Transportation in Shanghai
Shanghai is a fascinating mix of East and West. It has historic shikumen houses that blended the styles of Chinese houses with European design flair, and it has one of the richest collections of art deco buildings in the world. Because there were so many Concessions (designated districts) to Western powers during the turn of the 20th century, at times the city has the feel of Paris or Montreal, while Tudor style buildings give a German flair, and the 1930s buildings put you in New York or Chicago.
In the beginning of the 1990s, the Shanghai government launched a series of new strategies to attract foreign investments. The biggest move was to open up Pudong, once a rural area of Shanghai. The strategies succeeded, and now Pudong has become the financial district of Shanghai, with numerous skyscrapers.
Today Shanghai's goal is to develop into a world-class financial and economic center of China, and even Asia. 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. Shanghai has stronger links to the Chinese interior and to the central government in addition to a stronger manufacturing and technology base. Since the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC, Shanghai has increased its role in finance, banking, and as a major destination for corporate headquarters, fueling demand for a highly educated and westernized workforce.
Due to rapid industrial and economic development, as well as lax governmental environment policies, Shanghai has recently been ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world. Individuals with asthma or respiratory issues should be prepared when visiting the city.
Shanghai, situated on the estuary of Yangtze River, is the busiest transport hub in eastern China. As an important financial and business center of China and of the world, Shanghai has highly developed infrastructure, including a convenient public transportation network.
The city has various links to the outside. Today you can easily travel to Shanghai from not only the adjacent cities of Suzhou, Nanjing and Hangzhou, but also the distant cities such as Beijing, Xian, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. Many cities in other countries also enjoy convenient transportation links with Shanghai. You can travel there by air, train, long-distance bus, or ship.
Shanghai has two main airports , with Pudong the main international gateway and Hongqiao serving most domestic flights. Be sure to check which one your flight is leaving from, and allow at least one hour, preferably 1.5 hours, to transfer if needed!
Domestic airplane tickets should be booked at least two days in advance at one of the many travel agencies. Fares are generally cheap, but vary depending on the season. When backpacking, it may often be better to book a flight along a big traffic line (Beijing-Shanghai, Beijing-Chongqing, Shanghai-Shenzhen, ...) and travel the rest by bus or train.
- Beijing - varying between 400,- to 1200,- Yuan per economy class ticket, depending on the season, where the peak is in the summer.
Pudong International Airport
Pudong ( PVG, ) is Shanghai's new international airport, located 40 km to the east of the city. Arrivals on the first floor, departures on the third, and has all the features you'd expect - but head up to the 3rd if the sole ATM in the arrivals hall is out of order.
The most convenient but also the most expensive way to get to central Shanghai is by taxi, but figure on ¥145 and up to an hour to get to the center of the city. You should always check with your taxi driver prior to entering a taxi. Check that they know where you would like to go and the estimated cost to get there. Often taxi drivers can not speak English. Some Taxi drivers also use finders to wander the airport and bring you to their cab (who often have a driver waiting - this means you ride with two drivers if you agree to this). Use caution and double check the charges as some will try to charge up to 10 times the normal fare
Airport buses are considerably cheaper (¥15-22), but take up to an hour and a half and stop running at 9 PM. There are a number of routes, but two particularly convenient ones connect to the Airport City Terminal on Nanjing West Road (#2, ¥19) and Shanghai train station (#5, ¥18).
More a tourist attraction and prestige project than practical means of transport, the Transrapid maglev train is now open to the public and shuttles from Pudong to Longyang in 8 minutes flat at a blazing speed of 430 km/hour. However, it's then another half hour by subway to get to Puxi, and it's a bit of a hike both in the airport (2nd floor) and to transfer to the subway. That said, the maglev to Longyang and a taxi from there is the fastest way to get to the city, and the ride is definitely an experience in a rollercoasterish way. Services currently operate from 7 AM to 9 PM daily and cost ¥50 one way (¥40 if you have a same-day ticket) or ¥80 same-day return. You can also opt to pay double for "VIP Class", which gets you a soft drink and bragging rights.
Pudong International Airport Shuttle Bus
Shanghai's older airport Hongqiao ( SHA) now services only domestic flights. 18 km away from the center, a taxi can manage the trip in 20 minutes on a good day but allow an extra 30 minutes for the taxi queue. Public buses (numbers 925 and 505) run to Renmin Square regularly and cost only ¥4, but take around an hour. An extension of Metro Line 2 to Hongqiao Airport is under construction.
Hongqiao International Airport Shuttle Bus
Shanghai has several train stations.
- Shanghai Railway Station Shanghai's largest and oldest, located in Zhabei district, on the intersection of Metro Lines 1, 3 and 4. Practically all trains used to terminate here,including trains to Hong Kong. But southern services are being shifted out to the new South Station.
- Shanghai South Railway Station A new, greatly expanded terminal opened in July 2006 and and is set to take over all services towards the south. On Metro lines 1 and 3.
- Shanghai West Railway Station The smallest of the three, with limited services to Yantai, Zaozhuang, Hengyang, Ganzhou Chengdu. Not reachable by metro.
Train tickets are also most conveniently booked in advance at one of the many travel service agencies. If urgent, they could also be directly booked at the train stations and the Shanghai Railway Station even has an English counter.
- Beijing there are a number of brand new night sleep trains running daily from Shanghai to Beijing, starting at 7pm in 10 minute intervals to 8pm and arriving at 7-8am in Beijing. Fare is around ¥500 for a softsleeper, but they are very clean and the four-person cabins very comfortable. In the same new train, normal hardseaters area available for around ¥250. For these trains, food is only served in the direction from Shanghai to Beijing, but on the same connection from Beijing to Shanghai, no food is served yet, so prepare yourself with some instant noodles or snacks. For a regular normal sleeper in a standard train, which takes 18 hours from Shanghai to Beijing, expect to pay ¥200-300 with no food either Travel by train in China
By Long-Distance Bus
National Highway Lines 312 (Shanghai-Yining City of Xinjiang), 318 (Shanghai-Zhangmu Town of Tibet) and 320 (Shanghai-Ruili of Yunnan) all start from Shanghai and go westward. National Highway Line 204 (Yantai-Shanghai), the trunk line of the Tongjiang-Sanya National Highway, stretches as a north-south artery through Shanghai. Four main expressways of Huning (Shanghai-Nanjing), Huhang (Shanghai-Hangzhou), Hujialiu (Shanghai-Jiading-Taicang), and Huqingping (Shanghai-Qingpu-Pingwang) link Shanghai with lots of cities in neighboring areas.
The developed highway network enables Shanghai to have consummate long-distance bus passenger transport system. Shanghai now has about 1,680 long-distance bus routes radiating to cities in 17 provinces all over the country. There are over 40 long-distance bus stations based in the city zone and the suburbs, mainly concentrated in Zhabei District especially the area near Shanghai Railway Station.
Shanghai, situated at the estuary of Yangtze River and midpoint of China's north-south coastline, is the world's third largest port and China's largest seaport. It is the only port in China connecting the country's shipping system of sea, river, and freshwater.
Ships sailing from Shanghai Port voyage to some 500 ports in over 160 countries and regions all over the world. Due to the slow speed, some long-distance sea routes have been closed. However, the quantity of the goods moved in and out of Shanghai port ranks highly among the world's major ports. Passenger transportation through Shanghai port is also busy. The following is detailed introduction to the main passenger ports in Shanghai.
In recent years many highways have been built, linking Shanghai to other cities in the region, including Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, etc. It only takes 2 hours to reach Shanghai from Hangzhou.
There are several long-distance bus stations in Shanghai, but most buses only go to small towns nearby the city. And you should try to get the tickets as early as possible.
If you intend to stay in Shanghai for a longer time the Shanghai Jiaotong Card can come in handy. You can load the card with money and use it in buses, the metro and even taxis. You can get these cards at any metro/subway station, as well as some convenience stores like Alldays and KeDi
The fast-growing Shanghai Metro network now has 5 lines with another 4 under construction. The trains are fast, cheap and fairly user-friendly with most signs also in English, but the trains can get very packed at rush hour. Fares range from ¥2 to ¥9 depending on distance and you’ll need plenty of ¥1 or ¥0.5 coins or cash for the ticket vending machines, although most stations also have staff selling tickets. You can now transfer between lines freely with a single ticket. The metro can also use Shanghai's public transportation card (noncontact).
Taxi is generally a good choice for transportation in the city. It is affordable (only 11 yuan for the first 3km) and saves you a lot of time, but try to get your destination in Chinese characters as communication can be an issue. Drivers, while generally honest, are sometimes genuinely clueless and sometimes out to take you for a ride. Insist on using the meter and, if your fare seems out of line, demand a printed receipt before paying.
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 number of stars the driver has. These are displayed below the driver's photograph on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat. The amount 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 recognise 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.
Taxi colors in Shanghai are strictly controlled and indicate the company the taxi belongs to. Turquoise taxis operated by Dazhong the largest group, are often judged the best of the bunch. Watch out for dark red taxis, since this is the 'default' color of small taxi companies and includes more than its fair share of bad apples; bright red taxis, on the other hand, are unionized and quite OK.
By sightseeing bus
There are several different companies offering sightseeing buses with various routes and packages covering the main sights such as the Shanghai Zoo, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and Baoyang Road Harbor. Most of the sightseeing buses leave from the Shanghai stadium's east bus
Shanghai is a good city for walking, especially in the older parts of the city across the Huangpu from Pudong. Of course, given the large population, you should expect heavy concentrations of pedestrians and vehicles, but that is part of the excitement. Crossing large roads, in particular, can get hairy and it's advisable to follow the locals.
Travel within the city
We suggest you take a taxi or subway, which are both safe, convenient and fast. You may ask for a cab any time at the hotel reception desk. The taxi fare and the subway fare are both depending on the distance you cover.
Travel to Train Station
There are two main train stations in Shanghai. One is located in the city center, named Shanghai Railway Station. You can either take a taxi or subway line 1 or Pearl line 3 to the Station. The other Station is named Shanghai South Railway Station. which is a stop of the subway line 1.
Many foreigners observed the traffic rules do not work as it would in Shanghai. It is true.
Any country and city need to learn to get used to modern traffic, and must have the right hardware (lights, lines on roads) to support that. Most importantly, people need time to be educated about the rules.
Shanghai definitely does not perform well in terms of traffic rules, but I think it is the natural steps to get used to a car-centric world. Most pedestrians do not drive, and don't know how it feels to sit at the driver's seat. I believe my walking behavior changes before and after I learnt to drive - I start to really understand how dangerous to cross the road randomly or walk on the road at night (when lightening condition is not good).
Also, I would say, Shanghai is one of the best cities in terms of traffic rule enforcement. This may be surprising for many people, but for me, it is true. In many cities I visited myself, there are even astonishing things. For example, on the expressway of Xi'an to Tongchuan, or from Luoyang to Zhengzhou, buses stop on the lane to pickup passengers waiting on the road. Cow and horse carts run on the same expressway, while cars passing by at 120 km/hour or faster. In Xianyang, car drivers like to drive above the double-solid yellow lines, or most of the time, on the road to another direction. Right light is never respected. Cars come and go as if red light never exist. I would say, when the society is not transformed from bicycle-centric to car-centric, all these are acceptable. I am optimistic to say, the traffic rules will be better in the future or with the new generation growing up.
Traffic Assistants Help or Not
In Shanghai, at major cross streets, there are traffic assistant helping to keep the order in Shanghai. It works. As I discussed in my previous articles, people in China traditionally respect human-to-human relationship instead of human-to-rule relationship. Some people standing there helps to keep away from the red light.
Nanpu Bridge, Yangpu Bridge, Xupu Bridge, Lupu Bridge and various tunnels across the Huangpu River provide direct links between Pudong New District and Puxi Area. Ferries offer convenient shuttle service across the Huangpu River, allowing you to avoid the crowded bridges and tunnels while appreciating the river scenery. Additionally ferryboats are available between the mainland of Shanghai and its three islands of Chongming, Changqing and Hengsha.
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