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

Should you visit Shanghai or Nanjing?

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 Nanjing. 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 Nanjing?

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".

Nanjing

Nanjing is the capital city of the Jiangsu Province on the central eastern coast of China, just north of Shanghai. This historically and culturally rich city lies at the lower end of the Yangtze river, resulting in lush and scenic landscapes. Nanjing is well-known for having many popular historical sites, some of which have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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, Nanjing or Shanghai?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Shanghai is $115, while the average daily cost in Nanjing is $96. 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 Nanjing in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Shanghai $81
    Nanjing $46
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Shanghai $162
    Nanjing $92
Compare Hotels in Shanghai and Nanjing

Looking for a hotel in Shanghai or Nanjing? 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 Nanjing


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 $3.87
    Nanjing $38
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:

  • 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
  • Tongli and Xitang Self-Guided Tour from Shanghai by Private Transfer: $114
  • 3-hour Private Transfer to Shanghai ERA Acrobatic Show from City Center: $53
  • Departure Private Transfer: Shanghai to Pudong Airport PVG in Business Car: $114
  • Departure Transfer by High-Speed Maglev Train: Hotel to Shanghai Pudong International Airport: $79
  • Flexible Hours of Private Shanghai Layover or Transfer Tour: $129
  • Flexible Hours of Shanghai Layover and Transfer Tour with Driver Only: $119
  • Guangzhou Airport Transfer by 5 seat standard car: $53
  • Hongqiao Airport (SHA) to Shanghai Cruise Port - Round-Trip Private Transfer : $73

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Nanjing

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Nanjing:

  • Huangshan Tunxi International Airport Private Arrival Transfer to City Area: $20
  • [Airport transfer] Nanjing Lukou International Airport ⇔ Nanjing city transfer ☆ High reputation for service! <Charter charter>: $27
  • Private Arrival Transfer to Nanjing City from Railway Station : $32
  • Nanjing Railway Station Private Transfer from City Center: $32
  • Private Transfer to Nanjing Railway Station from City Hotels: $33
  • Private Transfer between Nanjing Olympic Stadium and City Hotel: $33
  • Private Departure Transfer:City Hotel to Nanjing Any Railway Station: $34
  • Tangshan Hot Spring Resorts Private Transfer from Nanjing Railway Station: $44
  • Nanjing Lukou International Airport Private Arrival Transfer to City Center: $45
  • Nanjing Railway Station Private Transfer to Lukou International Airport: $45
  • Private Departure Transfer from Nanjing City Center to Lukou Int'l Airport: $45
  • Private Transfer to Nanjing Railway Station from Lukou Airport : $45

Is it cheaper to fly into Shanghai or Nanjing?

Prices for flights to both Nanjing 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
    Nanjing $28
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 Fried Rice by Sunflower Li : $20
  • Online Cooking Class General Tso's Chicken by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Online Cooking Class Dim Sum 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
  • 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
  • 3-Hour Flexible Private Shanghai Night Tour with Local Dinner Option: $100

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Nanjing

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

  • 3-Hour Nanjing Authentic Local Food Tour by Public Transportation: $93
  • Flexible Private Nanjing City Night Tour with Dinner Option : $112
  • Nanjing City Private Night Tour with Qinghuai River Cruise and Dinner Option: $114
  • Nanjing Tangshan Mountain Hot Spring Experience and Hot Pot Dinner: $175

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Shanghai $8.42
    Nanjing $9.26
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:

  • The History of the French Concession: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $9.99
  • Hop-on Hop-off Bus Ticket and Optional Attractions: $14
  • Shanghai Yu Garden Tour:Harmony & Spirituality in Garden Art: $20
  • 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
  • Shanghai Hotels to Wusongkou Cruise Port:Private with Meet & Great service: $38
  • Shanghai Tower Tickets Booking: $42
  • 4-Hour Nightlife Adventure & Tasting Bike Tour: $45
  • Shanghai Tower Observation Deck 118 floor Tickets Pre-booking.: $45
  • 4-Hour Sunset Bike Tour in Shanghai: $49

Tours and Activities in Nanjing

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

  • Flexible Private Nanjing Independent Tour : $63
  • Nanjing Self-Guided Day Tour with Private Car and Driver Service: $70
  • Private Amazing Nanjing City Day Tour in Your Way: $75
  • Nanjing Private English Tour Guide Service: $75
  • Nanjing Professional English Tour Guide Service: $91
  • Half-Day Nanjing Purple Mountain Private Tour in Your Way: $94
  • Half-Day Nanjing City Private Flexible Tour : $109
  • 4-Hour Nanjing Private Tour: Xiaoling Tomb, Ming City Wall and Memorial Hall : $115
  • Nanjing Private Flexible Day Tour with Ancient and Modern History: $119
  • Half-Day Private Customized Nanjing City Tour: $122
  • Nanjing Private Flexible Day Tour with Professional Guide and Driver Service: $126
  • Nanjing By Night: Qinghuai River Cruise with Authentic Dining Experience: $138

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Shanghai $7.34
    Nanjing $9.46

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

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


Which is Bigger, Shanghai or Nanjing?

Shanghai has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Nanjing. When comparing the sizes of Shanghai and Nanjing, 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 Nanjing?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Shanghai or Nanjing in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Shanghai and Nanjing. The city activities and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Shanghai this time of year.

Shanghai is around the same temperature as Nanjing in the summer. The daily temperature in Shanghai averages around 28°C (83°F) in July, and Nanjing fluctuates around 28°C (83°F).

Nanjing receives a lot of rain in the summer. Shanghai gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Shanghai usually receives less rain than Nanjing. Shanghai gets 128 mm (5 in) of rain, while Nanjing receives 174 mm (6.9 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Shanghai 28°C (83°F) 
    Nanjing 28°C (83°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Nanjing in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Shanghai as well as Nanjing. Many travelers come to Shanghai for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, Shanghai is around the same temperature as Nanjing. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Shanghai in October average around 19°C (65°F), and Nanjing averages at about 17°C (63°F).

Shanghai usually gets more rain in October than Nanjing. Shanghai gets 61 mm (2.4 in) of rain, while Nanjing receives 44 mm (1.7 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Shanghai 19°C (65°F) 
    Nanjing 17°C (63°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Nanjing in the Winter?

Both Nanjing and Shanghai are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Shanghai in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Nanjing can be very cold during winter. Shanghai can get quite cold in the winter. In January, Shanghai is generally a little warmer than Nanjing. Daily temperatures in Shanghai average around 4°C (39°F), and Nanjing fluctuates around 3°C (37°F).

In January, Shanghai usually receives more rain than Nanjing. Shanghai gets 39 mm (1.5 in) of rain, while Nanjing receives 27 mm (1.1 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Shanghai 4°C (39°F) 
    Nanjing 3°C (37°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Nanjing in the Spring?

Both Nanjing and Shanghai during the spring are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Shanghai for the activities around the city and the natural beauty during these months.

Shanghai is around the same temperature as Nanjing in the spring. The daily temperature in Shanghai averages around 15°C (58°F) in April, and Nanjing fluctuates around 15°C (60°F).

Nanjing gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Shanghai. Shanghai usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Nanjing. Shanghai gets 102 mm (4 in) of rain, while Nanjing receives 101 mm (4 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Shanghai 15°C (58°F) 
    Nanjing 15°C (60°F)

Typical Weather for Nanjing and Shanghai

Shanghai Nanjing
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 4°C (39°F) 39 mm (1.5 in) 3°C (37°F) 27 mm (1.1 in)
Feb 5°C (41°F) 59 mm (2.3 in) 4°C (40°F) 52 mm (2 in)
Mar 9°C (48°F) 82 mm (3.2 in) 9°C (48°F) 69 mm (2.7 in)
Apr 15°C (58°F) 102 mm (4 in) 15°C (60°F) 101 mm (4 in)
May 20°C (67°F) 113 mm (4.5 in) 21°C (69°F) 88 mm (3.5 in)
Jun 24°C (75°F) 152 mm (6 in) 25°C (77°F) 114 mm (4.5 in)
Jul 28°C (83°F) 128 mm (5 in) 28°C (83°F) 174 mm (6.9 in)
Aug 28°C (82°F) 133 mm (5.2 in) 28°C (83°F) 158 mm (6.2 in)
Sep 24°C (75°F) 156 mm (6.1 in) 23°C (74°F) 105 mm (4.1 in)
Oct 19°C (65°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 17°C (63°F) 44 mm (1.7 in)
Nov 13°C (55°F) 52 mm (2 in) 11°C (52°F) 64 mm (2.5 in)
Dec 7°C (44°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 5°C (41°F) 25 mm (1 in)