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

Should you visit Shanghai or Lijiang?

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 Lijiang. 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 Lijiang?

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".

Lijiang

Lijiang is a city in Southwestern China with a history of rule under the Mu family during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It played a key role along the Ancient Southern Silk Road, which started from Burma, crossed Lijiang, Shangri-La County, Tibet, journeyed through Iran, the Fertile Crescent, and ultimately to the Mediterranean Sea. The area was once a center for trade, politics, culture, and education, which is still evident in the rich culture seen today. Lijiang has also been the home of centuries to the Naxi people who still inhabit the area.

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, Lijiang 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 Lijiang is $41. 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 Lijiang in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Shanghai $81
    Lijiang $15
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Shanghai $162
    Lijiang $30
Compare Hotels in Shanghai and Lijiang

Looking for a hotel in Shanghai or Lijiang? 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 Lijiang


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
    Lijiang $5.56
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 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 and Shanghai City Self-Guide 10-Hour Private Transfer Tour: $138
  • Zhujiajiao Water Town Self-Guided Tour with Private Transfer from Shanghai: $75
  • Zhujiajiao Water Town Private Round-Trip Transfers: $72
  • Yiwu Railway Station Private Arrival Transfer to City Area: $18
  • Xitang Water Town Self-Guided Tour from Shanghai with Private Transfer: $100
  • Wuzhen and Xitang Water Town Private Transfer from Shanghai: $132
  • Wusongkou Cruise Terminal to Pudong Airport Chauffeur Service, Port Transfer: $95
  • Wusongkou Cruise Terminal to Hongqiao Airport Chauffeur Service, Port Transfer: $87
  • Wusongkou Cruise Terminal Share Transfer Service, Baoshan Port Pick up Service: $29
  • World 5th Tallest Giant Buddha (Ticket & Roundtrip transfer): $199

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Lijiang

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

  • Lijiang Sanyi International Airport Chauffeur Service,Lijiang Airport Transfer: $57
  • Private Transfer from Lijiang/Shuhe hotel to Shangri-la(Diqing) hotel: $149
  • Private Transfer from Lijiang to Shangri-La and Stops at Tiger Leaping Gorge: $159
  • Private Transfer from Lijiang/Shuhe hotel to Dali and Stops at Shaxi Old Town: $160

Is it cheaper to fly into Shanghai or Lijiang?

Prices for flights to both Lijiang 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
    Lijiang $17
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
    $8.81

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

Typical Food Prices in Lijiang

For Lijiang, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lunch for Two
    $4.13

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Lijiang

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

  • Lijiang Naxi Cuisine Cooking Class & Market Visit: $59
  • Lijiang Naxi Cuisine Cooking Class & Market Visit: $65

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Shanghai $8.40
    Lijiang $19
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 Full Day City Tour with Old and New Highlights: $108
  • Yiwu International Trade City Private Day Tour from Shanghai by Bullet Train: $183
  • 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
  • 1 day Shanghai to Hangzhou Mini Group Tour: $131
  • 1 day Shanghai to Suzhou Garden Mini Group tour: $116
  • 1-Day Private Shanghai City Tour to See Its Past, Present and Future: $229
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Shanghai Museum,Yu Garden, the Bund and Nanjing Road: $190

Tours and Activities in Lijiang

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

  • 4 Hour Private Lijiang City Highlights Walking Tour: $72
  • Private Half-Day Tour: Old Town of Lijiang and Black Dragon Pond Park: $98
  • Private Tour: Jade Dragon Village and Baisha Village via Bicycle: $158
  • Biking tour&guide visit Lijiang baisha village market park: $160
  • One day Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Tour in From Lijiang: $160
  • 1 Day Private Tour to Shaxi Ancient Town from Lijiang or Dali: $165
  • 1 Day Tiger Teaping Gorge Private Tour from Lijiang or Shangri-La: $170
  • Lijiang Train Station Pick up and Tiger Teaping Gorge Private Tour : $170
  • Beautiful Country road Biking tour to Xinhua village Heqing start from Lijiang: $173
  • Private trekking tour to Wenhai lake from Lijiang half day service: $175
  • Country Biking tour to lashi lake Lamaism temple baisha village from Lijiang: $180
  • Lijiang Sanyi airport (LJG) Pick up and Tiger Teaping Gorge Private Tour : $186

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Shanghai $7.32
    Lijiang $7.83

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 Lijiang, we can see that Shanghai is more expensive. And not only is Lijiang much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Lijiang would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Lijiang 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 Lijiang.

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


Which is Bigger, Shanghai or Lijiang?

Shanghai has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Lijiang. When comparing the sizes of Shanghai and Lijiang, 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.