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Shanghai - Getting Around

Shanghai needs an efficient network of public transport to shuttle its estimated population of 25 million around. And it has - it’s just that it can seem somewhat daunting at first.

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Shanghai at night


The city’s impressive and ever-expanding Metro system is adding lines at a rate of knots. The central tangle of lines though, are the ones you’ll spend most of your time on.

Signs are in English and Chinese, and fares are affordable - you should spend no more than around RMB 10 per journey - and you can purchase your tickets from machines on the station platform, or buy a pre-paid card, which makes the whole process somewhat smoother (if not cheaper). There will be a list of stations, and the fare to each, posted by the ticket booth. You can transfer between lines freely with a single ticket, if your journey requires it. Metro Line 4 (the purple line on the Metro maps) is the city’s circle line, taking in much of the central Pudong skyscrapers, leisure and entertainment hubs, and the Convention Centre.

Shanghai at night


Cheaper than the Metro, and with a far more extensive network, Shanghai’s bus system is worth tackling, if you’re brave enough. For a fixed price, usually RMB 2, you can travel along the bus route - with many operating longer into the evening than the Metro (routes starting with a number 3 are the all-night services). Things only get tricky on routes where you have to give your destination to the driver - for it’s unlikely he or she will speak English. Still, if you have a map, and a handful of loose change, you should be able to work out where exactly you’re off to, and whether you’re on the right bus! At the very least, it could lead to a magical mystery tour into the city. As a tip, remember that the district east of the river is Pudong (meaning Pu east, using part of the name of the river). The area on the west, the larger portion of the city, is generally referred to as Puxi (meaning Pu west).

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Shanghai at night

London Bus

Far more recognisable and dependable are the city’s fleet of distinctive London red buses. Tourists can ride on the buses for a one-day sightseeing trip of Shanghai, hopping on or off as they please at any of the 22 stations en route. The through ticket is valid for unlimited rides in 24 hours and costs around RMB 300, with entrance to a number of attractions included.

Other sightseeing bus companies include those operating along Nanjing Road, JinJiang (the one you’ll need for People’s Square and the Oriental Pearl TV tower), and the swish new Huaihai Road route, shuttling between Longmen Road Stop and Panyu Road Stop on Huaihai Road, the city’s shopping and entertainment heart. Look out for these, as they’re often the most reliable and least stressful way to explore the city’s tourist sights.


Taxis (outside of peak times) are plentiful, and relatively affordable. In the daytime, the flagfall fare is RMB 12 for the first three kilometres and around RMB 3 for every succeeding kilometre. At night from 23:00 to 05:00, the fares are RMB16 for the first three kilometres, and RMB4 for every succeeding kilometre. Tipping isn’t expected, but it won’t harm to round your fare up to the nearest RMB.