After the summer break, which helped us accumulate countless and varied contents to share with you, we come back with a new entry. On this occasion, we focus on travelling choices within China: where should I go, Beijing or Shanghai?
Many of you may certainly think that both cities can be visited within the same trip, and this is actually a realistic option. However, the question is: is it worth it? From our point of view, there are several reasons why, on our trip to China, you should choose to visit one city or the other, not both, but both cities in one single trip is also possible.
To begin with, the distance between Beijing and Shanghai is around 1,500 km, and this is a factor to bear in mind, especially when it comes to group trips travelling for 10-12 days. There are bullet trains that allow us to cover this distance in five hours. You can also take a flight of about two hours, always considering that you must be at the airport quite in advance in anticipation of the long queues in such big airports. However, it would be a better idea to visit one of the cities and other places nearby.
Besides the distance, you should take into account the season you will be visiting China. Avoid visiting Beijing or Shanghai in winter, as you would not enjoy outdoor sightseeing and locations. The fall in Beijing is the best season because of the nice weather and the lower amount of tourists. Summer is also a possibility if you are prepared to resist high temperatures and expensive prices. As it is peak season, the number of tourists increases considerably during the summer.
As for Shanghai, we strongly recommend avoiding visiting it in summer, as the weather becomes extremely hot and humid and there are also typhoons and rain showers. Spring is undoubtedly the best season to visit Shanghai, since the climate is mild and pleasant and it makes it possible for us to visit exteriors and other cities near the city.
Another factor to consider when choosing your destination is the type of tourism you are looking for. Both Beijing and Shanghai are two huge Chinese municipalities with high buildings, old neighbourhoods and commercial and leisure areas. However, taking a closer look, there are a few differences between one city and the other.
Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China, thus the great amount of government institutions and historic buildings that are not so common in Shanghai. In addition to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and various large parks, you can discover other places not so well known on this entry from our blog Ticket to Translation. In order to visit all the famous spots of Beijing you will certainly need more than one day. Also, it is relatively easy to access the Great Wall from Beijing.
In addition, Shanghai offers the view of the skyscrapers of the World Financial Centre (The Bund), the Yuyuan gardens, various Buddhist temples, People’s Square, etc. We could say that Shanghai offers a wider diversity of architectural styles, having been a former European colony and containing neighbourhoods like the French concession.
For those in quest of peaceful strolls through the city enjoying the sound of silence, you will prefer to visit Shanghai, because, despite its 25 million inhabitants, there are always quiet corners and areas with very little passers-by. On the contrary, Beijing is a strident and messy city par excellence.
Regarding communication issues, you will find a lot of information translated into English both in Beijing and Shanghai, such as menus, signs, warnings, establishment regulations, etc. In the subway, stops are also announced in English. Many residents of Beijing and Shanghai can speak some English, although it is always advisable to have some Chinese phrases and words at hand just in case.
For those who want to practise Mandarin Chinese (the official language of the PRC), you will find plenty of chances in both cities –the dialect spoken in Beijing is pretty similar to the official language, while the dialect of Shanghai has very little to do with Mandarin Chinese. All the same, this is not a problem when communicating in Chinese, since everyone speaks the official language.
We hope this information helps you decide where to go! Feel free to ask any question on the comments section, we will be very happy to answer. For those who have already visited any of these cities (or both), you are welcome to share your impressions!