Traveling in Shanghai, one of China’s most modern cities, is simple….once you get to know the system that is. Everything is designed to be efficient and fast—a necessity in a city with so many people.
The Shanghai Metro. Taking the subway could hardly be easier. When you arrive in Shanghai you simply head to the nearest subway station. There will be a booth where you can by the Shanghai Metro Card. This card costs 20RMB, but is well worth the money. Once you have the card, you can load it with cash and start traveling hassle free. You’ll see a wall of machines when entering the subway, this is how you recharge your card or, if you’d prefer to buy a one-way ticket you can buy it through the machine. For convenience, most machines have an English translation button. The subway costs a different amount depending on how far you go, so you pre-enter your destination when buying your ticket. You’ll need your card or ticket to get into and out of the subway, so don’t lose it as they have guards in most stations watching for jumpers.
The Shanghai Bus Network. Taking the bus is a bit more complicated because the bus route maps are only in Chinese. However, it is much cheaper and once you learn the system it is a really useful mode of transportation. You can use the same card on buses as for the metro, making it a universal transport card for the city. Buses running down major roads, like Huai Hai Road and the area around the Bund are usually fairly logical in terms of route. You can simply ask the driver by saying your intended destination, or take a small risk and jump on the bus heading the way you want to go and hope for the best. Bus route maps are available at the head bus station, but no matter how often I ask for one them never have one in store. You can find the maps online, but again, unless you can read Chinese characters it won’t help you very much.
The Shanghai Taxi System. You can use the same card on taxis as for the subway and buses, naturally this is the more expensive option. The first thing to do when you hop in any Shanghai cab is to ensure your driver looks confident when you say the desired destination. If he waivers or looks unsure it’s better to hop out and flag another cab. For the best cab companies in the city, flag down the turquoise or blue cabs, and avoid the maroon and white cabs. The first two companies have a great reputation in the city while the latter two have several complaints filed against them and often hire unqualified drivers. Most hotels can call a cab for you, but it is easy to flag a taxi in Shanghai any time of day except rush hour.
Bipedal Transport. Hiring a bike in Shanghai is possible at most hostels or sporting stores, but it is not as common to ride a bike in Shanghai as in Beijing, and for that reason it is ill advised. Drivers are less practiced with dealing with bike traffic, and pedestrians will hardly move out of the way of a bicycle. Should you decide to hire a bike, make sure you keep it in sight at all times as bike theft is extremely common, and most locks are child’s play or thieves have wire cutters. For the most part, Shanghai is not a bike-friendly city.
Walking in Shanghai. Surprisingly, Shanghai is a lovely city to walk in. The sidewalks in most of Pudong are in excellent shape and ensure ease of transport. Most crosswalks have lights and you’ll find it easy to navigate on foot for shorter distances. In Puxi, walking around is easy because of the landmarks, so even if you don’t know the city well you can aim towards a large building and eventually end up back on track. There is no better way to get to know a city then to walk through it, so I highly recommend this transport option.
Maglev Airport Transport. One of the fastest trains on the planet, the Maglev will swiftly transport you from the Shanghai-Pudong International Airport to central Pudong. You’ll pay around $30 USD for the experience, but it isn’t to be missed and it would probably still be cheaper than hiring a taxi to take you to your destination. Because many business people use the maglev, there will be plenty of cabs waiting at the drop-off point to take you to your hotel or office.