Shanghai is a huge city. Although the majority of tourist attractions are located in the central zone, it is still too vast to cover only on foot. The modern Pudong area along with the Bund, People’s Square, Yuyuan Gardens and Nanjing Road are reasonably close as to establish a magnificent one-day walking itinerary, but to go to more distant attractions, such as the Jade Buddha, Jing’an and Longhua temples, or French Concession, we will hardly be able or will want to get without using public transport. Still, we must not miss the potential of this city as a place to wander; Shanghai is one of the best and worst cities in the world to get lost in its streets, because due to the great contrasts of the city, it can sometimes be exciting, and sometimes it can be depressing and frustrating.
TRANSPORT CARD (交通卡, Jiāotōng Kǎ)
- This card does not save money but it does save time, since it avoids the queues in the machines to buy tickets or having to ask for change, although I only advise it for extended stays in the city; we have used the metro many times and in the stations there are so many ticket machines (which are in English) that hardly miss a minute in getting the tickets.
- It can be used in metro, taxis, Maglev train and most of buses and ferries. It can also be used in some car parks, parkimeters and motorway tolls.
- It is bought in metro stations and some 24/7 stores. It costs 20 ¥ deposit: when we return it, if it is in good condition, the surplus money will be returned, but if it is more than 10 ¥ the process will be long and complex.
- There are different sizes, but only the standard can be recharged in the machines.
It can be charged on subway machines, many of which only accept multiples of 50 or 100 ¥ reloads. The desired amount is loaded and every time we use it, money will be discounted automatically.
The most recommended transportation, since it is not involved in the inclemency of the city’s traffic, is the cleanest and easiest to use, trains are very new and users are generally silent. Schedules depend on each line, but most open at 5:00 am and close at 10:30 pm. The most used by tourists are lines 1, 2 and 10.
In all stations there are maps in English, and they are also included in the free tourist maps. There are apps that include maps and calculate the time of the journeys and possible transfers. We use Metro Man for all of China and it worked great.
The transfer on foot between some lines and others may require long walks, sometimes 10 minutes.
There are several types of tickets:
- Single journey ticket. It must be inserted in the lathe when entering and leaving (the machine keeps it). Trips cost between 3 and 15 ¥ (more expensive the farther we go). They do not allow free transfer between all lines. Actually, there is no long wait for the machines to get it, and most trips in the city will cost between 3 and 4 ¥, so they are a good option.
- 24-hour pass (orange): 18 ¥. Given the price of most journeys, it is usually not profitable.
- 72-hour pass (blue): 45 ¥.
- Maglev + 24 hour pass: round trip 55/85 ¥.
Most vending machines DO NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS, only cash: 1 ¥ coins and 5 or 10 ¥ bills.
Cheaper and more extensive than the metro (not in vain there are more than 1,100 lines), it is affected by traffic, and the indications are usually only in Chinese. They cost 1-2 ¥ (without air conditioning-with air conditioning) per trip. In some buses you pay to the driver, but in most of them the coins have to be put in a box and there is no change. The Transport Card can be used.
There are two main tourist bus companies, City Sightseen Buses (30 ¥ for 24 hours, 50 for 48 hours) and Big Bus Tours (from 50 ¥ a single line for 24 hours to 300 ¥ for all lines 48 hours including tickets to Jin Mao or Financial Center towers). Each one has several routes, most of them starting at Shanghai Stadium.
Currently there’s no Uber in China apart from Hong Kong and Macao. There’s a similar App: DiDi, though it doesn’t work too well.
TAXI (出租车” chūzūchē)
- There are more than 100 taxi companies. Companies with the best reputation are Dazhong (turquoise), Qiangsheng (gold) and Bashi (green).
- The use of taximeter is mandatory, a receipt is given when paying with all details of the taxi driver and the race, so in general use a taxi in Shanghai should not report problems or scams, except in some cases at airports, but there are many inexperienced taxi drivers who will not know where our destination is.
- It is recommended to have written in a paper or on our mobile the address where we are going in Chinese, since it is the only language that most taxi drivers understand. In their identification they show one to five stars, the more they have, indicates greater experience, better evaluations of that professional and better spoken English.
- In some taxis you can pay by credit card. Prices:
|Distance||Day price||Night price (23:00 – 5:00)|
|3 first km||¥14||¥18|
|Over 15 km||¥3.6/km||¥4.7/km|
|Price for waiting||Every 4 min waiting, add the price of 1 km|
- To cross the river, the most useful company is Shanghai Ferry, which in 5 minutes links south Bund with Dongchang Rd in Pǔdōng, every 15 minutes from 7am to 10pm. Tickets (they are actually tokens) are bought at the terminal and cost 2 ¥. Contrary to what one might think, it is not scenic at all. There are no seats, it is closed and the windows are quite dirty.
- To cruise the river while enjoying the view there are cruises of Huangpu River Cruise company. It offers two routes, the shortest being the usual, 50 minutes for 120 ¥ or 90 for 128-188 ¥ including dinner. There is one every hour or every half hour, more frequent at night. Board them in the Bund.
Communicate through a small underground tram the Bund with the base of the Oriental Pearl. Adorned with flashy lights and voiceover in English and Chinese, it is basically a tourist trap, since it is a two-minute tram in a tunnel that costs 50 ¥ / 70 ¥ one way / round trip.
It is not recommended considering the dense traffic and paperwork required to obtain a provisional Chinese driver’s license. The bicycle is a common locomotion for locals, but it is risky for outsiders.
TRICYCLES AND PEDICABS
They have a reputation for being habitual scammers, so they are absolutely inadvisable.