Generally speaking, life in Shanghai is cheap compared to Europe or North America. It’s possible to live on as little as 50 CNY to 100 CNY per day to cover the necessities, though how much you spend largely depends on your lifestyle and what you plan to do. Here you can find a list of the most common things you’ll need during your time in Shanghai and their average cost.
Please note, this page is intended to provide a rough guide of how much things cost in Shanghai. Prices will of course fluctuate, so if you’re planning a precise budget you should check cost of living websites as well.
Below you'll find a selection of prices for basic goods and services you will need to buy or use during your time in Shanghai.
1 CNY-2 CNY
3 CNY for journeys under 6km, then 1 CNY for each additional 10km
14 CNY for the first 3 km, 2.5 CNY per additional km
Cheap Chinese meal
15 CNY-50 CNY
70 CNY-150 CNY
Cheap Western meal
60 CNY-100 CNY
Expensive Western meal
150 CNY-300 CNY
Fast food meal
35 CNY-50 CNY
Loaf of bread
500g boneless chicken breast
Cappuccino in western style café
Local draft beer (0,5L)
Bottle of local wine
Can of soda
1L bottle of water
400 CNY per month
Drink at a nightclub
Women's haircut at a western salon
150 CNY-300 CNY
Men's haircut at a western barbers
80 CNY-300 CNY
During your time in Shanghai, you’ll no doubt want to explore the city and visit some of the local attractions. Fortunately, there is much you can see and do for free, like visiting the Bund, People’s Park and East Nanjing Road. Other attractions charge an entry fee, the average prices of which you can find below.
120 CNY-220 CNY
Huangpu River Cruise
Water town (Zhujiajiao etc.)
30 CNY-100 CNY
30 CNY-40 CNY
370 CNY-900 CNY
It’s certainly possible to make the most of your time in Shanghai without spending too much. Don’t forget, you’re always encouraged to join our weekly cultural activities, which are designed to be budget friendly whilst also giving you the chance to socialise and experience as much of the local culture as possible.
If you’re still unsure how much money you should allow for, see our pocket money guide below. Each of our budgets are based on the assumption that you’ll be living in Hutong School accommodation and won’t need to pay monthly rent, bills and internet. If you’re budgeting to includes these things, you should add an additional 1000-2000 per week.
For people looking to save some money and immerse themselves in the local way of life, whilst enjoying the occasional treat or night out.
Mainly travel by bus, metro or bike
Mainly eat at Chinese restaurants (25-40 RMB) and at home, with occasional western meal out (40-150)
One night out per week at a western style bar
Sometimes attend Hutong School cultural activities and events each week
Workout for free at local fitness communities, join the occasional exercise class
For those looking to enjoy a good balance between a Chinese & Western lifestyle and sometimes visit places outside of Shanghai.
Travel by both public transport (bus, metro, bike) and frequently take taxis
A good balance between eating at local (25-40 RMB) and western (40-150) restaurants
A few nights out each week at a western style bar, occasional massage, occasional trip outside of Shanghai
Attend most Hutong School cultural activities and events each week
Join a mid-range gym or exercise group
For those who can’t live without their home comforts and want to make the most of living in China’s most international city.
Travel mainly by taxi, with occasional trip on public transport
Mainly eating at western restaurants and regularly buying imported goods
Several nights out each week at a western style bar, trips to spa, shopping trips, regular trips outside of Shanghai
Attend all Hutong School cultural activities and events each week
Join a good gym/exercise group