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Shanghai

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Asia : East Asia : China : South East : Shanghai
The skyline of PudongThe skyline of Pudong
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The skyline of Pudong

Shanghai (?? Shàngh?i), with a population of more than 16 million (of which nearly 4 million are non-residents), is one of the most populous and most developed cities in the People's Republic of China.

Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930s, and remained the most developed city in Communist China. In the 1990s Shanghai again became an attractive spot for tourists worldwide.

shanghai Travel Guide :

Shanghai

Districts

Shanghai is split in two by the Huangpu River (???), with the older town on the west bank known as Puxi (??) and the brash new development on the east side being Pudong (??).

  • The Bund — the colonial riverside of old (and reborn) Shanghai, including the Yuyuan Gardens
  • French Concession — the leafy district once knows as the Paris of the East, including the refurbished shikumen houses of Xintiandi and the shopping district of Xujiahui
  • Nanjing Road — China's most famous shopping street, including People's Park and Jing'an
  • Pudong — the skyscraper-laden new financial and commercial district on the east bank of the river
Shanghai

Understand

Shanghai is a fascinating mix of East and West. It has historic shikumen houses that blended the styles of Chinese houses with European design flairs, and it has one of the most rich collections of art deco buildings in the world. Because there were so many Concessions 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 a lot of skyscrapers.

Today Shanghai's goal is to develop into a world-class financial and economic center of China, and even Asia. To achieve this goal Shanghai faces competition from Hong Kong. Hong Kong 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

Get in

Shanghai is one of China's main travel hubs and getting in from pretty much anywhere is easy.

Shanghai

By plane

Shanghai has two main airports 1 (http://www.shanghaiairport.com/), 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 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.
Shanghai

Pudong International Airport

Transrapid trains at Longyang StationTransrapid trains at Longyang Station
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Transrapid trains at Longyang Station

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 Y100 and up to an hour to get to the center of the city.

Airport buses are considerably cheaper (Y15-22), 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, Y19) and Shanghai train station (#5, Y18).

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 — but it's another half an hour by subway from here 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 Y50 one way (Y40 if you have a same-day ticket) or Y80 same-day return. You can also opt to pay double for "VIP Class", which gets you a soft drink and bragging rights.

Shanghai

Hongqiao Airport

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. Public buses (numbers 925 and 505) run to Renmin Square regularly and cost only Y4, but take around an hour. An extension of Metro Line 2 to Hongqiao Airport is under construction.

Shanghai

By train

Shanghai Railway Station is located in Zhabei district, on Metro Line 1. It is the cheapest way to reach Shanghai from other cities in China, but there are few international rail links.

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,- Yuan 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,- Yuan. 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,- Yuan with no food either.
Shanghai

By car

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.

Shanghai

By bus

There are several long-distance bus stations in Shanghai, but most buses only go to small towns nearby the city.

Shanghai

Get around

Shanghai

By metro

Shanghai's fast-growing 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 Y3 to Y8 depending on distance and you?ll need plenty of Y1 or Y0.5 coins 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).

Shanghai

By taxi

Taxi is generally a good choice for transportation in the city. It is affordable (only 10 yuan for the first 3 kilometres) 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.

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.

Shanghai

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 station.

Shanghai

See

Where in Shanghai to do depends largely on your time period of interest.

  • For Imperial China, check out the Yuyuan Gardens.
  • For 1930s Shanghai, head for the stately old buildings of the Bund.
  • For 21st-century Shanghai, cross the river to gawp at the skyscrapers of Pudong.
Shanghai

Do

  • The Shanghai Museum is the premiere museum of Chinese art and artifacts in China. It is located in People's Square and is beautiful inside and out. The exterior evokes a bronze urn, which is appropriate since the museum holds the world's greatest collection of Chinese bronzes. The collection is well-presented and state-of-the-art. Directions and information are presented in Chinese and English, and the facilities are world-class. The museum is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (last admission at 4 p.m.), Saturday to 7 p.m. Admission is 20 RMB, plus 40 RMB for the excellent audio guide. Admission is free Saturday 5-7 p.m. Address: 201 Renmin Dadao. Phone: 86-21-6372-3500. http://www.shanghaimuseum.net/en/index.asp

The audioguide is highly recommended, especially if you do not know much about Chinese art.

  • Walk Along the Fu Xing Rd to see the old buildings and enjoy the neatness of the road
  • Ride on the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the tallest TV tower in Asia with the height of 468 metres.
  • Enter Shanghai Xintiandi to enjoy the city's historical and cultural legacies. It is located at Lane 181, Taicang Road. It contains the difference and integration of the past and the present in Shanghai, which makes it to be the best place for local citizens and foreigners of refined taste to meet and entertain themselves.
Shanghai

Learn

This is unchecked, but Shanghai also has a bustling contemporary art scene. Many of China's most important and up and coming artists are centered in the small galleries around the town. Example: www.shanghartgallery.com

Shanghai

Work

Shanghai

Buy

Shop until you drop on China's premier shopping street Nanjing Road, or head for the Yuyuan Bazaar for Chinese crafts and jewelry not far from the Bund. Nanjing Road is a long street. The more famous part lies in the east near the Bund (Nanjing Road East), with a 1-km long pedestrian boulevard (Metro line 2 at Henan Road station) lined with busy shops. The wide boulevard is often packed with people on weekends and holidays. The shops are often targeted at domestic tourists, so the prices are surprisingly reasonable. Local people often look down on Nanjing Road and shop at Huaihai Road (another busy shopping boulevard with more upscale stores) instead. For the very high end, go to the west end of Nanjing Road West near Jing'an Temple. Several large shopping malls (Plaza 66 aka Henglong Plaza, Citic Plaza, Meilongzhen Plaza, and others being built) house boutiques bearing the most famous names in fashion. No. 3 on the Bund is another high-end shopping center featuring Georgio Armani's flagship store in China. If you cannot afford the real thing, authentic-looking knockoffs can be bought at the Xiangyang Road Market for cheap. It's a big labyrinth-like open-air market on the corner of Huaihai and Xiangyang Roads. Rumor says the government is going to shut it down soon, so better hurry. Rather than pursuing knock-offs of Western brands, one of the more interesting things to do in Shanghai is to check out the small boutiques along Chang Le Lu and other streets in the French Concession area. Some of these are run by individual designers of clothing, jewelry etc and so the items on sale can truly be said to be unique. Visitors from overseas should expect the usual problem of finding larger sizes however...

Shanghai

Eat

Shanghainese cuisine is one of the lesser-known types of Chinese food, generally characterized as sweet and oily. The name "Shanghai" means "above the sea", so unsurprisingly seafood predominates, the usual style of preparation being steaming. Some Shanghainese dishes to look out for:

  • xiao long baozi (????, lit. buns from the little steaming cage), probably the most famous Shanghai dish: small steamed dumplings full of tasty (and boiling hot!) broth and a dab of meat. The connaisseur bites a little hole into them first, sucks the broth out, then dips them in rice vinegar (? cu) to season the meat inside.
  • dazha xie (hairy crabs), best eaten in the winter months (Oct-Dec) and paired with Shaoxing wine to balance out your yin and yang
  • xiefen shizitou (crab powder lion heads), actually pork meatballs containing crab meat
  • joi gai (drunken chicken), chicken steamed then marinated in rice wine, usually served cold

For cheap Chinese eats, head for the alley known as Wujiang Road. For fancier food in nicer surroundings, try the upmarket restaurants of Xintiandi.

Shanghai

Drink

Tap water is not drinkable, but generally OK if boiled. Bottled water (and beer) are widely available.

The prices of drinks in cafes and bars in Shanghai vary depending on the location and target customers. They can be cheap or be real budget-busters, with a basic coffee or beer costing anything from Y10 to Y40 and up if ordered in the "wrong" place.

Shanghai

Sleep

Accommodation in Shanghai is generally on the expensive side, by both Chinese and Western standards. A few backpacker style options have cropped up though, mostly in the older parts of town near The Bund.

There are plenty of options in the upper price brackets, which for Shanghai tends to mean at least US$100. Many — notable the superluxury Grand Hyatt in the spectacular 88-floor Jin Mao Tower — are located in Pudong, which is convenient for business but perhaps not so good for tourism. For a taste of 1930s Shanghai, try the stately Peace Hotel or the Gothamesque Park Hotel.

Shanghai

Contact

Shanghai

Stay safe

Shanghai is a fairly safe city. Violent crimes are very rare even in the poorest neighborhoods. But the ever-increasing divide between the haves and have-nots has created its fair share of problems and petty crimes like pickpocketing are on the rise. And sexual harassment is common on crowded subway trains and buses.

Various tourist-oriented scams, long practiced in Beijing, are unfortunately spreading to Shanghai as well. Be cautious if you meet a group of overly friendly students or attractive women who insist on dragging you along to an art gallery, tea shop or karaoke parlor — you're unlikely to be physically harmed, but the bill may well be more than you bargained for.

Shanghai

Cope

For visitors unused to travel in China the language barrier is likely to be the biggest obstacle, as English ability tends to be very limited in all but the largest tourist draws. Rudimentary Chinese and/or pattern matching ability for character recognition will help, as will getting your destination written in Chinese characters particularly when traveling by taxi.

Shanghai

Get out

  • Songjiang, a county in Shanghai province, some 30km south-west of Shanghai city. It is less crowded than Shanghai and is a good one day trip target.
  • Qibao, an small ancient town, about 15km from Shanghai city, just in between the city and Minhang district. It resembles the more famous water town, Zhouzhuang.
  • Hangzhou, 200 km away and reachable in 2-3 hours by train, is China's number one domestic tourist attraction featuring the famous Xihu Lake.
  • Suzhou, a historic town about an hour away from Shanghai by train. The city has long been lauded by emperors, ancient poets, and scholars alike for it's beauty and vitality. Due to it many canals and bridges, Suzhou has also sometimes been referred as "Venice of the East"

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