Cheapest Way to Travel between Beijing and Shanghai

Hard Seat on Old Trains: Not Recommended

The cheapest way to travel from Beijing to Shanghai or from Shanghai to Beijing is a hard seat on the traditional-style old trains. It costs only CNY156.5/ 177.5. The next cheapest are second class seats on D type high speed trains, costing CNY247-248. However, it is quite exhausting to sit through a journey as long as 15-22.5 hours and the seat class cabin can be crowded and noisy. We recommend a sleeper so passengers can lie down to enjoy a more comfortable ride.

Beijing to Shanghai Old Train: 1461: 11:55/07:00+, Z281: 18:58/ 09:53+, T109: 20:05/ 11:00+

Shanghai to Beijing Old Train: 1462: 12:15/10:50+, T110: 17:57/ 10:08+, Z282: 19:30/ 10:22+

Note: “+” indicates the second day.


The overnight trains usually depart in the afternoon or in the evening and arrive the next morning. The duration of this trip is around 12 hours. In addition to the cheap ticket price, it saves you the cost of a hotel for one night.

Beijing to Shanghai Overnight Train: D701: 19:22/ 07:25+, D709: 19:46/ 07:44+

Shanghai to Beijing Overnight Train: D706: 21:18/ 09:24+, D710: 21:23/ 09:22+

Ticket Price:
Z/T/1461&1462 Trains: CNY 283.5-304.5 for a hard sleeper
D Trains: CNY370-372 for a second class sleeper

Tips on Taking Overnight Sleeper Trains

1. The lower berth space is the largest and passengers do not need to climb up and down. However, it provides no privacy. The upper berth space is the narrowest but has the most privacy.
2. We suggest that passengers to buy tickets for sleepers in advance because they are in great demand most of the time.
3. Passengers should bring their own toiletries, as they are not available onboard.
4. Bring a pair of earplugs in case somebody in your cabin snores.

 See more Overnight Trains in China 

Cheap Flight between Beijing and Shanghai

Flight fares fluctuate from time to time. Learning some rules in advance may help you get cheaper flight tickets.

How to Buy Cheap Flight Ticket between Beijing and Shanghai

1. The fare is generally lower for flights that departs before 10 am or after 8 pm.
2. A round-trip ticket is cheaper than two one-way tickets.
3. Pay attention to the fare one to two months in advance. Many airlines issue highly discounted tickets every now and then based on their passenger flow.
4. Off-season discounts are bigger than peak season discounts. For example, passengers can usually get 30% - 60% off discount tickets from November to next March and 20% - 40% off discount tickets from April to October.
5. Ticket fares a few days before or after holidays are usually cheaper.


Bus: Cheap but Uncomfortable

The ticket price for buses running between Beijing and Shanghai is CNY342/ 354, as cheap as the overnight sleeper trains. But their travel time is around 14 hours. It is definitely not comfortable thing to stay on a bus for such a long time.

Further Reading:
How to Travel from Beijing to Shanghai
How to Travel from Shanghai to Beijing
Beijing - Shanghai High Speed Train
Shanghai - Beijing Train
Beijing - Shanghai Flights
Beijing - Shanghai Train vs. Plane
How to Get from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to the Bund
How to Get from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to People’s Square & Nanjing Road
How to Get from Beijing South Railway Station to Wangfujing
How to Get from Beijing South Railway Station to Capital Airport
How to Get from Beijing South Railway Station to Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square
How to Get from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Pudong Airport

- Last modified on Dec. 15, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on Cheapest Way to Travel between Beijing and Shanghai
Asked by Tati from CHINA | Jul. 08, 2020 07:10Reply
Can you take a cat on a long distance bus
I need to get from Beijing to Shanghai with my cat. Suggestions
Answers (1)
Answered by Emma | Jul. 08, 2020 18:18

Pets are not allowed on the buses or trains.
Asked by Nash from MEXICO | Apr. 28, 2020 17:35Reply
Hi, I heard there is free meal offer on overnight high speed train?
Is it true? If not, can we take food by ourselves?
Answers (1)
Answered by TravelChinaGuide | Apr. 29, 2020 18:58

Thank you for your inquiry.

Free meal is only offered to sleeper ticket holders for overnight high speed sleeper train from Beijing or Shanghai to Guangzhou or Shenzhen direction. There is no free meal for this trip between Beijing and Shanghai, but you can take some food of your own. Consider the security check issue, it is recommended to buy bottled water inside station or you can take a cup only. Hot water is offered on train. Hope this information can help you.
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