Shanghai on the Cheap

Hotels, Travel Tips — By Lauren Johnson on April 2, 2010 at 9:00 am

Last week we did a post on ‘Shanghai for Elites,‘ this week we’re helping out our fellow blue collar travelers with some tips on how to experience Shanghai to the fullest extent on an scarcely visible budget.

For the best places to eat on a budget, you’d be surprised and pleased to discover Shanghai has more to offer you than it does the super wealthy. If you are willing to try new things, and eat in restaurants that look like they should have been condemned, then you’ll be able to literally walk into any hole-in-the-wall (literally) and grab some delightful and unique grub. One of my favorite places to grab a quick bite is with the street food vendor named Mei Li at the corner of my block who pushes her cart of rice and grilled vegetables around all afternoon. But, for a bit more safety (and for anyone fresh off the plane a bit of security since your stomach wont yet be accustomed to new bacteria) you might want to try a few of these recommendations: DiShuiDong is one of the best meals you can get on a budget, and it is by no means low scale. You’ll find traditional Hunan cuisine, extremely spicy on some dishes, in heaping portions and supplied with ample amounts of beer and rice. Another cheaper option is DongBeiRen, which is inspired by Northern Chinese cuisine. You’ll get huge helpings here, great decor, fun service and a fraction of the price of western cuisine in Shanghai.

For the best cheap drinks in town, there is really only one option that comes to mind and that is Windows. This somewhat hidden pub offers beers for a little over a dollar! You can get snacks and even meals here for under $5USD, and the ambiance is great. For another cheap option, you could always buy your beer in the grocery store and walk around town with it– yup that’s right, there is no law against that here in China. However, please observe normal decency standards and don’t end up trying to swim the Hunagpu in your boxers or anything else ridiculous.

For an affordable place to rest your weary head at night, check out Captain Hostel. I’ve stayed here many a night, and while it lacks the fun, friendly atmosphere of many hostels it does provide a cleaner, more hotel-like place to spend a night. In addition, it has a great view of the Bund, and you are within walking distance of many of Shanghai’s best attractions, like Nanjing Road, the Bund’s many bars, and Yu Gardens.

For fun, cheap things to do while in Shanghai all you need to do is follow the locals around on the weekend. A free, self-guided walking tour of Yu Gardens is an amazing way to absorb some culture, while a tour of the city via the metro is extremely affordable. There are several great parks in the city, a recent blog outlines the differences between them.

Tags: bund, captain hostel, dishuidong, donbeiren, nanjing Road, windows, Yu gardens