Shanghai is a mega city, it’s one of the largest in the world and as such, it can get a wee bit packed around the holidays. But keep in mind that Christmas and Western New Year are not real holidays in China and only the most “international” of Chinese establishments celebrate the holidays.
Coming into the Shanghai Pudong International Airport is a breeze. Signs in multiple languages help you make the transition easily. However, once outside the kindness stops. You have two options, get in a cab and get ripped off (so likely it’s considered an inevitability) or take the maglev. The maglev is a high-speed tram that will whisk you into the heart of Pudong, where you can nab a cab or take the attached subway anywhere in the city. This is the best option as you’ll get to experience a super cool tram, great views, hassle free and then arrive in Pudong without suffering your first scam. The subways are easy to use and intuitive, and the maps will show you how to get anywhere in the city fast. Considering that there is a river dividing the city in half, the subway is much faster than the cabs who have to wait (sometimes for hours) to cross the two bridges or make their way through the overcrowded and ill ventilated tunnels.
Winter in Shanghai isn’t harsh, but it is still cold and you’ll find it rains quite a bit. Don’t be fooled by it’s seemingly southern location, the weather is more akin to Washington DC than South Carolina, and in winter you’ll need a few layers and a bulky jacket to be comfortable outdoors. It’s nothing like the tundra of Beijing, but pack warmly.
If you want to find a way to celebrate, head to the city’s major western bars. Malone’s is an American pub and eatery where you’ll find a bit of the Christmas spirit, and possibly a bit more. It’s also an establishment in the city and the folks there will know all the best Christmas and New Year’s parties in town. You can also check out the city’s expat magazines, which are available at all the international restaurants, Malone’s included.