A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Shanghai vs. Ulaanbaatar for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Shanghai or Ulaanbaatar?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Shanghai and Ulaanbaatar. 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. So, let's dig into it.

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".

Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar is Mongolia's capital city. It has a population of slightly over two million people, or about sixty percent of the country's entire population. You are likely to arrive in Ulaanbaatar either by train, coming from China or Russia, or by plane. Many people use Ulaanbaatar as a stop off while doing the Transsiberian Railway. The city is a great place to organize a tour of the surrounding countryside. It's also good city to relax, so make sure you allow yourself a few days to recover from your tour, enjoy some of the great food options, and see some of the fascinating cultural sights around town.

Which city is cheaper, Ulaanbaatar or Shanghai?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Shanghai is $103, while the average daily cost in Ulaanbaatar is $24. 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Shanghai and Ulaanbaatar in more detail.



Accommodation

Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $146 for a double occupancy room in Shanghai.

If you're traveling alone, you may be able to find a budget hotel or hostel for around $11. But for two people in a standard two-person hotel room in Ulaanbaatar the cost is $22 on average.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Shanghai $73
    Ulaanbaatar $11
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Shanghai $146
    Ulaanbaatar $22

Food

The average traveler spends about $19 per day in Shanghai for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.

In Ulaanbaatar travelers spend around $8.65 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Shanghai $19
    Ulaanbaatar $8.65
Typical Food prices in Shanghai

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


  • Dumpling Breakfast
    $1.55
  • Desserts in Jinmao Building Observatory
    $23
  • Ajisen Lunch for Two
    $8.07
  • Cantelope
    $1.86
  • Dumplings and Soup
    $2.33
  • Duck Dinner
    $4.66
  • Pastries
    $3.26
  • Barbeque Dinner
    $9.93

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Shanghai

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

  • Online Chinese Cooking Class: $22
  • Chengdu Private Food Tour (With Visit to Kuanzhai Alley and Hotpot Experience): $32
  • Old Shanghai Breakfast Food Tour: $52
  • Cooking Class of Dumplings and Chinese Buns: $56
  • 3-Hour Shanghai Summer Night Local Dinner and Shopping Private Tour: $65
  • Private Chinese Cooking Class in Shanghai with Vegetarian Option: $69
  • Private Authentic Chinese Cooking Class in Shanghai with a Lovely Local: $70
  • 3-Hour Shanghai City Walking Tour with Dinner: $74
  • Shanghai yummy food tour: $75
  • Chinese Cooking Class in a Family Home: $75
  • Chengdu Jinsha Site Museum and Sanxingdui Museum Private Day Tour with Hotpot Dinner: $76
  • Dim Sum Cooking Class and Wet Market Visit in Shanghai: $78

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Ulaanbaatar

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

  • Cooking Class in a Traditional Ger Home in the Suburbs of Ulaanbaatar: $50
  • Cooking famous Mongolian dumplings with local nomads: $205

Local Transportation

The average price of local transportation around Shanghai is $3.48 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.

The cost of a taxi ride in Ulaanbaatar is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $2.82 per person, per day, on local transportation in Ulaanbaatar.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Shanghai $3.48
    Ulaanbaatar $2.82
Typical Local Transportation prices in Shanghai

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


  • Taxi Ride
    $4.03
  • Two Subway Tickets
    $0.93

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • 1 Day-Pass for Disneyland Shanghai and Transfer service Mini Group package: $146
  • 1-way Private Transfer From Shanghai Pudong Airport to Hangzhou: $123
  • 1-way Private Transfer From Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou New District-SND: $117
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and Kunshan Per Vehicle Price: $74
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Jiaxing: $153
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Kunshan Per Vehicle Price: $95
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Yiwu Per Vehicle Price: $388
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai and Nanxun Water Town Per Vehicle Price: $164
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai and Wuzhen Water Town Per Vehicle Price: $159
  • 1-way Transfer Between Shanghai and Zhouzhuang Water Town Per Vehicle Price: $93
  • 1-way Transfer between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Changshu Per Vehicle Price: $135
  • 1way Transfer from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou Downtown: $48

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Ulaanbaatar

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Ulaanbaatar:

  • Arrival Private Transfer Ulaanbaatar Train Station to City by Business Vehicle: $16
  • Departure Private Transfer City to Ulaanbaatar Train Stationby Business Vehicle: $16
  • Airport Transfer: $21
  • Airport Transfer Service: $25
  • Private Pickup Transfer from Chinggis Khaan Airport to Hotels in Ulaanbaatar: $27
  • Private Drop off Transfer to Chinggis Khaan Airport from Downtown Ulaanbaatar: $27
  • Ulaanbaatar Arrival Transfer: Airport to Hotel: $33
  • Ulaanbaatar Departure Transfer: Hotel to Airport: $33
  • Airport transfer service: $43
  • Transfer service to Terelj national park: $51
  • Departure Private Transfer to New Ulaanbaatar Airport UBN by Business Vehicle: $52

Is it cheaper to fly into Shanghai or Ulaanbaatar?

Prices for flights to both Ulaanbaatar 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.





Entertainment

Shanghai's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $7.58 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.

Entertainment and activities in Ulaanbaatar typically cost an average of $4.28 per person, per day. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Shanghai $7.58
    Ulaanbaatar $4.28
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
    $31
  • Zoo for Two
    $16

Tours and Activities in Shanghai

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

  • Hupao Park Ticket in Hangzhou (For Mainland China ID Holders): $2.35
  • China Red Sandalwood Museum Ticket in Beijing : $2.79
  • Simatai Great Wall Admission with Cable Car Ticket in Beijing: $3.09
  • Giant Panda Breeding Research Base Ticket Chengdu - ID Card Direct Entry: $4.19
  • half day tour of shanghai: $5.34
  • Evergreen Resort Ticket in Shenzhen: $6.19
  • Jinxi Ancient Town Attractions Combo Ticket: $6.99
  • Gulangyu Seashell Museum Ticket: $7.45
  • Ferry Round Trip Ticket between Xiamen City and Gulangyu Sanqiutian Pier: $8.55
  • Wuyishan Xiamei Ancient Village Admission Ticket: $8.55
  • Ferry Round Trip Ticket between Xiamen City and Gulangyu Neicuoao Pier: $8.55
  • Shanghai Joy City Rooftop Ferris Wheel - Sky Ring Ticket: $9.29

Tours and Activities in Ulaanbaatar

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

  • Mongolian Food Experience: $20
  • Full-Day Private City Tour Ulaanbaatar by Taxi: $25
  • Full Day Tour of Ulaanbaatar With Museum, Black-market Cashmere Factory Store: $62
  • Khoomei Throat Singing Lesson including FREE Concert ticket: $62
  • Half-Day Modern Art Tour in Ulaanbaatar: $67
  • Ulaanbaatar City Tour: $70
  • Day Coach Tour of Aglag Buteel Monastery and Meditation Center Including Lunch: $72
  • Terelj National Park and Chingis Khan Statue a day tour: $75
  • Full-Day Ulaanbaatar Sightseeing and Shopping Tour: $76
  • Half Day Mongolia Nomadic Discovery Tour of Chinggis Khan Statue: $76
  • 1 Day City Sightseeing with Bogd Khan Winter Palace: $77
  • Genghis Khan Day Tour with Bonus Gorkhi-Terelj National Park One Day tour: $77

Alcohol

The average person spends about $6.61 on alcoholic beverages in Shanghai per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Ulaanbaatar may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $3.71 per day on alcoholic beverages.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Shanghai $6.61
    Ulaanbaatar $3.71

Sample the Local Flavors in Shanghai

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

  • Shanghai Luxury Bar Crawl in 5-star Hotel or Boutique Hotel: $255
  • 3 Hour Local Craft Beer Crawl with Brewery Tour: $350


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

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Shanghai vs. Ulaanbaatar Travel Comparison

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