Visiting the Pearl of the Orient can be a bit costly, but there are ways, sneaky ways, to keep your trip costs low without sacrificing what you’ll see and experience. Here is a simple guide to keeping your hard earned cash securely in your wallet.
Accommodation. For the truly broke, couch surfing is a great way to save money and experience the city with someone who lives there. You have to have an account and build up credentials ahead of time, but in the spirit of traveling, it is always give and take with couch surfing. For cheap hostels in the city, you’ll be hard pressed not to find one along the Bund. UCool hostel is between the Bund and Yu Gardens, or the Captain Hostel is right near the Bund and both are exceedingly cheaper than Shanghai’s hotels.
Food. To really enjoy the city you should avoid the expat restaurants and bars anyway, so don’t feel like you are missing out when you stick to the small, no-name ma and pop shops in back alleys around Shanghai. The food is good, safe and the true flavor of Shanghai. The area around Yu Gardens (but not in the gardens area) is a great place for cheap, local food.
Sites. Many of Shanghai’s sites are free, like People’s Park (most of the parks, actually) and the museums and art centers are subsidized so they are affordable. If you have a student card, bring it along as you may get a discount through that. You can also go up in Jin Mao Tower for free to the Grand Hyatt and look out the windows there, only a few floors below the actual paid viewing platform. Or, walking around Yu Gardens is free and fun, as well as the Bird and Flower market and the Antique market. There is no rule that you must buy to stroll through the amazing markets.
Shanghai can be fun and easy for essentially a fraction of what your normal tourist counterparts are paying, and you may end up seeing and experiencing more as a result of your frugality.