Best hostels in Shanghai

Best hostels in Shanghai

Shanghai's pricier than New York, but the city still has some places for backpackers' weary bods

Shanghai isn't as affordable as many travelers might think, with the city recently overtaking New York in terms of cost of living. But the city is also playing host to an increasing number of independent travelers on a budget.

If you are among them, then these backpacker hostels are some of the best places in town for you to call “home,” even if for a little while.

Shanghai hostelGet socialized at Koala Garden House's cultured cafe.Shanghai Koala Garden House (上海考拉花园旅舍)

The best word to describe this youth hostel is “charming”. With its high ceilings, flower-patterned wallpaper, cosy furniture and location on Duolun Lu, Koala Garden House is a long-time favorite with the backpacker set.

The rooms are on the small side, but the vibe is friendly, and there is a decent bar and café serving pizza, pasta and Italian coffee.

Why you should stay: "This hostel is amazing -- we booked a private double room, which was richly equipped and contained a huge bed, was very clean and also very nicely decorated," says 28-year-old German guest Jan Koch. "The staff in the hostel are always helpful and nice. The atmosphere is great.”

Price: All rooms have air-conditioning and the Internet is free. A standard six-bed mixed dorm is priced from as little as RMB 70 per night, with a  private double room costing RMB 300.

More on CNNGo: Guide to Shanghai's Duolun Cultural Street

Shanghai Koala Garden House, 240 Duolun Lu, near Sichuan Bei Lu 多伦路240号, 近四川北路, +86 21 5671 1038,

shanghai hostel -- Captain HostelHands-down the hostel with the best view in Shanghai.Captain Hostel Fuzhou Lu (

Three words pretty much sum up the appeal of this backpacker stalwart: location, location, location. Spitting distance from the Bund and with an unparalleled view from the rooftop bar; remarkably, a common complaint we hear from travelers staying here is that the drink prices are too high.

Although they are pretty expensive for a hostel, a beer (RMB 40-50) at the Captain's Bar is still the best deal for a drink with a Huangpu vista you're likely to find in Shanghai.

Why you should stay: “I am traveling alone and the bar is a great place to meet people my age,” Sam Sloane, 18, says. “The staff aren't that helpful, and the bunks and toilet facilities are average, but it's not a disaster. Given the location, it does make a pleasant stay, if only the staff smiled once in a while.”

Price: Bunks are a flat RMB 70.

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Captain Hostel, 37 Fuzhou Lu, near Sichuan Zhong Lu 福州路37号, 近四川中路, +86 21 6323 5053, 

shanghai hostel -- city centralThis bed at City Central is as cheap as two bowls of noodles.Shanghai City Central Youth Hostel (上海万里路国际青年酒店)

Located in the wilds of Putuo district, this hostel is nonetheless very well regarded by those who don't mind being a little bit away from the city center -- and there is also a metro stop next door to lessen the pain.

All of City Central's 150 rooms are air-conditioned. Wi-Fi is freely available and the free buffet breakfast from 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. is a crowd-pleaser.

Why you should stay: “This is a very good hostel with clean dorms, friendly and helpful staff and a good bar and restaurant area," says 25-year-old Australian traveler, Harry Stewart. "The location is not really as central as the name would suggest, but it is close to a metro station, so getting around is easy enough. I would recommend staying here.”

Price: A bed in a mixed dorm is RMB 50, four-bed single-sex dorm beds are RMB 60 and a private single room will set you back RMB 150.

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Shanghai City Central Youth Hostel, 300 Wuning Lu, near Zhongshan Bei Lu 武宁路300号, 近中山北路, +86 21 5290 5577,, shanghaiwanlilu@

shanghai hostel -- mingtownClean beds right off People's Square.Mingtown Hiker Youth Hostel (

Though it seems a little hidden away on Jiangxi Lu, this youth hostel is actually in a really good location, a short stroll from People's Park -- which is home to both the Shanghai Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art -- and walking distance to Nanjing Dong Lu.

Mingtown Hiker's recreation room, with pool table, television and books and magazine swap, is a popular hang-out and a great place to shoot the breeze with fellow travelers on hazy summer evenings in Shanghai.

Why you should stay: “The excellent location of this hostel makes for a really great stay in Shanghai, as the hostel is so close to the Bund and other major tourist sites,” Briton Lydia Griffith, 22, says. “The desk staff are always extremely helpful and have a good understanding of English. Rooms are very well appointed and our en suite bathroom was above expectations.”

Price: With air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi throughout, a dorm bed at Mingtown Hiker can be yours for RMB 60 per night.

More on CNNGo: The best Shanghai hotels worth blowing your budget on

Mingtown Hiker Youth Hostel, 450 Jiangxi Zhong Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu 江西中路450号, 近北京东路, +86 21 6329 7889


Le Tour is for history-loving backpackers.Le Tour Travelers Rest Youth Hostel (乐途国际青年旅社)

This area of Shanghai, about 10 minutes' walk north of Jing'an Temple, has come to life in the past few years, and is now home to a number of excellent restaurants, bars and cafés. It is a little out of the way from many of Shanghai's most famous tourist sites, but they are easily accessed via metro. Bike rental is RMB 30 per day.

The building itself dates from the 1930s and was originally a towel factory -- much of the furniture, flooring and paneling in the guest rooms and common areas are made from the original timber.

Why you should stay: “I always stay here when I'm looking for cheap accommodation in Shanghai,” Frances Myers, 51, from Australia, says. “It has a fantastic location, with good amenities and character."

Price: A bed in a single-sex male or female dorm (which sleeps six in total) costs from RMB 70; double room from RMB 150. Towel rental is RMB 5 -- a bit of a surprise to some guests coming to stay in this converted towel factory.

More on CNNGo: The best Shanghai hotels for the penny-wise traveler

Le Tour Travelers Rest Youth Hostel, Building 36, 319 Jiaozhou Lu, near Xinzha Lu 胶州路319号36号, 近新闸路, +86 21 5251 0800 


Casey is a city/lifestyle journalist from Melbourne, Australia, who has been based in Shanghai since 2007.

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