Pudong Int’l Airport Private Arrival Transfer to Yiwu City Area : $226
  • Shanghai private higlights city tour with guide and transfer: $220
  • Shanghai To Beijing Bullet Train Ticket with Local Private Transfer : $211
  • Shanghai-Suzhou private day tour with private transfer and Lunch: $204
  • World 5th Tallest Giant Buddha (Ticket & Roundtrip transfer): $199
  • Shanghai to Xi'an Bullet Train Ticket with Hongqiao Station Transfer: $177
  • Shanghai Airport (PVG) Arrival Transfer (PVG Airport to central Shanghai): $171
  • Shanghai to Suzhou and Tongli Water Town Self-Guide Tour Private Round Transfer: $171
  • Shanghai to Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Self-Guide Trip with Private Transfer: $171

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dalian

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

  • Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport Chauffeur Service , to Dalian Transfer: $27
  • Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport Chauffeur Service , to Dalian Transfer: $40

Is it cheaper to fly into Shanghai or Dalian?

Prices for flights to both Dalian 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
  • Food Meals for one day
    Shanghai $21
    Dalian $27
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
    $7.15
  • Cantelope
    $1.65
  • Dumplings and Soup
    $2.06
  • Duck Dinner
    $4.13
  • Pastries
    $2.89
  • Barbeque Dinner
    $8.80

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Shanghai

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

  • Online Cooking Class General Tso's Chicken by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Online Cooking Class Dim Sum by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Online Cooking Class Handmade Noodles by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Online Cooking Class Sesame Chicken by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Aunthentic Local Food Tour in Downtown Shanghai : $23
  • Evening Walking Food Tour: $69
  • 3-Hour Biking and Local Food Tour: $71
  • Authentic Local Food Tour in Central Shanghai: $79
  • Private Cooking Class: Make Your Own Dim Sum In Shanghai: $88
  • 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

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Shanghai $8.39
    Dalian $4.76
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 Days Shanghai Quality Group Tour: $110
  • 1 day Shanghai City Mini Group tour: $92

Tours and Activities in Dalian

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

  • Dalian City Private Day Tour in Your Way: $159

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Shanghai $7.32
    Dalian $6.29

Sample the Local Flavors in Shanghai

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

  • Guided Bar Crawl with Shots and Club Entry: $19
  • Shanghai Luxury Bar Crawl in 5-star Hotel or Boutique Hotel: $255


When comparing the travel costs between Shanghai and Dalian, we can see that Shanghai is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Asia, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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


Which is Bigger, Shanghai or Dalian?

Shanghai has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Dalian. When comparing the sizes of Shanghai and Dalian, 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.


When is the best time to visit Shanghai or Dalian?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Shanghai or Dalian in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Shanghai as well as Dalian. The city activities and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Shanghai this time of year.

In the summer, Shanghai is a little warmer than Dalian. Typically, the summer temperatures in Shanghai in July average around 28°C (83°F), and Dalian averages at about 24°C (75°F).

It's quite rainy in Dalian. Shanghai receives a lot of rain in the summer. Shanghai usually gets less rain in July than Dalian. Shanghai gets 128 mm (5 in) of rain, while Dalian receives 202 mm (8 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Shanghai 28°C (83°F) 
    Dalian 24°C (75°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Dalian in the Autumn?

Both Dalian and Shanghai are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Shanghai for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In October, Shanghai is generally a little warmer than Dalian. Daily temperatures in Shanghai average around 19°C (65°F), and Dalian fluctuates around 15°C (58°F).

In October, Shanghai usually receives more rain than Dalian. Shanghai gets 61 mm (2.4 in) of rain, while Dalian receives 30 mm (1.2 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Shanghai 19°C (65°F) 
    Dalian 15°C (58°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Dalian in the Winter?

Both Dalian and Shanghai during the winter are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Shanghai in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Dalian can be very cold during winter. Shanghai can get quite cold in the winter. Shanghai is much warmer than Dalian in the winter. The daily temperature in Shanghai averages around 4°C (39°F) in January, and Dalian fluctuates around -4°C (25°F).

Shanghai usually gets more rain in January than Dalian. Shanghai gets 39 mm (1.5 in) of rain, while Dalian receives 9 mm (0.4 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Shanghai 4°C (39°F) 
    Dalian -4°C (25°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Dalian in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Shanghai and Dalian. Most visitors come to Shanghai for the activities around the city and the natural beauty during these months.

In the spring, Shanghai is a little warmer than Dalian. Typically, the spring temperatures in Shanghai in April average around 15°C (58°F), and Dalian averages at about 11°C (51°F).

Shanghai gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In April, Shanghai usually receives more rain than Dalian. Shanghai gets 102 mm (4 in) of rain, while Dalian receives 44 mm (1.7 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Shanghai 15°C (58°F) 
    Dalian 11°C (51°F)

Typical Weather for Dalian and Shanghai

Shanghai Dalian
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 4°C (39°F) 39 mm (1.5 in) -4°C (25°F) 9 mm (0.4 in)
Feb 5°C (41°F) 59 mm (2.3 in) -2°C (28°F) 12 mm (0.5 in)
Mar 9°C (48°F) 82 mm (3.2 in) 4°C (38°F) 14 mm (0.6 in)
Apr 15°C (58°F) 102 mm (4 in) 11°C (51°F) 44 mm (1.7 in)
May 20°C (67°F) 113 mm (4.5 in) 17°C (62°F) 46 mm (1.8 in)
Jun 24°C (75°F) 152 mm (6 in) 21°C (69°F) 83 mm (3.3 in)
Jul 28°C (83°F) 128 mm (5 in) 24°C (75°F) 202 mm (8 in)
Aug 28°C (82°F) 133 mm (5.2 in) 25°C (77°F) 132 mm (5.2 in)
Sep 24°C (75°F) 156 mm (6.1 in) 21°C (70°F) 56 mm (2.2 in)
Oct 19°C (65°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 15°C (58°F) 30 mm (1.2 in)
Nov 13°C (55°F) 52 mm (2 in) 7°C (44°F) 26 mm (1 in)
Dec 7°C (44°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) -0°C (32°F) 6 mm (0.2 in)