Shanghai is an interesting city with bright lights, interesting architecture and way of life. Whether you are visiting for a long or short period of time check out this guide to help you plan your trip.
Climate: Humid subtropical climate
Currency: Yuan (RMB)
Official Language(s): Mandarin, Shanghainese
Before you Arrive
Most of the world requires a visa prior to visiting China. The good thing about Chinese visa is that for North Americans the visa is valid for 10 years and has multiple entries. Also, if you are Canadian, like me, you have to pay as much for your visa as USA.
Here is a list of requirements you MUST have:
1. A passport valid for 6 months at the time of departure
2. Roundtrip plane ticket
3. Accommodation receipt
4. Trip itinerary (you can get this form online or at the embassy)
Make sure you have ALL your documents in order! The Chinese embassy is very strict and you could be denied.
Arrival/ Getting Around
Shanghai has two international airports; Hongqiao and Pudong International.
Hongquiao is in the outskirts of of Shanghai, about 13 km from the city center. Pudong is in Pudong New City and is 19 km from the city center. Although Hongquiao is an international airport, they only house Asian airlines. The great thing about these airports is that they are both on the MRT lines.
Taxi: From Hongquiao to the city center a taxi ride will cost you 60 RMB ($12 cad) for about 30 mins. From Pudong prices vary starting around 180 RMB ($35 cad) and up depending on the time of day.
Maglev: Maglev is a train that uses magnetic levitation to glide over the train tracks without actually touching them. Most people actually treat this as a tourist attraction. It is only available at the Pudong airport and takes 8 mins to get to Longyang Road Station and then you need to transfer onto the regular subway. The cost is 50 RMB($10 cad) for a single ride, 100 for VIP single ride, 80 for roundtrip and 160 for VIP.
MRT: There is also the option to take the MRT from the airport. Just follow the directions to the MRT.
Make sure to download the app to make your trip easier.
The official language is Mandarin in Shanghai but they also have their own dialect called Shanghainese. It's important to know some phrases because surprisingly English is limited here.
Here are a few phrases:
Hello- Ni hao
Thank you- Xie Xie
What to See
Shanghai has so many attractions. The most popular things to do do include visiting The Bund, Nanjing Road, Yu Garden, Tianzifang, Longhua Temple, Shanghai Circus World, Xintiandi, etc. There a lot of places that get overlooked which isn't necessarily a bad thing for you. Try places like the Shanghai Museum which is free, one of the Ancient Towns and People's Park.
What to Eat & Drink
Visiting Shanghai, I expected to have Chinese food like I had in the West. Obviously I knew Western Chinese food was different from real Chinese food but I didn't realize how different it was. It's always good to experiment different foods. You'll realize food is different in every district in China. So here are some must try Shanghai foods:
Must try Dishes:
Pepper Duck, Xiaolongbao, drunken crab, Shengjianbao, Mapo doufu, Hongshao rou (braised pork belly).
Caramel Strawberry kebabs, Nanxiang steamed buns, soup buns.
Where to Stay
Shanghai hostels are pretty expensive compared to other Asian countries. Get a hotel or hostel in Pudong New District as it is close to many attractions. In Shanghai you really need to be careful of getting cheap accommodation, otherwise you will get really dirty places like I did. A clean and affordable hostel I happened to find is Shanghai Mingtown Youth Hostel.
Here are some other great places to visit near !
Wuxi-- A city nestled near Shanghai, Wuxi sits right on a fresh water lake. It's got one of the most recognizable Buddhist sites.
Chongming Island-- The third largest island in China, Chongming has lots of greenery and wild life. There are also museums and temples to visit in case you get tired of nature.