If this is your first time going to China it takes a little time for the process. First you are going to need a passport along with a Chinese visa. I have found that the cheapest and yet quickest way to get a visa was when I traveled to Thailand. From there I went to the Chinese embassy and applied for a tourist visa. I then received a 6 month multi-entry visa for every 30 day period. It took only 3 hours for me to receive my Chinese visa in Bangkok. The process was very simple, very fast and also inexpensive.
Whether you are traveling to Beijing (the capital) or Shanghai (tourist attraction) airfare is very cheap traveling around China if you purchase your tickets using only the Chinese airlines. Hotels are cheap also in some parts of China. I have stayed in a 5 star hotel for an average of 70 US dollars a night. But always remember you are a foreigner and everyone sees that. So you may encounter many locals that will try to overcharge you on many things, including taxis, and open markets. If you would like to save money on your trip I advise you to take your time in what you pick and do everything yourself.
What I mean by that is purchase your ticket directly from the airlines, and don’t use a travel agent. Also research your hotels and find out which is closer to tourist attractions, restaurants, and what is taxi friendly. What I mean by taxi friendly is some taxis such as the ones in Shenzhen are more expensive. Red taxis charge an extra 10 RMB (1.40 Dollars) for your fare, and green taxis are the local rate. Also you can travel by bus if you prefer and local bus ride are only 2RMB (34cent).
Like most countries of course the tourist areas on the market are going to be more expensive than local areas. For example; a restaurant midtown may charge an average of a 15 dollar meal while a restaurant a little on the outskirts of tourist areas may charge an average of a 10 dollar meal. So be very mindful of how much things cost on the market, because you will definitely get overcharged on something. Sometimes when I travel even with a local some stores may try to overcharge me on things.
Also especially at night stay alert and be self aware of the locations you go to. In some parts of China even right outside 4 or 5 star hotels are ATM machines. Some people wait by these ATM machines and after you have withdrew money they will ask you questions like do you want to get a deal on a phone, massage, etc. If you accept they will ask you to follow them to the location and then they will try to rob you of your money. So be very careful and if you have to withdrawal from ATMs I advise you to use only a select few ATM machines that are located inside a bank, or hotel.