Shanghai (上海 Shànghǎi) is the largest and most developed city in China, the country's main center for finance and fashion, and one of the world's most populous and important cities.
Shanghai has existed for centuries but grew enormously after it became a major center of the China trade in the 1840s. By the early 20th century, Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East, and one of the wildest. With the opening up of China in the past few decades, Shanghai has regained much of its former glory and has surpassed it in many ways; the pace of development in recent years has been absolutely furious. Today, Shanghai is back to being one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Asia, though not nearly as wild as it once was. It is now a very attractive city for travellers from all over the world, and a major destination for both tourism and business. A Forbes article ranks Shanghai as the world's 14th most visited city, with 6.5 million visitors in 2012.
Shanghai is definitely a cosmopolitan city by Chinese standards, although it is less diverse than many western cities. The population was 23 million as of the 2010 census; 9 million (almost 40%) of those were migrants, people from elsewhere in China who have come to find work or to attend one of Shanghai's many educational institutions. There is also a substantial international contingent: 208,300 foreigners lived in Shanghai as of 2010, slightly over a third of the national total of 594,000. There are services that cater to these markets — restaurants with food from anywhere in China for the migrants (in particular, lots of good cheap Sichuan food and West-of-China noodles) and a good range of grocery stores, restaurants and bars that cater to the foreigners.
Shanghai is split in two by the Huangpu River (黄浦江 Huángpǔ Jiāng), into Puxi (浦西 Pǔxī) west of the river and Pudong (浦东 Pǔdōng) east of the river. Both terms can be used in a general sense for everything on their side of the river, including various suburbs. However, they are more often used in a much narrower sense where Puxi is the older (since the 19th century) city center and Pudong the mass of new (since 1990) high-rise development right across the river from there.
In terms of administration, Shanghai is one of four cities in China that are not part of provinces but instead are treated as municipalities (市) at the same hierarchical level as provinces (discussion). There is no government structure at province, city or prefecture level, just Shanghai Municipality with 16 districts and one county within it. The municipality covers quite a large area; it is around 100 km (60 miles) east-west and 120 (75) north-south.
The map shows the administrative divisions. The Wikivoyage structure of articles generally follows it, but with some exceptions:
- Xuhui District does not get its own article. Instead, we have an article on the French Concession, an older and somewhat larger district that includes Xuhui.
- The Old City is administratively part of Huangpu District; however, it is a popular distinct destination for tourism and has its own character. Huangpu therefore has an article for the old town and another for everything else.
- The administrative district of Pudong is enormous and varies significantly from area to area, so we have separate articles for (central) Pudong and (suburban) Nanhui.
Except for those, the Wikivoyage Shanghai articles are organised as one-article-per-district.
Downtown Shanghai (上海市区), also called Puxi or the city centre (市中心), is the historic core of Shanghai. It includes both the old Chinese city, which goes back for hundreds of years, and the area of the International Settlement which began in the 1840s and lasted until the 1930s.
Today this area is still the core of the city. Many metro lines — 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 — run through it and lines 12 and 13 will when completed. Line 22 is mainly suburban but has one terminus downtown, and line 5 will when extensions are completed. Most of the tourist attractions and many hotels are here as well.
There are eight official districts within the area:
- Changning (长宁区; Chángníngqū) Hongqiao International Airport and the Shanghai Zoo are in this area. Changning is a very large, primarily residential district but in recent years has seen more commercial and entertainment hubs develop, especially in the area around Zhongshan Park.
- Hongkou (虹口区; Hóngkǒuqū) Home of Lu Xun Park as well as a football stadium, home to Shanghai's substantial 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, the East Nanjing Road pedestrian mall and many other attractions.
- The district includes the Old City, the area that was the walled city of Shanghai before the modern city came into being.
- Luwan was once part of the French Concession and we cover it in that article; the Chinese treated it as a separate district for many years but now administer it as part of Huangpu.
- The green area on the map shows what our Huangpu article covers, excluding both the Old City and Luwan.
- Jing'an (静安区; Jìngānqū) Home to Jing'an Temple, this area has been continuously inhabited since the 3rd century AD. The commercial district of West Nanjing Road extends from the center of Jing'an to People's Square.
- Putuo (普陀区; Pǔtuóqū) Mainly a residential district. For travellers, it has some decent youth hostels near the metro.
- Xuhui (徐汇区; Xúhuìqū) The central district of the French Concession, with a fine cathedral and other religious buildings, now a major shopping area with many up-market highrise buildings, both residential and office. Our French Concession article covers Xuhui and Luwan.
- Yangpu (杨浦区; Yángpǔqū) Where Fudan University and Tongji University are located. For shoppers, it has the huge Wujiaochang (五角场) mall.
- Zhabei (闸北区; Zháběiqū) Zhabei is an older district of Shanghai with the Shanghai Railway Station and the Shanghai Circus.
This area has quite a few parks scattered about — see #Parks below and the individual district articles for details — but other than that it is all heavily built up and densely populated. Even the surviving 19th century buildings are nearly all at least two floors and fairly densely packed, and new buildings of twenty floors or more are widespread.
"Suzhou Creek" is more a small river than a creek, a tributary which flows into the Huangpu near the north end of the Bund. Parts of it form the boundary between Huangpu and Jing'an districts to the south and Hongkou and Zhabei to the north.
The inner suburbs all have direct borders with the downtown core, and are all quite built up. They are:
- Pudong, across the river from downtown, a major center of recent development as a skyscraper-filled financial center
- Minhang, south of downtown, includes the water town Qibao
- Baoshan, north of downtown
- Jiading, northwest of downtown
Except for Pudong, these areas are mainly residential and industrial. All are well connected to the center of the city by metro and bus services.
The official Pudong district is larger than the central Pudong area which we describe in our Pudong article. Central Pudong is listed here as an inner suburb, but it might also be described as an extension of the downtown core or even as the new core. The less developed southern part of Pudong District, Nanhui, is described in a separate article and is listed as an outer suburb below.
The outer suburbs wrap around the southern and western sides of the city. (The sea is on the east and the Yangtze on the north.) They are:
- Fengxian, on the southern edge of Shanghai Municipality
- Jinshan, at the southwest corner of the municipality, includes the water town Fengjing
- Qingpu, on the western edge of the municipality. At its western tip is the water town Zhujiajiao.
- Songjiang, southwest of downtown, not on a municipality border
- Nanhui, at the southeast corner of the municipality, administratively part of Pudong
As of 2013, only Jinshan, Songjiang and parts of Nanhui have good metro connections but planned extensions to the metro system will reach all of them by 2020. In the meanwhile, there is bus service to all of them; see the district articles for details.
All of these areas still include some farmland but large parts of them are already covered with residential and industrial suburban development and the trend shows no sign of stopping. What were once rural villages serving nearby farms have become towns, often fairly interesting ones that preserve some of the traditional buildings.
The areas along the seacoast at the southern edge of the municipality — Fengxian, Jinshan and Nanhui — have beaches that are popular as a weekend getaway for Shanghai residents.
Chongming County (崇明县; Chóngmíngxiàn), the most northerly, most remote and least developed area in Shanghai Municipality.Chongming Island in the Yangtze plus a couple of smaller islands nearby make up
Shanghai is a fascinating mix of East and West. It has historic shikumen (石库门) houses that blend the styles of Chinese houses with European design flair, and it has one of the richest collections of Art Deco buildings in the world. There were concessions (designated districts) controlled by Western powers in the late 19th and early 20th century, so in many places the city has a cosmopolitan feel. There is everything from classic Parisian style to buildings with an English flair and 1930s buildings reminiscent of New York or Chicago.
There is an Encyclopedia of Shanghai, in English, that is available both as a book in local bookstores and online at the municipal government site. Much of it is rather boring — statistics, photos of the officials in charge of each development project, and project descriptions that give much financial and engineering detail — but there is also some quite useful material. For example, it has detailed descriptions of every museum and park in the city.
Shanghai is strategically positioned: near the geographic center of China, at the mouth of the great Yangtze River and surrounded by fertile delta land. It has been a trading city for a thousand years and one of China's main centers of trade since the 1840s; today it is a major transport hub. It has the world's busiest container port and additional port facilities are under development. Shanghai's Pudong Airport is a global air hub and ranks third on a list of China's busiest airports, behind Beijing and Guangzhou. Shanghai's other airport, Hongqiao, ranks fourth. The city is also very well connected by both road and rail.
Shanghai is also one of the main industrial centers of China, and the municipal government has set up a number of industrial zones to encourage additional development. 2011 GDP was $300 billion, which is actually just ahead of the entire country of Malaysia.
There is a saying that goes, "Shanghai is heaven for the rich, hell for the poor." People from all over China flock to Shanghai — everyone from farmers seeking jobs in manual labour to university graduates seeking to start a career or wanting to live in a cool up-tempo city. About 40% of the population, 9 million out of 23, are migrants from other parts of China. Real estate prices, especially in central areas, have skyrocketed in the past few years; rental prices are among the highest in China and even well-off people complain that buying a home is becoming impossible.
The surrounding East China region is populous, prosperous, highly developed, and still growing. Shanghai plays an important role as the center of that region.
While the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times and there has been a town at least since the Song Dynasty, a thousand years or so ago, Shanghai only rose to prominence after China lost the First Opium War in 1842. Shanghai was one of the five cities which China was forced to open to Western trade as treaty ports. Shanghai grew amazingly after that; until then nearby cities like Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing had been far more important, but since the late 19th century Shanghai has been the center of the region.
Eight nations — Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom — were granted concessions in Shanghai, areas that they controlled and where Chinese law did not apply. Most of these were jointly administered as the "International Settlement", but the French ran theirs separately. In all of them, the population was mainly Chinese, but the legal system was foreign and the police included many Sikhs and French gendarmes. They were located north of the Chinese walled city. Today all these areas are considered parts of downtown Shanghai.
History has shaped Shanghai's cityscape significantly. British-style buildings can still be seen on The Bund, while French-style buildings are still to be found in the former French Concession. What was once a racetrack on the edge the British area is now People's Park, with a major metro interchange underneath. Other metro stops include the railway station at the edge of what was once the American area, and Lao Xi Men and Xiao Nan Men, Old West Gate and Small South Gate respectively, named for two of the gates of the old Chinese walled city. The wall is long gone but that area still has quite a few traditional Chinese-style buildings and Yuyuan Gardens.
Shanghai has sometimes had groups of refugees arrive from other parts of the world. One group were White Russians fleeing the 1917 revolution; in the 1920s the French Concession had more Russians than French (and of course more Chinese than both of those together). Another group were Jews getting out of Germany in the 1930s; they mainly settled in Hongkou, a district that already had many Jews.
Shanghai reached its zenith in 1920s and 30s and was at that time the most prosperous city in East Asia. On the other hand, the streets were largely ruled by the triads (Chinese gangs) during that period, with the triads sometimes battling for control over parts of Shanghai. That period has been greatly romanticised in many modern films and television serials, one of the most famous being The Bund, which was produced by Hong Kong's TVB in 1980. Shanghai also became the main center of Chinese entertainment during that period, with many films and songs produced in Shanghai.
Shanghai was occupied by the Japanese in 1937 after a bitter battle lasting several months. (See Burma Road for a discussion of its military significance.) They remained in control until 1945 and, as elsewhere in China, life in Shanghai at that time was very tough.
The foreign concessions were removed after the war, and trade resumed. After the Communist victory in the civil war in 1949, many of the people involved in the entertainment industry and many business people fled to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Shanghai's days of glory were — temporarily as it turned out — over.
Since China's "reform and opening up", starting under Deng Xiaoping around 1978, Shanghai has been moving back toward its former role as a great industrial city and trading port, and in many ways even surpassing the old glory days. In the 1990s, the Shanghai government launched a series of new strategies to attract foreign investment. The biggest move was to open up Pudong as a Special Economic Zone with a range of government measures to encourage investment. The strategies for growth have been extremely successful; in twenty years Pudong went from a predominantly rural area to having more skyscrapers than New York, including the World Financial Center, fourth-tallest in the world. Pudong is now home to many financial institutions which used to have their main offices across the Huangpu river on the Bund.
Today, Shanghai's goal is to develop into a world-class financial and economic center, and it is already well on its way. In achieving this goal, Shanghai faces competition from Hong Kong, which has the advantage of a stronger legal system and greater banking and service expertise. However, Shanghai has stronger links to the Chinese interior and to the central government in addition to a stronger manufacturing and technology base. Recently Shanghai has increased its role in finance and banking, and many international corporations have built their Chinese or even Asia/Pacific headquarters in the city, fueling demand for a highly educated and cosmopolitan workforce.
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Humidity is high year-round and can exacerbate temperature extremes
Spring can feature lengthy periods of cloudy and rainy weather.
Summer temperatures often get over 35°C (95°F) with very high humidity, which means that you will perspire a lot and should take lots of changes of clothing or plan on shopping for clothing during the visit. Thunderstorms also occur relatively often during the summer. There is some risk of typhoons in their July–September season, however they are not common.
Autumn is generally mild with warm and sunny weather.
During winter, temperatures rarely rise above 10°C (50°F) during the day and often fall below 0°C (32°F) at night. Snowfall is rare, typically only occurring only once every few years, but transportation networks can sometimes be disrupted in the event of a sudden snowstorm. Despite the fact that winter temperatures in Shanghai are not particularly low, the wind chill factor combined with the high humidity can actually make it feel less comfortable than some much colder places that experience frequent snowfalls. Also, back in Mao's era the official rule was that north of the Yangtze buildings were heated in winter but south of it they were not; Shanghai is on the south bank so many older buildings do not have heating.
Shanghai is one of China's main travel hubs and getting in from pretty much anywhere is easy.
Shanghai has two main airports, with Pudong the main international gateway and Hongqiao serving mostly domestic flights but also some international destinations in Asia. Transfer between the two takes about 1 hour by taxi. There are also direct shuttle buses.
You can travel between the two airports in about two hours by metro. Both airports are on line 2, the main East-West line through downtown Shanghai, but at opposite ends of it. You can reduce the time some by taking the Maglev train (described in the next section) part of the way. A traveller making that transfer with a few hours to spare and a desire to get a quick look at Shanghai (and not too much luggage) might get off at Nanjing Road East and walk a few blocks to the Bund.
Free tourist maps of central Shanghai, with major sights labeled in English, are available in little racks as you come in at either airport. These are worth grabbing as you walk by since, except at some hotels, free maps are not available elsewhere.
Both airports also have direct bus service to major nearby cities such as Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing, though the new fast trains may be preferable, especially from Hongqiao Airport which has Hongqiao Railway Station quite nearby (one metro stop or a fairly long walk).
Domestic airplane tickets are best booked in advance at one of the many travel agencies or online, but can also be bought at the airport on the day of departure. Fares are generally cheap, but vary depending on the season; figure on ¥400-1200 for Beijing-Shanghai. The low-cost airline Spring Airlines is based out of Shanghai with routes to most major Chinese tourist destinations, and frequently offers large discounts for tickets booked through its website. For budget travellers, it is often cheaper to book a flight along a big traffic line (Shanghai-Beijing, Shanghai-Guangzhou, Shanghai-Shenzhen, etc.) and travel the rest by bus or train.
The city of Hangzhou, about a 45-min train ride from Shanghai, should also be considered if having a difficult time finding tickets to Pudong or Hongqiao. Also if coming in from South East Asia, since Air Asia has a cheap flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hangzhou. See Discount airlines in Asia.
The most interesting way to get into Shanghai is on the world's fastest train, the Maglev. It covers the 30.5 km in 7 minutes with a top speed of 450 km/h, although the speed is capped to 310 km/h during non-peak hours. Single tickets are ¥50 and Return tickets (return within a week) are ¥80. The Maglev terminates at Longyang station in Pudong which is still some distance from the city centre and may not therefore be close to your ultimate destination. Here you can connect to Metro line 2, 7 and the new line 16. If you have heavy luggage then almost certainly a taxi or hotel bus from the airport can be more convenient for getting you to your final destination in Shanghai. Longyang station also has a Maglev train museum for those interested how magnetic levitation trains work.
Hongqiao Airport (虹桥机场 IATA: SHA) (west of downtown in Changning District). Shanghai's older airport, much closer to the center than Pudong. It serves mainly domestic flights, the only exception being the city shuttle services to Tokyo-Haneda, Seoul-Gimpo, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taipei-Songshan. There are two terminals: the shiny, new and enormous T2, used by virtually all airlines, and the old, dingy and comparatively small T1, used by only by low-cost operator Spring Airlines and the international city shuttle services.
You can transit between terminals on the airport shuttle bus, although with waiting and travel time it can take up to 45 minutes. For those in a hurry, taking Metro Line 10 between the two terminals may be worth the ¥3 for the ticket.
T2 is served directly by Metro Line 2, which connects the airport to People's Square and all the way east to Pudong Airport. Trains operate from 5:35AM to 10:50PM (service to and from Pudong Airport has limited hours). Line 10, which also goes to central Shanghai but on a different route, serves both T1 and T2.
Eventually Line 5, the main line through the southern suburb Minhang, will be extended to the airport at the north end and into Fengxian to the south. Two new lines from the airport will also be built, Line 20 going North and Line 17 West. As of early 2015 none of those are in service.
A taxi can manage the 12 km trip to the city in 20 minutes on a good day but allow an extra 30 minutes for the taxi queue, especially when arriving after 7PM. Be sure to determine from which terminal your flight departs before you go to the airport as the English signage is confusing, taxi drivers will not be able to help you, and the shuttle between the terminals leaves on a half-hourly schedule with another twenty minute drive.
Due to the metro line extension, the Hongqiao Airport Special Line bus (机场专线) has now been replaced with a night bus (虹桥机场T2夜宵巴士) that goes to Jing'an Temple, People's Square, and Lujiazui every 10-30 min from 10:30PM (when the metro closes) to 45 minutes after the last inbound arrival of the day for ¥10 (to Jing'an Temple or People's Square) or ¥16 (to Lujiazui). It leaves from Door 1 of the Arrivals level of Terminal 2. Tickets are purchased inside the bus shortly before it departs.
Bus: Although Hongqiao airport has fewer airport bus lines than Pudong, more public bus lines are linked to Hongqiao. Buses below run to T1, take the free shuttle to connect to T2 if needed or use Metro Line 10 if in a hurry.
- No. 806: These buses run from Hongqiao airport to the Lupu Bridge between 6AM-9:30PM at intervals of 5-15 min. The line also has a stop at Xujiahui, and the whole trip costs ¥5.
- No. 807: These buses operate between 6AM-10:30PM from Hongqiao airport to the Zhenguang New Village in Putuo District, stopping at the Shanghai Zoo and some other places of interest. ¥2.
- No. 1207: This bus only runs between the airport and Shanghai Zoo. ¥2.
With the opening of Metro service to the airport, two buses no longer stop at Hongqiao, leaving only the above two routes.
However, one public bus line has now been moved to T2. The reverse applies- take the free shuttle or the Metro to T1 if needed. Note that bus service to T2 splits boarding and exiting- all passengers arriving at T2 get off at the Departures level of the airport, but those wishing to board must board the bus at the bus hub on 1/F of the airport/metro station complex.
- No. 941: Linking Hongqiao airport and Shanghai Railway Station, the line runs from 6:30AM–10:30PM to the airport/11:00PM from the airport. ¥4. Interval between services is 10-12 min. Look for Waiting Room 1.
Additionally, the following night bus runs from T2 between the hours of 11:00PM and 5:00AM for anyone arriving late at night and needing to stop at destinations not covered by the T1 night bus:
- No. 316: Links the airport to the Bund, following Metro Line 2 until Zhongshan Park, then makes stops near Changshou Road (Line 7), Xinzha Road (Line 1), and East Nanjing Road (Line 2/10) before terminating at the Bund.
An additional night bus from the train station side is available also.
- No. 320: Links the train station to the Bund, but covers a different route in between. This bus makes a stop near the tourist part of Hongmei Road, then follows Metro Line 10 until Jiaotong University, stops in Xujiahui, continues along Line 10, then starts following line 1 around the Changshu Road stop until it reaches the Xintiandi area, then makes one final stop in Yu Gardens before terminating at the Bund.
Shanghai has a few major train stations including:
- Shanghai Railway Station (上海站) (on metro lines 1, 3 and 4). Shanghai's largest and oldest, located in Zhabei District. Practically all trains used to terminate here, including trains to Hong Kong. However, southern services are being shifted out to the South Station and high-speed services to the new Hongqiao Station.
- Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station (上海虹桥站) (on metro lines 2 and 10). A huge new station located in the same building complex as Hongqiao Airport. The connecting metro stop shares the same name, Hongqiao Railway Station, and is one stop beyond the Hongqiao airport stop. 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.
- Shanghai South Railway Station (上海南站) (on metro lines 1 and 3). in Xuhui District. Provides service towards the South, except for high-speed trains on the Shanghai–Hangzhou high-speed line which now use the new Hongqiao station, and services to Hong Kong (due to lack of immigration and customs facilities).
- 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 train to Nanjing direction stop at these smaller stations. In addition, there are a few trains to and from Shanghai Station for connections to other trains. Shanghai West Station is on metro line 11.
- Shanghai East Railway Station. Plans to build the station, which will be based in Pudong's Chuansha district, were announced in 2012.
Self-serve automated ticket booths are prevalent and can be used for checking train times in the English mode, but you can only buy tickets from them if you have a Chinese ID card. Tickets are also conveniently booked in advance at one of the many travel service agencies, or the ticket office of any railway station. See the train tickets section of the China article. Note that Hong Kong tickets go on sale 60 days in advance, and the Hong Kong–Shanghai segment sells out quickly.
- Beijing (北京) — Beginning in June 2011, an all-new express line service to Beijing started, with the quickest travel time option ringing in at 4 hours and 48 minutes. Additionally, there are a number of fast night sleeper trains running daily. These trains have D-prefix codes, take just over 10 hours from Shanghai to Beijing. Fare is around ¥730 for a soft sleeper lower berth or ¥655 for upper berth; the trains are very clean and the four-person cabins are quite comfortable. Two-person rooms are also available on some of these trains, the price is about ¥1470 for a lower berth or ¥1300 for an upper. Two-person rooms on D trains do not have private baths. In the same new train, normal second-class seat are available for around ¥327. For a regular normal sleeper in a standard train, which takes 13 hours from Shanghai to Beijing, expect to pay ¥306 to ¥327 for a hard sleeper or around ¥478 to ¥499 for a soft one. Two-person sleeper is available on one of the T-series trains, with private bath and a sofa, price is ¥881 for upper berth or ¥921 for a lower. But tickets for these cheaper normal sleepers are usually very tight.
- Hong Kong (香港) — The T99/T100 train to and from Hong Kong runs every other day (alternating between Shanghai→Hong Kong and Hong Kong→Shanghai) from Shanghai Railway Station (T99 leaves here at 18:20, T100 arrives here at 10:00), arriving at Hung Hom station in Kowloon (T99 arrives here around 13:00, T100 leaves here at 15:15). If traveling alone, expect to pay ¥800 each way for the soft sleeper, but discounts are given for group purchases (¥364 each way per person in a soft sleeper if purchased in a group of 4, for instance). Unless you are on a very tight budget, try to get the 'Deluxe Soft Sleeper' which has compartments of 2 beds and a private mainland-style mains socket (but with the introduction of new train cars, the regular soft sleeper also has a private mains socket for each room as well as one in the corridor of each car). Spaces are limited, so book well in advance. Keep in mind that you will still have to go through customs and thus need a new visa for re-entry into mainland China (unless you have a multiple-entry visa). However, going through customs at the train station is much quicker than customs at the airport.
- Lhasa (拉萨) — The train to and from Lhasa, Tibet runs every day from Shanghai Railway Station. It takes just under 50 hours to arrive at Lhasa. A hard seat costs ¥406 and a hard sleeper priced around ¥900, soft sleeper costs around ¥1300. Oxygen is available for each passenger in the Golmud–Lhasa section. A Tibet travel permit is required for non-Chinese citizens.
The new fast (200+ km/h) CRH trains from Shanghai go southwest to Nanchang and Changsha, or north to Beijing, Zhengzhou and Qingdao. These are very comfortable and convenient. Train route codes being with D in this instance. High-speed trains (300+ km/h) to Nanjing and Hangzhou have a G prefix.
It is now possible to go to Hong Kong by fast CRH train. The route through Nanchang connects on to Guangzhou, and another train gets you to Shenzhen, right next to Hong Kong. From there, you can walk across the border and get a metro in the city centre. Alternately, the CRH line along the coast is now in service; all the way from Shanghai to Shenzhen via Wenzhou, Fuzhou, Xiamen and Shantou. Total time is around twelve hours and cost about ¥600.
In recent years many highways have been built, linking Shanghai to other cities in the region, including Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, etc. It only takes 50 minutes to reach Shanghai from Hangzhou, or 2.5 hours from Ningbo, via the 36 km long Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the world's longest sea-crossing bridge.
There are several long-distance bus stations in Shanghai. You should try to get the tickets as early as possible.
- Beiqu Long-distance Passenger Station — 80 Gongxing Lu
- Hengfeng Road Express Passenger Station (恒丰路客运站) 270 Hengfeng Lu — This is one of the largest and is just north of the main railway station. It serves most destinations in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces as some more remote cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou. It's well organized but can be a little hard to find — particularly with the major rebuilding of the North Station Square. From Shanghai Railway Station (North) metro station (Lines 3 & 4) take exit No. 1. You'll come out in the middle of a construction site. Head left and keep walking straight and eventually (after an unpleasant 10-minute walk) you'll find it. Motorcycle-taxis will loiter around the station exit and will take you there for around ¥5 if you bargain hard — however they can be pushy and aggressive.
- Zhongshan Beilu Long-distance Passenger Transport Station 1015 Zhongshan Bei Lu
- Xujiahui Passenger Station 211 Hongqiao Lu
- Pudong Tangqiao Long-distance Passenger Station 3842 Pudong Nan Lu
- Shanghai Ferry Company, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Once a week service from Shanghai to Osaka and vice versa. Takes two nights. ¥1,300-6,500.
- Japan-China International Ferry Company, 18th Floor, Jinan No.908 Dong Da Ming Rd, ☎ , fax: +86 021-65957818. Alternates each week with Osaka and Kobe as the Japanese departure/arrival city.
Shanghai has an excellent public transport network with an extensive Metro (subway and light rail) system as its backbone. There are also good, though sometimes jammed, roads, many buses and plentiful taxis at a cost well below most Western cities.
If you intend to stay in Shanghai for more than a few days then a metro card — also called a Shanghai Jiaotong Card (上海公共交通卡) or Shanghai Public Transportation Card — is a must. You can get these cards at any metro station, as well as some convenience stores like Alldays and KeDi Marts.
You can load the card with money and use it in buses, the metro and even taxis, saving the hassle of buying tickets (sometimes with long queues) and keeping change for buses and taxis. Also, the card allows you to change lines at some stations where without the card you would need to get another ticket, and gives a ¥1 discount for each bus↔bus or metro↔bus transfer.
These cards do not require contact with the card reader to work; it is quite common to see someone just pass a purse, wallet or shoulder bag over the reader without taking the card out, and this almost always works. The card can be used once after it runs out of money; up to a ¥8 "overdraft" is allowed.
Cards come in several sizes — regular (credit card size), mini, and "strap" (for hanging on mobile phones) — and special editions with interesting pictures are available for each. Generally only regular-sized cards can be loaded at machines, and only in multiples of ¥50 or ¥100. There are some exceptions, such as machines at line 6 or 8 stations which take all sizes of cards. Service counters in metro stations will recharge any type of card in multiples of ¥10.
There is a ¥20 deposit for the card; the regular cards can be returned for a deposit refund, but mini or strap sizes cannot. For any card type, the balance on the card can be immediately returned if it is less than ¥10. If the balance on your card is between ¥10 and ¥2,000, an invoice should be taken to ask for the return of money; however, a 5% handling fee will be charged. Some metro stations have special offices for returning the cards. These stations include:
- 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 9:30AM–6:30PM, Sa Su 9:30AM–4:30PM.
The Shanghai Metro network (see map) is great — fast, cheap (¥3-10 depending on distance), air conditioned and fairly user-friendly with signs and station arrival announcements bilingual in Mandarin and English. The drawbacks are that trains can get really packed during rush hour, trains do not run late at night, and the network does not go everywhere yet, though they are continually expanding it.
The most convenient way to pay is with a metro card; see previous section. There are also one-day cards available which can be purchased for ¥18, good for 24 hours after their first use. Automatic ticket vending machines take notes and ¥1 or ¥0.5 coins, have instructions in English, and can give change. Most stations on lines 1-3 will also have staff selling tickets, but on the newly-completed lines 6, 8, and 9 ticket purchasing is all done by machine, with staff there only to assist in adding credit to cards or if something goes wrong.
If there are seats available then be prepared for a literal mad dash as passengers shove and wrestle for the available seats. You can try and do the same however bear in mind that everyone else will have a lot more experience than you! Additionally be mindful of pickpockets who may use this rush to their advantage.
The network had twelve lines in service as of late 2012 with another seven under construction and some existing lines being extended. In central areas most lines (but not line 3 and 4) run underground. Out in the suburbs, most are above ground and many on elevated tracks. There are over 400 km (250 miles) of line and over 250 stations. Usage averages about 6 million rides a day. There is a colour code; each line has a particular colour on all maps and signs, and often in station decor.
Transfers between lines can involve a very long walk in some stations. In most places you can transfer between lines freely with a single ticket, but there are exceptions 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 separate stations with the same name are:
- Shanghai Railway Station - lines 3/4 and line 1 are separate stations
- South Shaanxi Road - lines 1 and 10
- Pudian Lu - lines 4 and 6; go to either Century Ave or Lancun Lu to transfer between these lines
- Hongkou Football Stadium, lines 3 and 8
Most stations include some retail facilities; in many these are limited to a few snack vendors, but some (e.g. Xujiahui and People's Park) have substantial food courts and shopping areas right in the station. From many stations — at least Xujiahui, South Shaanxi Road. Nanjing Road East and Zhongshan Park — you can walk directly into large department stores or malls without going outdoors. For stations with souvenirs and cheap clothing see #Clothing below.
The bus system is cheaper and much more extensive than the metro, and some routes operate after the closing time of the metro (route numbers beginning with 3 are the night buses that run past 11PM). It is however slower in general, and all route information at bus stops is in Chinese, but here is a handy list of bus routes and stops in English. Once inside the bus, there are English announcements.
Some buses have a conductor; get on, sit down and he or (more often) she will come around; pay him or her and you'll get a paper ticket and change, if any. Fares depend on distance and conductors rarely have any English, so you must either know your destination and be able to pronounce it in Chinese or have it written down in Chinese characters.
Other buses do not have a conductor, only the driver; there is a fixed price for the route, usually ¥2 if the buses are air-conditioned and ¥1.5 on increasingly rare routes running on old buses without. Check the bus itself as some routes the fare is different from bus to bus; typically there is a sign showing the fare on the outside next to the door and/or on the fare box. Exact fare is required unless you have a metro pass; prepare exact change beforehand and drop it into the box next to the driver.
If you change buses with a metro card, you get a ¥1 discount on your second bus fare and all subsequent transfers. There is a 90-minute window to do this on so if you're not spending too much time at the destination your transfer discount will apply to the start of your return journey too.
There are several different companies offering sightseeing buses with various routes and packages covering the main sights such as the Shanghai Zoo, Oriental Pearl Tower, and Baoyang Road Harbor. Many of these leave from the Shanghai Stadium's east bus station. You can also pick one up downtown on Nanjing Road near the park between People's Park and Nanjing Road West metro stops.
Taxi ("出租车" chūzūchē or choo-tzoo-chuh) is a good choice for transportation in the city, especially during off-peak hours. It is affordable — ¥14 for the first 3 km during the day, ¥18 after 11PM, ¥2.4/km up to 10 km, and ¥3.5/km after; when wheels aren't rolling, time is also tracked and billed but first 5 min. are free; a ¥1 fuel surcharge is also applied. Going from the centre out to Pudong Airport will be around ¥200.
Rise of the Taxi Apps
Shanghai has very recently experienced an explosion in the use of mobile apps to hail taxis. The two main services in Shanghai are Didi Taxi and Kuaidi Taxi. These apps allow you to increase the flat fee of the taxi in order to get preference for a pickup. The result of this is that it is noticeably far more more difficult to hail a taxi in the street, especially during rain. These apps are also supposedly banned during rush hour times. As a foreigner you can try to learn how to use these apps if you can read Chinese.
Taxi drivers typically do not speak any English, so unless you speak Mandarin or Shanghainese, be sure to have your destination written in Chinese characters to show the driver. Get a business card for your hotel or any restaurant or shop you like; that makes it easy to return there. As Shanghai is a huge city, try to get the nearest intersection to your destination as well since even addresses in Chinese are often useless. If you have a mobile phone, you can also use the phone number displayed in the back of the taxi. Dial the number and tell the agent in English where you want to go. Hand the phone to the driver and the agent will tell him in Chinese where you wish to go. The agent will even find out the address of bars and other spots for you if required.
Try to avoid using ¥100 notes to pay for short journeys; either use a metro card or have change available; taxi drivers are not keen on giving away their change. Also, the ¥50 note is a favourite of counterfeiters and a foreigner unfamiliar with the money is an obvious person to foist a bad one on, so you should try to avoid getting a fifty in your change.
Taxis are very hard to come by during peak hours and when it's raining so be prepared to wait for a while or walk to a busy pick-up location. Foreign visitors might be surprised at the almost compete lack of courtesy or lines while waiting for a taxi, so don't be afraid to "jump in" and get one — it's first come, first served. There are some taxi stops where attendants maintain a well-ordered line; this may be the fastest way to get a taxi in a busy part of town, but there are not very many of them, so expect to walk a ways to get to one.
Drivers, while generally honest, are sometimes genuinely clueless and occasionally out to take you for a ride. The drivers are very good about using the meter but in case they forget, remind them. It's also the law to provide a receipt for the rider but if your fare seems out of line, be sure to obtain one as it's necessary to receive any compensation. If you feel you have been cheated or mistreated by the driver, you (or a Chinese-speaking friend) can use the information on the printed receipt to raise a complaint to the taxi company about that particular driver. The driver will be required to pay 3x the fare if ordered by the taxi company so normally they're very good about taking the appropriate route. The printed receipt is also useful to contact the driver in case you have forgotten something in the taxi and need to get it back.
If you come across a row of parked taxis and have a choice of which one to get in to, you may wish to check the driver's taxi ID card, posted near the meter on the dashboard. The higher the number, the newer the driver, so there may be more chance that the driver will not know where he or she is going. Those with numbers between 10XXXX and 12XXXX are the most experienced drivers; a number above 27XXXX indicates a new driver who may get you lost somewhere. Another way is to check the number of stars the driver has; these are displayed below the driver's photograph on the dashboard. The number of stars indicates the length of time the driver has been in the taxi business and the level of positive feedback received from customers, and range from zero stars to five. Drivers with one star or more should know all major locations in Shanghai, and those with three stars should be able to recognize even lesser-known addresses. Remember that it takes time to build up these stars, and so don't panic if you find yourself with a driver who doesn't have any — just have them assure you that they know where they are going and you should be fine.
If you need to cross from one side of the Huangpu River to the other by taxi, especially from Pudong to Puxi, you may want to make sure your driver will make the trip, and knows where he or she is going; some drivers only know their side of the town and may become lost once they cross the river. Taxis are notoriously difficult to get on rainy days and during peak traffic hours, so plan your journeys accordingly. As the crossings between Pudong and Puxi are often jammed with traffic, taking a taxi may be more expensive and slower than the metro. It may be better to take the metro across the river and then catch a taxi.
Taxi colors in Shanghai are strictly controlled and indicate the company the taxi belongs to. Turquoise taxis operated by Dazhong (大众), the largest group, are often judged the best of the bunch. Another good taxi company, Qiangsheng (强生), uses gold-colored taxis. The other large companies include Jinjiang (锦江), which uses white taxis and Bashi (巴士), which uses light green taxis. Watch out for dark red/maroon taxis, since this is the 'default' color of small taxi companies and includes more than its fair share of bad apples. Also private owned taxis (You can recognize them easily as they have an 'X' in their number plate and may not be the standard Volkswagen Santana used by most taxi companies) are among them. The dark red/maroon taxis will also go "off the meter" at times and charge rates 4x-5x the normal rate — especially around the tourist areas of the Yuyuan Gardens. Bright red taxis and blue taxis, on the other hand, are unionized and quite OK, furthermore there are more 3-star and above taxi drivers working for these companies. The bright orange taxis cover suburban areas only and are not allowed within the "city" area, but their meters start at ¥11 and count at ¥2.4/km no matter how long the journey so they're somewhat cheaper if you're not trying to get downtown (rule of thumb — if you're trying to go somewhere within the Outer Ring highway, don't get one, but if your journey ends just within it you may be able to find a driver willing to bend the rules). Also of note is the "Expo taxis" — the Volkswagen Tourans and Buick Lacrosses. Those are the only taxis allowed to travel to the Expo area. Nowadays it's a gamble whether you get one or not; most companies don't have a way to separately ask for one when making a phone booking, so don't rely on having one.
Shanghai is a good city for walking, especially in the older parts of the city such as the Bund, but be aware this city is incredibly dynamic and pavements can be obstructed or unpleasant to walk through when near construction areas. If there is a metro entry at a busy street, the station can usually be used as a pedestrian underpass to another metro exit across the way.
Some distances in Shanghai are huge, so you will need to use other means of transportation at some point. However, quite a few people navigate well with just a metro pass plus their feet and perhaps the occasional taxi.
See #Do below for some suggested walks that combine shopping and sightseeing.
The Bund "sightseeing tunnel" is very strange, and doesn't actually show you any sites of the city at all. It is an unusual (albeit pricey) way to get across the river however. See Shanghai/Huangpu#Do for details.
As with all of China, right-of-way is effectively proportional to weight: vehicles trump motorbikes, which trump pedestrians. Motorbikes and bicycles rarely use headlights and can come from any direction. They are the main users of curb-cuts for sidewalks, so don't stand at these. Avoid unpredictable movements while walking and crossing streets: the drivers see you and predict your future location from your speed. See Driving in China for further discussion.
A useful ferry runs between the Bund (from a ferry pier a few blocks south of Nanjing Road next to the KFC restaurant) and Lujiazui financial district in Pudong (the terminal is about 10 minutes south of the Pearl TV Tower and Lujiazui metro station) and is the cheapest way of crossing the river at ¥2 per person. The ferry is air-conditioned and allows foot-passengers only (bikes are not allowed except for folding models). Buy a token from the ticket kiosk and then insert it into the turnstile to enter the waiting room — the boats run every 10 minutes and take just over 5 minutes to cross the river. This is a great (and much cheaper) alternative to using the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. However, the ferry stations are not directly connected to the public transport so you need to walk a bit.
For locals, bicycles are slowly being eclipsed by electric scooters but they still remain an easy means of transportation for visitors who may be hesitant to communicate with drivers or board crowded mass transit — or simply to soak up some sunshine. Beware of the driving habits of locals: the biggest vehicles have the priority and a red light does not mean you are safe to cross the street. Bicycles and mopeds are not allowed on many major roads (signs designate this), or in the tunnels and on the bridges between Pudong and Puxi (the only way to cross is by ferry).
Some hostels have bikes for rent and many department stores sell them, starting around ¥200. Alternately, go to Baoshan Metro station and get a vintage bicycle for about ¥300. Bikes are also easily found for sale on the street around Suzhou Creek or in the residential part of the old town.
There is a city-operated system of free bicycles, but the stands are card-operated and as of 2012 the cards were available only to registered Shanghai residents; even migrant workers from other parts of China were excluded. There are many stands around town, each with a few dozen bikes; with a card, you can take one. If you return it to any stand within four hours, there is no charge.
By motor vehicle
Driving is definitely not recommended in Shanghai for a variety of reasons, even for those with driving experience in the country. Not only do you have to cope with a very complex road system and seemingly perpetual traffic jams, but also Chinese driving habits and ongoing construction. In addition, parking spaces are rare and almost impossible to find. Bicycles, scooters and pedestrians are also all over the place — a city with a real metropolitan feel. It is also not unheard of for cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians to suddenly dash in front of a car without any warning. In short, do not drive if you can help it and make use of Shanghai's excellent public transportation network instead.
- See also: Driving in China
Whilst motorcycle rental is practically non-existent, for long-term visitors e-bikes and scooters are a cheap, fast, practical way of getting around. E-bikes don't require a driving license and are cheaper, but only have a short battery range (about 50 km) and a low top speed, and are a frequent target of thieves. A cheap e-bike can be picked up from any major supermarket — expect to pay around ¥1500-2500 for a new model. Small shops also sell converted e-bikes (motor scooters converted to run on electricity) which are more expensive but are faster, more comfortable and have longer battery ranges. 50cc motorcycles require registration but don't require a drivers license, whilst anything bigger will require a driving license. Motorcycles can be bought from used-bike dealers mostly located in residential working-class neighbourhoods — a used 50cc moped will be about ¥2000 whilst a 125cc will cost a lot more depending on condition and mileage. If you plan on riding a motorcycle, stick to automatic transmission scooters as they are much easier to ride in dense traffic than a manually-geared bike.
Motorcycles are expected to use the bicycle lane and cross intersections via pedestrian traffic lights, which is often quicker when car traffic reaches a standstill. Be careful, particularly at night, of people riding with their headlights off or riding on the wrong side of the road — remember that e-bikes don't require any driving license and therefore drivers often flout traffic laws and take creative but dangerous paths through traffic. Parking is easy — most sidewalks serve as bike-parking, although in quiet streets you may risk getting your bike stolen so make sure you have a couple of good locks. At busy places there are attended bike parks that charge around ¥0.5-1 per day.
Vintage motorbikes with sidecars are used by mainly by expats and tourists. Most expatriates and Shanghainese are too embarrassed to use what many consider a particularly "uncool" form of transport. Changjiang sidecars were used by the Chinese army until 1997. There are a few sidecar owners club in Shanghai (Black Bats, People's Riders Club), shops (Yiqi, Cao, Fan, Jack, Jonson, Leo) and a tour operator (Shanghai Sideways) which are worth checking out. See also Driving in China — Sidecar rigs.
For many visitors the language barrier is likely to be the great obstacle, as English ability tends to be very limited in all but the largest tourist draws and establishments that cater specifically to foreign visitors.
The native language of most locals, Shanghainese or Wu dialect, is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin, Cantonese, Minnan (Taiwanese/Hokkien) or any other forms of Chinese. The use of Shanghainese as the de facto 'first' language of the city has been discouraged by the government and its use is decreasing both due to the effect of the use of Mandarin in mass media and because Shanghai has many migrant workers from other parts of China who do not speak Shanghainese and, as elsewhere in China, Mandarin is the lingua franca. As Shanghai has been China's main commercial centre since the 1920s, all locals who can speak Shanghainese can also speak Mandarin, so you will have no problems speaking Mandarin to locals. Nevertheless, attempts to speak Shanghainese are appreciated, and can help endear you to local people.
While you are more likely to encounter an English speaker in Shanghai than in most mainland Chinese cities, they are still not widespread so it would be wise to have your destinations and hotel address written in Chinese so that taxi drivers can take you to your intended destination. Though most younger people will have studied English in school, due to a lack of practice, few are conversant. Likewise, if you are planning to bargain at shops, a calculator would be useful. That said, staff at the more expensive hotels, major tourist attractions and other establishments catering specifically to foreigners generally speak an acceptable level of English.
Wu speakers have a particular accent when speaking Mandarin. Mandarin is heavily tone-based and speakers from Beijing can easily be understood (most textbooks are based on their accent or an approximation). Shanghainese speakers have appropriated some of the features of Wu onto their Mandarin. While in other languages this would not be a problem, given the phonemic and tonal nature inherent to Mandarin, the slightest shift in pronunciation can make it much more difficult to understand. The best thing to do is say "说慢一点" (shuō màn yī diǎn) which means "speak a little slower".
Rudimentary Chinese and/or pattern matching ability for character recognition will help, as will getting your destination and some simple directions to it written in Chinese characters, particularly when traveling by taxi. Some taxi drivers know English, but many and not much. Do not waste time and confuse someone with limited English by using difficult grammatical constructions and pleasantries such as "Oh I was wondering if you could help me find..." Just say "The Bund" (wai tan) or "Nanjing West" (nanjing xi lu). Though it may seem rude to an English speaker, this is exactly how Chinese would say it in Mandarin and is much more effective.
However, with the opening-up policy, the situation has been improved. As English is compulsory in Chinese schools, an increasing number of younger people know some basic English. If you are lost, try approaching younger people, such as students and stick to basic phrases; they might be able to point you in the right direction.
Where to go in Shanghai depends largely on your time period and interests.
Many of Shanghai's main tourist sights are in Huangpu District:
- The Old City (老城厢; Lao Chengxiang, also known as 南市, Nanshi) is the original Chinese city going back about 1000 years, now a major tourist area. The center of that area is Yuyuan Gardens.
- The International Settlement was built North and West of the Old City, starting in the 1840s. In colonial-period Western books, "Shanghai" means that settlement. There is a map in the history section.
- The Bund (外滩 Wàitān), the riverside avenue that was the center of 19th century Shanghai and is now a major tourist attraction. The banner photo at the top of this article shows the Bund, seen from across the river.
- People's Park (Renmin Gongyuan). Once the race track on the edge of the British district, now a large and busy downtown park. Under it is a metro station that is one of the hubs of the Shanghai system and one of the busiest subway stations on Earth. Lines 1, 2 and 8 meet there.
Nanjing Road was the main street of the old British Concession; today it is a major upmarket shopping street. It extends across two districts.
- Nanjing Road East in Huangpu District extends from the Bund to People's Park, and most of it is a very busy pedestrians-only strip.
- Nanjing Road West is the continuation into Jing'an District. A landmark there is Jing'an Temple, a beautiful ancient building with a metro station named after it.
Other major sights are in the former French Concession. This has always been a fashionable area — even in the colonial period, many famous Chinese lived there — and it remains so today with much of Shanghai's best entertainment and shopping. We treat it as a single district and give it its own article. Within it are:
- Xujiahui, the center of Xuhui District, with a metro interchange (lines 1 and 9), major roads, huge malls and high-end residential and office buildings
- Huaihai Road, an upmarket shopping street which many Shanghai people prefer over Nanjing Road
- Hengshan Road, which runs from Huaihai Road to Xujiahui, has Shanghai's largest cluster of restaurants and bars.
- Xintiandi, an area of old shikumen ("stone gate", a unique Shanghai style) houses, redeveloped with shopping malls, trendy bars and restaurants, and much tourism
- Tianzifang, another area of shikumen housing that has been redeveloped. It is newer than Xintiandi and emphasizes arts, crafts and boutique shopping where Xintiandi stresses brand-name goods and entertainment.
For a taste of 1920s Shanghai, with much classic Western-style architecture, head for the stately old buildings of the Bund and nearby parts of Huangpu; this is still a major shopping area as well. For boutique shopping, small galleries and craft shops, and interesting restaurants, try the French Concession. If your taste runs more to very modern architecture, remarkably tall buildings and enormous shopping malls, the prime districts for skyscrapers are Pudong and Jing'an. See the linked articles for details.
There are water towns in the Western suburbs, popular with both Shanghai residents and visitors. They are quite scenic with canals as the main method of transport and many traditional-style bridges and buildings.
- Zhujiajiao is right out at the Western edge of the municipality in Qingpu district, and can be reached by bus. It is quite popular with Shanghai residents, both Chinese and expatriates. There are some bars run by expats.
- Qibao is closer to downtown in Minhang district, and can be reached by metro (line 9, Qibao station, then walk a block South). It is smaller than Zhujiajiao and gets a higher proportion of tourists.
- Fengjing in Jinshan district has many artists, even its own fairly well-known "Jinshan peasant" style of painting. Metro line 22 will get you to Jinshan.
Museums and galleries
- Shanghai Museum (上海博物馆), S side of People's Square. 9AM-5PM. The Ancient Bronze exhibit is particularly impressive. Audio guides available. Also, there are often volunteer guides providing free service. Some of them speak English. Free.
- Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, People's Square, just across from the Shanghai Museum. Shanghai urban development is all about the 'five year plan'. The museum gives a fascinating look into Shanghai's colourful past and development strategies for the future. There is a heavy focus on eco-friendly satellite cities with spacious public centres and loads of greenery. The trip is worth it just for the scale model of Shanghai in ten years. All is on the fourth floor, including a virtual tour of up-and-coming large scale public projects, including the World Expo 2010 site.
- Shanghai Propaganda Poster and Art Centre (PPAC), RM. BOC 868 Huashan Rd, Shanghai 上海华山路868号BOC室 (Go north from the metro station Jiaotong University or take a taxi to 868 Huashan Road. The museum is inside the apartment complex here. With any luck, the complex guard will point you in the right direction. The museum is found in the basement of building 4 (B).). 10 am to 5 pm daily. This private collection is one of the most relevant and uncensored exhibits available to visitors interested in a glimpse of the politics and art of Mao-era China. Posters, memorabilia, photos, and even "大字报" (dazibao: big character posters) can be found in rotating exhibition. Due to the controversial nature of the historical items stored here, the museum is quite difficult to find, and unlabeled from the outside. Well worth the hunt, the museum boasts a wide array of art and political relics from 20th century China. ¥20 admission.
- Aerospace Museum (South end of metro line 8, in Pudong).
- M50 art district. Shanghai's main center for contemporary Chinese art, with dozens of studios and galleries. It is in a former factory in Putuo District.
- Chinese Martial Arts Museum (on the campus of Shanghai Institute of Physical Education). See the Yangpu District article for details
Shanghai has a large number of temples, churches, mosques and synagogues.
- Jing'an Temple (Buddhist) (Temple of Peace and Tranquility). In Jing'an District, above Jing'an Temple metro station for lines 2 and 7
- Longhua Temple (Zen Buddhist). in the French Concession
- Temple of the Town God (Taoist) (Chenghung Miao). in the old town
- Wen Miao (Confucian) (Shanghai Confucian Temple). An old temple dating back to the Yuan Dynasty.
- St. 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 district
- 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, turn right on Jiangning.). A small temple built in the 1880s to hold statues brought from Burma. Note that Changshou Road is a different station than Changshu Road. ¥20, another 10 to see the main statue.
- Xiaotaoyuan Mosque. Shanghai's largest mosque, with a separate women's mosque next door
Each of these houses of worship has its own Wikipedia article; consult those for more detail if required.
Of course there are many smaller religious buildings — Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Moslem and Christian — scattered around the city.
Almost every district in Shanghai has some parks. See the district articles for details. Some of the major ones are:
- People's Park. in Huangpu District, very central and with a major metro interchange below it
- Lu Xun Park. in Hongkou District
- Gongqing Forest Park. in Yangpu District
- Daning-Lingshi, north of the railway station in Zhabei District
- Shanghai Expo Park, In two parts, the larger in Pudong and the smaller in Puxi (Metro line 8, Yaohua Road Station). Shanghai hosted the 2010 World Expo, recording the greatest number of visitors in the event's history. Since then, the Chinese Pavilion has remained in operation and there are various other sights.
- Jinjiang Amusement Park, No. 201 Hongmei Rd (in Xuhui District, Line 1 to Jinjiang Park).
The municipal government runs a site Shanghai Cultural Information which has good listings of current events:
- special exhibits at museums and galleries
- shows such as acrobatics at the circus, touring musicians, and plays
- sporting events
If you like shopping or window shopping, a walk along either of Shanghai's major commercial streets takes an hour or two (or up to several days if you look in lots of stores and explore side streets) and can be quite interesting:
- Nanjing Road, starting from the Bund (Nanjing Road East metro station, line 2 or 10) and heading West toward People's Park, Jing'an Temple and perhaps beyond
- Huaihai Road in the French Concession, starting at South Huangpi Road metro station on line 1 and heading West. At the cross street just past the Changshu Road station, turn left (past the Starbucks) to reach a whole district of bars and restaurants along Hengshan Road to end your journey in comfort.
See #Buy below for more on these streets and nearby areas.
- Drink at a tea house. Visit one of Shanghai's many tea houses. Be careful not to order amazingly expensive teas or too much food. Beware of friendly-seeming strangers wanting to take you to a tea house or bar; this may be a scam.
- Take a boat on the river. There are many companies that run river tours. Look for one of the cheaper ones. This is a great way to see the striking Shanghai skyline and river banks and shoot some good photos. A cheaper but less scenic alternative is to take one of the many ferries that cross the river for a couple yuan.
There are a number of organized tours of Shanghai. Some of the boat companies offer sightseeing tours that last several hours and cover quite a bit of the river and/or Suzhou Creek. There are double-decker buses that run through much of downtown and can be boarded anywhere on their route.
China Odyssey Tours, ☎ . Tours of the city, for couples and families.
Universities in Shanghai
Shanghai has at least a dozen universities:
Most of these have substantial contingents of foreign students, and some employ foreigners as English teachers or in other faculty roles. All of them have nearby areas with cheap food, bars and shops that cater to a student market; these can be among the best places in Shanghai to look for low costs and lively nightlife with a young crowd.
Some universities have metro stops named for them, Jiao Tong University and Tonji University stations on line 10, Shanghai University on line 7, and Sonjiang University town on line 9.
To see another side of Shanghai, you can learn cooking in one of the different cooking schools or restaurants offering classes. Some are more high-end, like The Kitchen At..., offering experienced chefs. Others offer a more local and cultural experience, like Cook in Shanghai, with fresh market tours and a relaxed environment.
- Mandarin House (美和汉语). Established 2004; the Shanghai campus is in People's Square.
Shanghai has over 200,000 foreign residents, most of whom are working, and the range of jobs and professions is huge. The largest groups are English teachers and expatriate employees sent by foreign companies to work in Chinese branches or factories, or to deal with suppliers or partners. There are also significant numbers of other teachers at every level from kindergarten to university, foreign employees of Chinese companies, contractors doing design work on anything from clothing to automobiles, diplomatic staff at the various consulates, artists and musicians, independent professionals such as lawyers and architects, and people running their own export businesses or even factories.
As a general rule, the English teachers are paid less than the other groups, though still quite well by local standards. To some extent the range of Western bars and restaurants reflects this; some of the high-end places cater mainly to expatriates with high salaries or generous expense accounts. These places also get some tourists and prosperous Chinese, but the typical foreign teacher (let alone most Chinese or low-budget backpackers) cannot afford them.
See below for information on visa extensions if required.
Nanjing Road is a long street; Nanjing Road East is a 1-km long pedestrian boulevard near the Bund lined with busy shops. The wide boulevard is often packed with people on weekends and holidays. The shops are often targeted to domestic tourists, so the prices are surprisingly reasonable. The Nanjing Road East station (metro lines 2 and 10) is near the center of that pedestrian area. The People's Park station (lines 1, 2 and 8) is at the inland end, furthest from the Bund, and may be the best place to start exploring Nanjing Road.
For high end international brands, go to Nanjing Road West (南京西路) near Jing'an Temple (metro line 2 or 7). Several large shopping malls (Plaza 66 aka Henglong Plaza, Citic Plaza, Meilongzhen Plaza, and others being built) house boutiques bearing the most famous names in fashion. No. 3 on the Bund is another high-end shopping center featuring Giorgio Armani's flagship store in China. Huaihai Road in the French Concession is another busy shopping boulevard with upscale stores; well-off locals tend to shop there in preference to the more touristy Nanjing Road.
For boutique shopping, head to the French Concession streets Xinle Lu (新乐路), Changle Lu (长乐路) and Anfu Lu (安福路) starting from east of Shaanxi Lu (陕西路) (nearest Metro station is South Shanxi Rd on line 1). This section of low rise building and tree-lined streets bustles with small boutiques of clothing and accessories, where young Shanghainese looking for the latest fashions shop. The overhauled, cozy alleyways of Tian Zi Fang is also extremely popular and is a bit more elbow-to-elbow than Xintiandi.
Books, CDs and DVDs
Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore (Shanghai Book Traders) at 390 Fuzhou Rd (near People's Square) offers a lot of books in English and other major languages, especially for learning Chinese. Just around the corner at 36 South Shanxi Rd you will also find a small but well-stocked second-hand foreign-language bookshop. If you're searching for computer or business related books, head to the biggest store in Fuzhou Rd: Shanghai Book Town (上海书城). You'll find special editions targeted at the Chinese market. The only difference to the original version is the Chinese cover and the heavily reduced price. Fuzhou Road is also a good street to wander around and find stationery and Chinese calligraphy related shops.
Those interested in music CDs or DVDs of movies and television shows have a wide variety of options. The bookstores all carry some, people sell DVDs out of boxes on street corners, and there are local DVD shops in most neighborhoods. Costs go from about ¥6 per disk to about ¥40; you pay a bit more for DVD-9 format disks. See also discussion in the China article.
There are also some shops popular with the expatriate community; these tend to have English-speaking staff and a better selection of things that appeal to Westerners, though sometimes at slightly higher prices. One is the Ka De Club with two shops: one at 483 Zhenning Rd and the other one at 505 Da Gu Rd (a small street between Weihai and Yan'an Rds). Another popular DVD shop is on Hengshan Road about halfway between two expat bars, Oscar's and the Brewery.
Perhaps the best way to score a deal with a shop is to be a regular. If you provide them repeat business they are usually quite happy to give you discounts for your loyal patronage. It is also worth asking for a cheaper-by-the-dozen discount if you are making a large purchase.
There are a number of markets in the city selling antiques, jade and communist China memorabilia:
- Dongtai Road Antique Market (Metro line 8 or 10 to Laoximen station, then walk a long block North looking for the market on side streets to your left.). The largest and cheapest antique market, provided you bargain hard.
- Yuyuan Gardens is another good option for antiques as well as all manner of cheaply made and priced souvenirs (teapots, paintings, "silk" bags, etc.). Walk a few hundred meters East from Dongtai Road.
- There are more upmarket antique markets between Fuzhou Road and the pedestrian part of Nanjing Road.
As with any market in China, don't be afraid to haggle; it is usually the only way to get a fair price.
Note that exporting anything made before 1911 is now illegal. See the China article for discussion.
Shanghai does offer the opportunity to buy electronic products, and you may be able to find exotic gadgets and phones that are only available in China. Foreign electronics are expensive with a high sales tax. It can be helpful to buy online with clear cheaper prices and with with delivery often possible the same day with payment in cash on delivery. Games consoles are expensive and import restrictions extensive. Xujiahui is the place to go if you're after computer accessories and other electronics, but the mobile phone selection is a bit lacking. Try to go during the week; it gets awfully hectic on weekends.
- Bu Ye Cheng Communications Market (不夜城) (Shanghai Railway Station, exit 4 from line 1 side, turn left and it's the large gold building). 10AM-6PM. This is the one of the best-known open-style markets for mobile phones in Shanghai. 1F/2F for new phones (two-way radios too), 3F for second hand including various collectibles. Any reputable vendor that sets up shop here will allow you to try before you buy — if they don't then leave. Best way to get a good or unusual phone at low cost. The selection is a mixed bag; you'll find Chinese off-brands mixed with reliable big-name brands as well as cutting-edge Japanese phones. If you live in North or South America be careful about buying the off-brand phones as most do not support the necessary frequencies for use there. Also, in the secondhand section of the market some of the phones are of dubious origin; CDMA phones may have their ESNs blacklisted in their home countries, but for GSM/3G phones the only issue is an ethical one.
There is a giant electronics mart at the Baoshan Road line 3/4 station, which offers a huge range of miscellaneous electronics and mobile phones, however some are fake. Be sure to bargain hard. If you want to buy a mobile phone here, make sure you have a SIM card before you purchase, and test the SIM card in the phone by making a call, perhaps to the vendor, since some of the phones are non-functional but still turn on. It's best to negotiate as low as possible first, and then try out your SIM card.
Shanghai is rather an odd market for photo equipment. As in any major city, more-or-less everything is available somewhere, including high-end items of interest mainly to professionals and unusual things that only a collector might want. Some of the older stuff is rare here because China was relatively isolated when it was being made, but Shanghai was a very prosperous and cosmopolitan city in the 1930s so some collector's items are now in good supply.
As a general rule, prices on photo equipment in Shanghai are roughly comparable to US prices and a bit higher than Hong Kong, but there are various exceptions including some real bargains and some seriously overpriced items. Check prices abroad before making any major purchases.
For consumer products such as point-and-shoot cameras or low-end interchangeable lens devices, Xujiahui is a shopper's paradise. Any of the large consumer electronics stores scattered around the city, and many of the general department stores, will have these as well, but selection and price are usually better at Xujiahui.
For more specialised needs, there are two large buildings full of camera stores in Shanghai. Both have plenty of consumer products, usually at good prices. However they also have lots of products for the enthusiast and professional markets, services such as printing or camera repair, and a large selection of used equipment from cheap-and-usable to collector's items.
One is Huanlong Photographic Equipment City (环龙照相器材) on the 2nd through 5th floor of a building near the Shanghai train station in Zhabei District. Come out of the station into the South Square, and the building is diagonally left. Burger King on ground floor, KFC, ... Second floor and above is mostly camera shops. The higher you go, the more used equipment you see.
An even larger clump of shops is Xing Guang Photographic Equipment City (星光摄影器材城) 300 Luban Lu, corner of Xietu Lu. Metro line 4 to Luban Road South, go out exit 1, turn left onto Luban Lu, and you are walking North. Xietu Lu is the first cross street. The camera center is on the NW corner. It has 7 floors. The top one is offices, bottom two mostly new cameras. One floor (4th?) is mostly studio equipment — lights, reflectors and so on — and includes some unusual cameras such as 4 by 5 inch view cameras and 6 by 17 cm Chinese-made panoramic cameras. Another (5th?) is mostly wedding studios, wedding clothes rental, etc. Used equipment anywhere from 2nd to 6th, and dominating a couple of floors. One camera repair shop, a few accessories shops — memory, bags, tripods, etc.
There are two newer buildings next to the main one. As of early 2010, only two floors of one of those had opened; everything else was under construction. Everything that was open was print shops or wedding-related services.
In the main building, the bottom two floors are nearly all shops selling new cameras, with much specialisation by brand. At least one shop with nothing but Canon, some only Sony, one only Nikon & Manfrotto. Two mainly Pentax. Olympus & Panasonic fairly common, but no shops selling only those. Voigtlander visible here and there.
These two groups of shops are both on line 4 so it is easy to visit both in a day. However, line 4 is roughly circular and they are on opposite edges (Railway Station on North, Luban Lu on South) so it is a fairly long ride between them.
The horrendously crowded Qipu Lu clothing market (Tiantong Road metro station on line 10, one stop North of Nanjing Road East) is the main place where Shanghai people look for cheap clothing. It is a mass of shops — including a huge number of small ones, many about 18 m2 (200 ft2) — jammed into several multi-storey warehouse-sized buildings; exploring even one would take the casual stroller most of a day. You can walk into the basement of one building from inside the subway stop. You'll find the cheapest clothes in the city here, but even the trendiest styles are clearly Chinese. Bargain hard, in Chinese if you can, and make friends with the shop owners. Many of them have secret stashes of knock-offs in hidden rooms behind the stall "walls." Avoid this place on weekends at all costs.
While Qipu Lu is best known for cheap clothing, and that is indeed the market most shops target, it also has some rather fine upmarket shops. For example, the top floor of the building by the subway has a women's clothing place specialising in silk dresses and tops, including many with good embroidery. Prices start around ¥300, high but not outrageous by Chinese standards. Compared to prices in Western countries they are a real bargain.
There are a number of other markets which combine cheap clothing (including lots of knock-offs of famous brands) with tourist stuff like souvenir T-shirts and higher-grade Chinese stuff like silk (?) scarves and robes. In any of these there are quite a few touts; just walking in to the buildings can bring a horde of people upon you trying to sell you bags, watches, DVDs and all sorts of goods. You also need to haggle to get good prices in any of them. Dodging touts and haggling can be fun, but those sensitive to the pressure might want to steer clear.
The largest of those is next to the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum (上海科技馆) metro station on Line 2 in Pudong; there are actually two markets, one on each side of the station. The place is much more overrun by foreigners than Qipu Lu, and the asking prices for clothes are higher. However, there is a wider selection here of other products: software, games, electronics, etc. This market also has a number of tailor shops for made-to-order clothing.
It is fairly common for travellers to stop at that market to pick up gifts just before flying out of Shanghai; it is on the metro route to Pudong airport, prices may not be the best in town but they are generally much better than airport shops, selection is good, and it is all on one level so it is moderately convenient to wander about with luggage in tow.
A smaller but more accessible market with similar stuff (but no tailors) is attached to the largest and most central metro station in town, People's Park on lines 1, 2 and 8. This is less hectic than either Qipu Lu or the Science & Tech Museum, and probably has enough variety for most travellers. If not, you can find another such market by walking West on Nanjing Road and looking for it on the right a few blocks along near the corner of Chongqing Lu (building has wide steps out front and escalators visible inside). The first floor is aggressively tourist-oriented, but higher floors are more relaxed and the top floor has quite a good food court that includes a moderately priced Indian place.
The area around Yuyuan Gardens in the old town has similar stuff, with more emphasis on souvenirs and handicrafts rather than clothing, and often with somewhat higher asking prices.
Another option is the Pearl Plaza located on Yan'an Xi Lu and Hongmei Lu (line 10, get off at Longxi Rd stop, go south on Hongmei Lu out of the station past Yan'an elevated road). See Minhang for more on that area. Another, more for day-to-day clothing than anything fancy or touristy, is near Shanghai Ikea; take line 3 to Cao Xi Road, walk toward Ikea and it will be on your left.
But rather than pursuing knock-offs of Western brands, one of the more interesting things to do in Shanghai is to check out the small boutiques in the French Concession area. Some of these are run by individual designers of clothing, jewellery, etc. and so the items on sale can truly be said to be unique. Visitors from overseas should expect the usual problem of finding larger sizes.
The largest group of tailor shops is at Shanghai South Bund Material Market: 399 Lujiabang Rd (陆家浜路), open 10AM-6PM. Three floors of tailors and their materials including silk, cashmere, and merino wool. Have items measured, fitted and finished within two days or bring examples, samples or pictures. You can take bus #802 or #64 from the Shanghai Railroad Station and stop at the final stop: Nanpu Bridge Terminal or you can take the Metro Line 4 to the Nanpu Bridge (南浦大桥) Station (exit from gate #1, make a left from the exit and then left again on the light. You will see it to your right after walking about 200 to 250 m. Prices here or in the smaller cluster of such shops at Science & Tech are often better than at standalone shops in town because the competition for customers is fairly intense, but you should bargain for the best price.
For high-end clothing that is (mostly) not Chinese knock-offs, generally at somewhat higher prices than outside China, the main areas to look are Nanjing Road right downtown and Huaihai Road in the French Concession. Both have many stores with trendy styles and major international brands.
Major supermarket chains such as Carrefour, Auchan, Tesco and Walmart are scattered around the city and have cheap groceries and household products, and are generally crowded at weekends. The most centrally located 'big chain' supermarket is Carrefour located in floors B1 and B2 of Cloud 9 shopping mall (metro: Zhongshan Park Lines 2, 3 and 4). Tesco has a store in Zhabei district close to the main railway station and there is a huge Lotus supermarket in Top Brands mall in Liujiazui (Metro: Liujiazui, Line 2). There is also a large supermarket with much imported food at Xujiahui (lines 1 and 9); leave the station via at exit 12, which puts you in the basement of a major mall, then walk all the way across the open space at that level.
Whilst there are many stores around the city selling imported products at fairly high prices, Metro Cash'n'Carry is by far the cheapest place to buy imported goods. There are two stores:
- The Pudong store is at Longyang Lu, Lines 2, 7, 16 and Maglev.
- The Puxi store is at the intersection of Zhenbei Rd and Meichuan Rd, reachable by bus #827 from Line 2 Beixinjing station, Line 10 Shuicheng Rd station, and Line 10 Jiaotong University station or bus #947 from Line 2 Zhongshan Park station and Line 3/4 Jinshajiang Rd station. Alternately, it is a five-minute walk from Jinjiang Park station on line 1.
As Metro caters primarily to businesses, you will either need a Metro membership card or take a temporary guest pass from reception when entering the store (Puxi store offers no guest passes but most members are willing to lend their membership card at the check-out line). Some items are available only in large packages or are much cheaper bought that way; for example, kilogram (2.2 pound) packs of New Zealand cream cheese or five-kg (11 pound) blocks of Irish cheddar are about half the cost per gram of small quantities.
City Shop has a number of locations around Shanghai, plus an online store. Prices are mostly noticeably higher than Metro, but their selection is good and locations are often convenient.
Ubiquitous FamilyMart 24-hour convenience stores can be found around the main central districts and inside major metro stations — these stores sell magazines, snacks, drinks and Japanese-style hot bento-boxes although prices are high by Chinese standards. Chinese chains such as KeDi and C-Store can be found in residential districts and are marginally cheaper and also stock cigarettes. 7-Eleven and Lawson convenience stores are less common but can be found around the Nanjing Road area.
For small discounts at various restaurants and hotels as well as 50% off tickets to certain attractions (Shanghai World Financial Center observation deck, Happy Valley, Science and Technology Museum, among others) try to find a branch of Woori Bank to sign up for the Shanghai Tourist Card. All Chinese banks issue this as a credit card, preventing non-Chinese visitors from signing up by virtue of requiring proof of income in China, but Woori is a Korean bank and caters to Koreans (including Korean tourists), and thus offers it as a debit card, allowing anyone to sign up for it with just a passport. Sign-up (including account creation) takes approximately half an hour and the card is immediately issued upon account creation. Branches are located near Metro Line 2 Century Ave. station (address is 1600 Century Ave. Pos-Plaza 1-2F) and Metro Line 9 Hechuan Rd. station (address is 188 South Huijin Rd: ask for directions to Bank of China; once you get there, turn right and keep walking until you see it). However, a hotel address may not be acceptable and there may be a handling fee for accounts canceled within a month of opening. An incidental advantage of the Woori Bank Shanghai Tourist Card is that the account allows unlimited free withdrawals at any ATM in China. Thus it will be more convenient to put all your money in the card and withdraw from ATMs only as necessary. If planning to visit two or more of the attractions that half-price tickets are offered for, the time spent is well worth the discount (maximum two discounted tickets purchased per card, offer lasts until end of World Expo).
In addition, Travelex offers a Shanghai Tourist Card Cash Passport IN JAPAN ONLY. If transiting through there, getting the Cash Passport version is easier and quicker, 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. Same as the Travelex card except initial currency is Hong Kong dollars and a 1.1% fee is charged during the Hong Kong dollar->yuan conversion process.
Shanghai's cuisine, like its people and culture, is primarily a fusion of the forms of the surrounding Jiangnan region, with influences sprinkled in more recently from the farther reaches of China and elsewhere. Characterized by some as sweet and oily, the method of preparation used in Shanghai, it emphasizes freshness and balance, with particular attention to the richness that sweet and sour characteristics can often bring to dishes that are otherwise generally savoury.
The name "Shanghai" means "above the sea", but paradoxically, the local preference for fish often tends toward the freshwater variety due to the city's location at the mouth of China's longest river. Seafood, nonetheless, retains great popularity and is often braised (fish), steamed (fish and shellfish), or stir-fried (shellfish). Watch out for any seafood that is fried, as these dishes rely far less on freshness and are often the remains of weeks-old purchases.
Shanghai's preference for meat is unquestionably pork. Pork is ubiquitous in the style of Chinese cooking, and in general if a mention refers to something as "meat" (肉) without any modifiers, the safe assumption is that it is pork. Minced pork is used for dumpling and bun fillings, whereas strips and slices of pork are promulgated in a variety of soups and stir-fries. The old standby of Shanghainese cooking is "red-cooked (braised/stewed) pork" (红烧肉), a traditional dish throughout Southern China with the added flair of anise and sweetness provided by the chefs of Shanghai.
Chicken takes the honorable mention in the meat category, and the only way to savour chicken in the Chinese way is to eat it whole (as opposed to smaller pieces in a stir-fry). Shanghai's chickens were once organic and grass-fed, yielding smaller but tender and flavourful birds. Today most chickens are little different from what can be found elsewhere. Still, the unforgettable preparations (drunken, salt-water, plain-boiled with dipping sauce, etc.) of whole chickens chopped up and brought to the table will serve as a reminder that while the industrialization of agriculture has arrived from the West, the preservation of flavour is still an essential element of the local cooking.
Those looking for less cholesterol-laden options need not fret. Shanghai lies at the heart of a region of China that produces and consumes a disproportionately large amount of soy. Thinking tofu? There's the stinky version that when deep-fried, permeates entire blocks with its earthy, often offensive aroma. Of course there are also tofu skins, soy milk (both sweet and savory), firm tofu, soft tofu, tofu custard (generally sweet and served from a road-side cart), dried tofu, oiled tofu and every kind of tofu imaginable. There's also vegetarian duck, vegetarian chicken and vegetarian goose, each of which looks and tastes nothing like the fowl after which it is named but is rather just a soy-dish where the bean curd is expected to approximate the meat's texture. Look out also for gluten-based foods at vegetarian restaurants. If you are vegetarian, do be conscious that tofu in China is often regarded not as a substitute for meat (except by the vegetarian Buddhist monks) but rather as an accompaniment to it. As such, take extra care to ensure that your dish isn't served with peas and shrimp or stuffed with minced pork before you order it.
Shanghainese people have 4 special preferences for breakfast dishes (or rather to say dishes, just those simple and quick-to-eat) which are given the name sì dà jīn gāng (四大金刚, lit. four heavenly kings, a term in Buddhism). They are the followings:
- dà bĭng (大饼, lit. large pastry). A kind of large flat bread. Fried dough in oil-greased frying pan with water (which eventually evaporates). A variation of this is cōng yóu bĭng (葱油饼, lit. green onion oil pastry), which has green onion and salt and pepper on the surface of the dough before frying.
- yóu tiáo (油条, lit. oily strips). Stretchy while crispy fried hollow strips. Often served with some sugar to dip on.
- cí fàn (粢饭). Glutinous rice and Japonica rice mixed and steamed then used to wrap a yóu tiáo up.
- dòu jiāng (豆浆, soybean milk). Simply soybean milk, often sweetened with sugar. Best when served with yóu tiáo.
Some other Shanghainese dishes to look out for:
- xiǎolóngbāo (小笼包, lit. buns from the little steaming cage; fig. steamed dumpling). Probably the most famous Shanghai dish: small steamed buns — often confused for dumplings — come full of tasty (and boiling hot!) broth inside with a dab of meat to boot. The connoisseur bites a little hole into them first, sips the broth, then dips them in dark vinegar (醋 cù) to season the meat inside.
- shēng jiān mántóu (生煎馒头, lit. raw fried buns). Unlike steamed buns, these larger buns come with dough from raised flour, are pan-fried until the bottoms reach a deliciously crispy brown, and have not made their way to Chinese menus around the world (or even around China). Still popular with Shanghainese for breakfast and best accompanied by vinegar, eat these with particular care, as the broth inside will squirt out just as easily as their steamed cousins.
- Dàzhá xiè (大闸蟹), or Shànghǎi máo xiè (上海毛蟹; Shanghai hairy crab), a type of small fresh water crab famed for its taste. Best eaten in the winter months (Oct-Dec) and paired with Shaoxing wine to balance out your yin and yang. Roe and meat from this type of crab goes into the famous xiaolongbao (above) and meatballs (below)
- xièfěn shīzitóu (蟹粉狮子头; lit. crab meat pork meatballs), found in various Yangzhou- and Zhenjiang-style restaurants, such as the Yangzhou Fandian located near Nanjing Road.
For a more upscale and cleaner market go to Cityshop or Ole.
- UnTour Shanghai, ☎ 186.1650.4269. UnTour Shanghai helps tourists and new residents of the Shanghai get comfortable with the city's dynamic food scene fast. They offer culinary tours of the city, including street food breakfast and night market tours and noodle- or dumpling-specific tours, as well as Chinese cooking classes.
See the district articles for restaurant listings by area.
The traditional alcoholic drink of choice for the Shanghainese is Shaoxin rice wine, and this can still be found in most restaurants.
Western-style cafés and bars have also become commonplace. Prices of drinks in cafés and bars vary like they would any major metropolis. They can be cheap or be real budget-busters, with a basic coffee or beer costing ¥10-40. In a high-end hotel bar, one basic beer may cost as much as ¥80. There are internationally-known chains, like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, as well as popular domestic and local java joints to satisfy those looking to relax. Hong Kong-style tea cafes are also common, as are Asian "pearl milk tea" or "bubble tea" bars. Some traditional tea houses can still be found, especially in the Old City.
Tsingtao, Snow and Pearl River beer are widely available. Major foreign brands are produced domestically and smaller brands are typically imported. There is also a local brew known as REEB (beer spelled backwards). A large bottle (640 ml) of any of these costs anywhere from ¥2-6.
Shanghai is filled with amazing nightlife, complete with both affordable bars and nightclubs that pulsate with a city energy.
There are many magazines for expats that can be found at hotels and other expat eateries that list and review events, bars, clubs and restaurants in Shanghai. The most popular ones are That's Shanghai, City Weekend, and Time Out. Shanghai also has an English newspaper, Shanghai Daily Shanghai Daily, and an English-medium TV channel, International Channel Shanghai or ICS; most expats find these better than the corresponding national media outlets, People's Daily and CCTV channel 9.
- Pub Crawl Shanghai, Various locations, ☎ . 5PM-3AM. In addition to a plethora of watering holes ranging from bars, lounges, dives and world-class clubs, there is a pub crawl that arranges transportation to various popular venues. For non-Mandarin speakers or those in town for just a few days, this service takes the guesswork out of finding the hippest, most interesting spots that bustle with expatriates and locals. ¥150.
- Brewery Tour Shanghai, Various locations. 2:30-6:30pm. An offshoot of Pub Crawl, this one's suitable not only for the backpacking type but also professionals and even families, if your kids don't mind riding in a mini bus. The tour visits three breweries where you'll be supplied with ample beer, pub grub, and plenty of time to chat with the brewmaster. Beer-related trivia on the bus lets you show off your Wikipedia-reading skills. ¥380.
See the district articles for nightlife listings by area.
Accommodation in Shanghai can be rivaled by few cities in China, in terms of both variety and services. There are establishments for all types of travelers, from backpacker options for the weary to top of the line hotels and serviced apartments for those wishing to be spoiled. Puxi has both new and old hotels with class architectural styles and charm, some of them described in stories when Shanghai may have been the only place in China known to much of the rest of the world, while modern amenities commonly found in Pudong rival many hotels in Asia and beyond.
For clean, safe, budget accommodations, three reliable options are the Jin Jiang Star (website in Chinese), Motel 168 (website in Chinese) and Motel 268 chains, all of which have multiple locations in every district of Shanghai.
See the district articles for hotel listings by area.
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; see the district articles for details. 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.
Shanghai is a fairly safe city and violent crime is rare. However, the ever-increasing divide between the haves and have-nots has created its fair share of problems. Petty crimes like pickpocketing and bike theft are common, and sexual harassment occasionally occurs on crowded public transport. Pay extra caution before the Chinese New Year (in Jan or Feb depending on lunar calendar), as thieves may be more active in looking for new year money.
Beware of pickpockets on the main shopping streets. They often work in groups, sometimes including women carrying babies.
Beware of this taxi scam: first you agree on price (e.g. ¥300 for a taxi shared with someone else from Hongqiao Airport to Suzhou) then after some short taxi ride they ask to get out and group of people say that you need to pay agreed money right now. Then you get transferred to a shared bus where other people cheated like yourself sitting and waiting when the bus will depart, then the bus finally gets to destination. Most taxis belong to a taxi company, with the company telephone number printed in the taxi that you can call with English. There is also a common Shanghai help line number that can help you, call 962288, with English service.
The notorious tea house scam, long practiced in Beijing, is unfortunately spreading to Shanghai as well. Be cautious if over-friendly strangers, who probably dress well, speak good English, and look innocent like a student. They will invite you to an art gallery, tea shop or karaoke bar, and after accepting they will leave you to foot a large bill. In this case, you should call 110 (emergency hotline). The con artists may tell you that calling the police does not work and claim to have connections with police, but the police in China tend to be helpful in these cases, especially when innocent foreigners are involved. These scams can be found around People's Square near the entrances/exits of the museums and art galleries. Actual physical harm to yourself is unlikely. Just walk away.
A temple scam in various big cities and also Tibet is when your guides may ask you to make a wish and burn a stick of incense which ends up costing a hundred to more than a thousand. Another trick is to ask you how much you want to "donate". After you said ¥10, they will tell you that ¥10 is for 1 day blessing but the monk has already turned an incense to bless you for 1 year, so you need to pay 365 x 10 yuan. This scam has caused significant backlash because of blasphemy since no legitimate temples in China ever charge followers in this way.
Male travellers may attract attention from female sex workers at nightspots. Around the Old Town and the Science Museum in Pudong, hawkers are sometimes also eager to sell. Saying wǒ búyào ("I don't want it") may help. Also be cautious of people who approach and offer to polish your shoes. Make sure both of you agree on the price before anything is put on your shoes. The same rule also applies to the commercial photographers at the Bund area. They will offer to take your picture with the scenic background (and sometimes with costumes) for ¥50, but once you have contracted their services, several cohorts will arrive to "assist" the photographer. They may force you to buy all the snapshots and try to gather crowds to increase pressure.
Don't rush into or out of Shanghai metro trains at the last moment. Despite the safety barriers on the platform, the train doors sometimes close before all passengers have boarded; people squeezed between closing doors is a common sight. Apparently, the failsafe that is supposed to block trains from running with open doors isn't foolproof: In 2010 a woman died after being smashed against the safety barriers as she was hanging half out of the closed doors of a train leaving Zhongshan Park Station.
By Chinese law, foreigners are required to show their passports when requested, although this is rarely enforced. Most hotels will help you keep the passport in the safe, and then you can carry a photocopy along with your hotel's name card.
See the Chinese Money Counterfeiting article for details about fake notes that you may encounter
Do not drink Shanghai's tap water unless it is boiled or goes through a reverse-osmosis filter. Drinking the water is relatively safe when it has been boiled; however, tap water is also said to contain high amounts of heavy metals which are not removed by boiling. When buying bottled water you will come across a whole range of foreign and domestic mineral water brands, with the cheaper domestic brands costing ¥1-¥2.50 and are available in all convenience stores and street vendors. Most hotels provide domestic mineral water for free in your room.
Individuals with asthma or respiratory issues should be prepared when visiting due to the air pollution.
Although there are many public hospitals in Shanghai, they are generally not up to the standard that foreigners from Western countries would be used to, and most of the doctors and nurses working there are unable to communicate in English. Ambulance services are unreliable, and in the event of an emergency, the quickest way to get to a hospital would usually be to take a taxi. There are a number of private hospitals and medical clinics around the city that serve foreigners and expatriates almost exclusively. The doctors and nurses working at these places will be able to speak English, and the standard of care is usually on par with what most Westerners are used to back home, though their services are usually very expensive. Many of these medical services will take travel insurance if your insurance company is partnered with the hospital. Generally speaking you will likely have to pay ahead of time, however these facilities tend to be far superior in equipment and cleanliness to the ones that Chinese locals are forced to deal with.
A popular chain of western medical clinics is Parkway Health. There is a 24 hotline in English ( 6445 5999 ) to arrange a appointment in a clinic closest to you. Note that this service is expensive, with basic medical consultations starting at ¥1,200. Check with your insurance beforehand to see if you are fully or partly covered.
Note that because these services are pay services, they are paid more when they conduct more tests. Furthermore, Chinese doctors, even Western-trained ones, tend to be overly thorough compared to Western doctors. However since you are a customer, they are not usually too insistent on unnecessary tests. Use your common sense to determine if you need the ordered tests (e.g. blood tests, x-rays etc.).
- International Medical Care Center of Shanghai First People's Hospital, 585 Jiu Long Road, near Haining Lu, Hangkou (九龙路585号，近海宁路) (In Building 1), ☎ 6324 3852. 08:00-17:00 (Mon-Fri). Provides "VIP Service" for ¥300, then you pay for whatever services on top of the basic examination.
- Shanghai Daily. English-language newspaper and website.
- Shanghai International Channel. English-language TV channel
Expatriates generally find these Shanghai-based media outlets preferable to the China-wide People's Daily and CCTV-9.
There are also several English-language papers that consist mainly of listings, reviews and advertisements for restaurants and nightlife. These are given away free in most of the Western-style bars and some restaurants and hotels.
An amazingly helpful resource for visitors and expats alike is the Shanghai Call Center. Established prior to the Expo and maintained as a public service, the call center is a free-of-charge phone number that provides information regarding bus, metro, and taxi directions, business hours, attractions, and can even be utilized as a free translation service. If you are having trouble communicating with your taxi driver or a vendor, don't hesitate to call the number and pass the phone back and forth, having the operator translate.
The so-called "Magic Number" can be reached at 962288 from Shanghai cell phones. Chinese cell phones from other cities should dial 021 962288, and international phones should dial +86 021 962288. A short message in Mandarin will greet you, followed by a set of English instructions. Service is available in several European languages such as English and Spanish.
The service itself is free of charge, but you pay the cost of the phone call.
See the China article for discussion of some Chinese behaviours that may irritate visitors, but note that most of these are less problematic in Shanghai than elsewhere.
Crowding in, rather than queuing, is a problem you are likely to encounter; indeed this can be worse in busy Shanghai than elsewhere. Whether at a ticket booth, at a busy fast food counter, or even at the grocery store, everyone jockeys for position by crowding around a staff member, and will do whatever possible to get in first, and get out. If at all possible, avoid the situation in the first place; for example, recharge your metro card a bit early if you see a quiet ticket counter.
Pushing in the metro is normal, especially at the chaotic People's Square Station. Just dig in and push; don't feel sorry. However, compared to public transport in other Chinese cities, the Shanghainese are better at letting people alight first and the mad rush for empty seats is not quite so bad — your behaviour should follow the situation: if the station is crowded then pushing is acceptable, but if not then you are more likely to be looked upon as an 'uncivilised foreigner'. Also, outside of busy times you should stand to the right on escalators to allow people to pass.
Note that Shanghai Metro drivers will close the train doors and depart when the schedule says so, even if people are still boarding. When you hear the 'door closing' alarm (usually a series of beeps) stand back from the doors (particularly on the old Line 1 and 2 trains as the doors close very quickly and may not re-open if blocked).
Work Permits and Visa extensions
Please refer to China#Work for general information about Chinese work visas. The information below covers only things specific to Shanghai.
- Shanghai Entry and Exit Bureau, 1500 Mingsheng Rd, Pudong District, ☎ . 9-11:30 and 1:30-4:30, Monday thru Friday. This office will process work permits and visa extensions. It also issues a form which consulates require if you apply to replace a lost or stolen passport.
Nearest metro station is Science and Technology Museum on Line 2. Leave via exit 3 and you will be facing east as you come off the escalator; continue east along the sidewalk. It is two fairly long blocks, about a 5 minute walk. At a big intersection after the Pudong Expo building you will see the bureau (a sort of oval shaped building) to the right. The office faces on the other street, Ming Sheng Rd; cut diagonally through the parking area to reach it.
Take the escalator up to the third floor for the area that serves foreigners. (First floor issues Chinese passports, second is for Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan residents.) Take a number from the ticket machine. There are different series of numbers for different services; an English-speaking staff member is at the machine to ensure you get the right one.
Everyone will need a photo to put on 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. Photocopies can be obtained on the third floor (back left hand corner of the room, as seen by someone facing the service counters) and photos on the ground floor (under the escalators).
Be prepared for a bit of a wait; this is a large office and quite efficient but there were over 200,000 foreigners in Shanghai as of the 2010 census. If each of them renews their visa once a year, that works out to over 750 people per working day. Expect to wait for anything from 30 minutes to three hours to submit an application and anything from three days to two weeks for them to process it. For the shortest wait, arrive around 8:30 AM, queue until 8:45 when the doors open, get a number and hope to be served shortly after the counters open at 9:00.
When you submit an application, they will give you a form with date and cost for pickup of your passport with the new visa. Pickup is on the ground floor, off to the right as you enter the building. You need to queue twice, first (with the form in hand) to pay and then (receipt in hand) to get your passport.
Most consulates can be found in the Jing'an area of Shanghai.
- Australia, Level 22, Citic Sq, 1168 Nanjing W Rd, ☎ , fax: +86 021 22155252.
- Belgium (比利时驻上海总领事馆), No. 127 WuYi Road 武夷路127号, ☎ , fax: +86 021 64377041, e-mail: Shanghai@diplobel.fed.be. 9AM-12:30PM, 2PM-4:30PM.
- Brazil (巴西驻上海总领事馆), Jiangning Rd 188, ASA Building, 7/F -703 200041, ☎ , fax: +86 21 6437-0160, e-mail: email@example.com. 9:30-13:00.
- Canada, 8th Floor, ECO City Building, 1788 Nanjing Rd W (About 100m west of Jing An Temple on the same side of Nanjing Road), ☎ , fax: +86 021 32792801, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9-11:30AM.
- Finland, Room 2501-2505,CITIC Square, 1168 Nanjing Xi Rd, ☎ 52929900.
- France (法国驻上海总领事馆), Haitong Securities Bldg, 2F, 689 Guangdong Rd 广东路689号海通证券大厦2层, ☎ , fax: +86 6103 2218, e-mail: email@example.com. 9AM-noon, 2PM-6PM.
- Greece (希腊驻上海总领事馆), 989 Changle Rd, Ste 3501, The Center上海市长乐路989号世纪商贸广场3501室, ☎ , fax: +86 021 54670202, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- India, 1008, Shanghai International Trade Centre, 2201 Yan'an Xi Lu, ☎ +86 021 62758882 / 8885 / 8886, fax: +86 021 62758881, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Ireland, Ste 700A West Tower Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nanjing Rd W, ☎ , fax: +86 021 62798739. M-F 9:30AM-12:30PM, 2PM-5:30PM.
- South Korea, 4F Shanghai International Trade Center, 2201 Yan-an Xi Rd, ☎ 62196420.
- Malaysia, Room 1101, CITIC Square,1168 Nanjing Xi Rd, ☎ 52925424.
- New Zealand, Room 1605-1607A, The Centre, 989 Changle Rd C, ☎ , fax: +86 021 54075068, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 8:30AM-5PM.
- Pakistan, Ste 0, 7F Hongqiao Business Center, 2272 Hongqiao Rd, ☎ , fax: +86 021 62377066, e-mail: email@example.com. 8:30AM-5:30PM.
- Peru, Room 2705,Kerry Center, 1515 Nanjing Xi Rd, ☎ 52985900.
- Philippines, Ste 301 Metrobank Centre, 1160 West Yan'An Road, ☎ , fax: +86 021 62798332, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Singapore, 89 Wan Shan Rd, ☎ , fax: +86 021 62956038, e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 8:30AM-noon, 1PM-5PM.
- South Africa, 27F, Rm 2705/5, 222 Yan'an Rd E, ☎ , fax: +86 021-63352980, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- United Kingdom, Ste 301, Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nan Jing Xi Lu, ☎ , fax: +86 021-62797651. M-Th 8:30AM-5PM, F 8:30AM-3:30PM. Also for all other EU Citizens, as fixed in the EU Charter.
- United States, American Citizen Services, Westgate Mall, 1038 W Nanjing Rd, 8F, ☎ +86 021 32174650 ext. ext. 2102, , 2103 , 2114fax: +86 21-62172071, e-mail: ShanghaiACS@state.gov. M-F 8:30AM-11:30AM, 1:30PM-3:30PM, Closed Tu afternoons.
Consider some of the outlying areas of Shanghai Municipality. In particular see #Water towns above; those are scenic areas with canals, arched bridges and lovely traditional architecture, and they are well provided with tourist amenities. Also consider parts of the municipality listed under #Inner suburbs, #Outer suburbs and #The islands; in particular the Southern suburbs Fengxian, Jinshan and Nanhui are on the coast and have some fine beaches.
Several other major cities are near Shanghai and conveniently reachable on the new CRH high speed (over 300 km/h) trains. These are comfortable and reasonably priced and, except at holidays, are not too crowded since other trains are cheaper. Look for the separate ticket windows with "CRH" on the signs.
- Hangzhou 杭州, 45 minutes away by high-speed train, is one of China's top domestic tourist destinations, featuring the famous West Lake, a fine silk market, and Buddhist caves. The popular times of year to go are Spring and Fall. There is an information booth at the train platform exit that provides a useful booklet with maps.
- Suzhou 苏州, a historic town half an hour away from Shanghai by high-speed train, is also a major destination for Chinese tourists, traditionally a city of scholars and poets with many fine classical Chinese gardens and enough canals that it has been called the "Venice of the East". Recently it has become a major center of hi-tech manufacturing.
- (There is a Chinese saying along the lines The sky has heaven; the Earth has Suzhou and Hangzhou.)
- Nanjing 南京, about 1.5 hours away by high-speed train, is a great place to get a Chinese history lesson. Nanjing was the capital of China under several dynasties, and of the Nationalist government in the early 20th century. From the city walls to the Presidential Palace, it's a walkable, friendly place with a variety of hotels for all budgets. Well worth the effort. It is also home to the tombs of three prominent figures in Chinese history.
- Ningbo is two and a half to three hours away from Shanghai, across the 36 km-long Hangzhou Bay Bridge. The train, via Hangzhou, is faster. Quite near the city is Mount Putuo, a very scenic island with an important Buddhist temple.
See East China for other cities and attractions in the area around Shanghai.
|Routes through Shanghai|
|Beijing ← Zhenjiang ←||W E||→ END|