How to Visit Shanghai on a Budget

Plan your Shanghai tour on a budget?  Each year millions of travellers and businessmen visit Shanghai,  the largest metropolitan city in China. Shanghai boasts plentiful splurge hotels and posh restaurants, local and international.

The hop on hop off sightseeing bus Passing by the Bund.

But you don’t need to break the bank  to visit this most advanced and futuristic city showcasing the fast development in the contemporary China . The 10 steps and tips will help you arrange your Shanghai trip on a budget without forgoing your enjoyment.

 1. Travel out of season

First,  you ought to avoid visiting Shanghai during China public holidays:  May 1-3 and October 1 – 7 each year in particular. If possible, visit Shanghai in shoulder or even off season when everything is cheaper – discounted accommodations, entrance fees, flights and many more.

In addition, the hordes of domestic tourist crowds are gone so you can enjoy the city peacefully without  too may other tourists jumping into your pictures.

High season: April, May, September and October;
Shoulder season: March, June, July, August and November;
Low season: December, January and February.

2. Shanghai airport or rail transfer by metro

Shanghai has the highest taxi fares in China. When you arrive at Shanghai by air or rail, basically you should forgo taking taxis except something emergent or you cannot roll your luggage.

The two Shanghai airports – Pudong Airport and Hongqiao Airport are both linked by the same metro line 2 which brings you to the center of Shanghai with the important metro stations of People’s Square and Nanjing Road.

Shanghai Pudong Airport also has the fastest train –Shanghai Maglev in the world. Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station is accessible by metro line 2; Shanghai Railway Station by metro line 1 and Shanghai South Railway Station by metro line 1.

3. Looking for cheap hotels

Though it is rife with luxury hotels,  Shanghai is also a purse-friendly city opening its arms for all with large choices of budget hotels and hostels. You can easily find a cozy hotel  on your budget.

First you should decide where to stay in Shanghai and then search for an ideal hotel on your desired area without footing the costly bill.  Check Top 10 Shanghai Budget Hotels for more information.

4. Shanghai’s abundant free sites and attractions

Many of the must see attractions in Shanghai are free of charge including the Bund, Pudong New Area,  Nanjing Road,  People’s Square, Shanghai Museums, Tianzifang, Xintiandi, etc.  Just a note,  most of the museums in Shanghai are free  for entry as well as many city parks.

Wandering the Nanjing Road

Check out:
10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Shanghai
Top 10 Shanghai Attractions
Top 10 Most Romantic Places in Shanghai.

5. Tour Shanghai by Metro

As you know, Shanghai has the highest taxi fares in China, plus the possible traffic congestion, in most occasions,  you should just avoid using them except that you cannot manage your large pieces of luggage on your way to your hotel or airport.

All almost all the important attractions in Shanghai can be accessed by metro lines.  Spend a few minutes studying the metro map of Shanghai for a clear direction of your destinations.  See Visit Zhujiajiao Water Town by metro; Visit Qibao Water Town by metro;  Visit Tianzifang by metro and Visit Xintiandi by metro.

6 Hop on hop off Buses

Apart from using the convenient metro system in Shanghai for city sightseeing,  joining in a Shanghai bus tour can also be money-saving and more sociable, a good way of traveling Shanghai: picked from and returned  your lodging hotel.

The hop on hop off double decker Buses in Shanghai are also a perfect choice for your sightseeing in Shanghai – Booked through your hotel for a joyful Shanghai day tour.

7. Eating out Cheap

Yes, as an international metropolitan city,  Shanghai provides many sorts of cuisines from all parts of  the world with countless posh restaurants. But this doesn’t put you off eating right and affordably at local restaurants. Breakfasts usually are covered by your hotel package.

Suggest you have a fast food lunch while dinner at a clean restaurant.  You may spoil yourself  occasionally by eating at an upscale or nice restaurant.  See Shanghai top 1o best restaurants and Shanghai top 10 vegetarian restaurants.

8. Bargain shopping

Shanghai is a shopping paradise, with countless bustling commercial streets and shopping centers beckoning the visitors. Shopping malls in Shanghai are most fashionable inside country as Shanghai is the window of modern China.

Most of the shopping malls are located in busy commercial centers. Window shopping is a fun even if you don’t  like to do shopping in these expensive shopping malls. 

Going to a local market can be an interesting experience.  See Shanghai top 10 markets and Shanghai top 10 shopping malls.

9.  Splurge occasionally

Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you should not splurge on food, a high-priced attraction or shopping occasionally and forgo everything expensive Shanghai has to offer.

At least one dinner at a posh restaurant; ascending the Jinmao Tower for a panoramic view of Shanghai and buying a Shanghai souvenir.

10. Tourist Scams

When you are traveling in Shanghai and planning your city trip on a budget,  you must be vigilant on possible tourist scams which may happen to you.

The tourist scams in Shanghai are more or less than the same as those in Beijing,  see ” Top 10 Beijing Tourist Scams” for your reference. If you are a victim, just keep calm and contact the police immediately.

Hassle-free Shanghai Guided Tours

If you don’t want to do a self-guided tour and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Shanghai:

Shanghai Tour
Shanghai Day Tour
Shanghai Multi-Day Tour
Shanghai Evening Tour
Shanghai Cruise Port ( Transfer& Excursions )
Shanghai Beijing Tour
Shanghai Xian Tour
Shanghai Car Rental with Driver

Further Readings

Top 10 Attractions in Shanghai
Shanghai’s Top 10 Iconic Landmarks
Top 10 Markets in Shanghai
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Shanghai
Top 10 Things to Do at night in Shanghai
Best Places for Autumn Leaves in Shanghai
Top 10 Things to Do in Winter in Shanghai
Top 10 Souvenirs in Shanghai
Top 10 Photo Spots in Shanghai
10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Shanghai
Top Things to Do for Kids in Shanghai
Top family-friendly spots to visit in Shanghai
Top 10 Shanghai Museums
Doing things the local way in Shanghai
Shanghai Cherry Blossom Festival

How to Plan a Trip to Shanghai
Best time to visit Shanghai
How to Visit Shanghai on a Budget
Where to stay in Shanghai
Visit Shanghai in December
How to Visit Shanghai in November
Visit Shanghai in October
How to Visit Shanghai in March
Visit Shanghai in February
Shanghai in January Travel Guide
Shanghai Layout, the city layout of Shanghai

Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station
Public Transportation at Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Shanghai Hongqiao Airport
Huangpu River Cruis e Ticket Booking (Tickets, Photos and Map)
Shanghai Hop On Hop Off
Ferry from the Bund to Pudong
The highest al fresco dining venue in China
Shopping in Pudong Shanghai
Top 10 Shanghai Classic Vegetarian Restaurants
Beijing Shanghai high speed rail
Ticket Booking for Beijing Shanghai High Speed Rail
Top 10 Shanghai Budget Hotels
Top 10 Shanghai Luxury Hotels
Top 10 Shanghai Boutique Hotels

Tips for Visiting Nanjing Road in Shanghai
The Neon-Colored Nanjing Road
Night walk along Nanjing Road in Shanghai
How to Visit the Bund in Shanghai (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Bund at Night pictures
Foggy Pudong Skyline at Sunrise, Shanghai
The Bund and Small Pool of Rainwater
Early Morning Kite Flyers on the Bund in Shanghai
Historic Buildings on the Bund in Shanghai (the 22 heritage buildings)
Evening View of the Bund and Pudong Skyline Shanghai
How to Visit Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar
The Old World Charm in Shanghai (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to Visit Lujiazui in Pudong
How to Visit Zhujiajiao Water Town
How to Visit Qibao Ancient Town
How to Visit Tianzifang
How to Visit Xintiandi
How to Visit Shanghai World Financial Center
How to Visit Shanghai Tower
Tips for Visiting People’s Square, Shanghai
How to Visit Shanghai Auto Museum
Feeling Chinese New Year’s Atmosphere in Shanghai

How to Visit Wuzhen Water Town from Hangzhou and Shanghai
Huangpu River in Shanghai VS River Thames in London
Some similarities and differences between Paris and Shanghai

Any questions, just drop a line.

3 thoughts on “How to Visit Shanghai on a Budget

  1. Are the subway coaches overcrowded. Can I get into the coach with one trolley bag and one shoulder bag at 8.30 in the evening from pudong airport to people’s square at about 9 in the evening on line 2?

  2. Hi,

    I am in China from April 1 to 15. I would like to see Shanghai, Xian, Yangzee river cruise and as much as possible except Beijing. I do not have much money and am travelling with wife and 2 children. Can you help me find a tour to suit my needs?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.