Shopping in Shanghai

I decided to hit up a regular supermarket to get an idea on what prices are like for normal everyday stuff. Because 99.9% of everything is made in China, prices are generally less expensive here than back home in Canada. Add in the 7 to 1 exchange rate between the Canadian dollar and the Chinese RMB and the prices start to look ridiculous sometimes.

For example, our taxi ride to the Shanghai zoo cost just $3.50. If this was back in Canada, the same ride would have cost $25 plus tip. There is no tipping in China. And then there was the lunch that cost me $1.28. Find out what you get for that by watching the video below.

One thing for sure, if you can cover your housing cost, you can live like a king here on the average Canadian income. That’s something worth thinking about for people living the dot com lifestyle. Because we can work from anywhere in the world, we can select a place where the cost of living is so low, we can live high on the hog. However, the best method is to make so much money that you can live high on the hog in any country.

62 thoughts on “Shopping in Shanghai”

  1. No tipping in China? Sounds like my kind of country. I can’t stand going to the big city, staying in a hotel and dropping 15 bucks in tips every day.

    1. Nice pair of shoes for about $14 bucks there. Plus KFC in China, where’s the 11 herbs and spices?

    2. OH yeah, I will save up enough money and be a king in China~!

    3. Syed Balkhi says:

      lol I know tipping is kinda crazy here … I would love China

  2. Tyler Ingram says:

    But is that Mickey Mouse authentic Disney product? lol

    Nice lunch for just over at $1 though ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. John Chow says:

      That Mickey was the real thing. Even if it was not the real thing, it would have came from the same factory anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thiago Prado says:

        That is true!!! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      2. Doesn’t everything come from just one big factory in China?

        1. Flimjo says:

          I think there are like 3 or 4 big factories. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

      3. DeboHobo says:

        Sally really loves the stuffed fuzzy animals. She is so cute when she gets a hold of one.

        That was a very interesting lunch not the usual KFC fare, but the price was just right. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ha! I love how there are live turtles and frogs next to all of the meat.
    Appetizing…er…yea ๐Ÿ˜•

  4. Shawn Knight says:

    Do the American food and drinks taste the same? I have heard places like McDonalds in other countries taste totally different…

    1. John Chow says:

      They taste a big different from the home market. Every company adjusts the taste to suite the local market.

      1. DeboHobo says:

        So were the frogs and turtle for sale as food or pets? I noticed they were in the grocery store next to what looked like produce so I guess I am probably answering my own question. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Thiago Prado says:

    You turning your life into a real reality show. Everything you’re doing lately you’re recording and posting in this blog. You should create another website called “John Chow dot com lifestyle”.

    1. Stephen says:

      Why don’t you register that and try to sell it back to John =)

      1. Thiago Prado says:

        Because I don’t think is fair to make money like that. Anyway if I register the name he can create another one for his show.

  6. Stephen says:

    The other advantage of shopping in China is NO TAX and there is always room to negotiate ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Ronald Su says:

    Do people look at you filming weird? Last time I was in Shanghai holding a camera in shops, they look at me like an alien. โžก

    1. John Chow says:

      I didn’t noticed any weird looks. That could be because my Flip is looks like a cell phone so people think I’m texting a message. Or it could be because I just don’t notice these things.

      1. senghooi says:

        If you come to malaysia and shoot video like this, you will look like an alien as well. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
        At malaysia , shooting video in open public place is rare. Maybe its because V-cam is so expensive here. The cheapest one is about USD500. Its about our average 1 month salary.( for University graduate salary )

    2. Noobpreneur says:


      That’s particularly true in most Asian country, except in places that are already established tourist destinations.

    3. Asela says:

      Here in Sri Lanka most locations carry a warning taking pictures or video in public places since most areas are considered high-security zones what with this damn war going on. But I personally think its absurd but then again who ever listens to me ๐Ÿ™

      You would most probably be shot on sight! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  8. Wow, that’s so cool. I’ve heard that shopping in Shanghai is one of the most eventful tasks. I also wouldn’t mind not tipping, but I’d probably still do it out of habit.

    1. MoneyNing says:

      Then you need to go to Japan because they would refuse to take tip! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. senghooi says:

    Hey , I am wearing the slipper you hold in the video clip !! I buy it with RM10. ( usd 3.3 ). Oh , I’m from malaysia.
    IN the video I saw they sell it RMB6 , right? that would be RM3 only. Wow , china product very low price.

  10. dave says:

    Great video John,
    I spent some time in Beijing a few years back and loved every minute of it…
    Tasted some unusual food for an Irish pallet (5 weeks & only 1 McDonalds…I’m still proud of myself) & brought home some fantastic bargains that would have cost at least 10 times more here.
    Can’t wait to go back…
    Enjoy & please let us know when you start charging for your advertising spots in RMB…

  11. bob says:

    sorry, but I don’t think a low a cost of living is worth moving to a communist country

    1. John Chow says:

      China is communist in name only. Right now, Shanghai is more capitalist than the US ever was.

  12. Kaizen says:

    Wow i love updates like these John. It’s really interesting to someone like myself, who has yet to travel to China.

  13. MoneyNing says:

    You can definitely get by with a lot less money in China but if you REALLY want to live large, you can spend a lot of money too. I think that’s a general statement for living in most of Asia because the gap between poor and the rich is so big.

  14. Terry Tay says:

    Would you ever consider moving to someplace that the cost of living is cheaper John? or do you like it in Canada?

    I probably know the answer to this question but I’ll ask anyways…, are there some restrictions on where you can pull out your camera and start filming?


    1. John Chow says:

      I can’t see myself living anywhere else but Vancouver. It really is the best city in the world. So far, no one has question me about videoing anything.

  15. There must be something that’s expensive in China, housing, cars, there’s got to be something.

    1. Terry Tay says:

      The cost of the devastating earthquake which struck to the northwest of Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu is going to be expensive and is likely to exceed $20 billion. Even worse is that it has killed nearly 15000 people.

      John, with the earthquake that happened on Monday, what is the feeling in Shanghai and is there much talk about it?

      1. Yes, I was wondering about that to. Are you going anywhere near the earthquake areas John?

  16. The reason your blog isn’t blocked in China is because it’s If it were it would be blocked.

    1. Terry Tay says:

      As long as he posts nice topics and videos about China he should be ok right ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Cronus says:

    Strange that feedburner is blocked in China. I would imagine it is because feedburner had some feeds related to some things that China didn’t like at one point, so they just blocked it altogether.

    1. Yeah, It’s very strange…
      I guess we have to find a different way to get our Chinese readers check back to our blogs ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. Flimjo says:

        It’s too bad that information is restricted like that over there. Information holds so much potential, and when people aren’t allowed to access and analyze it, it inhibits growth.

  18. joshuaun says:

    shopping??????for me just can only windows shopping only………………ai…………. ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜ณ

  19. Berry says:

    Why not you consider to visit Bali,Indonesia, everything is cheap if you know the place and how to deal with it,even in Jakarta with US$1.50 you will have lunch dish plus ice tea in restaurant with aircond and musics,but if you go to Mc Donald,Burger King or Starbuck it will the same as other western countries.

  20. Bom says:

    come to Thailand and you will find the same thing in price but better quality and lifestyle ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I loved this post John. Made me miss living in China. I was there for a year in GuangZhou and Shanghai looked similar from the view in your video. One thing I REALLY loved when I was there WERE the prices of everything and bartering for everything. I can’t wait to get back there.

    Also spent 2 years in Northern Thailand and the prices there were even LESS! Going back soon.

  22. John Fan says:

    (sorry John, but a typo here “Chinise”. in a rush? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
    good read, enjoy your trip …

  23. Mike says:

    Prices are cheap but quality can be bad. If you live in China long enough you will eventually get a bout of food poisoning.

  24. Mike Huang says:

    You’re absolutely right John, if you live anywhere in Asian, you’re basically king even if you make about $8/hour here in the states. I wonder if that lady that was sitting next to you is saying “WTF is he doing” ๐Ÿ˜›


    1. Flimjo says:

      Tim Ferriss would love that scenario. Work for $8/hour in the states. Negotiate a work-from-home arrangement. Take your laptop and go overseas and live like a rich king in Asia.

      1. That sounds like a great idea, of course the airfare is a bit expensive to get there.

  25. John, I have been in Shanghai in about 4 years ago! I like to shop there especially the “NanJing” road…damn long!

  26. Watching that video brought back memories of my previous trips to Shanghai. I remember walking down the Bund in t-shirt and shorts and people looking at me oddly as all the locals were wearing long pants and covered up. It was also a dead giveaway – they knew I was a tourist.
    I remember going to a Malone’s in Shanghai and also Tony Roma’s and a pub called Shanghai Sally’s. Later, we saw the neon signs at night while taking a boat ride on the river. Wow, actually a lot of great memories.

  27. woohome says:

    Indeed, no tipping in China, and there are many delicious foods. Travel to China is a good idea. Go to GreatWall!

  28. Flimjo says:

    Using geo-arbitrage to maximize the purchasing power of your dollars is what a lot of rich people do. For example, going to Buenos Aires and living like a king, eating steak dinners every night, staying in 5-star hotels costs less than it would cost living in a small Midwestern town in the U.S.

  29. Affiliate17 says:

    I guess everywhere you go in Asia you find cheaper things. Its pretty good stuff for lower prices.

  30. I totally agree with you. Working over the net and living in a non-expensive country like Shanghai or any other place will be more interesting and less stress (if you are starting working online and not having a continues grow)

    1. make150aday says:

      Shanghai is not a country. I am sure you meant to say China.
      Shanghai can be stressful if you live there.
      Its growing very fast. Its a huge city.

  31. Syed Balkhi says:

    The currency values so much .. You should buy all the cool gadgets that you find for cheap there..

  32. avgjoe says:

    I do believe this is the first time Iโ€™ve ever observed the subtleties of another culture like this. I feel so shelter here in the U.S.

    John: Iโ€™m a long time reader yet I never felt the urge to comment until now. I can understand if you donโ€™t want every post about your visit to china, but if you could keep the video coming (maybe on your youtube channel) it would be much appreciated.

  33. make150aday says:

    John –don’t forget your roots..Don’t look down on where you came from…

    From the video post that you made–I had the impression that you are looking down on China…

    And you are only in city area–I m not sure how you would react when you go to inner area/rural areas.

    So John I guess there is no concern about recent earthquake –at least where you are….

    Have fun but don’t make fun.

  34. brady ware says:

    If you have been having trouble viewing John’s videos like I have try disabling Google web accelerator. I have been unable to view numerous videos lately and disabled the accelerator and presto. Ah I can finally see the weekly pho episode.

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