A Travel Price Comparison for China Xi'an vs. Shanghai for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Xi'an or Shanghai?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Xi'an and Shanghai can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Where Should I go: Xi'an or Shanghai?


Xi'an is an ancient city in the Shaanxi Province in China. Today it is most notable as the location of the Terracotta Warriors, but for visitors who choose to linger, there is so much more to see and do in the area. The city itself is more than 3,000 years old and for about one thousand years, through 13 dynasties and 73 emperors, it was the capital. Because of its rich history there are many historical ruins and a strong culture in the city. Today the city is a pleasant place to visit, although much of it's influence and power has dwindled. The city has both cosmopolitan and modern areas as well as historic and culturally rich areas. The neighborhoods are diverse and by exploring the city in depth you can learn a little more about what China really has to offer.


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".

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 10-Day Tours in China, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in China, The Best 2-Week Tours in China, and Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in China.

Which place is cheaper, Shanghai or Xi'an?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Xi'an is $94, while the average daily cost in Shanghai is $115. 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 Xi'an and Shanghai in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Xi'an $60
    Shanghai $81
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Xi'an $120
    Shanghai $162
Compare Hotels in Xi'an and Shanghai

Looking for a hotel in Xi'an or Shanghai? 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 Xian

Hotels in Shanghai

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.
    Xi'an $12
    Shanghai $3.87

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Xi'an

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Xi'an:

  • Private Transfer from Xi'an Hotel to Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (XIY): $25
  • Private Transfer from Xi'an hotel to Xi'an train station: $27
  • Airport Transfer] Xi'an Airport Xi'an City Transfer High reputation for service! : $27
  • Xi'an Terracotta Army Tickets with Optional Guide/Transfer: $28
  • Private Transfer BetweenXi'an Airport/Rainway station and Hotel: $28
  • Private Airport Transfer: Xi'an Hotel to Xianyang International Airport: $29
  • Xi’an Railway Station Private Departure Transfer from City Area: $29
  • Xi’an Railway Station Private Arrival Transfer to City Area: $29
  • Private Departure Transfer:Xi'an City Hotel to Any Xi'an Railway Station: $30
  • Xi'an North Railway Station Transfer To Downtown Hotel: $30
  • Private High-speed Train Arrival Transfer: Xi'an Bei (North) Station to Hotel: $30
  • Private High-speed Train Departure Transfer: Hotel to Xi'an Bei (North) Station: $30

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Shanghai

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

  • Taxi Ride
  • Two Subway Tickets

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Shanghai

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Shanghai:

  • 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
  • 3-hour Private Transfer to Shanghai ERA Acrobatic Show from City Center: $53
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Pudong Airport PVG to Shanghai in Business Car : $113
  • Chauffeur service, Limousine airport transfer in Shanghai-English speaking: $51
  • Departure Transfer by High-Speed Maglev Train: Hotel to Shanghai Pudong International Airport: $79
  • Flexible Hours of Shanghai Layover and Transfer Tour with Driver Only: $119
  • Hongqiao Airport (SHA)private transfer to downtown hotel Shanghai: $24
  • Hongqiao Airport(SHA)-Hotel Downtown One way Private Transfer: $25
  • Nanxun Ancient Water Town Self-Guided Tour with Private Transfer from Shanghai: $123
  • Oneway Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) Private Transfer: $21

Is it cheaper to fly into Xi'an or Shanghai?

Prices for flights to both Shanghai and Xi'an 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 Meals for one day
    Xi'an $12
    Shanghai $21

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Xi'an

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Xi'an.

  • Skip the Line: Xi'an Tang Dynasty Show Ticket & Dumpling Dinner or Royal Banquet: $32
  • Xian Muslim Quarter: 2-Hour Small Group Walking Food Tour : $36
  • Dinner and Show of Tang Dynasty Palace in Xian: $40
  • Tang Dynasty Show with Optional Dinner: $51
  • Tang Dynasty Dinner Show with Private transfer: $55
  • Half-day Xi'an Biang Biang Noodles Cooking Class with Spice Market Visit: $65
  • Private Xi'an Food Tour: $65
  • Xi'an Evening Food Tour by TukTuk: $69
  • 3-Hour Biang Biang Noodles Cooking Class in Xi'an: $75
  • Authentic Old Xi'an Back Street Food Tour : $75
  • Xi'an Tang Dynasty Show and Dumpling Dinner with Hotel Transfer: $76
  • Half-day Xi'an Steamed Buns(Baozi) Cooking Class with Market Visit: $78

Typical Food Prices in Shanghai

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

  • Dumpling Breakfast
  • Desserts in Jinmao Building Observatory
  • Ajisen Lunch for Two
  • Cantelope
  • Dumplings and Soup
  • Duck Dinner
  • Pastries
  • Barbeque Dinner

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 Fried Rice 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
  • Late Night Food Tour in the Shanghai's French Concession: $89
  • Eat Like A Local: Shanghai Night Food Tour: $90
  • 2.5hrs Chinese Kitchen Cooking Class: Xiaolongbao Soup Dumplings: $99
  • 3-Hour Flexible Private Shanghai Night Tour with Local Dinner Option: $100
  • 2.5hrs Chinese Kitchen Cooking Class: Art Steamed Dumplings: $110

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Xi'an $35
    Shanghai $8.42

Tours and Activities in Xi'an

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

  • Xi'an Virtual Tour: Emperor Qin Shi Huang and His Terracotta Army: $15
  • Terra-cotta Warriors Entrance Ticket with Optional Guided Service: $26
  • Terracotta Warriors 5-Hour Private Tour w/ Optional Pickup Point: $26
  • Terracotta Army Ticket: $28
  • Terracotta Army Tickets: $28
  • Terracotta Army Ticket Booking: $28
  • Terracotta Warriors Tickets Booking: $32
  • Group Bus Tour to Terracotta Warriors with Hotel Pickup & Lunch: $35
  • Tang Dynasty Palace Show Tickets Booking: $37
  • Xi'an City Wall: Guided Tour with Cycling Option: $43
  • Guided Leisure Walking Tour to Muslim Quarter in Xi'an: $46
  • Xi'an City Walking Tour: $46

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
  • Zoo for Two

Tours and Activities in Shanghai

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

  • Hop-on Hop-off Bus Ticket and Optional Attractions: $14
  • Shanghai Yu Garden Tour´╝ÜHarmony & Spirituality in Garden Art: $20
  • Shanghai French Concession Walking Tour: $29
  • Shanghai Highlights Walking Tour: $29
  • Shanghai Like a Local: Customized Private Tour: $35
  • Like a Local Customized Guided Tour: $35
  • Fudan University Student Guide Tour: $37
  • Shanghai Downtown Hotel to Baoshan Cruise Port:Private with Meet & Greet service: $38
  • Shanghai Wusongkou Cruise Port to Hongqiao Airport:Private with Meet service: $40
  • Shanghai Tower Tickets Booking: $42
  • 4-Hour Nightlife Adventure & Tasting Bike Tour: $45
  • Shanghai Tower Observation Deck 118 floor Tickets Pre-booking.: $45

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Xi'an $7.22
    Shanghai $7.34

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

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

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

Which is Bigger, Xi'an or Shanghai?

Shanghai has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Xi'an. When comparing the sizes of Xi'an and Shanghai, 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.