Book yourself into the Radisson Blu Hotel Shanghai New World for a luxury hotel getaway in a central location; head to The Westin Bund Center Shanghai for spectacular views over The Bund at night; go easy on the purse strings with a fun-filled stay at Shanghai Dock Bund Hostel; or treat yourself with a relaxing spa retreat at the Le Royal Meridien Shanghai. Read on to discover how to find the best value hotels in Shanghai.
The best times to visit Shanghai -- in terms of great weather and the least amount of tourists -- are late March and late October. During this time of year you'll be able to pick up a bargain when it comes to both accommodation and flights due to the reduction in crowds. Additionally, the weather is enjoyable at this time of year, without the heat and humidity of the summer or the icy cold (and occasional snow!) of the winter.
Shanghai is a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists during large festivals, of which there are plenty. Make sure to avoid Chinese New Year in Shanghai, when hotel prices double and the streets become so crowded that it's hard to move. Also steer clear of May and October, when many of the locals make use of their annual time off by opting to visit Shanghai on vacation.
In terms of weather, you'll find the best temperatures between March and May and from September to November; although May and October are incredibly busy with tourists. During the summer months (June to September), expect both scorching heat and humidity, along with plenty of crowds – it’s peak tourist season after all. Be sure to drink plenty of water and seek shade at regular intervals. If you're planning on visiting during the winter (November to February), wrap up warm and check that your accommodation has heating. Some hotels use their air conditioning unit to heat the rooms.
When visiting during summer and winter, it's best to book your hotel as soon as you can. Despite having tens of thousands of options in the city, the most desirable rooms do get booked very quickly. Aim to have your accommodation sorted at least six months before arriving.
In general, the farther away from the Bund you stay, the cheaper your accommodation will be. A possible neighborhood option for your stay could be the Jing’an District, perfect for exploring Shanghai local life in more depth. There, you'll find restaurants and bars, local market stalls, and dozens of entertainment options. For an evening spent like the residents of the district, check out one of the lively karaoke bars in town.
If you'd like to stay away from the chaos of downtown, opt for an affordable residential neighborhood that's peaceful and relaxing: the Gubei District. There’s a lot to keep you busy when it comes to mealtimes with some delicious eateries nearby, and the beautiful parks offer respite from the polluted Bund area – a great option if you struggle with poor air quality.
Hongkou is another great choice for staying outside of the center and remaining on budget. While there isn't too much to keep you entertained, there's a metro station to get you wherever you want to go within 10 minutes. Like Jing’an, this is where you'll see how the everyday Shanghainese live. There are large shopping malls, office blocks, and thousands of tiny apartments.
Take a look at the Pudong District, close to Pudong International Airport, for a budget stay in the financial district. It's not all gleaming glass buildings here, though. You can go to Century Park for an early morning stroll in among the locals practicing tai chi. There are some popular museums, such as the Museum of Science and Technology, and some of the tallest buildings in China, worth visiting at sunset to see Shanghai transition from day to night.
If you're traveling on a budget, you'll be pleased with all that Shanghai has to offer. Make sure you visit the affordable Yuyuan Gardens to gain an insight into ancient Chinese architecture and gardens. After stepping back in time, leap into the future with some time spent wandering around Pudong's Lujiazui District. Most famous here is the Oriental Pearl Tower, one of the tallest buildings in China, and the Shanghai World Financial Center, with the world's highest observation deck.
If you're not a fan of architecture, there are plenty of fun festivals and events taking place throughout the year. Tomb Sweeping Day in early April is exactly how it sounds, with millions of locals descending upon their relatives' graves to clean them and leave behind small gifts. The Mid-Autumn festival, held in September or October, gives Shanghai a fun and relaxed atmosphere as locals eat moon cakes and light fireworks.
There are two main airports serving Shanghai: Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao International Airport. If you'll be arriving from an international flight, aside from Korea or Japan, you'll be flying into the former. Domestic flights land at Hongqiao International Airport.
It's simple to get from Pudong International Airport to the downtown area. You'll find taxis and shuttle buses at the airport to take you to your destination, and if you're staying in a large hotel it's likely they'll offer a shuttle to make it as easy as possible. If you do decide to get a taxi, make sure you insist on the driver using their meter -- it'll be far cheaper than agreeing on a fare in advance.
The cheapest method of getting from Pudong International Airport to downtown is via the Airport Express Bus, which costs just 20 RMB ($2.50). For a more interesting way of traveling, take the high-speed Maglev train from Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road, where you'll reach speeds of over 400 kilometres per hour, and the journey takes just eight minutes.
There are many high-quality airport hotels in Shanghai, with most of them offering a free airport shuttle service for their guests. The area around the airport has lots to keep you entertained if you're only in the city for a short layover. You can head to the Royal International Hotel for a cultural stay that allows you to visit The Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine. For something a little more cheap and cheerful, opt for an overnight stay at the Shanghai Airlines Travel Airport.
There are thousands of Airbnb apartments available in Shanghai, suiting all budgets and tastes. Within the downtown area, there are well over 1000 apartments available, with 800 of these being entire homes for less than $200 a night. Fancy something a little more economical? There are over 500 options for less than $50 a night.
Opt to stay in an entire apartment on Airbnb and you'll receive greater privacy, a kitchen, faster Wi-Fi (due to having a private connection), a homely atmosphere, and many features you wouldn't normally find in a hotel. In general, Airbnb offers higher value for money than hotels, with the added benefit of being able to experience Shanghai life as the Shanghainese do.
Hostels are incredibly cheap in Shanghai -- cheaper than budget hotels -- while providing a central location close to the Bund and East Nanjing Road. Hostels are wonderful if you're looking to save money on your stay. Private rooms are very similar to hotel rooms but available at a lower price. There are two main options worth looking at in Shanghai: Shanghai Dock Bund Hostel and Blue Mountain Bund Youth Hostel.
Shanghai Dock Bund Hostel has clean rooms and friendly staff, all within a five minute walk of the Bund. Catch up on your emails over the free Wi-Fi, cool off under the air conditioning, and make new friends from around the world in a dorm room for less than $10 a night.
Blue Mountain Bund Youth Hostel is a fantastic choice if you're looking for an action-packed visit in fun surroundings. The hostel offers complimentary movies, a pool table, table football, and plenty of board games. Situated just 15 minutes from the Bund, you'll be perfectly placed to explore the city.
For further details on Shanghai and the myriad things to do while you're there, be sure to take a look at Meet in Shanghai (http://www.meet-in-shanghai.net/) before you arrive, the official Shanghai tourism board website for the city. On the site, you'll be able to see if your travel dates coincide with any cultural activities and events, gain ideas of activities to fill your stay, and read up on the fascinating history of the city.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.