Beijing Vs Shanghai

Beijing Vs Shanghai: Which City Is Better To Visit?

Beijing vs Shanghai, which city is better to visit? Many tourists frequently argue about this issue.

Beijing is the political and cultural hub of China. Additionally, Beijing serves as China’s capital as well as its commercial hub, Shanghai. Beijing is famous for its rich historical sites, such as Forbidden City, and Great Wall while Shanghai is renowned for its cutting-edge cityscapes and nighttime skyscraper views.

We’re going to give you a deeper understanding of their advantages and disadvantages today.

History Of Beijing Vs Shanghai

Beijing surpasses Shanghai by having a stronger sense of tradition and authenticity, as well as being home to the Great Wall, the country’s symbol. Shanghai’s colonial past and incredible rate of development since the 1990s are its two main historical highlights.

Beijing History

Beijing has a history dating back more than 3,000 years. Jicheng, the first walled city in Beijing, was constructed in 1045 BC. For more than 800 years, Beijing housed the imperial offices of six ancient dynasties.

Read More: What Is The Capitol Of China?

Shanghai History

Shanghai’s history is distinct. If you imagine Beijing as the “king of the north”, then Shanghai is more like the exotic “queen of the south”.

Beijing, which served as the imperial capital for many years, has a more genuine sense of China than Shanghai. Before the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)’s central government finally decided to designate Shanghai as a county in its own right, it was just a fishing town for many years.

Tourist Attractions Of Beijing Vs Shanghai

Both cities are charming in their own right. Beijing defeats Shanghai because it has many more historical travel destinations if there must be a winner and vice versa. However, each city has a distinctive charm, so the winner largely depends on personal preference.

Beijing is home to so many fascinating places that exploring them all would likely take a week. You can visit the majority of the Shanghai sites in 1-2 days because they are all more closely spaced out.

Beijing’s Top Attractions

In addition to the Great Wall of China, Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Lama Temple, the Hutongs, and the Ming Tombs, Beijing is home to numerous other well-known tourist destinations. Learn a little about Chinese history before visiting Beijing since the city’s most well-known attractions are historical. Here are Beijing’s top attractions by theme:

  • Historical and cultural sites: the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, Tian’anmen Square, the hutongs, Shichahai, Ancient Architecture Museum
  • Imperial Gardens & Mausoleums: the Summer Palace, Beihai Park, the Ming Tombs, the Qing Tombs
  • Temples: Lama Temple, the Temple of Confucius, the Temple of Heaven, Yonghe Temple
  • Modern scenic spots: the National Stadium, Beijing Aquarium, the National Aquatics Center
  • Natural parks: Jingshan Park, Fragrant Hill Park, Badaling National Forest Park
Forbidden City

Shanghai’s Top Attractions

Shanghai is renowned for its skyscrapers and urban settings. Shanghai’s top attractions include the Bund, Yuyuan Garden, the Oriental Pearl Tower, Nanjing Road, the French Concession, Jade Buddha Temple, and nearby water towns.

  • Modern Shanghai skyscrapers: the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jinmao Tower, the World Financial Center, Shanghai Tower
  • Historical and cultural Sites: Jing’an Temple, Confucius Temple, Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai Old Street
  • Gardens and parks: Yuyuan Garden, Disneyland Park, Century Park, Changfeng Park
  • Water towns: Zhujiajiao Water Town, Xitang Water Town, Wuzhen Water Town
Oriental Pearl Tower

Things To Do: Beijing Vs Shanghai

Beijing and Shanghai are both global cities. Both the daytime and nighttime scene in these two cities are diverse. While Shanghai is a good city to understand China’s rapid development, Beijing is a good place to learn about Chinese history and culture. The following activities would make good choices if you were a first-time visitor to these two cities.

Things To Do In Beijing

  • Visit the Forbidden City, the best-preserved imperial palace in China, which is renowned throughout the world.
  • Ascend China’s Great Wall. Badaling, Simatai, and Mutianyu are three well-known sections of the Great Wall close to Beijing.
  • Take a rickshaw or bicycle tour through the hutongs of Beijing.
  • On Wangfujing Street, sample Peking roast duck or instant-boiled mutton.

Things To Do In Shanghai

  • Visit Yuyuan Garden, a traditional Chinese landscaped garden.
  • View Shanghai’s most recognizable icons from The Bund.
  • From the top of Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower or Shanghai Tower, enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city.
  • Enjoy Shanghai’s nighttime lights by taking a cruise tour on the Huangpu River.
  • On Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, go shopping or try some local Shanghai cuisine.

Beijing Vs Shanghai: Length Of Staying

Beijing has many more tourist attractions and scenic locations than Shanghai. Therefore, it is advised that visitors stay in Beijing for longer than in Shanghai.

  • Beijing: 3–7 days is recommended to cover the most famous attractions in Beijing, including the National Stadium, the Hutongs, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Tian’anmen Square, and the Great Wall of China.
  • Shanghai: 3–4 days would be enough to cover the most famous attractions in Shanghai, including Yuyuan Garden, the Bund, the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jade Buddha Temple, and Zhujiajiao Water Town.

Night Life Of Beijing Vs Shanghai

Unexpectedly, Beijing won. Yes, Shanghai hosts numerous high-caliber music festivals and serves as a stopover for major stars all year long on their global tours. Naturally, bars of all kinds host international musicians. But you can experience all of this in your own country, where the vibes are even better.

Travelers to China might prefer to be aware of the local party scene and youth culture. These are really quite fascinating, and Beijing delivers them better. Beijing is China’s underground rock engine, with quite a lot of arty and alternative vibes among its local youngsters. Bars in Beijing

Shopping In Beijing Vs Shanghai

Shopping in Beijing: Beijing triumphs once more in terms of shopping. Depending on the specific goods that shopaholics are seeking, there might be disagreements. If luxury shopping is your thing, Shanghai’s Nanjing Road is one of the busiest shopping streets in the world. However, the majority of tourists will be asking themselves why they should travel to China in the first place. More can be found in Beijing.

Shopping in Shanghai: Of course, Wangfujing Street is lined with international retailers, but at night it is also teeming with exotic snacks. Beijing also has Qianmen Street and Dashilar Street, two traditional, historic commercial streets that have thrived for centuries. Beijing is home to a number of odd antique markets.

Food & Drink In Beijing Vs Shanghai

Shanghai beats Beijing by miles, though A few time-honored traditional restaurants that have been well-liked since the 18th century can be found in Beijing, along with a number of dishes that you simply must try. Among the dishes are the crispy delicious Peking Roast Duck and plenty of exotic snacks in These, however, might not be enough to appease the gourmets among you. Wangfujing Street

Shanghai has xiaolongbao or shengjianbao, hundun dumplings, pan-fried pork buns, braised pork, beggar’s chicken, steamed crab, and various street foods. Colonial history has given Shanghai an unfair advantage on the quality-international-cuisine front. Excellent food can be found there, whether it be Spanish, Russian, Italian, French, Mexican, or Indian.

What nail it down is the world-class cocktails and variety of drinks in Shanghai bars. Obviously, Beijing, the capital, has access to international brands, but Shanghai is superior in terms of quality and variety, provided you don’t mind paying Shanghai prices.

Beijing Vs Shanghai: Transportation

Transportation in Beijing and Shanghai is fantastic, you can’t go wrong with either.

In both cities, there is a wide variety of public transportation, and both are fairly walkable.

Subway systems: very efficient and inexpensive; By far, Beijing and Shanghai have the world’s longest subway networks. Additionally, they have the highest annual ridership.

Taxis and rideshares: also wonderful in both cities! reasonably priced and simple to use.

Bus systems: even more expansive than the subway systems.

If you want to take the bus, learn more about your neighborhood.

Trains: You can choose from a variety of bullet trains, sleeper trains, and other trains in both cities thanks to their numerous train stations, which are well connected to the rest of China.

Airports: There are two major airports in Beijing and Shanghai. Beijing Capital International Airport serves most international flights, though the new Daxing Airport will eventually replace it as Beijing’s primary airport.

Shanghai’s primary airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, handles the majority of the city’s passengers, with Hongqiao coming in second.

Shanghai also has a maglev that runs from Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road on Line 2 of the subway, but most people just use the subway. But it moves very quickly.

Weather And Air-quality Of Beijing Vs Shanghai

Washington DC, New York, and Madrid are all located at a similar latitude as Beijing. It has a continental monsoon climate with a temperate component. Shanghai shares the same latitude as New Orleans, Dallas, and Los Angeles. It has a warm, subtropical climate.

With four distinct seasons, both cities are accessible all year long. The best season to visit is autumn (Sep to Nov) for Beijing, and spring (Mar to May) or autumn for Shanghai, to avoid the summer heat and winter cold. Learn more about the weather in Shanghai and Beijing.

The differences between the cities are actually not that great if you visit China in the summer. However, if you’re planning a winter vacation, Shanghai beats Beijing because the air quality is a little bit better and there is a little bit less pollution. Beijing’s air quality is also getting better.

Travel Costs: Beijing Vs Shanghai

Shanghai’s cost of living is a little bit higher than Beijing’s. While daily travel expenses in Beijing are only about 70 USD, they are roughly 100 USD in Shanghai. These expenses cover your lodging, admission tickets, transportation, and three meals. Here are some specific tourist sight ticket examples:

Beijing Tourist Spot Ticket Prices:

  • Forbidden City Entrance Ticket: $8.21
  • Summer Palace Admission Ticket: $5.13
  • Temple of Heaven Admission Ticket: $7.06
  • Mutianyu: Great Wall Admission Ticket: $8.18

Shanghai Tourist Spot Ticket Prices:

  • Yuyuan Garden: $10
  • Jinmao Tower Observation Desk Admission Ticket: $18
  • Shanghai Zhujiajiao Watertown Admission Ticket: $11
  • Shanghai Tower Observation Deck Admission Ticket: $31

Related Reading: What Is A Good Salary In Shanghai?

Side Trips From Beijing Vs Shanghai

Yes, it is possible to travel to Xi’an from Beijing by high-speed train in a shorter amount of time than it takes to get there from Shanghai, but Shanghai triumphs over Beijing because it has access to more places, all of which offer interesting places to visit.

Many sections of the Great Wall are accessible from Beijing, but unless you are an avid fan, you have probably already seen them all.

Recommended Side Trips from Beijing:

  • 1-3 Days Great Wall hiking tours: visit the best sections of the Great Wall
  • 2 Days tour to Tianjin, a port city with a colonial history;
  • 4 Days to Datong and Pingyao from Beijing, an ancient city and town that will amaze you with their Buddha architecture;
  • 6 Days Beijing andXian Tour, home of the Terracotta Amry, a city full of history

Recommended Side Trips from Shanghai:

  • 3 Days Yellow Mountain Tour: walk or bike among ancient villages, stay one night on the mountain
  • 1 Day to a Zhujiajiao Water town: the most popular getaway of all time from Shanghai;
  • 2 Days to Hangzhou: “a city without cash”, where you can experience the cutting edge of e-giant Alibaba, in addition to the city’s beautiful scenery;
  • 1-2 Days to Suzhou: a charming city with classic southern Chinese gardens and traditional waterside architecture;
  • 4 Days escape to Huangshan: a city named after one of the top destinations in Hongcun and Xidi are two villages in China’s Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) that have ancient-style homes to explore.

Who Is Better For Traveling Beijing?

  • First-time travelers to China: Beijing is the capital of China and is full of historical sites, so we advise you to visit it on your first trip to China.
  • Those interested in Chinese history and culture: Beijing has a more than 3,000-year history and has served as the nation’s capital six times.
  • Those who dream of walking the Great Wall: You must travel to Beijing if you want to see the Great Wall of China.

Who Is Better For Traveling Shanghai?

  • Those interested in modern China: One of the most advanced cities in China is Shanghai, which is rapidly expanding.
  • For those who enjoy beautiful cityscapes and night views: China’s tallest skyscrapers, which offer the best nighttime views, are in Shanghai.
  • Those with children who want to visit Disneyland: The only city on the Chinese mainland with a Disneyland Park is Shanghai.
  • Those interested in China water towns: Near Shanghai, there are a number of well-known water towns, such as Zhujiajiao, Wuzhen, and Xitang.


So there you have it—your comprehensive Beijing vs. Shanghai guide!

Here’s another unhelpful answer: it depends on you.

It is understandable why someone would love one city and despise another because each has its own unique qualities.

We all prefer different things, so ask our staff members for their opinions. Do you have a favorite? Tell us in the remarks section below!

Living in Shanghai will expose you to your fair share of Chinese history, but Beijing’s history is simply more extensive because of its earlier past.

Shanghai is still China’s financial hub, despite the fact that Beijing will undoubtedly give you a sense of how far China has come and how modernized it has become.

Beijing is fast, but Shanghai is faster, and Shanghai is historical, but Beijing is more historical.

When residing in Shanghai, it is occasionally possible to forget you are in China, but this will never be the case in Beijing.

Beijing occasionally comes close to feeling suburban, whereas Shanghai is clearly a metropolis for the most part. It’s up to you.

Also Read: Shanghai Vs New York


Is it more expensive in Shanghai or Beijing?

Shanghai is slightly more expensive than Beijing, but as Tier 1 cities, both cities have relatively high living costs when compared to the rest of China. Both Beijing and Shanghai are quite affordable when compared to the West.

How poor is Shanghai’s air quality?

Not that bad.

Shanghai only experienced unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups on 63 days in 2019 when the Air Quality Index (AQI) was above 100.

The AQI was typically in the good to moderate range.

Is Shanghai close to Beijing?

The distance between Beijing and Shanghai is approximately 1,214.1 km (754.4 mi).

By high-speed rail, it takes about 4 hours, 18 minutes, and by air, it takes about 2 hours, and 15 minutes.

Related Posts