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

Should you visit Shanghai or Qingdao?

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 Qingdao. 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 Qingdao?

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".

Qingdao

Qingdao, China, located in the Shandong Province, is a very large city right on the Yellow Sea coast. The city, whose name means "The Green Island" due to it's gorgeous landscapes and interesting geography, was named China's most livable city in 2012. The city is rich in history, having almost become a German territory in 1897 and being occupied by the Japanese during WWI. Evidence of these occupiers is present in much of the architecture around the city, which includes a few Catholic and Protestant churches.

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, Qingdao 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 Qingdao is $57. 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 Qingdao in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Shanghai $81
    Qingdao $26
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Shanghai $162
    Qingdao $52
Compare Hotels in Shanghai and Qingdao

Looking for a hotel in Shanghai or Qingdao? 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 Qingdao


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
    Qingdao $12
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 Airport Private Departure Transfer from City Area : $20
  • Yiwu Airport Private Arrival Transfer to City Area : $20
  • 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 Hongqiao Airport Chauffeur Service, Port Transfer: $87
  • World 5th Tallest Giant Buddha (ticket & Roundtrip transfer): $199
  • Tongli Water Town Self-Guided Tour with Private Transfer from Shanghai: $100

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Qingdao

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

  • Private Departure Transfer: City Hotel to Qingdao Railway Station : $36
  • Qingdao Railway Station Depature Transfer from City Hotels: $36
  • Qingdao Railway Station Arrival Transfer to City Hotel: $36
  • Qingdao Cruise Port Departure Transfer from City Hotels: $36
  • Qingdao Northern Railway Station Arrival Private One-Way Transfer: $42
  • Qingdao Private Transfer from Qingdao central to Qingdao Airport (TAO): $84
  • Qingdao Private Transfer from Qingdao Airport (TAO) to central Qingdao: $84
  • Qingdao Liuting Airport Transfer Service by Minivan: $86

Is it cheaper to fly into Shanghai or Qingdao?

Prices for flights to both Qingdao 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
    Qingdao $20
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 Dim Sum by Sunflower Li: $20
  • Online Cooking Class Sesame Chicken by Sunflower Li: $20
  • 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
  • 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
  • 3-Hour Flexible Private Shanghai Night Tour with Local Dinner Option: $100
  • 2.5hrs Chinese Kitchen Cooking Class: Art Steamed Dumplings: $110

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Shanghai $8.40
    Qingdao $20
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 to Hangzhou Mini Group Tour: $131
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Shanghai Museum,Yu Garden, the Bund and Nanjing Road: $190
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Shanghai Museum,Yu Garden,the Bund & Huangpu River Cruise : $213
  • 1-Day Private Tour to Suzhou from Shanghai: $272
  • 1-Day Shanghai Tour to Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Yu Garden and Jade Buddha Temple: $224

Tours and Activities in Qingdao

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

  • Private Qingdao highlights city tour with Lunch and Qingdao beer: $175
  • Private tour Qingdao laoshan with round way cable car lunch: $190
  • Private Qingdao Laoshan half day tour with one bottle of Tsingdao beer as gift: $199
  • Qingdao private half day tour with Tsingdao Beer Lunch : $202
  • Qingdao Shore Excursion: Private Full Day Laoshan Mountain Sightseeing Tour: $207
  • Private Qingdao Essentials Tour: City Highlights and Beer Museum: $216
  • Laoshan Mountain Full Day Private Activity Tour: $224
  • Qingdao Private Day Tour to Laoshan Mountain with Lunch and Cable Car: $238
  • Private Qingdao Laoshan day tour with lunch& round way cable car: $240
  • Private Qingdao Historic architectural day tour with Tsingdao beer during Lunch: $245
  • Qingdao Discover Tour to the Mount Laoshan and Tasting Famous Local Beer: $248
  • Private Qingdao city tour with Qingdao beer and Lunch: $260

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Shanghai $7.32
    Qingdao $14

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: $21
  • Shanghai Luxury Bar Crawl in 5-star Hotel or Boutique Hotel: $255


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

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


Which is Bigger, Shanghai or Qingdao?

Shanghai has a larger population, and is about 9 times larger than the population of Qingdao. When comparing the sizes of Shanghai and Qingdao, 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 Qingdao?

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 Qingdao in the Summer?

Both Qingdao and Shanghai during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Shanghai in the summer for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Shanghai is a little warmer than Qingdao. Typically, the summer temperatures in Shanghai in July average around 28°C (83°F), and Qingdao averages at about 25°C (77°F).

It's quite sunny in Shanghai. In the summer, Shanghai often gets more sunshine than Qingdao. Shanghai gets 232 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Qingdao receives 183 hours of full sun.

Qingdao gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Shanghai. Shanghai usually gets less rain in July than Qingdao. Shanghai gets 128 mm (5 in) of rain, while Qingdao receives 211 mm (8.3 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Shanghai 28°C (83°F) 
    Qingdao 25°C (77°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Qingdao in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Shanghai and Qingdao. Most visitors come to Shanghai for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months.

In October, Shanghai is generally around the same temperature as Qingdao. Daily temperatures in Shanghai average around 19°C (65°F), and Qingdao fluctuates around 17°C (62°F).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Qingdao this time of the year. Shanghai usually receives less sunshine than Qingdao during autumn. Shanghai gets 162 hours of sunny skies, while Qingdao receives 220 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Shanghai usually receives more rain than Qingdao. Shanghai gets 61 mm (2.4 in) of rain, while Qingdao receives 45 mm (1.8 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Shanghai 19°C (65°F) 
    Qingdao 17°C (62°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Qingdao in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Shanghai as well as Qingdao. The winter months attract visitors to Shanghai because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

It's quite cold in Qingdao in the winter. The weather in Shanghai can be very cold. Shanghai is much warmer than Qingdao in the winter. The daily temperature in Shanghai averages around 4°C (39°F) in January, and Qingdao fluctuates around -0°C (32°F).

In the winter, Shanghai often gets less sunshine than Qingdao. Shanghai gets 135 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Qingdao receives 185 hours of full sun.

Shanghai usually gets more rain in January than Qingdao. Shanghai gets 39 mm (1.5 in) of rain, while Qingdao receives 11 mm (0.4 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Shanghai 4°C (39°F) 
    Qingdao -0°C (32°F)

Should I visit Shanghai or Qingdao in the Spring?

Both Qingdao and Shanghai are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The activities around the city and the natural beauty are the main draw to Shanghai this time of year.

In the spring, Shanghai is a little warmer than Qingdao. Typically, the spring temperatures in Shanghai in April average around 15°C (58°F), and Qingdao averages at about 12°C (53°F).

It's quite sunny in Qingdao. Shanghai usually receives less sunshine than Qingdao during spring. Shanghai gets 153 hours of sunny skies, while Qingdao receives 224 hours of full sun in the spring.

It's quite rainy in Shanghai. In April, Shanghai usually receives more rain than Qingdao. Shanghai gets 102 mm (4 in) of rain, while Qingdao receives 37 mm (1.5 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Shanghai 15°C (58°F) 
    Qingdao 12°C (53°F)

Typical Weather for Qingdao and Shanghai

Shanghai Qingdao
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 4°C (39°F) 39 mm (1.5 in) -0°C (32°F) 11 mm (0.4 in)
Feb 5°C (41°F) 59 mm (2.3 in) 1°C (34°F) 12 mm (0.5 in)
Mar 9°C (48°F) 82 mm (3.2 in) 6°C (43°F) 21 mm (0.8 in)
Apr 15°C (58°F) 102 mm (4 in) 12°C (53°F) 37 mm (1.5 in)
May 20°C (67°F) 113 mm (4.5 in) 17°C (62°F) 51 mm (2 in)
Jun 24°C (75°F) 152 mm (6 in) 21°C (70°F) 81 mm (3.2 in)
Jul 28°C (83°F) 128 mm (5 in) 25°C (77°F) 211 mm (8.3 in)
Aug 28°C (82°F) 133 mm (5.2 in) 26°C (79°F) 162 mm (6.4 in)
Sep 24°C (75°F) 156 mm (6.1 in) 22°C (72°F) 99 mm (3.9 in)
Oct 19°C (65°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 17°C (62°F) 45 mm (1.8 in)
Nov 13°C (55°F) 52 mm (2 in) 10°C (49°F) 28 mm (1.1 in)
Dec 7°C (44°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 3°C (37°F) 10 mm (0.4 in)