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Know Before You Go
- Tipping is catching on in China. If you go to a restaurant, tip about 3% of your bill and CNY 6 or CNY 13 for bellboys and room service staff.
- Don't expect a usual western breakfast in the morning. You'll most likely get noodles, dumplings and coffee already mixed with milk and sugar. If you want black coffee, ask your hotel for it separately.
- The water in Shanghai is not drinkable, but you can buy cheap bottled water at most restaurants and stores.
- Keep some tissues and hand sanitizer in your bag when exploring the city. Public toilets are a mix of squatting and Western style, but toilet paper and soap is not available.
- If you aren't adventurous with your food, skip the "special" dishes offered at restaurants. They are usually expensive and unconventional for Western tastes.
- Most Chinese banks do not accept foreign cards. Keep a lookout for larger chains like HSBC to withdraw local currency as the exchange rate is better than using services like Travelex.
Getting Around Shanghai
- Outside of rush hour, taxis in Shanghai are an inexpensive option. The meter starts at CNY 14 for the first 3 kilometres and then increases to CNY 2.5. Taxis tend to take the most direct route and not always the fastest.
- If you are in a rush and don't mind paying more, let the driver know when you get into the cab. It's also handy to have your hotel name written in Mandarin as places often have different names.
- Shanghai's metro is the best way to get around the city. It's easy to navigate as signs and announcements are in English and Chinese. Trains run from 5am to 11pm and if you plan on using metro often, consider buying the three-day metro pass for discounts on tickets.
- Buses are the cheapest way to get around Shanghai but can be confusing as not all have English translations or numbers. There are also over 1,000 bus routes operated by different companies, and most drivers don't speak much English. If you decide to board, you'll need a Public Transportation Card and fares will cost between CNY 1 - 2.
When is The Best Time to Visit Shanghai?
The best time to visit Shanghai is during fall (October to November). Temperatures are cool, and the city lacks the crowds and rain showers of summer. Hotel prices are low except for the first week of October when the public holiday drives up rates.
The temperatures in Shanghai during winter (December to March) do drop to 10°C and lower, so make sure you pack enough warm clothes. The city also sees the least amount of rain during these months, making it perfect for outdoor activities if you don't mind the cold. If you are on a budget, avoid the holiday season to take advantage of the discounted hotel rates before they increase in April.
Spring is a popular time to visit Shanghai because of the beautiful blossoms in the city's parks. There are also plenty of festivals during this period, driving up hotel rates. But if you plan your travel dates carefully and avoid the public holidays, you'll be able to enjoy cheaper room rates and the city's warmer weather before peak season hits.
Shanghai's high season is from June to September. The summer months attract large crowds of tourists and higher hotel rates. Between the heat, there is also frequent downpours which could put a damper on any outdoor plans.
Airports in Shanghai
Pudong International Airport
Pudong International Airport mainly serves international flights flying in and out of Shanghai as well as a few domestic destinations. It is located 30 kilometres from the city and is a hub for China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Air China and China Southern Airlines. Pudong also serves 50 airlines from around the world and connects passengers to more than 200 destinations.
Getting to and from Pudong International Airport
The best way to get into Shanghai from the airport is to take the Transrapid Maglev train to Longyang Road station and then take a taxi or the metro to your final destination. It will take you a short 8 minutes to get there, and a one-way trip will cost you CNY 80.
If you want to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, it should cost you under CNY 200. Remember to have your destination written in Chinese to avoid any confusion.
There are ten Pudong Airport Shuttle Buses that handle transfers from the airport to the city centre. Depending on the line you use fares will vary, but are usually between CNY 22 - 30. The buses run every 20-30 minutes and take about 50 - 80 minutes to get into the city.
The subway is the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city. Line 2 has been extended with stops at many of Shanghai's famous attractions and commercial streets. The line also connects passengers to Hongqiao Airport and costs between CNY 3 - 9 one way depending on your final destination
Hongqiao International Airport
Located 13 kilometres from the city centre, Hongqiao mainly handles domestic flights from Shanghai with limited international flights. It's a hub for China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Juneyao Airlines and Spring Airlines. The airport serves 22 airlines and has 82 scheduled destinations around China and abroad.
Getting to and from Hongqiao International Airport
A taxi from the airport to the city centre will cost CNY 60 and take about 30 minutes.
Hongqiao airport has seven bus lines that take passengers into the city centre. Buses depart from Terminal 1 and Terminal with one night line. Depending on the line you take, buses leave every 15 to 20 minutes and cost about CNY 30 one way.
Subway Line 2 and Line 10 connect the airport to the city and Pudong Airport.