Getting around Shanghai

Public transport

Travelling by Shanghai Metro (tel: +86 21 6437 0000; is by far the easiest way to get around the city. It's cheap, signs and announcements are in English, and it covers pretty much all of Shanghai. Taxis are also a good option. Again, they're cheap and easy to flag down, apart from during rainstorms!

Public buses are rarely used by foreign visitors without a good understanding of Chinese. Fares are paid to the conductor. Major city-centre routes are numbered - suburban and longer-distance buses tend to only have their destination in characters.


Taxis are plentiful in Shanghai, cheap and metered, and are usually just hailed from the street. Drivers don't speak English, so if you don't speak Chinese, have the address of the place you're going to written down in characters so you can show the driver. Tipping is not expected.

For a more expensive, but English-speaking taxi service, try Shanghai Eastern Taxi Service (tel: +86 21 5447 7388).


Few tourists to Shanghai attempt to drive, as hiring a car is a lengthy process and roads are congested. Visitors also need a Chinese driving licence, which can only be obtained by resident permit holders. Basically, don't bother.

Car hire

Car rentals usually come with a driver, but familiar foreign rental agencies are only slowly breaking into the market. Avis (tel: +86 21 6607 6501; has multiple offices in the city.

Bicycle hire

Riding around the tree-lined streets of the former French Concession can be pleasant, but generally speaking, Shanghai's roads are a bit too congested and polluted for enjoyable cycling. Bikes are available for rent from most backpacker hostels in the city.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.