Why & How To Plan A Trip To The Manhattan of China: Shanghai

BY WENDY HUNG

 

Traveling to Shanghai 上海 shouldn’t take too much convincing. After all, it is the most prosperous and modern city in China. As the heart of Far East glamour during the 1930s, Shanghai is now home of epic skyscrapers and blazing commercialism, thanks to two decades of fiery progression and total transformation. Welcome to the Manhattan of China!

SEE ALSO: Bring It On Shanghai! 18 Must-Do’s You Can’t Miss

How many days should you stay there for?

With a population of more than 23 million, Shanghai is a giant city where you can spend a quick weekend getaway to a week-long vacation and your entire itinerary will be filled with endless fascinating things to do. SEE ALSO: Bring It On Shanghai! 18 Must-Do’s You Can’t Miss

When is the best time to visit?

In the fall, from September to November when the temperature is just cooling down from summer rains and right before the arrival of freezing winter. Spring is a great time to visit but be sure to avoid Chinese national holidays. If you’re trying to score hotel deals, then weekends will have lower rates than normal.

Summertime is when tourists hit up Shanghai, but the weather is hot and sticky so try to avoid the season if you can.

Do you need a visa for a layover?

Not if your transit is less than 144 hours. Any longer, you’ll need a visa. SEE ALSO: A Layover In Shanghai: 5 Must-Do’s

How to get there?

As one of the most developed city in China, it’s pretty easy breezy getting into Shanghai. You’ll most likely fly into one of two airports: Shanghai Pudong International Airport 上海浦東國際機場 or Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport 上海虹橋國際機場. The two airports are an hour away by car, so double check which airport you’re flying in and out of. There are shuttle buses and metro available between the two airports.

There are buses and fast trains available between the airports and cities including: Hangzhou 杭州, Suzhou 蘇州 and Nanjing 南京.

How do you get around the city?

The metro is a fantastic system in Shanghai. Taxis are convenient and cheap but be sure to use your Google Maps on your phone during your ride, so you can track whether the driver is taking a longer route for a higher charge. Buses are available but quite complicated to understand, so it’s not recommended. If you’re traveling between short distances, you can bike around the city. Walking can be tiring (and quite impossible) since Shanghai is HUGE.

How should you budget your trip?

Budget backpackers: USD $50/day can get you by with hostels, food at markets, metro cards and take advantage of free entry at some museums.

Standard explorers: USD $180/day can cover your mid-range hotel room, indulge in local restaurants and money leftover for other activities in the city.

Luxurious jetsetters: USD $200+/day will get you a nice 4 to 5-star hotel, meals at renowned restaurants and shopping at high-end stores.

Hope nice weather back, stop raining. 🌧️➡️☀️ #shanghai #rooftop

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What’s the tipping situation?

In general, you don’t need to tip at restaurants, bars or at taxis. But at fancier restaurants, there will be a service charge included on your bill. It’s recommended to tip porters at nicer hotels, ¥5 will suffice.

Is the city safe?

Yes. For a massive city, there’s not much danger or crime targeting travelers. If anything happens, contact the Public Security Bureau 公安局 for help.

Is English enough to get around?

Yes. Since Shanghai is a giant metropolis, street signs, directions will have English translation. Menus may come with English writing at times, but most people in the service industry will do their best to assist foreigners. It’s highly recommended to learn a few words in Mandarin: xie xie 謝謝 = thank you, ni hao ma 你好嗎 = how are you? dui bui qi 對不起 = I’m sorry.

Have you ever been to Shanghai? Share with us in the comments.

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