For a massive city, getting around Shanghai is convenient and easy.
Getting around Shanghai is convenient and easy, since this modern city is set up to welcome millions of tourists and making transport life easier for locals. For first-timers, read through the info below so you can make the most adequate plans for your trip!
GETTING TO 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.
BEST FOR: If you’re coming in from other cities in China, Hong Kong or Tibet.
Booking a train in advance online or through a travel agency is a fantastic way to travel. NOTE: If you want to purchase a train ticket through an automated machine, they only read Chinese IDs. Check out Ctrip.com to book online and to see a full list of cities to/from Shanghai by train.
Shanghai has several major train stations that you can arrive to from other cities: Shanghai Railway Station (上海站), Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station (上海虹桥站), Shanghai South Railway Station (上海南站) and Shanghai West Railway Station (上海西站) / Nanxiang North Railway Station (南翔北站)/Anting North Railway Station (安亭北站).
The new CRH trains are awesome (think of France’s TGV & Japan’s Shinkansen,) just look for train codes that start with the letter D. Speed trains to/from Nanjing and Hangzhou start with the letter G.
If you’re coming from:
The new express trains’ travel time is approximately close to 5 hours. You can also opt for a night train which takes 10 hours and costs approximately ¥730 (USD $106) for a soft sleeper lower bunk or ¥655 (USD $95) for upper bunk in a 4-people room. For two-people rooms, prices range from ¥1,470 (USD $213) for a lower bunk or ¥1,300 (USD $188) for upper bunk. These rooms don’t come with bathrooms. There are other options available with 13-hour trains at cheaper prices, or rooms with private bathroom and sofa are also up for grabs.
Hong Kong (香港)
The T99/T100 train runs daily from Shanghai Railway Station to Hung Hom Station (in Kowloon, HK.) The entire trip is about 19 hours, and costs ¥800 (USD $116) one way with a soft sleeper. But there are discounts if you buy with multiple travelers at once at approximately ¥364 (USD $53) one way, per person with a soft sleeper if purchased in a group of 4 people. The Deluxe Soft Sleeper compartments is highly recommended since it’s more private and comfortable. But you’ll need to reserve in advance since space is very limited.
You’ll need to go through customs between HK and Shanghai, but the process is faster than at airports.
Lhasa, Tibet (拉萨)
Trains between Lhasa and Shanghai run daily and takes less than 50 hours. Each seat costs ¥406 (USD $59), ¥900 (USD $130) for a hard sleeper, and ¥1,300 (USD $189) for a soft sleeper. Oxygen will be available for every passenger in Golmud-Lhasa section.
BEST FOR: If you’re coming from Nanjing 南京, Suzhou 蘇州, Hangzhou 杭州, Ningbo 寧波 …etc.
From cities listed above, car ride takes about 50 minutes to 2.5 hours. Shanghai has recently built many highways that makes driving between cities fairly convenient.
BEST FOR: Budget travelers coming from other cities in China.
Tickets run out fast so you’ll need to book them as early as you can. Although not many offer tickets to be bought online. China now has over 1,500 bus routes that cover 17 provinces connecting Shanghai to Xinjiang, Yunan, Tibet, Nanjing…and many more. Make sure to specify that you want air-conditioning bus, especially during warmer weather conditions.
The main company is Shanghai Long-Distance Bus Terminal (上海长途汽车客运总站) which you can book online here. The station is located near Shanghai Railway Station, and it’s one of the largest long-distance bus stations with routes heading to many cities including: Beijing and Guangzhou.
BEST FOR: If you’re coming from Kobe, Osaka in Japan or Hong Kong.
There are weekly services from Osaka, and takes two nights of travel time. Prices range from ¥1,300-6,500 (USD $188-$943.) Check out Shanghai Ferry Company for details. Xin Jian Zhen offers routes from Kobe and Osaka to Shanghai.
FROM PUDONG AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRAL:
The Shanghai Maglev Train or 上海磁浮示范运营线 is the speediest way to get into the city from the airport. Takes about 7.5 minutes to reach its only destination: Longyang Road Metro Station (龙阳路地铁站). The magnetic levitation train is the fastest commercial high-speed electric train in the world and is designed to connect Pudong Airport and the outskirts of central Pudong where you can then change to Shanghai Metro to reach your destination.
It costs ¥50 (USD $ 7.25) one way or ¥80 (USD $11.6) for a round-trip ticket. Trains depart every 15-30 minutes and you can use foreign credit cards at the ticket office.
The Maglev Station at the airport is between Terminals 1 & 2, on the second floor walkway that connects the two terminals.
From the airport, take Metro Line 2 (the green one) which will arrive at Guanglan Road where you’ll need to change lines to reach your final destination. It also reaches to People’s Square in an hour and costs no more than ¥8 (USD $1.30.)
Buses from Pudong takes longer (maximum 90 minutes) and is more expensive than the metro. Bus schedules run for 24 hours and tickets cost ¥15-30 (USD $2.1-$4.2). This isn’t recommended during rush hour.
This is expensive but the most convenient way to reach city central. It’ll take an hour, and costs ¥160 (USD $23) or more. Taxi line are located outside of both Terminal 1 and 2.
FROM HONGQIAO AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRAL:
Walk on the ground floor, you’ll see Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station (虹桥火车站) where you can take high speed trains to other parts of China, including anywhere from Beijing to Wuzi.
From Hongqiao Airport, you can take Metro Lines 2 (green) & 10 (lavender.) Both lines are located in both Terminal 1 & 2.
Line 2 from Hongqiao will also take you to Pudong Airport with a change at Guanglan Road Station.
There are a lot of local bus lines from the airport, check here for detailed schedules. Below are two airport shuttle bus lines:
Line 1 – To Pudong Airport, ¥30.
Hongqiao Airport T2 Night Bus (虹桥机场T2夜宵巴士) – To Jing’an Temple ¥10, People Square, ¥10 and Lujiazui ¥16.
During rush hour, this is a difficult option with time. It’ll take about 20-30 minutes to reach city center from Hongqiao, but leave another 30 minutes during peak hours. It’ll coast approximately ¥60 (USD $9) and stations are located at both Terminals 1 & 2.
GETTING AROUND SHANGHAI:
Shanghai has one of the most fastest and user-friendly metros in the world. As large as it is with 14 lines (and still growing,) it’s cheap (¥3-9) and air-conditioned which is essential during Shanghai’s hot summers. The announcements are spoken in both Mandarin and English. Distance between each metro station can be far and require long walks since Shanghai is a massive city.
Here’s a breakdown of different tickets: single ticket, one-day pass (¥18 for unlimited rides), 3-day pass (¥45), or a Maglev + Metro pass which is great for airport transportation and costs ¥55 for one-way and ¥85 for around-trip. For folks who want long-term cards, purchase the Shanghai Public Transportation Card (上海公共交通卡) which also includes buses, ferries and taxi. It’s ¥20 for deposit then you can recharge in multiples of ¥10.
Taxis or 出租车 (chu-zhu-che) are prevalent and convenient throughout Shanghai. Meters start at ¥14 for the first 3 km, and ¥18 after 11 p.m. Key move: have your destination ready in Chinese characters, or show your Google map (or screenshot of it) on your phone since drivers don’t normally speak English.
Insider tip: If you see lots of drivers and you can choose one, be sure to look at their driver IDs displayed on the dashboard. The lower the first 2 digits, the more experienced the driver is. Stick to 11XXXXX, rather than 30XXXX who’s new at the game and will likely get you lost.
Crossing from Pudong to Puxi usually comes with traffic jam, so it’s probably better to take the metro.
Stick to these taxi colors: turquoise, gold, white and light green. These are strictly operated by larger companies in China. The darker taxis like red or maroon are owned by smaller or private companies which will be unnecessarily more expensive. They usually show up around tourist areas.
Remember, always try to pay with smaller bills!
For a massive city, Shanghai is still great for walking and strolling. Especially in areas around Yu Yuan or The Bund. But if you want to cross neighborhoods, metro is still the best way to go. Watch out for scooters, motorbikes and bicycles.
When Uber was bought by Didi, China’s ride-sharing app, travelers have needed a work-around to use Uber in China. Since even if you do that, the app is in Chinese. So it’s better to download Didi directly from the App Store or on Google Play. Since Didi has monopolized the ride-sharing industry in China, it’s more expensive than Uber in other countries.
For a non-Mandarin speaking traveler, taking the bus will be difficult since all the stops are written in Chinese. Though inside the bus, there are English announcements. If you think the metro is already an extensive system, the bus is even more so.
How you can pay: If you know where you’re going, then pay the conductor to receive a paper ticket which costs ¥2 for air-conditioned buses. You can also prepare the exact change then insert them into the coin box next to the driver.
Many locals still live on their bicycles, especially when the weather is nice. Unlike Scandinavian countries where cyclists have the right of way, you need to be careful in Shanghai since many roads do not allow bicycles. In addition, bigger vehicles have the right of way, so stay safe crossing intersections. Theft is a big issue, so make sure if you rent a bike that you lock it up real well.
In Shanghai, there are also E-Bikes which you won’t need a driver license for. It has a battery range of 50 km, it’s good for long-term travelers staying in Shanghai. You can get one for ¥1500-2500 even at supermarkets.
Motorcycles don’t require driver’s license for 50cc but anything bigger do. Both kinds will require registration. Motorcyclists need to use bicycle lanes. Since many will ride without their headlights on, you need to beware riding at night. Be sure there’s a good lock on it since bike theft is a serious issue in the city.
We do not recommend driving in Shanghai, since there’s always heavy traffic and road etiquette is frustrating even for locals. The streets are chaotic with pedestrians, cyclists, scooters…so we highly recommend using metro, taxi to get around instead of driving.
Crossing the river by a ferry is popular! Ferries run between the Bund and Lujiazui in Pudong. It costs ¥2/person. No bikes are allowed on the ferries which is air-conditioned. They run ever 10 minutes, and the ride takes about 5 minutes. Either stations are connected to metro stations so expect to walk a bit.