Shopping In Shanghai – 40 Cent Beer And $10 Ice Cream

Our first full day in Shanghai was spent shopping for some basic requirements of life, like beer and ice cream. Generally, most stuff are much cheaper in China than they are back home. Add in the $1US to 7RMB exchange rate and you can live like a king here. That is assuming you can continue to make US dollars while living in Shanghai, which is what you can do if you make money online. πŸ™‚

It’s really interesting to note the price difference of products and services between Vancouver and Shanghai. Many times, I had to do a double take because I thought the price was a misprint. How can they possibly make a profit selling beer for 40 cents? I should also note that I attracted some strange looks in the store. I’m not sure if it was because I was video taping or because I was speaking English while video taping. Maybe it was both.

78 thoughts on “Shopping In Shanghai – 40 Cent Beer And $10 Ice Cream”

  1. WOW! Thats really cheap.. Maybe I should import beer from Sanghai and sell it here.. I could make 10x profit ahaha πŸ˜›

    1. Tushar says:


      You’ve stumbled on the reason why so many of our things are “Made in China”!


      1. I actually knew the reason! aha πŸ˜›

    2. True say!! For me, I don’t eat ice cream, so I will take the 40 cent beer as a fair compromise to the higher ice cream price hehehe

  2. Justin Dupre says:

    Lol… same thing here in Thailand. Beer for less than a buck, but things like pizza and ice cream cost twice as much!

  3. Ben Pei says:

    Lol 40 cents beer, cheaper than mineral water huh!

  4. Joe says:

    So the only thing to do in China is get drunk and read about Warren Buffett?

    1. Or rather the credits of Warren Buffet πŸ™‚

  5. Andrew says:

    Haha that’s amazing. Hong Kong the beers are about 20x that πŸ™‚

  6. Bill says:

    Welcome to Shanghai, that’s the city I had spent more than 4 years. Basic living staff like beer is really cheap. living like a king, that is definately true. Enjoy.

  7. WOW, .40 cent beer! There is my choice. Is the beer any good?

    1. Yeah, Tsingtao(Qingdao) is a kickass beer.
      …Man, I love China. πŸ™‚

      1. Jake Stone says:

        Few years back in Taiwan they allowed beer imports from mainland China. All the shops were flooded with “Tsingtao” and boy that stuff is so much better than “Taiwan Beer”. Can’t compete with “Lapin Kulta” though.

        1. John Chow says:

          Oh man, Taiwan beer sucks so bad!

  8. Richard says:

    Great price of the beer! What make it very low price in Shanghai?

  9. chinaboy says:

    some international brands, like this ice cream and Ikea, Nike, etc, as for persuiting the biggest profit, they set a high class image, and the price in China is even high than America.

    I’m so over it! I think more Chinese should know they have been, you konw, kind of cheated. Just chose another decent brand.

  10. chinaboy says:

    Yeah, I mean, add Pizzahut, Most Cars, LV, and big city plat, the last one’s price is just non sense, if you take a work income to house price index, or house price to rent index price index.

  11. Chris H. says:

    If beer was that cheap in New Orleans we would be in trouble!

    1. Tushar says:

      You were actually able to get “dollar” beers in some Canadian cities until they outlawed it.

      1. I know that in St Maarten, the beer was also $0.25 for Heineken during the afternoons, and $0.50 in the evenings…

  12. Sounds like a great opportunity to sell local items on ebay for a huge profit.

    Anyone living there has a great opportunity if they’ll just take it!

    1. Jake Stone says:

      Hi Steven, the opportunity also runs the other way around. Just take it and buy some cheap stuff from China and sell it on ebay.

    2. Tran Harry says:

      But that gets taken advantage of everyday with Import trade shops that can be found in Chinatown etc. That’s why some babies were actually affected by the bad chinese milk crisis, because they shopped at places that imported cheap china brand items from their connections overseas and sell at prices that american brands can’t beat.

      Second, you can’t really take advantage of the 40 cent beer price arbitrage because for one they have local laws preventing the transport of alcohol, so it’s illegal, and secondly, it isn’t easy to transport alcohol especially beer, since it needs to be moved in temperature controlled environments, something that using standard parcel services wouldn’t accommodate or at a price which will most definitely reduce or eliminate any profits that may be gotten.

  13. Tushar says:

    What are the chances that the book was “pirated”?

    I doubt that Buffet’s publishers are selling the book for $5 anywhere.

    1. John Chow says:

      The book was legit. That should show you how much mark up there is on some stuff.

      1. not that I doubt you, but can you elaborate on how you know the book is legit?

        I have been to Asia and been able to get “legit” medical text books for a fraction of the American cost (one book costs $200+ in the US and I paid $30)…it was not until I got to the middle of the book when this “legit” book had a few pages missing/upsidedown or with runny ink…It was not until I emailed the publisher to complain about this problem when I found out my “legit” copy was indeed a pirate with really good cover and pages (minus the missing part – just hope I never have to do surgery on the missing topic lol)

        Anyways, looks like a cool trip that hopefully I”ll be doing in a few months. Look forward to all the places you see and share with us!

        1. John Chow says:

          Publisher has to compete in the market they are in. Other business books are priced at around $5US so Snowball has to work in that price range if it hopes to sell well. The place where the video was taken isn’t one of those street vendors. It was a big Asian shopping chain with outlets through out China and Taiwan. If it was from a street vendor, then I wouldn’t be so sure.

          1. wow..thats really crazy. I know the same edition on Amazon was selling for $35US (soft cover asian ed)…you could really make some money flipping a bunch of copies on the internet and then get some cheap beer and ice cream with the profits! lol….

      2. Tushar says:

        I agree with Aman.

        I’ve also been to Asia, and 95% of the stuff they sell you as legit actually isn’t.

        1. max says:

          John is right, even in South Korea, books are 3-5 times cheaper on the average. Of course, those books are translated too and they are much cheaper. (Is that why Asians read more??? j/k)

          I think paper is much cheaper in Asia, plus the high, ridiculous markup in the States and Canada isn’t comparable to anywhere in Asia.

          Go to ASIA and stay out of the black market area, 95% of stuff is actually legit.

          1. Tushar says:

            I would say that is is legit. I mean, come on, almost half the stuff in the world is made in China, so obviously things over there are cheaper than anywhere else.

  14. 40 cents for beer? Unreal. Make a video after you drink the entire case. lol

    1. Jake Stone says:

      He was just showing off. Naturally John put the case back after filming stopped.

      1. Tushar says:

        That’s what I thought too.

        I don’t see John as too much of a beer drinker.

        1. SEO Tips says:

          Ha agreed. I thought the total same it was all for the video, he put it back and got a nice box of chinese tea and some biscuits πŸ˜›

      2. John Chow says:

        Please. You think I would pass up 40 cent beer? LOL

        1. Ben Pei says:

          Lol John, I wouldn’t!

  15. firedupblog says:

    damm dude 40 cent for beer man China sounds like heaven on earth πŸ™‚

    1. the price might make people drink more but there are consequences.

      a friend of mine is doing some overseas work in China right now at a major hospital, and sadly, a large majority of his patients have liver cirrhosis which is a really bad affect from drinking large volume of alcohol.

  16. Yea it’s a curious question, how do they profit? Are they fine with just making pennies?

    1. Jake Stone says:

      Of course they are happy making pennies, my dear The Blogger Source you have to remember that the cost structure is astonishingly different from Western structure.

  17. SEO Tips says:

    I cant wait to go to China in June I am going to be wasssteeeeeddd πŸ˜€

    What the hell is with the Hagen Das though? $10!!!! Thats a rip off!

    Cheers for the vid John

    1. Tushar says:

      Well, someone must be buying it for it to be stocked up on the shelves there.

  18. Tushar says:

    By the way John, how do you film?

    I’ve always wondered how you can get videos of yourself while on the move and not holding the camera.

    Is someone filming for you?

    1. John Chow says:

      Sometimes I film myself. Sometimes, someone films me.

    2. Ben Pei says:

      A flip mino makes all the work easy I guess?

  19. LOL!!

    “40 cents per beer….”

    *camera switches to John filling cart*

  20. Marita says:

    Seems like you travel all the time –
    I think it’s time for a ‘travel’ category πŸ™‚

    Next thing you know Conde Nast Traveller will come calling!

  21. Surely John has someone else film

    1. Maybe it’s sally πŸ™‚

  22. What video editing software do you use?

    1. John Chow says:

      I use iMovie 09 and a Flip Mino.

      1. Candace says:

        I’ve several Flip Minos and they look great on the Flip software and pre-viewing on the hardware. But when I upload the videos online they tend to go really fuzzy! So is it the Mac or is there a trick I can do using Windows? I use the software that comes with the Mino and also use MovieMaker…

  23. John, enjoy that .40 cent beer! I WOULD KILL FOR THAT!

  24. wow! what are you doing in Shanghai John? I maybe in shanghai next week if you are still there

    1. John Chow says:

      Ya, I will still be here.

  25. diabetic man says:

    Very cheap john….cause deviasi of curse dollar, time to shopping

  26. game-girl says:

    I think they are having shopping paradise for tourists there.That’s great for those who adore shopping.I can not say anything about beer.This drink is not interesting for me.I’d rather buy many cheap books and read them upside down.

  27. This sounds so great, 40cents for bear! China is a paradise πŸ™‚

  28. Mike says:

    thats because they dont like beer…

  29. Agent 001 says:

    Prices in China Rocks. In India many people buy Chinese Electronics.

  30. INTERNET says:

    you can’t compare the living standard between China and Canada.
    John–I know you are doing a good job but I m kind of surprised that you can not read Chinese–Don’t forget your culture. Can you at least speak Chinese? Can you daughter speak?

    1. John Chow says:

      I can speak Cantonese.My family landed in Canada when I was seven so I never went to a Chinese school. My daughter can speak Mandarin.

  31. INTERNET says:

    please note that that beer won’t be cheap for you…specially for those who is living outside of China…
    It will cost you more considering your travel expenses to get to China…
    Ask the Chinese local if that beer is really cheap or not.
    Sure there are many millionaries, there but Do you know how much an average Chinese people make?

  32. Sam Hamilton says:

    Come on John name streets and shops for those who live in the city! There is one street (Wujiang Lu) not far from my office where on side of the road there is $0.60 for a meal dumplings and on the other $4 coffee from that well know brand. Things here are well different.

  33. Ha ha, that’s great! The beer, I mean… not so much when it comes to the ice cream.

  34. It is always never too late to learn Chinese Language.

    China’s five thousands years of civilization would means nothing if you can’t even take a glimpse of the written wisdom that passed down from our ancestors.

  35. Perhaps there’s over abundance of barley which I think is the main ingredient in beer. That might make it so cheap, Anyway I’m sure you drank to your heart’s content John. Unfortunately I couldn’t see the video as it is “unavailable”. Will catch it later.

    Peter Lee

  36. Joel Mueller says:

    I’ve been talking with a furniture manufacturer in China, All of their beds are under $300 and look quite nice. Shipping and import/export charges are quite costly, making it more advantageous to import in bulk. Here is a real world example if I decide to order one of the $270 beds:
    1) the freight (from our town to shenzhen warehouse): USD 147

    2) the local custom clearance charge:USD 220



    So the charge according to the CBM.

    In fact, the local custom clearance no matter 1 cbm,or 10 cbm,it still receive USD 220.

    If you want to buy 1 bed,the CBM is about 1.5

    the charge as follow:

    USD 45X1.5+USD 6X1.5+USD 22+USD 47+USD 25+USD 31X1.5+USD 147+USD 220=
    USD 584

    So the final cost to get a bed to Chicago is $584, which is twice the cost of the bed itself. Pretty interesting numbers.

  37. I always thought you could read chinese. I guess I was assuming. Anyway cool stuff and wow…that ice cream is very overpriced

  38. You should try the prices here in Indonesia John…it’s even cheaper..:)

  39. You can’t blame Asia πŸ™‚ Everything is made in those countries, but beware of fake explosion cell phones πŸ˜›


  40. Price of beer in shanghai 40 cent, very cheap

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