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You are right. The Arduino TX pin will output a 5V signal that could damage the ESP RX input.On the other side, the Arduino RX input pin reads the 3.3V output from the ESP without problems so you don't need to shift up this signal.
You can take a look at this.
I like your approach but I'm having problems finding a 8-pin header.By the way, my technique does not damage the ESP module. You can easily bend the pins to the original shape and mount the spacers back in place with a little work.
This adapter costs more than the ESP-01 module itself.
Cheap Arduino WiFi shield w...View Instructable »