Friday, April 12, 2024
Shanghai Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


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Shanghai is both China’s and Asia’s most populated metropolis, as well as the world’s most populous city proper. With a population of more than 24 million as of 2014, it is the second most populous of the four direct-controlled municipalities in mainland China. It is a worldwide financial center as well as a transportation hub with the busiest container port in the world. Shanghai is located in East China’s Yangtze River Delta, on the south side of the Yangtze’s mouth in the center of the Chinese coast. The municipality is flanked to the north, south, and west by the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and to the east by the East China Sea.

Shanghai, an important administrative, maritime, and commercial center for millennia, gained in significance in the nineteenth century as Europeans recognized its advantageous port position and economic potential. Following the British victory over China in the First Opium War, the city was one of five forced open to Western commerce, with the subsequent 1842 Treaty of Nanking and 1844 Treaty of Whampoa allowing the construction of the Shanghai International Settlement and the French Concession. The city thus thrived as a crossroads of trade between east and west, and in the 1930s, it was the unquestioned financial capital of the Asia-Pacific area. However, once the Communist Party took control the mainland in 1949, commerce was restricted to communist nations, and the city’s worldwide significance dwindled.

In the 1990s, Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms resulted in significant redevelopment of the city, facilitating the return of finance and international investment. Shanghai is a famous tourist destination known for its historical attractions such as The Bund, City God Temple, and Yu Garden, as well as the huge Lujiazui skyline, many skyscrapers, and prominent museums such as the Shanghai Museum and the China Art Museum. It has been hailed as the “showpiece” of China’s rising economy.

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Shanghai | Introduction

Tourism in Shanghai

Shanghai (Shànghi) is China’s biggest and most developed metropolis, the country’s primary financial and fashion hub, and one of the world’s most populated and significant cities. Shanghai has been there for millennia, but it skyrocketed once it became a major hub of China commerce in the 1840s. Shanghai was the biggest and most opulent metropolis in the Far East by the early twentieth century, as well as one of the craziest. Shanghai has recaptured much of its old splendour and has exceeded it in many areas since China’s opening up in the last several decades; the speed of growth in recent years has been utterly frenetic.

Shanghai is now one of Asia’s biggest and most wealthiest cities, albeit not as as wild as it once was. It is today a highly appealing city for visitors from all over the globe, as well as a significant tourist and commercial destination. According to Forbes, Shanghai was the 14th most visited city in the world in 2012, with 6.5 million tourists. Shanghai is unquestionably cosmopolitan by Chinese standards, but less diversified than many western cities. According to the 2010 census, the city had a population of 23 million people, with 9 million (almost 40%) of them being migrants, individuals from other parts of China who had come to find employment or to attend one of Shanghai’s numerous educational institutions. There is also a sizable international population: 208,300 foreigners resided in Shanghai in 2010, accounting for somewhat more than one-third of the national total of 594,000.

There are businesses that cater to various markets, such as restaurants serving cuisine from all over China for migrants (particularly plenty of delicious inexpensive Sichuan food and West-of-China noodles) and a decent selection of grocery shops, restaurants, and bars for foreigners.

Climate of Shanghai

The climate in Shanghai is humid subtropical. New Orleans, Cairo, and Perth are all located at fairly identical latitudes (just over 30°). Spring weather may be overcast and wet for extended periods of time. Summer temperatures often exceed 35°C (95°F) with extremely high humidity, which means you will perspire profusely and therefore bring many changes of clothes or plan on purchasing for clothing during your vacation. During the summer, thunderstorms are also common.

Typhoons are possible throughout the July–September season, although they are not frequent. Autumn weather is often moderate, with warm and sunny days. Temperatures seldom reach above 10°C (50°F) during the day and often dip below 0°C (32°F) at night during the winter. Snowfall is uncommon, happening just once every few years on average, however transportation networks might be affected in the case of a sudden blizzard.

Despite the fact that winter temperatures in Shanghai are not especially low, the wind chill effect mixed with excessive humidity may make it seem less pleasant than in far colder areas where snowfall is common. Also, under Mao’s reign, buildings north of the Yangtze were required to be heated in the winter, but those s

Geography of Shanghai

Shanghai is located on China’s east coast, nearly halfway between Beijing and Guangzhou. The Old City and contemporary downtown Shanghai are currently positioned in the heart of a spreading peninsula created by natural deposition of the Yangtze River Delta and manmade land reclamation initiatives between the Yangtze River Delta to the north and Hangzhou Bay to the south. The eastern section of this peninsula, as well as several of its adjacent islands, are administered by the provincial-level Municipality of Shanghai. Jiangsu borders it on the north and west, Zhejiang on the south, and the East China Sea on the east.

Its northernmost point lies on Chongming Island, which has grown to become the second-largest island in mainland China after its growth over the twentieth century. However, the municipality does not contain a Jiangsu exclave in northern Chongming or the two islands that make up Shanghai’s Yangshan Port, which are part of Zhejiang’s Shengsi County. This deep-water port was necessitated not just by the growing size of container ships, but also by the silting of the Yangtze, which narrows to less than 20 meters (66 ft) as far as 45 miles (70 km) from Hengsha. The Huangpu River, a man-made tributary of the Yangtze built by Lord Chunshen during the Warring States Period, cuts through downtown Shanghai. The city’s historic core was situated on the west bank of the Huangpu (Puxi), near the mouth of Suzhou Creek, which connected the Huangpu to Lake Tai and the Grand Canal. On the east bank of the Huangpu River, the important financial area Lujiazui has developed (Pudong).

The degradation of local wetlands caused by the construction of Pudong International Airport along the peninsula’s eastern side has been somewhat compensated by the conservation and growth of the neighboring Jiuduansha shoals as a nature park. Because Shanghai is located on an alluvial plain, the great majority of its 6,340.5 km2 (2,448.1 sq mi) land area is flat, with an average elevation of 4 m. (13 ft). Its sandy terrain has necessitated the construction of skyscrapers with deep concrete piles to prevent them from sinking into the soft ground of the core region. The few hills to the southwest, such as She Shan, are the highest point, while the highest point in Hangzhou Bay is the top of Dajinshan Island (103 m or 338 ft). As part of the Lake Tai drainage basin, the city contains several rivers, canals, streams, and lakes and is noted for its abundant water resources.

Economy of Shanghai

Shanghai is mainland China’s commercial and financial hub, ranking 16th in the 2016 edition of the Global Financial Centres Index released by the Z/Yen Group and the Qatar Financial Centre Authority. During the 1930s, it was the biggest and most affluent metropolis in East Asia, and significant redevelopment started in the 1990s. The Pudong District, a former swampland restored to serve as a trial region for integrated economic changes, exemplifies this. There were 787 financial institutions at the end of 2009, with 170 of them being foreign-invested. In 2009, the Shanghai Stock Exchange ranked third among global stock exchanges in terms of trading volume and sixth in terms of total capitalization of listed companies, and the trading volume of six key commodities on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, including rubber, copper, and zinc, all ranked first in the world.

With the support of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the city created the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free-Trade Zone in September 2013, making it the first free-trade zone in mainland China. The Zone implemented a series of experimental changes aimed at creating a favorable climate for international investment. The Banker claimed in April 2014 that Shanghai “attracted the biggest quantities of financial sector foreign direct investment in the Asia-Pacific region in the year to the end of January 2014.” Shanghai was chosen the Chinese Province of the Future 2014/15 by FDi magazine in August 2014, citing “especially outstanding achievements in the Business Friendliness and Connectivity categories, as well as coming second in the Economic Potential, Human Capital, and Lifestyle categories.” Shanghai has been one of the world’s fastest growing cities during the previous two decades.

Except for the global recessions of 2008 and 2009, Shanghai has had double-digit growth practically every year since 1992. Shanghai’s overall GDP increased to 1.92 trillion yuan (US$297 billion) in 2011, with a GDP per capita of 82,560 yuan (US $12,784). Financial services, retail, and real estate are the three main service businesses. Manufacturing and agriculture contributed 39.9 percent and 0.7 percent of total production, respectively. Based on the first three quarters of 2009, the average yearly disposable income of Shanghai residents was 21,871 RMB. Shanghai, located in the Yangtze River Delta, is the world’s busiest container port, which handled 29.05 million TEUs in 2010. Shanghai aspires to be a worldwide maritime hub in the not-too-distant future. Shanghai is one of China’s major industrial cities, with a significant role in the country’s heavy industries.

Shanghai’s secondary industry is supported by a significant number of industrial zones, including Shanghai Hongqiao Economic and Technological Development Zone, Jinqiao Export Economic Processing Zone, Minhang Economic and Technological Development Zone, and Shanghai Caohejing High-Tech Development Zone. In 2009, heavy industries accounted for 78% of total industrial production. Shanghai is home to China’s biggest steelmaker, Baosteel Group, China’s largest shipbuilding base, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group, and Jiangnan Shipyard, one of China’s oldest shipbuilders. Another significant business is automobile manufacturing. SAIC Motor, situated in Shanghai, is one of China’s three major automotive firms, having strategic alliances with Volkswagen and General Motors. The conference and meeting industry is also expanding.

The city welcomed 780 foreign events in 2012, up from 754 in 2011. The vast supply of hotel rooms has kept room prices lower than predicted, with the average four- and five-star hotel room fee in 2012 being just RMB950 (US$153). Shanghai also has the biggest free-trade zone in mainland China, the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free-Trade Zone, which opened in September 2013. The zone encompasses 29 square kilometers and incorporates four existing bonded zones: Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, Waigaoqiao Free Trade Logistics Park, Yangshan Free Trade Port Area, and Pudong Airport Comprehensive Free Trade Zone. Several advantageous measures have been put in place to entice international investment in a variety of sectors to the FTZ. Because the Zone is officially not considered PRC territory for tax reasons, goods entering the zone are not subject to tariff and customs clearance as they would otherwise.

Internet, Comunication in Shanghai

Shanghai’s area code for landlines is 21, adding a “0” at the beginning if calling from outside of the city. For international calls add 86, the country code for China.

Shanghai seems to have far fewer Internet cafes than other Chinese cities, but there are some. Most of the bars that cater to the expatriate community and many of the foreign-based fast food chains — Starbucks, KFC. Duncan Donuts and likely others — offer free WiFi. Many hotels also provide WiFi service at prices from free to exorbitant; it is moderately common to find free service in one part of a hotel, such as a coffee shop, but substantial charges elsewhere, such as from the rooms.

Things to know about Shanghai



With English a required subject in Chinese schools, more and more people have at least a basic knowledge of English. You will probably find that most people working in the tourism industry have a fairly good command of the language, as do many people working in the service industry, i.e. in stores, restaurants and even salespeople in subway stations. English is probably better understood than spoken by many, and Chinese people are notoriously afraid of making fools of themselves in public, so make sure your questions are clear and easy to answer. Two characteristics of Shanghai people are useful – traditional Chinese hospitality, where most people really want to help when asked, and Shanghai toughness.

Don’t be afraid to approach an elderly person, even an unlikely one, with an arsenal of thoughtful and explicit gestures, notes in Chinese, cards or photos if necessary. In the worst case, choose someone younger and/or in a higher position, as both are more likely to have a better grasp of English and feel more comfortable with a foreigner. Everyday Chinese is a fairly simple language, so most people won’t be offended if you also avoid polite English and focus on the most important parts of your message, e.g. “Where is subway station?” probably works better than “Would you be so kind and direct me to the nearest subway station if you will?

When haggling in stores, calculators are often used to “discuss” prices. Savvy shopkeepers in tourist areas equip their staff with them, but don’t hesitate to pull out a calculator (or a calculator app on your cell phone) if the other party doesn’t have one. Remember that “4” is an unlucky number and prices containing it should be avoided, which you can use to your advantage (for example, by offering “39” instead of 40 – whatever). Note that cab and Uber drivers are often either older, working class, or from the immigrant population, and thus as a group have a lower than average level of English. It is therefore advisable to have your destinations and hotel address written in Chinese. Some hotels even provide small brochures with the name and address of the hotel and the main tourist sites in English and simplified Chinese.

in Chinese language

The native language of most residents, Shanghainese or Wu dialect, should not be confused with Mandarin, Cantonese, Minnan (Taiwanese/Hokkien) or any other form of Chinese. The use of Shanghainese as the city’s de facto “first” language has been encouraged by the government and its use is declining, partly because of the use of Mandarin in the mass media and partly because many migrant workers from other parts of China who do not speak Shanghainese live in Shanghai. As in other parts of China, Mandarin is the lingua franca. Since Shanghai has been China’s main commercial center since the 1920s, all Shanghainese-speaking locals can also speak Mandarin, so you will have no problem speaking Mandarin with locals.

Nevertheless, attempts to speak Shanghainese are appreciated and can help you to be appreciated by the locals. Wu speakers have a particular accent when speaking Mandarin. Mandarin is heavily tone-based, and Beijing speakers are easy to understand (most textbooks rely on their accent or an approximation of it). Shanghai speakers have adopted some features of Wu into their Mandarin. While this would not be a problem in other languages, the slightest change in pronunciation can make understanding Mandarin much more difficult, as it is phonemic and tonal. It is better to say “说慢一点” (shuō màn yī diǎn), which means “speak a little slower”.

Operator assistance

An incredibly useful resource for visitors and expatriates alike is the Shanghai Call Center. The call center was established before the Expo and is run as a public service. It is a toll-free number that provides information on bus, subway and cab directions, hours of operation and tourist attractions, and can even be used as a free translation service. If you are having trouble getting through to your cab driver or salesperson, feel free to call the number and pass the handset back and forth so the employee can translate.

The so-called “Magic Number” can be reached from cell phones in Shanghai at 962288. Chinese cell phones from other cities should dial 021 962288 and international phones should dial +86 021 962288. You will be greeted with a brief message in Mandarin, followed by a series of instructions in English. The service is available in several European languages, including English and Spanish. The service itself is free, but you pay the cost of the phone call.


One of the problems you’re likely to face is jostling rather than queuing; in fact, it can be worse in bustling Shanghai than elsewhere. Whether it’s at a ticket counter, a busy fast food outlet, or even a grocery store, everyone is jostling to meet an employee and doing everything they can to be the first in and out. If possible, avoid this situation from the start; for example, reload your metro card a little early if you see a quiet ticket counter. Pushing in the subway is normal, especially at the chaotic People’s Square station. Just jump in and push; don’t feel sorry.

However, compared to public transport in other Chinese cities, Shanghai people are better at letting people off first, and wild jostling around empty seats is not so bad – your behavior should be adapted to the situation: If the station is crowded, jostling is acceptable, but if it is not, you’ll be considered an “uncivilized foreigner” instead. During off-peak hours, stay to the right on the escalators to let people pass. Note that Shanghai Metro drivers close the doors and leave when scheduled, even if passengers are still boarding. When you hear the “door closing alarm” (usually a series of beeps), move away from the doors (especially on the older Line 1 and Line 2 trains, as the doors close very quickly and may not reopen if blocked).

Work permits and visa extensions

  • Shanghai Entry and Exit Bureau, 1500 Mingsheng Rd, Pudong District, +86-21-63577925. 9-11:30 and 13:30-4:30, Monday to Friday. This office processes work permits and visa extensions. It also issues a form that consulates need if you want to replace a lost or stolen passport.

The nearest subway station is Science and Technology Museum on line 2. Exit the station at Exit 3 and head east when you leave the escalator; continue on the sidewalk heading east. There are two fairly long blocks, about a 5 minute walk. At a large intersection after the Pudong Expo building, you will see the office (a kind of oval building) on your right. The office is on the other side of the street, Ming Sheng Rd, and you can access it through the parking lot. Take the escalator to the third floor to access the foreigners’ area. (The second floor is for Chinese passports only, the second floor is for residents of Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan).

Draw a number from the ticket machine. There are different sets of numbers for different departments; an English-speaking staff member will stand by the machine to make sure you get the right number. Everyone needs a photo for the visa form and a photocopy of the main page of the passport; for an extension, you also need a photocopy of the current visa. You can get photocopies on the third floor (in the back left corner of the room, seen from the service counters) and photos on the first floor (under the escalators). Be prepared for some waiting time. The office is large and very efficient, but according to the 2010 census, more than 200,000 foreigners lived in Shanghai.

If each of them renews their visa once a year, that’s more than 750 people per working day. Expect a waiting time of 30 minutes to three hours to file an application, and three days to two weeks to process it. To minimize waiting time, it is advisable to arrive around 8:30 a.m., wait in line until 8:45 a.m. when the doors open, take a number, and hope to be served shortly after the counters open at 9:00 a.m. If you apply, you will receive a form indicating the date and cost of collecting your passport with the new visa. The pick-up is on the first floor, just to the right as you enter the building. You will have to wait in line twice, first (with the form in hand) to pay and then (with the receipt in hand) to pick up your passport.

How To Travel To Shanghai

Shanghai is one of China’s major communication hubs and is easy to get to from just about anywhere.

Get In - By plane

Shanghai has two major airportsPudong is the main international airport and Hongqiao is mainly used for domestic flights, but also for some international destinations in Asia. The transfer between the two airports takes about an hour by cab. There are also direct shuttle buses. The journey between the two airports takes about two hours by subway. Both airports are located on Line 2, the main east-west line through downtown Shanghai, but at opposite ends of the line. You can shorten the time a bit by traveling part of the way by magnetic levitation train (described in the next section).

A traveler with a few hours to spare who wants to see Shanghai quickly (and doesn’t have too much luggage) could get off at Nanjing Road East and walk a few blocks to the Bund. Free maps of central Shanghai, with the main sights marked in English, are available on small shelves upon arrival at any of the airports. It is worth getting them on the way, as there are no free maps anywhere except in some hotels. Both airports also offer direct bus connections to nearby major cities such as Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing, although the new high-speed trains are preferable, especially from Hongqiao Airport, whose station is nearby (a subway station or a fairly long walk). Airline tickets for domestic flights are best booked in advance at one of the many travel agencies or online, but can also be purchased at the airport on the day of departure.

Airfare is generally cheap, but varies by season; expect to pay ¥400-1200 for a Beijing-Shanghai trip. The Shanghai-based low-cost airline Spring Airlines flies to most major Chinese destinations and often offers significant discounts on tickets booked through its website. For budget-conscious travelers, it is often more advantageous to book a flight along a major transportation route (Shanghai-Beijing, Shanghai-Guangzhou, Shanghai-Shenzhen, etc.) and make the rest of the trip by bus or train. Hangzhou city, about 45 minutes by train from Shanghai, is also worth considering if it is difficult to find tickets to Pudong or Hongqiao. Even if you are from Southeast Asia, as Air Asia offers a cheap flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hangzhou.


Pudong Airport (40 km southeast of the city). It is the main international airport of Shanghai. The most interesting way to get to Shanghai is to take the world’s fastest train, the magnetic levitation train (Maglev). It covers the 30.5 km in 7 minutes and reaches a top speed of 450 km/h, although the speed is limited to 310 km/h during off-peak hours. One-way tickets cost ¥50 and round-trip tickets (return trip in the same week) cost ¥80.

The magnetic levitation train stops at Longyang Station in Pudong, which is still quite far from the city center and therefore not necessarily close to your final destination. You will find connections with subway lines 2, 7 and the new line 16. If you have heavy luggage, it is certainly more convenient to take a cab or hotel bus from the airport to your final destination in Shanghai. Longyang Station also houses a magnetic levitation train museum, where you can learn about the operation of the magnetic levitation train.


Hongqiao Airport (west of downtown, in Changning district). The oldest airport in Shanghai, much closer to the center than Pudong. It is mainly used for domestic flights, the only exception being shuttle flights to Tokyo-Haneda, Seoul-Gimpo, Hong Kong, Macau and Taipei-Songshan. There are two terminals: the shiny, new and huge T2, used by virtually all airlines, and the old, squalid and relatively small T1, used only by low-cost carrier Spring Airlines and international city shuttle services.

You can take the airport shuttle between the terminals, although it can take up to 45 minutes with waiting and travel times. Those in a hurry can take the subway line 10 between the two terminals, which costs ¥3 a ticket. T2 is directly served by the subway line 2, which connects the airport to People’s Square and, to the east, to Pudong Airport. Trains run from 5:35am in the morning to 10:50pm in the evening (connections to and from Pudong Airport are limited in time). Line 10, which also serves central Shanghai but on a different route, serves both T1 and T2. Finally, Line 5, the main line through the southern suburbs of Minhang, will be extended to the airport at the northern end and to Fengxian in the south.

In addition, two new lines are to be built from the airport, Line 20 to the north and Line 17 to the west. As of early 2015, neither of these lines is in service. A cab can cover the 12km to the city in 20 minutes on a good day, but allow an extra 30 minutes for the queue, especially if you arrive after 7pm. Find out which terminal your flight departs from before you get to the airport, as the English signage is confusing, cab drivers can’t help you, and the shuttle bus between terminals runs every half hour with an extra 20-minute ride.

Due to the extension of the subway line, the Hongqiao Airport Special Line bus (机场专线) has been replaced by a night bus (虹桥机场T2夜宵巴士) that serves Jing’an Temple, People’s Square and Lujiazui every 10-30 minutes from 10pm:30 hours (when the subway closes) to 45 minutes after the last arrival of the day for ¥10 (to Jingan Temple ‘or People’s Square) or ¥16 (to Lujiazui). The bus leaves from Gate 1 at the arrivals level of Terminal 2. Tickets are purchased on the bus just before departure. Bus: Although Hongqiao Airport has fewer airport bus lines than Pudong, there are more public bus lines connected to Hongqiao. The buses below go to T1, take the free shuttle bus to T2 if necessary or use subway line 10 if you are in a hurry.

  • No. 806: These buses leave from Hongqiao Airport to Lupu Bridge every 5-15 minutes between 6am and 9:30pm. The line also has a stop in Xujiahui, and the whole trip costs ¥5.
  • No. 807: These buses leave from Hongqiao Airport between 6:00 am and 10:30 am to Zhenguang New Village in Putuo District and stop at Shanghai Zoo and some other tourist sites. ¥2.
  • No. 1207: this bus only runs between the airport and the Shanghai Zoo. ¥2.

Since the opening of the subway link to the airport, two buses no longer stop at Hongqiao, leaving only the two routes mentioned above. However, a public bus line has now been moved to T2. The reverse is also true: take the free shuttle or metro to T1 if necessary. Note that the bus service to T2 splits boarding and deboarding – all passengers arriving at T2 get off at the airport departures level, but those who wish to board must get on the bus at the bus hub on the second floor of the airport/metro station complex.

  • No. 941: Connects Hongqiao Airport to Shanghai Railway Station. The line runs from 6:30am to 10:30am to the airport and 11am from the airport. ¥4. The interval between trips is 10-12 minutes. Look for waiting room 1.

In addition, the next night bus runs between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. from T2 for all those who arrive late at night and need to get to destinations not covered by the T1 night bus:

  • No. 316: Connects the airport to the Bund and follows the subway line 2 to Zhongshan Park, then stops near Changshou Road (line 7), Xinzha Road (line 1) and East Nanjing Road (line 2/10) before ending at the Bund.

An additional night bus from the station side is also available.

  • No. 320: Connects the station with the Bund, but takes a different route in between. This bus stops near the tourist part of Hongmei Road, then follows subway line 10 to Jiaotong University, stops at Xujiahui, continues with line 10, then follows line 1 around the Changshu Road stop until it reaches the Xintiandi area, then stops one last time at Yu Gardens before ending at the Bund.

Get In - By train

Shanghai has several major railway stations, including

  • Shanghai Railway Station (上海站) (on metro lines 1, 3 and 4) Shanghai’s largest and oldest railway station is located in Zhabei District. In the past, almost all trains stopped here, including those to Hong Kong. However, the southern trains are transferred to the Southern Station and the high-speed trains to the new Hongqiao Station.
  • Shanghai Hongqiao Station (上海虹桥站) (on metro lines 2 and 10). This is a large new station located in the same building complex as Hongqiao Airport. The adjacent subway station has the same name, Hongqiao Railway Station, and is one station after Hongqiao Airport Station. High-speed trains to Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, Kunshan, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Zhenjiang, Nanjing, Hefei, Wuhan, Jiaxing, Hangzhou, Hefei and other smaller stations use this station. edit
  • Shanghai South Station (上海南站) (on metro lines 1 and 3) in Xuhui District. It offers connections to the south, except for high-speed trains on the Shanghai-Hangzhou High Speed Line, which now use the new Hongqiao Station, as well as connections to Hong Kong (due to the lack of immigration and customs facilities). edit
  • Shanghai West Railway Station (上海西站) / Nanxiang North Railway Station (南翔北站) / Anting North Railway Station (安亭北站): some high-speed trains to Nanjing stop at these smaller stations. In addition, some trains to and from Shanghai Station have connections with other trains. Shanghai West Station is located on Metro Line 11.
  • Shanghai East Railway Station. Plans to build the station in the Pudong Chuansha district were announced in 2012.

Self-service machines are widely available and can be used to check train schedules in English, but you can only buy tickets there if you have a Chinese ID card. Tickets can also be easily reserved in advance at one of the many travel agencies or at the ticket office of each station. Please note that tickets for Hong Kong are sold out 60 days in advance and that the Hong Kong-Shanghai route is quickly sold out.

  • Beijing (北京) – Since June 2011, there has been a brand new express connection to Beijing, with the shortest travel time being 4 hours and 48 minutes. In addition, there are several fast overnight trains with sleeping cars running daily. These trains have the code D-Prefix and take just over 10 hours to connect Shanghai to Beijing. The fare is about 730 yen for a lower sleeper and 655 yen for an upper sleeper; the trains are very clean and the four-person cabins are quite comfortable. In some of these trains, double rooms are also available, the price is about 1470 yen for a lower bed and 1300 yen for an upper bed. Double rooms in D trains do not have private bathrooms. On the same new train, normal second-class seats are available for about ¥327. For a normal berth on a standard train that takes 13 hours to travel from Shanghai to Beijing, it costs between ¥306 and ¥327 for a hard berth or about ¥478 to ¥499 for a soft berth. Sleeping cars for two people are available in one of the T series trains, with a private bathroom and a sofa. The price is ¥881 for the upper berth and ¥921 for the lower berth. However, tickets for these cheaper normal sleeping cars are usually very rare.
  • Hong Kong (香港) – The T99/T100 train to and from Hong Kong departs every other day (alternating between Shanghai→Hong Kong and Hong Kong→Shanghai) from Shanghai Station (T99 departs by 6:20 pm, T100 arrives by 10:00 am) and arrives at Hung Hom Station in Kowloon (T99 arrives by 1:00 pm, T100 departs by 3:15 pm). People traveling alone should count ¥800 per ride for the soft sleeper, but discounts are available for groups (e.g. ¥364 per ride per person in the soft sleeper for a group of 4 people). Unless you are on a very tight budget, try to get the “Deluxe Soft Sleeper”, which has twin-bedded compartments and a private power outlet like on the mainland (but with the introduction of new train cars, the regular Soft Sleeper also has a private power outlet for each room, as well as one in the corridor of each car). Space is limited, so we advise you to make reservations early. Keep in mind that you will still need to go through customs, so you will need a new visa to return to mainland China (unless you have a multiple entry visa). However, customs clearance at the train station is much faster than at the airport.
  • Lhasa (拉萨) – The train to and from Lhasa, Tibet, departs daily from Shanghai Station. It takes just under 50 hours to get to Lhasa. A fixed seat costs ¥406 and a fixed reclining seat about ¥900, a soft reclining seat about ¥1300. Oxygen is available for every passenger on the Golmud-Lhasa route. For non-Chinese citizens, a Tibet travel permit is required.

The new CRH high-speed trains (200+ km/h) from Shanghai go southwest to Nanchang and Changsha or north to Beijing, Zhengzhou and Qingdao. These trains are very comfortable and convenient. In this case, the line codes are indicated by D. The high-speed trains (300+ km/h) to Nanjing and Hangzhou have a G as a prefix. It is now possible to travel to Hong Kong with the CRH fast train. The journey via Nanchang continues to Guangzhou, and another train takes you to Shenzhen, which is directly adjacent to Hong Kong. From there, you can walk across the border and take the subway into the city center. Alternatively, the CRH line along the coast is in operation and leads from Shanghai to Shenzhen via Wenzhou, Fuzhou, Xiamen and Shantou. The total travel time is about twelve hours and the cost is about ¥600.

Get In - By bus

There are several long distance bus stations in Shanghai. You should try to buy your tickets as soon as possible.

  • Beiqu Station for long distance travelers – 80 Gongxing Lu
  • Hengfeng Road Express Passenger Station (恒丰路客运站) 270 Hengfeng Lu – This station is one of the largest and is located north of the central station. It serves most destinations in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, as well as a few more distant cities like Beijing and Guangzhou. It’s well organized, but can be a bit difficult to find – especially after the renovation of the North Station square. From Shanghai Railway Station (North) subway station (lines 3 and 4), take exit #1. You will come out in the middle of a construction site. Turn left and go straight and you will eventually find it (after an unpleasant 10-minute walk). Motorcycle cabs stop near the station exit and will take you there for about ¥5 if you negotiate insistently – but they can be pushy and aggressive.
  • Zhongshan Beilu Long Distance Passenger Station 1015 Zhongshan Bei Lu
  • Xujiahui 211 Hongqiao Lu passenger station
  • Pudong Tangqiao Long Distance Passenger Station 3842 Pudong Nan Lu

Get In - By car

In recent years, many highways have been built to connect Shanghai with other cities in the region, including Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, etc. The 36 km Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the longest sea bridge in the world, can reach Shanghai in only 50 minutes from Hangzhou and 2.5 hours from Ningbo.

Get In - By boat

There are weekly ferry connections from Kobe and Osaka (Japan) and from Hong Kong.

  • Shanghai Ferry Company, e-mail: [email protected]. Service once a week from Shanghai to Osaka and vice versa. Lasts two nights. ¥1.300-6.500.
  • Japan-China International Ferry Company, 18th Floor, Jinan No.908 Dong Da Ming Rd, +86 21 63257642, fax: +86 021-65957818, every week alternating with Osaka and Kobe as the Japanese departure and arrival city.

How To Get Around In Shanghai

Shanghai has an excellent public transportation system, with an extensive subway and light rail system forming the backbone of the city. There are also good, if sometimes congested, roads, plenty of buses and cabs, which are much cheaper than in most Western cities.

Metro cards

If you plan to stay in Shanghai for more than a few days, a metro card – also known as the Shanghai Jiaotong Card (上海公共交通卡) or Shanghai Public Transportation Card – is a must. You can get these cards at every subway station as well as at some stores like Alldays and KeDi Marts.

You can load the card with money and use it on buses, subways and even cabs. This saves you from having to buy tickets (sometimes with long lines) and keep change for buses and cabs. Moreover, the card allows you to change lines at some stations where, without it, you would have to buy another ticket, and you get a ¥1 discount for each bus or subway transfer.

These cards do not need to make contact with the card reader to work; it is often observed that someone simply swipes their wallet, purse or shoulder bag over the reader without removing the card, and this almost always works. The card can be used once, once the money runs out; a maximum “overage” of 8 yen is allowed.

The cards come in different sizes – normal (credit card size), mini, and “strap” (to be attached to a cell phone) – and there are special editions of each with interesting pictures. In general, ATMs only allow reloading of normal size cards, and only in multiples of ¥50 or ¥100. There are a few exceptions, such as the ATMs at line 6 and 8 stations, which accept all sizes of cards. At the service counters in the subway stations, any type of card can be reloaded in multiples of ¥10.

A deposit of ¥20 is required for the card. Regular cards can be returned for a deposit refund, but not mini cards or belt cards. For all types of cards, the balance on the card can be returned immediately if it is less than ¥10. If the balance on your card is between ¥10 and ¥2,000, you must bring a receipt to request the return of the money; however, a 5% processing fee will be applied. Some subway stations have special offices for returning cards. These include the following stations

  • Line 1 – Hanzhong Rd, Hengshan Rd, Jinjiang Park;
  • Line 2 – Jiangsu Rd, E Nanjing Rd, Century Park, Songhong Rd ;
  • Line 3 – Dongbaoxing Rd, Zhenping Rd, Caoxi Rd, North Jiangyang Rd ;
  • line 4 – Yangshupu Rd.

You can also use the Shanghai Public Transportation Card Service Center, No 609, Jiujiang Rd, M-F 9:30-6:30PM, Sa-Di 9:30-4:30PM.

Get Around - By Metro

Shanghai’s subway system is great – fast, cheap (¥3-10 depending on distance), air-conditioned, and fairly user-friendly with bilingual signs and station announcements in Mandarin and English. The downsides are that the trains can get very crowded during rush hour, trains no longer run at night, and the network doesn’t go everywhere yet, though it is constantly expanding. As of early 2016, the following lines are in operation: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 16. Shanghai Metro is the longest metro system in the world and the second busiest in the world (after Beijing Metro). All lines, except lines 5, 6 and 16, run through the central areas of Shanghai. Lines 2, 9 and 10 run east-west through the central districts, while lines 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13 run north-south. Line 1 runs diagonally through the center and Line 4 runs all the way around the city center.

The most convenient way is to pay with a subway card (see previous paragraph). There are also day passes that can be purchased for ¥18 and are valid for 24 hours after the first use. ATMs accept ¥1 or ¥0.5 bills and coins, have instructions in English and can give change. Most stations on lines 1 to 3 also have staff selling tickets, but on the recently introduced lines 6, 8 and 9, tickets can only be purchased from the vending machines, and staff only help to top up credit on the cards or in case of problems.

If there are any seats left, you should be prepared for a real scramble as passengers jostle and fight for the free seats. You can try to do the same, but remember that everyone has a lot more experience than you! Also, watch out for pickpockets, who might use this rush to their advantage.

At the end of 2012, twelve lines were in service, seven more are under construction, and some existing lines are being expanded. In the central areas, most lines (except for lines 3 and 4) are underground. In the suburbs, most are overhead and many are on elevated tracks. The network comprises over 500 km (250 miles) and over 250 stations. On average, about 6 million trips are made each day. There is a color code; each line has a specific color on all maps and signs and often also in the station equipment.

At some stations, transfers between lines may involve a very long walk. In most places, you can move freely from one line to another with a single ticket. There are exceptions, however, where two or more lines have stations with the same name, but the stations are separate, so you need a second ticket for the second train. (Unless you have a metro card)

The different stations with the same name are

  • Shanghai Railway Station – lines 3/4 and 1 are separate stations
  • West Nanjing Road Station – lines 2, 12 and 13 are in separate stations, a few minutes away from each other.
  • Pudian Lu – lines 4 and 6; go either to Century Ave or Lancun Lu to change between these lines

Most stations have retail facilities; in many they are limited to a few snack bars, but some (e.g. Xujiahui and People’s Park) have large food courts and shopping areas directly in the station. From many stations – at least from Xujiahui, South Shaanxi Road. Nanjing Road East and Zhongshan Park – it is possible to directly access large stores or shopping malls without having to go outside.

Get Around - By taxi

The cab (“出租车” chūzūchē or choo-tzoo-chuh) is a good choice for getting around town, especially during off-peak hours. It is affordable – ¥14 for the first 3 kilometers during the day, ¥18 after 11pm, ¥2.4/km up to 10 km, and ¥3.5/km after that; if the wheels are not rolling, time is also recorded and charged, but the first 5 minutes are free; a ¥1 fuel surcharge is also applied. The trip from the center to Pudong airport costs about ¥200.

Avoid paying for short trips with ¥100 bills; either use a metro card or have change on hand; cab drivers do not like to give change. Also, the ¥50 bill is very popular with counterfeiters, and a foreigner who does not know money can easily get a counterfeit bill, so avoid getting a ¥50 bill as change. Cab drivers usually do not speak English. Get a business card from the hotel, restaurant or store you like so you can easily return. Shanghai is a huge city, so you should also get the nearest intersection to your destination, as even addresses in Chinese are often useless. If you have a cell phone, you can also use the phone number on the back of the cab. Dial the number and tell the English-speaking employee where you want to go. Give the phone to the driver and the agent will tell him in Chinese where you want to go. If necessary, the agent can also find the addresses of bars and other places for you.

It’s very difficult to find a cab during rush hour and when it’s raining, so be prepared to wait a while or walk to a busy pick-up location. Foreign visitors may be surprised by the lack of politeness and queuing in cabs, so don’t be afraid to get in – first come, first served. There are a few cab stops where employees line up in order; this can be the fastest way to get a cab in a busy part of town, but there aren’t many of them, so expect to walk a bit to get one.

Although drivers are generally honest, they are sometimes really oblivious and occasionally try to catch you off guard. Drivers are very aware of the use of the gauge, but if they forget, remind them. Also, a receipt is required by law, but if the fare seems too high, don’t be afraid to ask for one, as it will be necessary to obtain any compensation. If you feel that you have been cheated or mistreated by the driver, you (or a Chinese-speaking friend) can use the information on the printed receipt to complain to the cab company about the driver in question. The driver is required to pay triple the fare when asked by the cab company, so he usually takes the right path. The printed receipt is also useful for contacting the driver if you have forgotten something in the cab and need to retrieve it.

When you pass a row of parked cabs and have a choice of which one you want to get into, you should check the driver’s cab card, which is located next to the taximeter on the dashboard. The higher the number, the newer the driver and the more likely it is that they don’t know where they are going. Those with numbers between 10XXXX and 12XXXX are the most experienced drivers; a number higher than 27XXXX indicates a new driver who is likely to get lost. Another option is to check the number of stars the driver has; these are displayed below the driver’s picture on the dashboard. The number of stars indicates how long the driver has been in the cab business and how much positive feedback they have received from customers. They range from zero to five stars. Drivers with one star or more should know all the important places in Shanghai, and those with three stars should be able to recognize lesser known addresses. Keep in mind that it takes some time to get these stars, so don’t panic if you have a driver who doesn’t have any stars – just let him assure you that he knows where he’s going and you shouldn’t have any problems.

If you need to take a cab from one side of the Huangpu River to the other, especially from Pudong to Puxi, make sure your driver is capable of making the trip and knows where he or she is going; some drivers only know their side of the city and may get lost once they cross the river. On rainy days and during rush hour, cabs are notoriously difficult to get, so plan your routes accordingly. As the passages between Pudong and Puxi are often congested, it can be more expensive and slower to take a cab than the subway. It may be better to take the subway across the river and then take a cab.

The colors of cabs in Shanghai are strictly controlled and indicate which company the cab belongs to. The turquoise cabs of Dazhong (大众), the largest group, are often considered the best of the group. Another good cab company, Qiangsheng (强生), uses gold-colored cabs. Other large companies include Jinjiang (锦江), which uses white cabs, and Bashi (巴士), which uses light green cabs. Watch out for dark red/brown cabs, as this is the “standard” color of small cab companies and there are more than enough bad apples. Privately owned cabs (you can easily recognize them by the fact that they have an “X” in their license plate and are not the standard Volkswagen Santana used by most cab companies) are also among them. Dark red/brown cabs sometimes “stall” on the meter and charge 4-5 times the normal fare – especially in the tourist areas of Yuyuan Gardens. On the other hand, light red and blue cabs are unionized and quite decent, plus more cab drivers of 3-star and above work for these companies. Bright orange cabs only operate in the suburbs and are not allowed in the urban area, but their meters start at ¥11 and count ¥2.4/km regardless of the length of the trip, making them a bit cheaper if you don’t want to go downtown (general rule: if you want to go inside the outer ring road, you shouldn’t take a cab, but if the trip ends inside the outer ring road, you may find a driver willing to comply). Also worth mentioning are the “Expo cabs” – Volkswagen Tourans and Buick Lacrosses. These are the only cabs allowed on the Expo site. These days, getting one or not is a gamble; most companies don’t have the option of requesting one separately when making a reservation by phone, so don’t count on getting one.

The Smart Shanghai app (about €2.00 in the App Store) or the Smart Shanghai website will help you find a cab. Search for the tourist site, restaurant, hotel or bar you are looking for in the app or on the website and click on the “Taxi Directions” button to get the address in Chinese. Just show it to the driver and you are already on your way!

Get Around - By bus

The bus system is cheaper and much more extensive than the subway, and some lines operate after the subway closes (line numbers beginning with 3 are the night buses, which run after 11pm). However, the buses are generally slower and all information at the stops is in Chinese, but you can find a handy list of bus routes and stops in English here. Inside the bus, announcements are in English.

Some buses have a ticket inspector; get on, sit down and he or (more often) she passes; pay him or her and you will receive a paper ticket and possibly some change. Ticket prices depend on the distance and the ticket inspectors rarely speak English. So you must either know your destination and be able to pronounce it in Chinese, or have it written in Chinese characters.

Other buses have no ticket inspector, only the driver; there is a fixed price for the trip, usually ¥2 if the buses are air-conditioned, and ¥1.5 on the increasingly rare trips with old buses without air-conditioning. Ask on the bus itself, as on some routes the fare varies from bus to bus; usually the fare is on a sign outside near the door and/or on the fare indicator. You must pay the exact fare unless you have a metro pass; have exact change on hand and place it in the box next to the driver.

If you change buses with a subway ticket, you get a ¥1 discount on the second ticket price and on all other trips. There is a 90-minute window during which you can change buses. So if you don’t spend too much time at your destination, the discount also applies to the beginning of the return trip.

There are several companies that offer sightseeing buses with different routes and packages covering major sights such as Shanghai Zoo, Oriental Pearl Tower and Baoyang Road Harbor. Many of these buses depart from the Shanghai Stadium East Bus Station. You can also take a bus downtown on Nanjing Road, near the park, between People’s Park and Nanjing Road West subway stations.

Get Around - On foot

Shanghai is a good city for walking, especially in older neighborhoods like the Bund, but be aware that the city is incredibly dynamic and sidewalks can be blocked or uncomfortable near construction sites. If a subway station is on a busy street, it can usually be used as a pedestrian underpass to another subway exit on the other side of the path.

Some of the distances in Shanghai are immense, so at some point you will have to use other means of transportation. However, many people get around just fine with a subway pass and their feet, and maybe a cab from time to time.

The Bund “tourist tunnel” is very strange and doesn’t actually show you any of the city’s sights. It is, however, an unusual (if expensive) way to cross the river.

As in all of China, priority is almost proportional to weight: cars take precedence over motorcycles, which in turn take precedence over pedestrians. Motorcycles and bicycles rarely use headlights and can come from any direction. They are the primary users of curbs for sidewalks, so stay off them. Avoid unpredictable movements when walking or crossing streets: Motorists see you and can estimate where you will be based on your speed.

Get Around - By ferry

A very useful ferry connects the Bund (from a ferry terminal a few blocks south of Nanjing Road, next to the KFC restaurant) to the Lujiazui financial district in Pudong (the terminal is about 10 minutes south of the Pearl TV Tower and Lujiazui subway station) and is the cheapest way to cross the river, at ¥2 per person. The ferry is air-conditioned and only accepts pedestrians (bicycles are not allowed, except for foldable models). Buy a token at the ticket office and insert it in the turnstile to enter the waiting room – the boats leave every 10 minutes and take a little more than 5 minutes to cross. This is a good (and much cheaper) alternative to using the Bund tourist tunnel. However, the ferry stations are not directly connected to public transportation, so you will have to walk a bit.

Get Around - By bicycle

For locals, bicycles are slowly being supplanted by electric scooters, but they remain an easy way to get around for visitors who may be reluctant to interact with motorists or hop on crowded public transportation-or who just want to get some sun. Be aware of local driving habits: Larger vehicles have the right of way, and a red light does not mean it is safe to cross the road. Bicycles and mopeds are not allowed on many main roads (signs indicate this), nor in the tunnels and on the bridges between Pudong and Puxi (the only way to cross them is by ferry).

It is possible to rent bicycles in some hostels and many department stores sell them from about ¥200. Alternatively, you can get an old bike at Baoshan subway station for about ¥300. It is also easy to find bicycles in the streets around Suzhou Creek or in the residential areas of the old city.

There is a free bike system run by the city, but the racks work with a card, and since 2012, the cards were only available to registered Shanghai residents; even migrant workers from other parts of China were excluded. There are many stands in the city, each with a few dozen bikes; with a card, you can take one. If you return it within four hours to any stand, it is free.

Get Around - By car

Driving in Shanghai is not recommended for a variety of reasons, even for those who have previous experience driving in the country. Not only do they have to deal with a very complex road system and seemingly constant traffic jams, but also with Chinese driving habits and ongoing construction work. In addition, parking spaces are scarce and almost impossible to find. Bicycles, scooters and pedestrians are also ubiquitous, giving the city a real big city feel. It is also not uncommon for cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians to suddenly and without warning rush in front of a car. In short, don’t take your car if you can avoid it and use Shanghai’s excellent public transportation system instead.

While there are virtually no motorcycle rentals, electric bikes and scooters are a cheap, fast and convenient way to get around for long-term visitors. Electric bikes do not require a driver’s license and are less expensive, but the battery life is short (about 50 km), the maximum speed is low, and they are often targeted by thieves. You can buy an inexpensive electric bike at any large supermarket – a new model costs about ¥1,500-2,500. Smaller stores also sell modified e-bikes (scooters converted to electric power), which are more expensive, but faster, more comfortable and have a longer battery life. Motorcycles up to 50cc are subject to registration but do not require a driver’s license, while all larger motorcycles require a driver’s license. Motorcycles can be purchased from second-hand vendors, which are usually located in working-class neighborhoods – a used 50cc moped costs about ¥2,000, while a 125cc moped costs much more, depending on its condition and mileage. If you plan to ride a motorcycle, consider scooters with automatic transmissions, which are much easier to ride in heavy traffic than motorcycles with manual transmissions.

Bikes are expected to use the bike lane and cross intersections at pedestrian lights, which is often faster when car traffic is stopped. Be careful, especially at night, when riding without lights or on the wrong side of the road – remember that e-bikes don’t require a driver’s license, so drivers often ignore traffic laws and take creative but dangerous paths through traffic. Parking is easy – most sidewalks serve as bike parking, although on quiet streets you may have your bike stolen, so make sure you have a few good locks. In busy areas, there are guarded bike parking lots that cost about ¥0.5-1 per day.

Vintage motorcycles with sidecars are mainly used by expatriates and tourists. Most expats and Shanghainese are too embarrassed to use this means of transportation, which to many looks particularly “uncool”. Changjiang sidecars were used by the Chinese army until 1997. There are a few sidecar clubs (Black Bats, People’s Riders Club), stores (Yiqi, Cao, Fan, Jack, Jonson, Leo) and a tour operator (Shanghai Sideways) in Shanghai that should be visited.

Districts & Neighbourhoods In Shanghai

Shanghai is divided into two parts by the Huangpu River, Puxi to the west of the river and Pudong to the east of the river. Both terms can be used in a general sense to refer to everything on either side of the river, including the various suburbs. However, they are more often used in a much narrower sense, with Puxi referring to the older downtown area (since the 19th century) and Pudong to the mass of new (since 1990) housing developments directly across the river.

In terms of administration, Shanghai is one of four cities in China that are not part of provinces, but are treated as municipal districts (市) at the same hierarchical level as provinces. There is no government structure at the provincial, city, or prefectural level, only the Shanghai municipality, which has 16 boroughs and one district within the city. The municipality covers a fairly large area, about 100 km from east to west and 120 km from north to south.

Downtown Shanghai

Downtown Shanghai (上海市区), also known as Puxi or downtown (市中心), is the historic heart of Shanghai. It includes both the ancient Chinese city, which dates back hundreds of years, and the international settlement area, which began in the 1840s and continued into the 1930s.

Today, this area is still the heart of the city. Many metro lines – 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 – pass through here, and lines 12 and 13 will also stop here when they are completed. Line 22 runs mainly in the suburbs, but has a terminus in the city center, and line 5 will terminate there when the extensions are completed. This is also where most tourist attractions and many hotels are located.

The territory is divided into eight official districts:

  • Changning (长宁区; Chángníngqū) Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Zoo are located in this area. Changning is a very large area, consisting mainly of residential areas. However, in recent years, more and more business and entertainment centers have developed, especially in the Zhongshan Park area.
  • Hongkou (虹口区; Hóngkǒuqū), home to Lu-Xun Park and a soccer stadium, was home to much of Shanghai’s Jewish population in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Huangpu (黄浦区; Huángpǔqū) The traditional center of Shanghai with People’s Square, the Bund, East Nanjing Road pedestrian street and many other attractions.

The district includes the old city, the area that was the walled city of Shanghai before the creation of the modern city.

Luwan was once part of the French concession and is the subject of this article; the Chinese treated it as a separate district for many years, but now manage it as part of Huangpu.

The green area on the map shows what our article on Huangpu covers, without the old town and Luwan.

  • Jing’an (静安区; Jìngānqū) The area named after the historic Jing’an Temple has been inhabited continuously since the 3rd century AD. The business district on West Nanjing Road stretches from the center of Jing’an to People’s Square.
  • Putuo (普陀区; Pǔtuóqū) Mainly a residential area. Travelers will find a few good hostels here within walking distance of the metro.
  • Xuhui (徐汇区; Xúhuìqū) The central district of the French Concession, with a beautiful cathedral and other religious buildings, now an important commercial district with many high-end buildings, both residential and office. Our article on the French Concession covers Xuhui and Luwan.
  • Yangpu (杨浦区; Yángpǔqū) This is where Fudan University and Tongji University are located. For shopping enthusiasts, there is the huge Wujiaochang Shopping Mall (五角场).
  • Zhabei (闸北区; Zháběiqū) Zhabei is an older neighborhood that is home to Shanghai Station and the Shanghai Circus.

There are a few parks scattered throughout this area, but other than that, everything is heavily built and densely populated. Even the 19th century buildings that have been preserved are almost all at least two stories tall and quite densely built, and new buildings of twenty stories or more are very common.

Suzhou Creek is more of a small river than a stream, a tributary that flows into the Huangpu at the northern end of the Bund. Parts of it form the border between Huangpu and Jing’an districts to the south and Hongkou and Zhabei districts to the north.

Inner Suburbs

The inner suburbs are all directly adjacent to the city center and are all very densely built. They are

  • Pudong, across the river from the city center, an important center of recent development as a financial center with skyscrapers.
  • Minhang, south of the city center, includes the water city of Qibao
  • Baoshan, north of downtown
  • Jiading, northwest of downtown

With the exception of Pudong, these areas are mainly residential and industrial. All are well connected to the city center by subways and buses.

The official Pudong district is larger than the Pudong Central area, which we describe in our article on Pudong. Pudong Central is listed as an inner suburb, but can also be considered an extension of the city center, or even a new core. The southern part of Pudong district, Nanhui, which is less developed, is described in a separate article and mentioned below as an outer suburb.

Outer Suburbs

The outer suburbs extend to the south and west of the city. (The sea is to the east and the Yangtze to the north.) They are

  • Fengxian, on the southern outskirts of the Shanghai urban area
  • Jinshan, in the southwest corner of the township, includes the water city of Fengjing
  • Qingpu, at the western end of the township. At its western end is the water city of Zhujiajiao.
  • Songjiang, southwest of the city center, not at a communal border
  • Nanhui, in the southeast corner of the municipality, administratively part of Pudong

As of 2013, only Jinshan, Songjiang, and parts of Nanhui are well served by the metro system, but planned expansions of the metro system will reach all of these areas by 2020. In the meantime, bus services serve all of these locations; for more details, see the articles on the boroughs.

In all these areas there is still agricultural land, but large parts of it are already built up with residential areas and industrial suburbs, and this trend does not seem to be stopped. The former rural villages, which supplied the nearby farms, have become towns, often quite interesting, where some traditional buildings have been preserved.

The areas along the sea coast on the southern outskirts of the city – Fengxian, Jinshan and Nanhui – have beaches that are popular with Shanghai residents as weekend getaways.

The Islands

Chongming Island on the Yangtze River and a few small islands nearby form Chongming District (崇明县; Chóngmíngxiàn), the northernmost, most remote, and least developed area of Shanghai Municipality.

Prices In Shanghai

Tourist (Backpacker) – 35 $ per day. Estimated cost per 1 day including:meals in cheap restaurant, public transport, cheap hotel.

Tourist (regular) – 115 $ per day. Estimated cost per 1 day including:mid-range meals and drinks,transportation, hotel.


Milk 1 liter $2.55
Tomatoes 1 kg $1.10
Cheese 0.5 kg $
Apples 1 kg $2.00
Oranges 1 kg $1.90
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $0.85
Bottle of Wine 1 bottle $12.00
Coca-Cola 2 liters $1.30
Bread 1 piece $
Water 1.5 l $0.55


Dinner (Low-range) for 2 $
Dinner (Mid-range) for 2 $40.00
Dinner (High-range) for 2 $75.00
Mac Meal or similar 1 meal $4.50
Water 0.33 l $0.35
Cappuccino 1 cup $4.40
Beer (Imported) 0.33 l $4.20
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $2.30
Coca-Cola 0.33 l $0.55
Coctail drink 1 drink $11.00


Cinema 2 tickets $22.00
Gym 1 month $58.00
Men’s Haircut 1 haircut $
Theatar 2 tickets $100.00
Mobile (prepaid) 1 min. $0.03
Pack of Marlboro 1 pack $2.95


Antibiotics 1 pack $7.50
Tampons 32 pieces $4.90
Deodorant 50 ml. $5.20
Shampoo 400 ml. $5.60
Toilet paper 4 rolls $1.80
Toothpaste 1 tube $2.60


Jeans (Levis 501 or similar) 1 $90.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M) 1 $44.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas) 1 $100.00
Leather shoes 1 $120.00


Gasoline 1 liter $0.95
Taxi Start $2.00
Taxi 1 km $0.40
Local Transport 1 ticket $0.60

Sights & Landmarks In Shanghai

Where you can go in Shanghai depends largely on the time you have and your interests.

Central areas

Many of Shanghai’s major tourist attractions are located in the Huangpu District:

  • The Old Town (老城厢; Lao Chengxiang, also known as 南市, Nanshi) is the original Chinese city, about 1000 years old, which is now a major tourist area. The center of this area is the Yuyuan Gardens.
  • The international colony was built from the 1840s north and west of the old city. In Western books of the colonial era, the term “Shanghai” refers to this colony.
  • The Bund (外滩 Wàitān), the promenade along the river that was the center of Shanghai in the 19th century and is now a major tourist attraction. The banner photo at the top of this article shows the Bund as seen from across the river.
  • People’s Park (Renmin Gongyuan). Once the racecourse on the edge of the British Quarter, it is now a large and busy downtown park. Below it is a subway station that is one of the nodes of the Shanghai system and one of the busiest subway stations in the world. This is where lines 1, 2 and 8 meet.

Nanjing Road was the main street of the former British Concession; today it is an important high-end shopping street. It spans two districts.

  • Nanjing Road East, in Huangpu District, stretches from the Bund to People’s Park and is largely a busy pedestrian street.
  • Nanjing Road West is the continuation of the Jing’an district. One of its symbols is the Jing’an Temple, a beautiful old building with a subway station named after it.

Other important sites can be found in the former French Concession. This area has always been fashionable – even in colonial times, many famous Chinese lived here – and still is today, with much of Shanghai’s best entertainment and shopping. We treat it as a single neighborhood and dedicate a separate article to it. Within the district are

  • Xujiahui, the center of Xuhui District, with a subway station (lines 1 and 9), main roads, large shopping malls and quality residential and office buildings.
  • Huaihai Road, an upscale shopping street that many Shanghai residents prefer to Nanjing Road.
  • Hengshan Road, which leads from Huaihai Road to Xujiahui, has the largest concentration of restaurants and bars in Shanghai.
  • Xintiandi, a neighborhood of old shikumen (“stone gate”, a unique style in Shanghai) houses, redeveloped with shopping malls, trendy bars and restaurants and lots of tourism.
  • Tianzifang, another shikumen house district that has been rehabilitated. It is newer than Xintiandi and emphasizes art, handicrafts and stores, while Xintiandi emphasizes branded goods and entertainment.

You will find a taste of 1920s Shanghai with a lot of classical Western architecture in the imposing old buildings of the Bund and in the nearby parts of the Huangpu district, which is still an important shopping area today. In the French Concession, you will find boutiques, small galleries and craft stores as well as interesting restaurants. If you like very modern architecture, remarkably tall buildings and huge shopping malls, Pudong and Jing’an are the best areas for skyscrapers.

Water towns

In the western suburbs, there are water towns that are popular with Shanghai residents and visitors. They are very picturesque, with canals as the main means of transportation and many bridges and buildings in traditional style.

  • Zhujiajiao is located on the western outskirts of the city in Qingpu District and can be reached by bus. It is very popular among Shanghai residents, both Chinese and foreigners. There are a few bars run by foreigners.
  • Qibao is closer to the city center, in the Minhang district, and is accessible by subway (line 9, Qibao stop, then walk one block south). It is smaller than Zhujiajiao and has a higher proportion of tourists.
  • In Fengjing, Jinshan District, there are many artists and even a famous painting style of its own, the “Jinshan peasant”. Metro line 22 takes you to Jinshan.

This type of city can be found everywhere in the Yangtze River Delta. There are several in the Suzhou and Hangzhou areas, as well as in Shanghai.


Shanghai has a large number of temples, churches, mosques and synagogues.

  • Jing’an Temple (Buddhist) (Temple of Peace and Silence). In the Jing’an district, above the Jing’an Temple subway station on lines 2 and 7
  • Longhua Temple (Zen Buddhist) in the French concession
  • Temple of the city god (Taoist) (Chenghung Miao). in the old city
  • Wen Miao (Confucian) (Shanghai Confucian Temple). An ancient temple that dates back to the Yuan Dynasty.
  • Saint Ignatius Cathedral (Catholic) in the French Concession, near Xujiahui
  • Holy Trinity Church (Anglican). on the east side of People’s Square in the old British quarter
  • Jade Buddha Temple (Buddhist) (玉佛禅寺; Yùfó Chán Si), Jiangning Road. Jing’an District (Changshou Road, line 7, exit 5, east on Xinhui Road, right on Jiangning. ). A small temple built in the 1880s to house Burmese statues. Note that Changshou Road is a different station from Changshu Road. ¥20, 10 more to see the main statue.
  • Xiaotaoyuan Mosque. The largest mosque in Shanghai, with a separate mosque for women next door.

Each of these places of worship is the subject of a specific Wikipedia article, in which you will find additional information if necessary.

Of course, there are many smaller religious buildings – Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Muslim and Christian – scattered throughout the city.


Almost every district in Shanghai has a few parks, and here are some of the most important ones:

  • People’s Park. in the district of Huangpu, very central and with a large subway station under it
  • Lu Xun Park in Hongkou District
  • Gongqing Forest Park. Yangpu District
  • Daning-Lingshi, north of the railway station in Zhabei district
  • Shanghai Expo Park, in two parts, the larger one in Pudong and the smaller one in Puxi (subway line 8, Yaohua Road station). Shanghai hosted the 2010 World Expo and recorded the highest number of visitors in the history of the event. Since then, the Chinese pavilion has been in operation and there are several other sights.
  • Jinjiang Amusement Park, No. 201 Hongmei Rd (in Xuhui District, line 1 to Jinjiang Park).

Museums & Galleries In Shanghai

  • Shanghai Museum (上海博物馆), 201 Renmin Ave, People’s Square, Huangpu District (south side of People’s Square. Near exit 1 of People’s Square station on the 1/2/8 subway line), +86 21 63723500. Open all year round from 9am to 5pm (last entry at 4pm). The museum has an extensive collection of ancient Chinese antiquities, including bronzes, ceramics, calligraphy, paintings, jades and sculptures. The gallery of ancient bronzes on the second floor is particularly impressive and contains some of the finest antiquities in China. Multilingual audio guides are available. In addition, there are often volunteer guides who offer their services free of charge. Some of them speak English. Free of charge.
  • Shanghai Urban Planning Museum (上海城市规划展示馆), 100 Renmin Ave. (north of People’s Square, across from the Shanghai Museum), +86 21 63184477. 9am-5pm, Tuesday-Sunday (last entry at 4pm). The museum provides an overview of Shanghai’s colorful past and development strategies for the future. The focus is on environmentally friendly satellite cities with large public centers and lots of greenery. Just for the scale model of Shanghai in ten years, the visit is worthwhile. Everything is on the fourth floor, including a virtual tour of major upcoming public projects, including the site of the 2010 World Expo.
  • China Art Museum Shanghai (中华艺术宫), 205 Shangnan Rd, Pudong District (Near Exit 3 of China Art Museum Station on Metro Line 8.), +86 400 921 9021. 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Sunday (last entry at 5pm), open all ..national holidays The former China Pavilion for Expo 2010 is now a museum of modern Chinese art. The permanent exhibitions focus on the works of some of China’s best-known painters, the history of modern and contemporary Chinese art, and the culture of Shanghai. The tour begins on the top floor, from which you walk through the galleries, which become somewhat less quality as you go deeper into the building. On the top floor is the special exhibition of the digital version of the famous ancient Chinese painting Along the River during the Qingming Festival (also known as Qingming Shanghe Tu), which features a 110-meter-long interactive 3D animation of the original painting. Multilingual audio guides and English-speaking volunteer guides are available. Free except for special exhibitions.
  • Art Power Plant (上海当代艺术博物馆), 200 Huayuangang Rd, Huangpu District (about a 15-minute walk from Exit 2 of the South Xizang Road station of the 4/8 subway line), +86 21 3110 8550. 11am-7pm, Tuesday-Sunday (last entry at 6pm), open all public holidays ..Formerly a power plant and pavilion for Expo 2010, this building on the Huangpu River is now China’s first state museum of contemporary art. It also hosts the Shanghai Biennale of Contemporary Art. You can see the industrial remains of the power plant as well as contemporary artworks. Free except for special exhibitions. In May 2016, the combined ticket for the 2 special exhibitions cost 60 yuan, 20 yuan with student card.
  • Shanghai Propaganda Poster and Art Centre (PPAC), RM. BOC 868 Huashan Rd, Shanghai 上海华山路号BOC室868 (Go north from Jiaotong University subway station or take a cab to 868 Huashan Road. The museum is located in this residential complex. If you are lucky, the guard of the complex will show you the right way. The museum is located in the basement of Building 4 (B). ). Every day from 10am to 5pm. This private collection is one of the most important and uncensored exhibitions for visitors who want to get a glimpse of the politics and art of Mao era China. Posters, memoirs, photos, and even “大字报” (dazibao: posters with large print) are featured in the temporary exhibition. Due to the controversial nature of the historical objects kept here, the museum is quite difficult to find and is not signaled from the outside. It is worth looking for, as the museum offers a wide range of art and political relics from 20th century China.
  • M50 Arts District. The most important Chinese contemporary art center in Shanghai, with dozens of studios and galleries. It is located in a former factory in the Putuo district.
  • Chinese Museum of Martial Arts (on the campus of the Shanghai Institute of Physical Education).

Things To Do In Shanghai

  • Temporary exhibitions in museums and art galleries
  • Performances such as circus acrobatics, touring musicians and plays
  • Sports events

If you like to shop or window-shop, a stroll down one of Shanghai’s major shopping streets in an hour or two (or several days if you window-shop in many stores and explore the side streets) can be very interesting:

  • Nanjing Road, starting at the Bund (Nanjing Road East subway station, line 2 or 10) and going west to People’s Park, Jing’an Temple and perhaps beyond
  • Huaihai Road in the French Concession, starting at the South Huangpi Road subway station on line 1 and heading west. At the intersection after Changshu Road station, turn left (past the Starbucks) to reach a whole neighborhood of bars and restaurants along Hengshan Road and end your trip smoothly.
  • Have a drink in a tea house. Visit one of the many tea houses in Shanghai. Be careful not to order overpriced teas or too much food. Beware of friendly-looking strangers who offer to take you to a teahouse or bar; it could be a scam.
  • Take a boat ride on the river. There are many companies that offer river cruises. Choose one of the cheaper offers. This way, you can admire the impressive Shanghai skyline and the river banks, and take some good pictures. A cheaper alternative, but less attractive from a scenic point of view, is to take one of the many ferries that cross the river for a few yuan.

There are a number of organized tours in Shanghai. Some boat companies offer multi-hour sightseeing tours that explore much of the river and/or Suzhou Creek. There are double-decker buses that run through much of the city center and can be boarded anywhere along their route.

Food & Restaurants In Shanghai

Shanghai’s cuisine, like its people and culture, is primarily a fusion of the forms of the surrounding Jiangnan region with more recent influences from the wider China and other countries. It is described by some as soft and oily. The preparation method used in Shanghai emphasizes freshness and balance, with particular attention to the richness that sweet and sour characteristics often bring to otherwise rather salty dishes.

The name “Shanghai” means “above the sea”, but paradoxically, due to the city’s location at the mouth of China’s longest river, the local preference for fish often tends toward the freshwater version. Seafood is still very popular, however, and is often stewed (fish), steamed (fish and shellfish) or stir-fried (shellfish). Be careful with fried seafood, as these dishes are less fresh and are often leftovers from purchases made several weeks ago.

Shanghai people’s preference for meat is undoubtedly pork. Pork is ubiquitous in Chinese cuisine, and in general, it can be assumed to be pork when something is called “meat” (肉) without any other addition. Ground pork is used to stuff ravioli and buns, while pork strips and slices are found in a wide variety of soups and stir-fry dishes. An old classic of Shanghai cuisine is “red-baked (braised) pork” (红烧肉), a traditional dish throughout southern China, to which Shanghai cooks have added anise and sweetness.

In the meat category, chicken is praised, and the only way to enjoy Chinese chicken is to eat it whole (as opposed to smaller pieces in a pan-fried dish). In the past, chickens in Shanghai were fed organically and grass-fed, resulting in smaller but tender and flavorful animals. Today, most chickens are not much different from those found elsewhere. The unforgettable preparations of whole chickens (soaked, in salt water, simply cooked with a dip, etc.) that arrive chopped on the table are a reminder that, even though the industrialization of agriculture came from the West, preservation of taste remains an essential element of local cuisine.

Those looking for lower cholesterol options need not worry. Shanghai is in the heart of a region of China where soy production and consumption are disproportionately high. Thinking about tofu? There’s the stinky version that, when fried, fills entire city blocks with its earthy and often sickening aroma. Of course, there are also tofu skins, soy milk (both sweet and savory), firm tofu, soft tofu, tofu pudding (usually sweet and served by a street cart), dried tofu, oiled tofu, and every kind of tofu imaginable. There is also vegetarian duck, vegetarian chicken and vegetarian goose, all of which do not look or taste like the poultry they are named after, but are simply soy-based dishes in which bean curd is supposed to mimic the texture of meat. Also, watch out for gluten-containing dishes in vegetarian restaurants. If you are vegetarian, be aware that in China, tofu is often not considered a meat substitute (except for vegetarian Buddhist monks), but rather a side dish. So be especially careful that your dish is not served with peas and shrimp or stuffed with ground pork before you order it.

Shanghai people have 4 particular preferences for breakfast dishes (or rather, easy and quick to eat dishes), which they give the name sì dà jīn gāng (四大金刚, literally: four heavenly kings, a term derived from Buddhism). They are as follows:

  • dà bĭng (大饼, literally: large pastry). A kind of large bread cake. Dough fried in a pan greased with oil and water (which eventually evaporates). A variant is cōng yóu bĭng (葱油饼, literally: green onion and oil dough), in which the surface of the dough is sprinkled with green onions, salt, and pepper before frying.
  • yóu tiáo (油条, literally: oily strips). Stretchy, fried, crispy, hollow strips. Are often served with a little sugar for dipping.
  • cí fàn (粢饭). Glutinous rice and japonica rice are mixed and steamed, then used to wrap a yóu tiáo.
  • dòu jiāng (豆浆, soy milk). Simple soy milk, often sweetened with sugar. Best served with yóu tiáo.

Some other Shanghainese dishes not to be missed:

  • xiǎolóngbāo (小笼包, literally: steaming little cage buns; fig. steamed dumplings). This is arguably Shanghai’s most famous dish: these steamed buns – often mistaken for dumplings – are stuffed inside with a tasty (and boiling!) broth and include a hint of meat on top. The connoisseur starts by poking a small hole in them, sipping the broth, then dipping them in dark vinegar (醋 cù) to season the meat.
  • shēng jiān mántóu (生煎馒头, literally: raw fried rolls). Unlike steamed buns, these larger buns are made of a yeast flour dough, are pan-fried until the bottoms are deliciously brown and crispy, and have not found their way onto Chinese menus around the world (or even in China). They remain a popular breakfast dish among Shanghainese and are best served with vinegar. You have to be very careful when eating these buns, as the broth inside spurts out as easily as that of their steamed cousins.
  • Dàzhá xiè (大闸蟹), or Shànghǎi máo xiè (上海毛蟹; Shanghai hairy crab), a kind of small freshwater crab renowned for its taste. It is best eaten during the winter months (Oct-Dec) and combined with Shaoxing wine to balance yin and yang. The eggs and meat of this species of crab are used to prepare the famous xiaolongbao (top) and meatballs (bottom).
  • xièfěn shīzitóu (蟹粉狮子头; literally: crab and pork meatballs), offered at several Yangzhou and Zhenjiang-style restaurants, for example the Yangzhou Fandian near Nanjing Road.

For a more upscale, cleaner deal, go to Cityshop or Ole.

  • UnTour Shanghai, +86 186 1650 4269. UnTour Shanghai helps tourists and new residents of Shanghai quickly orient themselves to the city’s vibrant food scene. They offer culinary tours of the city, including street breakfast and night market tours, noodle and dumpling tours, and Chinese cooking classes.

Coffee & Drinks in Shanghai

The traditional alcoholic drink of Shanghainese is shaoxin rice wine, which can still be found in most restaurants.

Western-style cafes and bars have also become commonplace. The prices of drinks in cafes and bars vary as in any major metropolis. They can be cheap or budget busting, with a single coffee or beer costing between ¥10 and ¥40. In an upscale hotel bar, a single beer can cost up to ¥80. There are internationally renowned chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, as well as popular local and indigenous coffee bars where you can relax. Hong Kong-style tea cafes are also common, as are Asian “pearl milk tea” or “bubble tea” bars. Some traditional teahouses still exist, especially in the old town.

Tsingtao, Snow and Pearl River beers are widely available. The major foreign brands are produced domestically, while smaller brands are usually imported. There is also a local beverage known as REEB (beer spelled backwards). A large bottle (640 ml) of one of these beers costs between ¥2 and ¥6.

Shopping In Shanghai

Shop till you drop on China’s main shopping street, Nanjing Road (南京东路), or visit the Yuyuan Bazaar in the old city, where you’ll find Chinese handicrafts and jewelry.

Nanjing Road is a long street; Nanjing Road East is a one-kilometer-long pedestrian boulevard near the Bund, lined with lively stores. On weekends and holidays, this wide boulevard is often crowded with people. The stores often cater to local tourists, so prices are surprisingly low. Nanjing Road East station (subway lines 2 and 10) is near the center of this pedestrian street. People’s Park Station (lines 1, 2 and 8) is at the innermost end, furthest from the Bund, and is perhaps the best starting point for exploring Nanjing Road.

Major international brands can be found on Nanjing Road West (南京西路), near Jing’an Temple (subway line 2 or 7). Several large shopping malls (Plaza 66 aka Henglong Plaza, Citic Plaza, Meilongzhen Plaza and others under construction) house stores with the biggest names in fashion. No. 3 on the Bund is another high-end shopping center that houses Giorgio Armani’s flagship store in China. Huaihai Road in the French Concession is another bustling shopping boulevard with high-end boutiques; wealthy locals tend to shop there rather than on the more touristy Nanjing Road.

On the streets of French Concession Xinle Lu (新乐路), Changle Lu (长乐路) and Anfu Lu (安福路), which start just east of Shaanxi Lu (陕西路) (the nearest subway station is South Shanxi Rd on line 1), you can find boutiques. This section of low-rise buildings and tree-lined streets is teeming with small clothing and accessory stores where young Shanghaiites shop for the latest fashion. The renovated and cozy alleys of Tian Zi Fang are also very popular and are a bit closer together than Xintiandi.

Books, CDs and DVDs

The Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore (Shanghai Book Traders), located at 390 Fuzhou Rd (near People’s Square), has many books in English and other important languages, especially for learning Chinese. Just around the corner, at 36 South Shanxi Rd, you will also find a small but well-stocked used bookstore for foreign language books. If you are looking for computer or economics books, you should go to the biggest store on Fuzhou Rd: Shanghai Book Town (上海书城). There are special editions designed for the Chinese market. The only difference from the original version is the Chinese cover and the greatly reduced price. Fuzhou Road is also a good street to stroll through Chinese stationery and calligraphy stores.

People interested in music CDs or DVDs of movies and TV shows have a multitude of options. Bookstores all carry them, people sell DVDs from crates on street corners, and most neighborhoods have local DVD stores. Prices range from about ¥6 per disc to about ¥40; for DVD-9 format discs, you have to pay a bit more.

There are also some stores that are popular with foreigners. They usually have English-speaking staff and a wider selection of things that appeal to Western customers, but sometimes at slightly higher prices. One of them is Ka De Club, which has two stores: one at 483 Zhenning Rd and the other at 505 Da Gu Rd (a small street between Weihai and Yan’an Rd). Another popular DVD store is on Hengshan Road, about halfway between the two expat bars Oscar’s and The Brewery.

Perhaps the best way to score points with a store is to be a regular customer. If you show yourself to be a regular customer, stores are usually willing to give you discounts for your loyalty. It’s also worth asking for a discount by the dozen when making large purchases.


There are markets of antiques, jade and souvenirs of communist China:

  • Dongtai Road Antique Market (subway line 8 or 10 to Laoximen station, then walk a long block north and look for the market in the side streets on the left. ). The largest and cheapest of the antique markets, provided you bargain hard.
  • Yuyuan Gardens is another good place for antiques and all kinds of cheap souvenirs (teapots, paintings, “silk bags”, etc.). Walk a few hundred meters east from Dongtai Road.
  • Between Fuzhou Road and the pedestrian part of Nanjing Road, there are other high-end antique markets.

As in any market in China, you should not hesitate to haggle, as this is usually the only way to get a fair price.

Note that the export of goods manufactured before 1911 is now illegal.


It is possible to buy electronics in Shanghai and you may be able to find exotic devices and phones that are only available in China. Foreign electronics are expensive and subject to high VAT. It may be worthwhile to buy online, where prices are much lower and same-day delivery is often available if you pay cash on delivery. Game consoles are expensive and import restrictions are significant. Xujiahui is a good place to go if you are looking for computer accessories and other electronic items, but the selection of cell phones is a bit thin. Try to go during the week; it’s awfully hectic on weekends.

  • Bu Ye Cheng Communications Market (不夜城) (Shanghai Railway Station, exit 4 of Line 1, turn left, the big golden building). 10AM-6PM. This is one of the most famous open markets in Shanghai for cell phones. 1F/2F for new cell phones (including radios), 3F for used cell phones and various collectibles. At any serious shop there, you can try the device before buying it – if not, leave. This is the best way to get a good or unusual phone for a low price. The choice is varied: you’ll find Chinese off-brands, but also reliable big brands and state-of-the-art Japanese phones. If you live in North or South America, be careful when buying phones from third-party manufacturers, as most do not support the frequencies required for use in those countries. CDMA phones may have their ESN blacklisted in their home country, but for GSM/3G phones, the only issue is one of ethics.

At Baoshan Road Station of Line 3/4, there is a huge electronics market with a wide selection of different electronics and cell phones, but some of them are counterfeit. Don’t hesitate to bargain hard. If you want to buy a cell phone here, make sure you have a SIM card before you buy and test the SIM card in the phone, perhaps by calling the seller, as some phones don’t work but still turn on. It’s best to negotiate the lowest price possible first, and then try your SIM card.

Photo equipment

Shanghai is a rather strange market for photographic equipment. As in any big city, you can find more or less everything somewhere, including high-end items that are of interest mostly to professionals, and unusual things that only a collector would want. Some of the older products are rare here, as China was relatively isolated at the time they were made, but Shanghai was a very prosperous and cosmopolitan city in the 1930s, so some collectibles are readily available today.

In general, prices for photographic equipment in Shanghai are roughly comparable to those in the U.S. and slightly higher than in Hong Kong, but there are several exceptions, including a few real bargains and some heavily overpriced items. Check overseas prices before making major purchases.

For consumer goods such as entry-level cameras and interchangeable lens cameras, Xujiahui is a shopping paradise. Large electronic markets throughout the city and many large general stores also carry these products, but the selection and prices are generally better in Xujiahui.

For more specific needs, there are two large buildings in Shanghai filled with photography stores. Both stores offer a wide range of consumer products, usually at good prices. But they also offer many products for amateurs and professionals, services such as printing or camera repair, as well as a large selection of second-hand equipment, from cheap and usable to collectibles.

One of them is Huanlong Photographic Equipment City (环龙照相器材), located on the 2nd to 5th floor of a building near Shanghai Railway Station in the Zhabei district. If you exit the station and walk to the south square, the building is at an angle on the left. Burger King on the first floor, KFC, … On the second floor and above are mainly photography stores. The higher you go, the more second-hand equipment you see.

An even bigger set of stores is Xing Guang Photographic Equipment City (星光摄影器材城) 300 Luban Lu, corner Xietu Lu. Subway line 4 to Luban Road South, exit 1, turn left into Luban Lu and you will go north. Xietu Lu is the first cross street. The camera center is at the northwest corner. It has seven floors. The upper floor houses offices, the lower two floors are mainly occupied by new cameras. One floor (4 ?) is mainly devoted to studio equipment – lights, reflectors, etc. – and contains some unusual cameras, such as the one on the left. – One floor (4 ?) is mainly dedicated to studio equipment – lights, reflectors, etc. – and contains some unusual cameras, such as 4 x 5 inch cameras and Chinese-made 6 x 17 cm panoramic cameras. Another (5th?) sector includes mainly wedding studios, wedding wear rental, etc. Used equipment somewhere between the 2nd and 6th sectors. A camera repair shop, a few accessory stores – memories, bags, tripods, etc.

There are two newer buildings next to the main building. In early 2010, only two floors of one of these buildings were open; everything else was under construction. Everything that was open was printing or wedding-related services.

In the main building, the two lower floors are almost exclusively occupied by stores that sell new cameras, with a strong specialization by brand. At least one store has only Canon, some only Sony, one only Nikon and Manfrotto. Two mainly Pentax. Olympus and Panasonic are quite often present, but there are no stores that sell only these brands. Voigtlander is visible here and there.

These two groups of stores are both located on Line 4, so it’s easy to visit them both in one day. However, Line 4 is roughly circular and they are located on opposite edges (the train station to the north, Luban Lu to the south), so the trip between them is quite long.


The horribly crowded Qipu Lu Clothing Market (Tiantong Road subway station on line 10, one stop north of Nanjing Road East) is the main place where Shanghai people come to shop for cheap clothes. It’s a collection of stores – including a huge number of small2 boutiques, many of which are about 18 meters 2high – crammed into several multi-story warehouses. From the metro station, you can go down to the basement of one building. You’ll find the cheapest clothes in town, but even the trendiest styles are clearly Chinese. Haggle assiduously, in Chinese if you can, and make friends with the store owners. Many of them have secret hiding places with plagiarism in rooms hidden behind the “walls” of the shops. Definitely avoid this place on weekends.

Although Qipu Lu is best known for its cheap clothes, and indeed this is the market that most stores target, there are also some very good stores that cater to higher standards. On the top floor of the building next to the subway, for example, there is a women’s clothing store specializing in silk dresses and tops, many of them with beautiful embroidery. Prices start at about ¥300, which is certainly high by Chinese standards, but not outrageous. Compared to prices in Western countries, they are a real bargain.

There are several other markets that offer cheap clothing (including many imitations of famous brands) along with tourist items like souvenir T-shirts and better quality Chinese products like silk scarves and dresses. In each of these stores, there is a whole host of trolls; as soon as you enter the buildings, you may be mobbed by a horde of people who want to sell you bags, watches, DVDs and all sorts of goods. Moreover, you have to haggle to get good prices. Avoiding the dealers and haggling can be fun, but those who are sensitive to pressure should stay away.

The largest of these is next to the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum (上海科技馆) at the Line 2 subway station in Pudong; there are even two markets, one on each side of the station. The place is much more crowded with foreigners than Qipu Lu, and the prices of clothes are higher there. However, there is a wider range of other products: software, games, electronics, etc. This market also has a number of tailor shops that make clothes to order.

It is quite common for travelers to go to this market to buy gifts just before their departure from Shanghai. It is located on the subway line to Pudong Airport, the prices may not be the best in the city, but they are generally much better than in the airport stores, the selection is good and everything is on one level, so it is reasonably comfortable to walk around with your luggage slung over your shoulder.

A smaller but more accessible market with similar offerings (but no tailors) is located at the city’s largest and most central subway station, People’s Park (lines 1, 2, and 8). It’s less hectic than Qipu Lu or the Science & Tech Museum and probably offers enough choices for most travelers. If not, you can find another such market by heading west on Nanjing Road and looking for it a few blocks away, at the corner of Chongqing Lu (the building has a wide staircase in front of the door and escalators inside). The second floor is heavily tourist-oriented, but the upper floors are more relaxed and the top floor houses a pretty good food court with a moderately priced Indian restaurant.

In the Yuyuan Gardens area of the old city, there are similar offerings, but the emphasis is on souvenirs and handicrafts rather than clothing, and prices are often a bit higher.

Another option is Pearl Plaza at Yan’an Xi Lu and Hongmei Lu (line 10, Longxi Rd stop, then walk south on Hongmei Lu, past the Yan’an Expressway).  Another store, more suitable for everyday clothes than fancy or touristy products, is near Shanghai Ikea; take line 3 to Cao Xi Road, head towards Ikea and you’ll find it on your left.

However, one of the most interesting things to do in Shanghai is to visit the small stores in the French Concession, rather than chasing imitation Western brands. Some of them are run by individual designers of clothing, jewelry, etc., so the items offered are truly unique. Overseas visitors should expect the usual problem of finding larger sizes.

The largest group of tailors can be found at Shanghai South Bund Material Market: 399 Lujiabang Rd (陆家浜路), open from 10am to 6pm. On three floors, you’ll find tailors and their materials like silk, cashmere and merino wool. Within two days, you can have your garments measured, fitted and finished or bring in examples, samples or photos. You can take bus No. 802 or No. 64 from Shanghai Railway Station and get off at Nanpu Bridge Terminal or take Metro Line 4 to Nanpu Bridge Station (南浦大桥) (exit at Gate No. 1, left at the exit and then left again at the lights. After about 200-250m, you will see the store on your right. Prices here or in the small group of such stores at Science & Tech are often lower than in individual stores in the city, as the competition for customers is quite intense.

For quality clothes, which are not (for the most part) Chinese imitations and are generally a bit more expensive than outside China, you should look mainly at Nanjing Road in the city center and Huaihai Road in the French Concession. In both, there are many stores with trendy styles and big international brands.


Large supermarket chains such as Carrefour, Auchan, Tesco and Walmart are scattered all over the city and offer cheap food and household goods, usually crowded on weekends. The most central supermarket of a large chain is Carrefour, located on floors B1 and B2 of Cloud 9 shopping center (subway: Zhongshan Park, lines 2, 3 and 4). Tesco has a store in Zhabei district, near the central station, and there is a huge Lotus supermarket in the Top Brands shopping center in Liujiazui (subway: Liujiazui, line 2). There is also a large supermarket with many imported food products in Xujiahui (lines 1 and 9); leave the station at exit 12, which will take you to the basement of a large shopping mall, and then walk all the way to the open space on that level.

While the city has many stores that sell imported goods at fairly high prices, Metro Cash’n’Carry is by far the cheapest place to buy imported goods. There are two markets:

  • The Pudong branch is located at Longyang Lu, lines 2, 7, 16 and Maglev.
  • Puxi Branch is located at the intersection of Zhenbei Rd and Meichuan Rd. It can be reached by bus No. 827 from Line 2 Beixinjing Station, Line 10 Shuicheng Rd Station and Line 10 Jiaotong University Station or by bus No. 947 from Line 2 Zhongshan Park Station and Line 3/4 Jinshajiang Rd Station. From Jinjiang Park Station on Line 1, it is only a five-minute walk.

Since Metro primarily supplies businesses, you must either have a Metro membership card or pick up a temporary guest card at the front desk when you enter the market (the Puxi market does not offer guest cards, but most members are willing to lend their membership cards at the register). Some items are only available in large packages or are much cheaper in that form; for example, one-kilogram packages of New Zealand cream cheese or five-kilogram blocks of Irish cheddar cost about half the price per gram for small quantities.

City Shop has a number of stores in Shanghai and an online store. Prices are generally much higher than Metro, but the selection is good and the locations are often advantageous.

FamilyMart’s 24-hour convenience stores are ubiquitous in major central districts and at major subway stations. These stores sell magazines, snacks, drinks, and hot bento boxes in the Japanese style, but prices are high for Chinese standards. Chinese chain stores such as KeDi and C-Store are located in residential areas, are slightly cheaper and also sell cigarettes. 7-Eleven and Lawson Convenience Stores are less common, but are located in the Nanjing Road area.

Discount cards

To get small discounts at various restaurants and hotels, as well as 50% off entrance tickets to some attractions (Shanghai World Financial Center observation deck, Happy Valley, Science and Technology Museum, etc.), you need to go to a Woori Bank branch and apply for the Shanghai Tourist Card. All Chinese banks issue this card as a credit card, so non-Chinese visitors cannot apply for it, as they need proof of income in China. However, Woori Bank is a Korean bank and caters to Koreans (including Korean tourists), so it offers it as a debit card, so anyone can apply for it with their passport. Registration (including account creation) takes about half an hour and the card is issued immediately after the account is created. The branches are located near the Century Ave. subway station on line 2 (address: 1600 Century Ave. Pos-Plaza 1-2F) and the Hechuan Rd. subway station on line 9 (address: 188 South Huijin Rd.; ask for the Bank of China; when you get there, turn right and continue until you see it). However, a hotel address may not be accepted and a processing fee may be applied to accounts cancelled within a month of opening. Another advantage of the Woori Bank Shanghai Tourist Card is that it allows unlimited free cash withdrawals at all ATMs in China. This makes it more convenient to deposit all the money on the card and withdraw from the ATMs only when needed. If you plan to visit two or more of the attractions for which admission tickets are half price, the time you spend there will certainly be worth the discount (you can buy a maximum of two discounted tickets per card and the offer is valid until the end of the World Expo).

In addition, Travelex offers a Shanghai Tourist Card Cash Passport ONLY IN JAPAN. If you are visiting, the Cash Passport version is easier and faster to obtain and offers all the benefits of the Woori Bank version, except for free ATM withdrawals.

In Hong Kong, AEON Credit offers the Shanghai Travel prepaid card instead. It is identical to the Travelex card, except that the starting currency is the Hong Kong dollar and a 1.1% commission is charged when converting Hong Kong dollars into yuan.

Nightlife In Shanghai

Shanghai’s nightlife is exciting, with affordable bars and nightclubs pulsing with the city’s energy.

There are many expatriate magazines, available in hotels and other expatriate venues, that list and review events, bars, clubs and restaurants in Shanghai. The most popular are That’s Shanghai, City Weekend and Time Out. Shanghai also has an English-language newspaper, the Shanghai Daily, and an English-language television channel, International Channel Shanghai or ICS; most expats find them better than the corresponding national media, People’s Daily and CCTV Channel 9.

  • Pub Crawl Shanghai, various locations, +86 187-2100-4614. In addition to a plethora of pubs, ranging from bars, lounges, spelunkers to world-class clubs, there is also a “pub tour” that arranges transportation to various popular spots. For those who don’t speak Mandarin or are only in town for a few days, this service allows you to find the hottest and most interesting places, populated by expats and locals. ¥150.
  • Shanghai brewery tour, different sites. 14:30-18:30 hours. This tour is a spin-off of the Pub Crawl and is suitable not only for backpackers, but also for working people and even families, if your children don’t mind traveling in a minibus. The tour includes visits to three breweries, where you’ll be treated to plenty of beer, a pub meal and plenty of time to chat with the brewmaster. A beer quiz on the bus will test your knowledge by reading Wikipedia. ¥380.

Stay Safe & Healthy In Shanghai

Stay Safe In Shanghai

Shanghai is a relatively safe city and violent crime is rare. However, the ever-widening gap between the rich and the less wealthy has led to a number of problems. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bicycle theft are common, and sexual harassment sometimes occurs on crowded public transport. Be especially vigilant before the Chinese New Year (in January or February, depending on the lunar calendar), as thieves are more likely to seek out New Year’s money.

Beware of pickpockets in the main shopping streets. They often work in groups, sometimes even with women accompanied by babies.

Beware of this cab scam: you first agree on a price (e.g. ¥300 for a shared cab from Hongqiao airport to Suzhou), then, after a short ride, you are asked to get off and told by a group of people that you must pay the agreed money immediately. You are then put on a collective bus where other deceived people like you sit and wait for the bus to leave until you finally arrive at your destination. Most cabs belong to a cab company whose phone number is printed on the cab and can be called in English. There is also a general Shanghai phone number that can help you, call 962288, with service in English.

The notorious teahouse scam, which has been practiced for a long time in Beijing, is unfortunately also spreading in Shanghai. Beware of overly friendly foreigners who are probably well-dressed, speak good English and look innocent as students. They invite you to an art gallery, tea house or karaoke bar and, after accepting, leave you with a hefty bill. In this case, you should call 110 (emergency number). The scammers may tell you that calling the police doesn’t work and claim to have connections with the police, but the police in China are more willing to help in these cases, especially if innocent foreigners are involved. These scams are found around People’s Square, near the entrances and exits of museums and art galleries. It is unlikely that you will suffer any physical harm. Just walk away.

In many large cities, as well as in Tibet, your guides will ask you to make a wish and burn a stick of incense, which will ultimately cost you anywhere from one hundred to over one thousand euros. Another trick is to ask you how much you want to “give”. After saying ¥10, you will be told that ¥10 is blessings for one day, but the monk has already spun an incense stick to bless you for a year, so you have to pay 365 x 10 yuan. This scam drew significant backlash for blasphemy, as no serious temple in China ever asks its devotees for money in this way.

Male travelers may attract the attention of sex workers in nightclubs. In the area around the Old Town and the Pudong Science Museum, hawkers can also be very salesy. It can be helpful to say wǒ búyào (“I don’t want that”). Also be careful of people who approach you and offer to shine your shoes. Make sure you both agree on the price before applying anything to your shoes. The same rule applies to commercial photographers at the Bund. They offer to take pictures of you in front of a picturesque background (and sometimes with costumes) for ¥50, but once you have used their services, several colleagues come to “help” the photographer. They may force you to buy all the pictures and try to gather crowds to increase the pressure.

Don’t get on or off the Shanghai Metro trains at the last minute. Despite safety barriers on the platforms, train doors sometimes close before all passengers have boarded; people trapped between closing doors are a common sight. Apparently, the safety device that is supposed to prevent trains from running with their doors open is not foolproof: in 2010, a woman died after hitting the safety barriers while hanging halfway out of the closed doors of a train leaving Zhongshan Park station.

According to Chinese law, foreigners must present their passports upon request, although this is rarely enforced. Most hotels will help you keep your passport in the safe and you can keep a photocopy of it with you, along with the hotel’s business card.

Stay Healthy In Shanghai

Do not drink tap water in Shanghai unless it has been boiled or passed through a reverse osmosis filter. The water is relatively safe if it has been boiled. However, tap water also contains large amounts of heavy metals that are not removed by boiling. As for buying bottled mineral water, there is a range of foreign and local brands, with the cheapest local brands costing ¥1-¥2.50 and available at all grocery stores and street vendors. In most hotels, you will receive free domestic mineral water in your room.

People with asthma or respiratory problems should be prepared for a visit due to air pollution.

Although there are many public hospitals in Shanghai, they generally do not meet the standards that foreigners from Western countries are used to, and most of the doctors and nurses who work there cannot speak English. Ambulances are unreliable and, in an emergency, the fastest way to reach a hospital is usually by cab. The city has a number of private hospitals and medical clinics that cater almost exclusively to foreigners and expatriates. The doctors and nurses who work there speak English and the level of treatment is generally what most Westerners are used to back home, but the services are generally very expensive. Many of these medical facilities accept travel insurance if your insurance company works with the hospital. In general, you will probably have to pay in advance, but these facilities are usually much better equipped and cleaner than those faced by Chinese locals.

A popular chain of Western medical clinics is Parkway Health. You can make an appointment at a clinic near you via a 24-hour English-speaking phone line ( 6445 5999 ). Note that this service is expensive, a simple medical consultation costs from ¥1,200. Check with your insurance company to find out if all or part of the costs are covered.

Since these services are fee-based, they receive more money if they perform more tests. Also, Chinese doctors, even those with Western training, tend to be too thorough compared to Western doctors. However, since you are a client, they usually do not insist on unnecessary tests. Use your common sense to determine whether you need the tests prescribed (e.g., blood tests, X-rays, etc.).



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