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Shanghai Transportation — Trippest’s Shanghai Travel Guide

There are many and varied Shanghai transportation options, with hubs operating the Shanghai Metro, Shanghai Airports, and Shanghai Train Stations, along with taxis and bus lines throughout the city. Shanghai has very good public transportation systems.  These public transit options allow all the tourists and visitors, as well as locals, to easily get where they need to go.  This is especially important in the larger cities, as most people do not own a car, and the roads could never handle everyone having a car in any case.

Before you take advantage of these options, though, you’ll need to travel to Shanghai from your point of origin.  If you are taking an international flight from a foreign country, and fly into Shanghai Airports when that’s very convenient and no additional travel will be required to get to Shanghai.

There are actually two major international airports in Shanghai – Shanghai Pudong, located to the east of the city near the ocean, about 10 miles or 16 kilometers from the city center, and Shanghai Hongqiao to the west of the city and much closer to downtown (just a few miles/kilometers away).

Entry through one of the other major ports of entry into the country will require some additional travel.  Below, we’ll talk about how to get to Shanghai, the Shanghai transportation options once you’re there to see all the major sights, and provide some handy guides and charts for popular Shanghai Metro, bus, and taxi services, lines, and routes.  This will allow you to make the most of your time in Shanghai, by taking advantage of the Shanghai transportation system.

Transit Guides, Charts, and Information

Shanghai Metro

At present, there are some dozen and a half active Shanghai Metro lines that connect the various parts of the city with one another.  The main Shanghai Train Station, known as the Shanghai Railway Station, is in the north central part of the city, and there is a smaller hub, the Shanghai South Railway Station, roughly in the southwest central part of the city.  There is also a hub at Hongqiao Airport.  The specific lines to take for various destinations are a mix of potential transfers, and depend greatly on where your point of origin is at any given time.  However, we’ve highlighted which lines specifically service which final destinations that are popular with tourists on the chart below.

shanghai metro map
From Baidu

 

Destination/City/Attraction Metro Lines
Hongqiao Airport 2 and 10
Pudong Airport 2
Shanghai Railway Station 1, 3, and 4
Shanghai South Railway Station 9
Shanghai Zoo 10
Huangpu River Cruises 2 and 10
The Bund 2 and 10
Disneyland Shanghai 11
Yuyuan Garden 10
Jinjiang Amusement Park 1
Shanghai Tower 2
Oriental Pearl TV Tower 2
Jade Buddha Temple 1
Changfeng Park 13
Waibaidu Bridge 10
Jing’An Temple 2 and 7
World Financial Center 2 and 4
China Art Museum 8

There are several different options for paying for travel on the Shanghai Metro, including one and three day travel passes that are sold for a flat fee.  A one-day travel pass is 18 RMB ($2.60) and a three day pass is 45 RMB ($6.50).  Pay-per-ride tickets are based on distance travelled, and range from as little as 2 RMB (around $0.29) to 5 RMB or a bit more (around $0.72) for longer routes and transfers.  If you plan to make good use of the Metro, the one or three day travel passes are a good deal.

Peak times for travel are usually the morning and evening commute rush (7 am to 9 am, 5 pm to 7 pm).  Available trains on each line vary, though it is rare to wait longer than a few minutes.

Shanghai City Bus and Sightseeing/Tourist Busses

Within Shanghai, there are several bus options available to you, including the City Bus, tourist busses, and metro/bus hybrid routes.  Busses run to the airports, and tourist or sightseeing busses operated by a number of different companies cover many of the most popular tourist spots – often double-decker curated English-speaking tour busses.  That’s not just Shanghai transportation, but a great way to see the sights while you ride.

The City Bus routes are well-posted and cover a myriad of destinations, usually from around 5 or 6 am to anywhere between 7 and 9 pm, with more limited service during overnight hours, and larger fleets in service during the morning and evening rush.  The costs are all usually either 1 or 2 RMB ($0.14 to $0.29), with cross-district lines for longer journeys ranging up to 12 RMB ($1.74).  Sightseeing bus prices vary depending on the package, route, and other amenities that you choose.  We’ve outlined some of the popular Tourist/Sightseeing Bus Lines that service each of the destinations listed below.

Tourist/Sightseeing Bus Line Destinations
Line 1 Madame Tussaud’s, Downtown, The Bund, Yuyuan Garden, Jing’an Temple, Jade Buddha Temple, Hangpu River, River Cruises
Line 2 Shanghai Museum, Ferry, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai Tower, World Financial Center
Line 3 The Bund, Hangpu River, River Cruises, Ferry, Yuyuan Garden, Docks, China Art Museum
Line 4 The Bund, Postal Museum, Broadway Mansions, Cruise Ship Terminal, Jewish Refugees Museum, Xiahai Temple

Shanghai Taxis

Like most major cities, there are plenty of taxis available for hire for specific destinations within and around Shanghai.  These tend to cost more than the other forms of transportation, but you get where you are going directly with little waiting.  There are several companies operating, with liveries in light blue, orange and green, white, dark blue, red, and blue.

Rates, like most taxi rates around the world, are based on distance traveled.  The chart below summarizes the current rates, with their RMB and USD equivalent figures, for the downtown areas.

Distance RMB Cost USD Cost
First 3 km 14 Day, 18 Night 2.02, 2.60
Each additional km 2.5/km Day, 3.1/km Night 0.36/km, 0.45/km
Trips 15 km or longer 3.6/km Day, 4.7 km Night 0.52/km, 0.68/km

Transportation within Shanghai

Now that you’ve arrived in Shanghai, it’s time to start visiting the attractions and seeing the sights!  Your Shanghai transportation options include walking, renting a bicycle, taking a taxi, bus, or the Shanghai Metro service.  Unlike some major tourist destinations, the popular things to see and places to go in and around Shanghai are not all centrally located in just one particular area.

So, you’re going to need to use some form of Shanghai transportation to see everything.  Most of the tourist spots are spread throughout an approximately 25 square mile (64 square kilometer) area, with the Shanghai Zoo, Changfeng Park, and Jing’an Temple in the west, several popular attractions in the central area of the city, The Bund and Waibaidu Bridge in the northeast central portion, Yuyuan Garden and various temples and attractions in the southeast central portion, and the Shanghai Tower, TV Tower, World Financial Center, and China Art Museum (among other attractions) on the east side, across the Huangpu River.

In terms of getting where you want to go, Shanghai transportation options that most people find ideal tend to be the Shanghai Metro and bus services.  Taxis are fine, and convenient, but tend to cost considerably more.  By waiting a few minutes for a bus or Metro, you can save a lot of money, which you can put towards enjoying dining, shopping, and other experiences on your trip.

We’ve put together informational guides in the following section that cover the costs, availability, routes, and other information for seeing all the major sites, getting to and from the Shanghai Train Stations, Shanghai Airports, and everything in between, to make your Shanghai trip as smooth as possible.

Getting to and from Shanghai and Other Cities

Getting to Shanghai is relatively easy, as it is one of the biggest and most-visited tourist destinations in the country.  As mentioned above, one of the best ways to get to Shanghai is to fly in from your international destination.  But that is not always possible, especially if you are visiting other Chinese cities as part of your tour.  You may very well fly into another port of entry, or be at another major city and need to know how to get to Shanghai.

Other popular tourist destinations and ports of entry include Beijing to the north, Xi’an to the west, and Hong Kong to the southwest.  As the crow flies, the distances between Shanghai and each of these cities is as summarized in the table below.

City Distance MI Distance KM
Beijing 655 mi 1,053 km
Xi’An 755 mi 1,216 km
Hong Kong 741 mi 1,193 km

So, which Shanghai transportation options make the most sense for you?  Shanghai is almost equidistant from all 3 of the above major cities.  Given the distance, many people will opt to take a plane and fly from wherever they are to Shanghai Airport.  This is the quickest option, but also the most expensive.  It typically takes between 2 and 3 hours of flying time (plus obviously time for boarding, security, and so forth), and costs around $150-$180 USD.

High-speed rail options may be more appealing if you want to see a bit of the countryside while you travel, and save some money.  There are also often connections available in most major cities to the rail lines, and a transit hub like Shanghai Train Station provides access to local transportation when you arrive.  The downside is that these trips can take a good deal longer than an airplane, with durations varying by price and route, though usually lasting at least 6 hours to as much as 12-16 hours on the high end.  Most are closer to 8-9 hours, and cost somewhat less than an airplane ticket for the same route, around $120-$140 in the case of Hong Kong to Shanghai for the lowest fare class on each conveyance.

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