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A Guide to Shanghai
Know Before You Go
- Don't forget to tip your server. In China, it's customary to tip 3% of your bill and CNY 6 -13 to room service staff and bellboys.
- Most hotels offer a traditional Chinese breakfast. Instead of eggs, bacon and toast, you'll get noodles and dumplings. If you prefer your coffee black, you'll need to tell your hotel as it's often already mixed with sugar and milk.
- Don't drink the tap water in Shanghai. Stick to the cheap bottled water at stores if you want to avoid getting sick.
- Make sure you pack tissues and hand sanitizer in your day bag. The public toilets in the city don't have toilet paper or soap available.
- If you're an adventurous eater, try the "special" dishes offered at restaurants. It's usually unconventional dishes for Westerners but more expensive than other items on the menu.
Getting Around Shanghai
The best way to get around Shanghai is with the metro. The signs are in English and Chinese, and the trains run from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day.
Take the bus if you're travelling on a budget. Over 1,000 routes are run across the city and fares cost as little as CNY 1-2. But keep in mind that most of the drivers don't speak English and not all of the buses have English translations or numbers.
If you want to get around the city outside of rush hour, hail a taxi. Prices start at CNY 14 for the first 3km and then increase to CNY 2.5. Make sure to have your hotel name and address written in Mandarin to avoid any confusion and delays in getting to your final destination.
When is The Best Time to Visit Shanghai?
The best time to visit Shanghai is during its autumn months. From October to November, the temperatures are cool, rainfall is minimal, and the summer crowds leave the city. You won't have a problem finding cheap hotel rates, except during the first week of October when the public holidays drive up prices.
If you don't mind bundling up, visit Shanghai between December and March. Temperatures drop to 10°C, and there will be little chance of thunderstorms ruining any outdoor activities. If you're travelling on a budget, plan your trip around the holiday season to avoid the festive price hikes.
One of the most popular times to visit Shanghai is during the spring. The city is transformed by the blooming cherry blossoms, and there are plenty of festivals to attend.
The city's high season lasts from June to September. The summer festivals attract large local and international crowds, causing prices for flights and hotel rooms to skyrocket. Shanghai also experiences its highest rainfall during this period, so be sure to bring along a raincoat and have back up plans just in case.
Airports in Shanghai
Pudong International Airport
Pudong International Airport is located 30 km from the city centre. It's a hub for local carriers China Eastern Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines. It serves over 50 airlines from the world and operates flights to more than 200 destinations.
Getting to and from Pudong International Airport
If you want to spend the least amount of money on transportation from the airport and save time getting to your hotel, take the train. It costs CNY 80 per person and has a total journey time of 8 minutes to the Longyang Road station.
Another affordable option is the Pudong Airport Shuttle Buses or the metro. The shuttles cost between CNY 22-30 and run from the arrivals terminal every 20 to 30 minutes. Metro line 2 runs past all of the city's top attractions and costs around CNY 10 depending on your final destination.
Metered taxis are also available from the airport. Avoid any confusion by having your hotel's name and address written down in Chinese for your driver.
Hongqiao International Airport
Hongqiao is located 13 km from Shanghai's city centre. It serves 22 airlines and operates flights to 82 destinations around the world. It's a hub for China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Spring Airlines.
Getting to and from Hongqiao International Airport
The cheapest way to get from the airport is with the local bus. Seven lines operate a regular service from the terminal buildings to the city centre. The buses leave the airport every 15-20 minutes and tickets cost CNY 30 per person.
Otherwise, subway Line 2 and Line 10 connect the airport to the city as well as to Pudong Airport.
If you don't want to take public transportation, you can grab a metered taxi outside the arrivals terminal. A ride into town will cost CNY 60 and take about 30 minutes.