Shanghai vs. Beijing: which city is better?

shanghai vs Beijing Are you planning to move to China? Are you Confused about Beijing or Shanghai? Which one is better to provide you work and good living? Well, we can offer a vast difference between both the cities both for living and tourist perspective. This guide will help you to choose the better option.  

The debate over which city is better- shanghai or Beijing has been conducted for a long time. Both the cities have got the skyline in that they are a hotspot for fun and have loads of bars. Yet, they have some significant differences that we have penned down in this blog post. We have rounded up the factors that you can use to settle the discussion. 

Shanghai vs. Beijing pollution

 For a long time, Beijing has been famous for its air pollution, but now toxicity in the air does not exist. It has been recorded that the dust and smog levels in the capital have dropped down to the average. The city can now see a large number of blue sky days round the year. However, Shanghai, an economic hub in China, is now reaching the heights of pollution. 

Despite the improvement, the pollution still compels the Beijingers to stay within their houses and watch the thick smog from their winters’ windows. But life in shanghai was quite normal. Now, Shanghai has more polluted days, and the city runs a smog of more than 200 AQI.

If you have some preexisting respiratory problems, keep an eye on both the cities’ pollution levels.   

Beijing vs. shanghai ex-pat

The ex-pats, who have moved to their new places, living in different cities, show every city’s unique vibes. 

Speaks Chinese: Beijing ex-pats can speak better mandarin Chinese than shanghai ex-pats. The reason is that most of the ex-pats who come and settle in Beijing already learn the language, and without having a grip on the local tongue, people find it hard to settle here. However, Shanghainese have better English and can easily accommodate people with no knowledge of Chinese.

Superiority and inferiority complex: Shanghai ex-pats show a noticeable superiority complex because they know that they live in an industrial city, which offers them huge opportunities and comfortable life. Beijing ex-pats, however, feel that they live in an overly polluted city that holds the least opportunities.

Integration: Beijing ex-pats tend to remain in their bubble, i.e., show the integration to their local life. In contrary to this, shanghai ex-pats love to explore new nations and cultures and make a friend to everyone.      

Shanghai vs. Beijing job opportunities

 Shanghai is a business city, so it offers plenty of jobs in the banks, insurance companies, and financial service institutes. If you are interested in having a job in the consultancy and finance industries, shanghai will provide you more opportunities. 

Beijing employs individuals who are interested in the cultural sector, international media, and local arts. The city also tends to provide the job to the healthcare professionals. 

Shanghai vs. Beijing travel

In comparison to Beijing, shanghai shares a huge connection with the entire of Asia. Shanghai is located in the southern part of China, and more flights reach the city because it offers a shorter flight time. Flights from Beijing to all over Asia are a bit expensive due to the long distances. And the rates increase more during the public holidays or other cultural events. 

As the capital, Beijing has a huge connection to china, so it is the best starting point to have a trip to other cities of china like Xi’an, Luoyang, and Harbin.     

Cost of living in Shanghai vs. Beijing

One of the best things about both the cities is that cost of living is similar. The minimum and average wages are the same in numbers in both shanghai and Beijing. However, due to the industrial dominance in shanghai, some of the shanghai ex-pats claim to receive high pays. 

The salaries start at 12000 RMB per month for a newcomer, and for the senior employees, the monthly salary offer is usually about 50000 RMB, if working in an international company.

The rents of the flats are also similarly priced. The two-bedroom apartment price usually ranges from 2500 to 3500 RMB (the prices vary depending upon the location). However, previously Shanghai was the most expensive city, but the rapid financial growth has made it easy to maintain the living. 

Note: the housing market in Beijing is inserting pressure on ex-pats.     

Shanghai vs. Beijing weather

Beijing’s weather 

The weather in Shanghai and Beijing changes from day-to-day. However, the summers reach early in Beijing than in shanghai. The subtropical high-pressure belt moves to Beijing in mid-May or June and renders the weather hot and dry. As soon as summers enter Shanghai, the heatwave will reduce in Beijing, and heavy rains will hit this place. This usually happens at the end of July. The weather cools down in late August.  

Shanghai’s weather 

However, during the same months, the plum rain season comes, which builds up the humidity in shanghai, and it rains continuously for almost 30 days. During this season, the mold grows everywhere, so it is also known as the molding season. But as the season ends, the sub-tropical high-pressure belt moves and the long dry summers enter in shanghai, and it will stay there until mid-September. 

Generally, the summers in shanghai are very hot and have a very small temperature difference between day and night. While Beijing’s weather is hot though but the temperature difference is large. You can experience the chilly nights in Beijing. 

Shanghai vs. Beijing culture Reedit


Beijing, the capital of China, is a national center. Different cultural events and places like gardens, temples, imperial palace, mausoleum, etc. have secured a prominent history position for a long time. 

The courtyard and Beijing hutong are also representative of Beijing culture. The courtyard is the residential building, while hutong in Beijing is the alley in a residential area.  

The locals of this northern city love to eat jiaozi and noodles. Further, eaters have a northern eating style, and when tourists visit Beijing, they never miss Zha Jiang Mian. A lot of the local snacks and foods are also the point of attraction for food lovers.   


Shanghai is the modern city of china, and it is popularly known as a business center. The biggest parts of Shanghai culture are water town and private garden.  

  • A private garden was created in the Jiangnan style. 
  • Water town is famous due to its attractive landscape. 

Shanghai is a shopping paradise for shopaholics as it embraces fashion and style worldwide. The big shopping malls and giant buildings present in Lujiazui signifies the prosperity of this diverse city. You can easily purchase fashionable items, both at cheap or high rates in shanghai since import and export occur here. 

Shanghai is in the south of China, and the locals are fond of delicious desserts and sweet tasted food. The famous snacks of this place are Xiao Long Bao and Sheng Jian. 

Shanghai vs. Beijing air quality

The Air Quality Index (AQI) has peaked at 254 in 2019 in Beijing, and it is unsafe and harmful for people to breathe at such a high level of air pollution. According to a study, the high level of PM2.5 results in the premature deaths of 852,000 individuals in china. 

Air quality action plan

Implementing the national plan has led to a decline in a record-breaking amount of pollution level in Beijing. The government restricts pollution-causing industries and strictly orders the members to thoroughly inspect the industrial units. It also introduced the ban on coal-burning within houses, which contributed immensely to the control of pollution. 

The government has devised new action plans that they expect to implement in Beijing and improve its air quality. The new plans also promise to include the rest of the country.    

Shanghai vs. Beijing economy

China, home to 1.4 billion people, is a hotbed of investors. The country has become a necessity for all firms belonging to different industries. Beijing, the capital of China, has a history of 800 years; contrary to this, Shanghai is younger with less history but shares a significant economic landscape. 

The business in Beijing is driven by government bodies and is internally focused. However, shanghai showcase modernity and meet the international trends for business. For foreign investment, shanghai is an important place where they can easily maximize their profit. 

Lastly, Due to both Shanghai and Beijing’s booming economy, the property prices have risen a lot.   

Shanghai food vs. Beijing food

 Chinese cuisine is famous worldwide. Whenever People from all over the world visit China, the most beautiful part of the visit is eating Chinese food. Due to the taste and uniqueness, the Chinese food market is rapidly increasing. According to a report, the foodservice market in China is forecasted to touch the whopping 1144.23 billion dollars by 2025. The upscale restaurants and fine dining places are worth visiting in both cities.

Shanghai cuisine 

The western world had a strong foothold in Shanghai for a long time, and this colonization had led to the diversity of food. Mexican, French, Spanish, Russian, etc. had been part of Shanghai’s cuisine. So we must say that this beautiful city boasts one of the distinctive cuisines in china. 

The Shanghainese are a sweet tooth, and sugar is the major component of their signature dishes. The area’s cuisine sows variety due to the neighborhood’s contribution like warmed rice wine from Hoaxing, vinegar from Zhejiang, and eat lake carp from Hangzhou. 

There is a list of legendary food items of shanghai that you must try:  

  • Soup Dumping’s 
  • Steamed crab
  • Smoked fish slices
  • Beggar’s chicken 
  • Yellow croaker Noodle Soup
  • Chicken and duck blood soup  

Beijing’s cuisine 

Are you looking for the best dishes and snacks in Beijing? Well, Beijing is a political hub, so many people visit here from all over the world. It shares a cuisine that is a treasure trove of tastes. However, besides the major culinary export, Peking dick in Beijing, most of the dishes are from its neighborhood. Here we have shared a list of fully ingrained dishes in Beijing culture, and people love them! 

  • Beijing roast duck (an epitome of Beijing’s cuisine) 
  • Jiaozi – Chinese Dumplings 
  • Jin Jiang Rousi 
  • Zhejiang Mian (noodles with soya bean paste) 
  • Mongolian Hotpot 
  • Dry wok potato wedge
  • Rolling donkey 

All the food and tasty dishes will customize your tour to Beijing, and I assure you that you won’t demand anything except these mouthwatering food items in Beijing. If you are a food lover, do visit this paradise of food. 

Besides the availability of a huge variety of food in both the cities, Chinese and foreigners love Beijing’s cuisine as delicious food is available cheaply, so Beijing gives the win in people’s eyes.     

Beijing vs. Shanghai nightlife. 

Have you the craze of enjoying nightlife? Feel a little stronger and head out to different night clubs to your new home, either Shanghai or Beijing. 

The nightclubs and bars bring people closer to each other from all over the world. And without any doubt, the prosperity and progress of any country depend upon the growth of colorful nightlife. As both the cities are the top stops for tourists to attract the foreign population and indulge them in the different evening activities, the foreigner’s friendly bars and night clubs are expanding. So it would not be wrong to say that at this time, nightlife culture is dominant in China. 

Nightlife in Beijing 

The wide range of activities makes an evening out best for people in Beijing. 

They must watch the King Fu Show. 

This is the most enduring sports that belong to different Chinese martial arts. The red theater is a well-known place to enjoy the spectacular show of Kung Fu. 

Drink wine at the Shore of Houhai Lake 

Whenever you are in china and want to feel the country’s air, have some beers at the Shore of Hoihai Lake. 

Enjoy the night tour on the great wall of Simatai. 

The Simatai section of the Great Wall provides you an opportunity to visualize the night views and have a night walk on the lit wall. 

Visit the hipster bars. 

If you are a night owl and loves to be out at night, you must visit Beijing’s hipster bars. Everyone’s favorite drinks are slow Boat, Great Leap, Beijing brewery crawl, and Tiki Bar. 

Shanghai nightlife 

The ancient nightlife of the 1930’s era of shanghai has now progressed and modernized. Shanghai is a more sophisticated and upgraded city. It offers a little more style and trendy night clubs than any other place in China.

The drinking scene is always on Shanghai. The cocktail bars, comfortable beer garden, and dingy sports bars speak the international flavor and happening nightlife of Shanghai. For instance, Monkey champagne is a tiny bar or restaurant that is best for fun nights and hip hop dance music.

Have a drink with your friends and hash the things out. 

Beijing girls vs. shanghai girls

Girls are girls; they have similar desires and needs like good food, humorous talk, caring, and gifts. The girls from all over the world have similar dislikes, which are ugly and poor. Yet Beijing girls and shanghai girls have a bit of difference. 

Shanghai girls are not in the good books of other Chinese as they believe that shanghais girls are gold diggers and superficial. Shanghai ladies are well known for their notorious and aggressive nature, which they show in every matter of their life, either it’s choosing a career or grabbing a man. So despite all this, the girls are pretty and sophisticated. They take care of their beauty and attract gentlemen. If you plan to date the one, you need to wear a good outfit and have material possessions. 

The Beijing girls are much prettier than shanghai girls but more reserved and loyal.   

Distance between Beijing and shanghai

 Beijing lies in the north of china, while shanghai is located in the south. 

The air distance is 11oo km, with a travel time of 2.5 hours.

The train travel distance is 1318km, and the travel time is 4.5 to 6 hours.

The distance by car is 1200km, .and the travel time is 14 hours. 

Travel from Beijing to shanghai

By air 

The flight from the Beijing airports (Beijing capital international airport and Beijing Daxing international airport) to the shanghai airports (shanghai Hongqiao international airport and shanghai Pudong International airport) is comfortable and fast. Over 60 nonstop flights depart from Beijing to shanghai between 7 in the morning to 10 at night. 

China’s eastern airlines, southern airlines, air china, and shanghai airlines are the most reliable Chinese airlines.  

By train 

In China, High-speed trains are getting more popular among locals and tourists. They are fast, clean, and punctual. On all the high-speed bullet trains from Beijing to Shanghai, business class seats, first-class seats, and second class seats are present. 

Every day, 20 trains leave Beijing and head to shanghai.

Best time to visit Beijing and shanghai

Trip to Beijing 

The best time to have a tour to Beijing is spring season, i.e., March to May and September mid to end of October. This time of the year is the best time to enjoy the colorful sceneries of the city. The summers are super-hot while the winters bring trembling cold temp with snow.      

Besides the weather, you must keep an eye on the national public holidays. A huge number of tourists flood to Beijing and enjoy the eye catchy sacred sites during holidays, and the locals or retailers increases the prices of things to the roofs. 

Visit shanghai

The best time to plan a trip to Shanghai is the autumn season. The season lacks the huge crowds’ in shanghai, allows the tourists to feel the comfortable temperature. Traveling to shanghai in winter makes it less enjoyable to explore the city. You should avoid the trip on public holidays.

Shanghai is the economic hub, so the prices are lower during weekends.    

Bottom line

Shanghai vs. Beijing, which is better? Everyone feels differently, but as I have visited both shanghai and Beijing. Both are good, but I was never bored in Beijing. Beijing gave me the authentic feel of china, which I missed in Shanghai. Shanghai is a busy city thrived with race and struggle.   

Whenever you get an opportunity to visit China, stay for at least a week, and explore both the cities. You will highlight the big difference between the two.  

What are your experiences with the visit to Shanghai and Beijing? Which city would you love to visit again? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section! 

Author: Enjoy Shanghai

Enjoy Shanghai is one of the best and largest news portals in China and has been proving with meaningful and helpful news for over a decade. We are delicate to share the useful information for you about everything in shanghai.