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.



Daily Life in Shanghai 


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.




Bus ticket


Subway ticket

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

New bicycle

300 CNY




Cheap Chinese meal

15 CNY-50 CNY

Mid-range meal

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

15 CNY

500g boneless chicken breast

20 CNY

Cappuccino in western style café 

35 CNY

Local draft beer (0,5L)

15 CNY

Bottle of local wine

70 CNY

Can of soda


1L bottle of water

3.3 CNY



Gym membership

400 CNY per month


60 CNY

Drink at a nightclub

50 CNY+

Women's haircut at a western salon

150 CNY-300 CNY

Men's haircut at a western barbers

80 CNY-300 CNY



Sightseeing in Shanghai


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. 


Jing’an Temple

50 CNY

Shanghai Tower

180 CNY

Oriental Pearl

120 CNY-220 CNY

Huangpu River Cruise

120 CNY

Water town (Zhujiajiao etc.)

30 CNY-100 CNY


30 CNY-40 CNY

Shanghai Disneyland

370 CNY-900 CNY

Century Park

10 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. 



Pocket Money Guide


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. 


Local Life Budget (500 CNY-1000 CNY p/w)

For people looking to save some money and immerse themselves in the local way of life, whilst enjoying the occasional treat or night out.



Average Cost



30-50 CNY

Mainly travel by bus, metro or bike


200-350 CNY

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

HS Events

50-75 CNY

Sometimes attend Hutong School cultural activities and events each week


0-150 CNY

Workout for free at local fitness communities, join the occasional exercise class


Local & Western Mix Budget (1000 CNY-2000 CNY p/w)

For those looking to enjoy a good balance between a Chinese & Western lifestyle and sometimes visit places outside of Shanghai.



Average Cost



70-100 CNY

Travel by both public transport (bus, metro, bike) and frequently take taxis


400-550 CNY

A good balance between eating at local (25-40 RMB) and western (40-150) restaurants


300-400 CNY

A few nights out each week at a western style bar, occasional massage, occasional trip outside of Shanghai

HS Events

50-100 CNY

Attend most Hutong School cultural activities and events each week


70-200 CNY

Join a mid-range gym or exercise group


Western Lifestyle Budget (2000 CNY-3000 CNY p/w)

For those who can’t live without their home comforts and want to make the most of living in China’s most international city.



Average Cost



150-300 CNY

Travel mainly by taxi, with occasional trip on public transport


500-700 CNY

Mainly eating at western restaurants and regularly buying imported goods


600-800 CNY

Several nights out each week at a western style bar, trips to spa, shopping trips, regular trips outside of Shanghai

HS Events

50-150 CNY

Attend all Hutong School cultural activities and events each week


400-600 CNY

Join a good gym/exercise group


If you'd like to begin your adventure in Shanghai, get in touch with our team or launch an application today!