Shanghai, overwhelming as it seems like the biggest metropolis in China, has a well developed public transportation system that enables anyone to travel with ease. Previously we have collected thousands of visitors’ feedback about their first impression of the city, guess what, the second most common answer we get is “the metro system is fantastic!” YES, we are very proud of that!
Here we have a detailed introduction of different means of transportation in Shanghai. Even if it is your first time in China, you will find it easy to get around!
Apps for navigation
Baidu Maps & Gaode Maps
Baidu Maps and Gaode Maps are reliable map apps widely used in China. (Baidu is the equivalent of Google of China.) Although there are only Chinese versions available., you can simply type in English addresses and get the correct results and directions. (check our post Useful Apps in China for more details!)
It works very well, only… if you have a VPN installed that gives you access to it in China. Or you can download offline maps in advance!
To be honest, we don’t recommend using Apple Maps as it lacks accuracy in many aspects for apparent reasons. Sorry, Apple…
Shanghai has one of the best metro systems in the world(no bragging!). At the moment, there are 16 metro lines with more lines under construction. All signs and announcements are in both Mandarin and English, so it is easy to understand. A single ride usually costs 4-6 RMB. The service hour for each line is different, generally from around 5:30 am to 10:30 pm with a 1-hour extension on weekends. Make sure to check the timetable if you plan to stay out late! You can easily find this information displayed inside the station or visit the Shanghai Metro official website.
Useful Metro APP: Metro Man
Metro Man is a handy metro app for newcomers to use as it provides the English version. This app covers most of the major cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Chongqing, Wuhan, Chengdu, Suzhou, and so on.
Single ride: Price varies from 3 RMB- 6 RMB depending on your departure station and destination.
One-day pass: ¥18 for unlimited rides
3-day pass: ¥45 for unlimited rides
It is easy to buy single-ride tickets from the vending machine inside the station by cash as the page has an English version to choose from. For day passes, you have to go to a ticket booth to buy it from the staff.
If you stay in Shanghai for more than three days, we highly recommend you to purchase a Shanghai Transportation Card (上海公共交通卡). Just like most of the metro cards in big cities in the world, the card can be purchased at any metro station from a ticket booth and can also be used to take buses, ferries, and taxis. There is a 20 RMB deposit for each card, and you can recharge any amount you need in the metro station.
Check Shanghai Metro Official Website for more detailed information you need.
There are more than 1,100 bus lines in Shanghai. Most of the buses are air-conditioned and cost 2 RMB. You can pay by the Shanghai Transportation Card, cash, and Alipay QR code. Some buses have bilingual announcements, but unfortunately, not all. The route map inside the bus is only in Chinese, so it could be a little bit challenging for foreigners to sort out. Well, it may not be a bad adventure!
Taxi in Shanghai is very economical and well organized. You can easily hail one on the street or use the Didi APP (the Chinese equivalent of Uber which acquired Uber China years ago!) to call one. Check the to know how to use Didi.
Taxis are very convenient throughout Shanghai (except for rush hours:P). Meters start at 14 RMB for the first 3 km and charge 2.5 RMB per km after 3km. The price will increase by 30% after 11 pm. The payment can be made by cash, Alipay, Wechat, and the Shanghai Transportation Card. (NO accept credit card)
Tips: The taxi drivers usually don’t speak English, so it is always helpful to have your destination written in Chinese or have it on the screenshot in Chinese.
Yes, the ferry is also popular public transportation in Shanghai! The Huangpu River divides Shanghai into Pudong New District and Puxi Area. Thus, the ferry boat is an excellent way to go across the Huangpu River and enjoy the river scenery.
Currently, there are in total 19 public ferry lines connecting both sides of Huangpu River (Pudong & Puxi, meaning east of Huangpu River & west of Huangpu River). For tourists, the most popular route is the one departing from Fuxing Dong Lu Pier towards Dongchanglu Pier.
These ferries cost only 2 RMB /pedestrian for the 5 min ride departing every 15 mins from 7 am – 10 pm.
Check the detailed schedule of the public ferry on its official website here.
Besides, there are a lot of sightseeing ferry options with the price ranging from ¥ 100 to ¥1000. The most popular route is from Nanpu Bridge in the south of the city to Yangpu Bridge in the north, which takes about 50 minutes. We recommend you to take a night cruise as the Bund in the night is amazingly beautiful.
Sightseeing ferry tickets can be purchased at the Shiliupu Wharf ticket office at No.531 No.2 East Zhongshan Rd.