“Shanghai or Beijing?” is a particularly popular search query among those looking to travel to China. Despite being two major cities in the same country, Shanghai and Beijing couldn’t be more different. This fact makes deciding between the two for your upcoming China trip even more challenging.
Our Trans-Siberian journeys make it easy to split your time between two or more destinations. However, for those looking to take in one major city during their stay, understanding the differences that separate Shanghai and Beijing is important. In this blog post, we give you the lowdown on these two great cities so you can decide which is right for you.
For an inspiring cityscape
Shanghai offers a captivating cityscape that many consider to be unrivalled, even when compared with the capital Beijing. Once farmland, Shanghai’s eastern bank has seen the biggest transformation. In just two decades this particular area has changed from a rural idyll to a new district, home to some of the tallest skyscrapers on the planet. Now known as the Pudong New Area, even the most well-travelled city slicker will be in awe of the district’s most commanding structures, including the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
Those looking for a metropolitan city break with a truly international vibe should choose Shanghai.
Beijing, for a view of China’s history
Whilst Shanghai trumps Beijing in terms of population – Shanghai is home to 24 million people compared to Beijing’s 21.7 million strong population – what it lacks in people, it makes up for in history. Lauren Without Fear explains why Beijing is the perfect destination for history buffs:
“You cannot escape the influence that the government and history of China has had on the city of Beijing. The head government offices are here. The top university for future government employees is here. Tiananmen Square still features tanks and marching soldiers. Chinese history is alive and well in Beijing and manifests itself in the dozens of historical attractions throughout the city.”
While Shanghai offers super modern experiences like The Bund and shopping until you drop on Nanjing Road (a.k.a. the world’s busiest shopping street), Beijing gives visitors the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Jingshan Park, Summer Palace and Lama Temple. The Great Wall of China is also a trip worth taking if you plan to stay in Beijing.
Beijing does have its modern quirks though, particularly during the winter months. Its resorts have put the city on the map with avid skiers and snowboarders in recent years. Discover more about the best ski resorts in Beijing.
For a unique taste of China
Both Beijing and Shanghai offer an entirely different scene for visitors to experience China in all its glory. One thing that is prevalent in both cities is its food and drink, and each provides a fabulous array of authentic dishes for you to try, courtesy of eateries and street food vendors. For visitors to Beijing, the Peking duck is a must try. Over in Shanghai, the city’s soup dumplings are a favourite with locals and visitors alike.