Planning a Trip to Shanghai? Five Tips for Exploring Shanghai on a Budget

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Hipmunk City Love Project.

Blog Post Type: Planning a Trip to a City

Photo by Hannah via

With expensive airfares, luxury hotels, high-end restaurants, and bustling shopping areas, it is easy to bust your budget on your Shanghai trip. The reality is that your trip to Shanghai doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how the system works. Here are some budget-saving tactics for your Shanghai trip.

Find the Best Travel Deals

The best time to travel to Shanghai is during the spring and fall seasons, when the weather is believed to be perfect and the cost of travel is relatively low. Some cheap flights and accommodations are available between December and February, but the frequent rain, occasional snow, and dropping temperatures can make travel unpleasant. If you’re flexible on your travel dates, sign up for flight alerts on Hipmunk so airlines can send you information on cheap airfares.

Take Subways or Local Buses

As for transportation, take the subway and local bus to low-cost and free attractions instead of hailing a cab. The bus and metro system in Shanghai is dirt-cheap and has extensive coverage. As long as you avoid rush-hour periods, the ride is comfortable. Some travelers prefer to take cabs due to safety concerns, but the risk can be minimized on public transport as long as you are sensible.

Bargain for Price

If you feel products you want to purchase are expensive, do not feel bad haggling for a cheap price. Vendors operating stalls in Shanghai will usually increase their price significantly once they realize you are a tourist. Therefore, it is always wise to ask for a discount of up to 60 percent. Do not get discouraged if your first bargain gets rejected. Get a thick skin, and keep haggling until you get a reasonable price.

Try Street Food

Some of the cheapest and most scrumptious dishes can be found on the roadside food stalls of Shanghai. It usually costs you less than $2 to have fried noodles, grilled squid, lamb skillet, a lunch or dinner plate, or sushi. All food is made in front of you, so you are promised to get a decent deal with tasty and fresh food. To avoid hygiene problems, simply ask the locals for recommendations or choose a popular street food stand.

Avoid Organized Tours

Give up organized tours and save up to 60 percent of your travel costs by arranging your own trip instead. Learn basic Chinese, chat on travel forums, and conduct research online to get to know more abiout Shanghai before you set off on your trip. Some travelers prefer organized tours due to language barriers. However, many organized tours in Shanghai will take you to expensive shopping places and touristy areas. As a result, not only will you bust your budget on shopping, dining, and tipping, but you’ll also miss out on opportunities to see the real Shanghai. Try to design your own itinerary, book cheap hotels in Shanghai, visit free parks and the free Shanghai Museum, and eat where the locals eat. You may be surprised by how much you can save.

Julie Cao

Julie Cao is a travel blogger, travel writer, and global citizen currently living in Toronto Ontario.

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