Travel to Shanghai

Flying to Shanghai

Airlines offering direct flights to Shanghai from the UK include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air China and China Eastern. From the USA, there are direct flights with China Eastern and United. You can get good deals throughout the year, but try to avoid Chinese public holidays, especially Chinese New Year (usually February). The first week in May and October are also expensive times to fly to Shanghai, as are the school summer holidays (July-September).

Flight times

From London - 11 hours; New York - 15 hours; Los Angeles - 14 hours; Toronto - 14 hours 20 minutes; Sydney - 10 hours 40 minutes.

City Airports: 
Telephone:+86 21 96990

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is situated 13km (8 miles) southwest of Shanghai city centre.


Bureaux de change facilities, banks and ATMs can be found throughout Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.


Luggage trolley hire is available at various points within the terminals. Uniformed porters can be hired to assist with baggage – travellers should note that tipping is not allowed. A left-luggage service (tel: +86 21 2238 1085) is available on the Arrival Level for those wishing to secure their luggage. Baby strollers are available to use free of charge in Terminal 2. Enquiries into lost or found items should be made to the lost property office in either Terminal 1 (tel: +86 21 2234 2071) or Terminal 2 (tel: +86 21 2238 1086) depending on where in the airport the item was lost.

Telephone:+86 21 96990

Shanghai Pudong International Airport is located 30km (19 miles) southeast of central Shanghai, in eastern China.


Several banks, bureaux de change, and ATMs are located within the terminal buildings, within both the arrivals and departure areas.


Left-luggage facilities are available in both terminals. A lost and found office can be found between Gates 4 and 5 in the Departure Hall and between Gate 6 and 7 in the Arrivals Hall in Terminal 1 (tel: +86 40 0879 1617), as well as in the Departure Hall of Terminal 2 (tel: +86 40 0879 1617).

Travel by road


A Chinese driving licence is required to drive in China, and to get one of those you must have a Chinese residence permit, rather than just a tourist visa. Foreign residents may bring their own cars into the country but this involves a huge bureaucratic effort.

Urban driving is chaotic and sometimes extremely congested. Traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18. The speed limit in China is 30-60kph (18-36mph) on city roads and 100-120kph (62-75mph) on expressways. Road signs are in both Chinese and English in major cities, but only in Chinese in more remote areas.

Emergency breakdown service:

There is no breakdown service in China.


Main routes out of Shanghai are denoted by city names such as the Shanghai-Nanjing Highway. The Shanghai-Beijing Expressway provides a (relatively) fast artery to the north. The Hangzhou Bay Bridge connects Shanghai to Ningbo. There are also road links to Zhouzhuang, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing and most of the other regional centres.

Driving times:

From Hangzhou - 2 hours 20 minutes; Nanjing - 3 hours 40 minutes; Suzhou - 1 hour 40 minutes; Ningbo - 2 hours 50 minutes.


Coach travel to nearby cities is pretty straightforward. Services to places such as Nanjing, Hangzhou and Suzhou are regular, and roads and buses are decent so the journey is comfortable enough. Longer distances are always better done by train, especially if it's an overnight journey.

The advantage of buses is you don't need to book tickets in advance. Just turn up at the bus station and hop on the next available bus. Tickets, though, are generally more expensive than standard train tickets.

There are a number of coach stations in Shanghai. The huge Shanghai Long-Distance Bus Station is just north of Shanghai Railway Station and serves pretty much any city you can think of. Hengfeng Road Bus Station mostly serves Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing, while the Shanghai South Long-Distance Bus Station serves, among others, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo and Nanjing.

Sightseeing buses leave from Shanghai Stadium for the surrounding canal towns.

Travel by rail


China's railway system is modern, extensive and, given its size, surprisingly reliable.

Chinese trains have up to four different classes - soft sleeper, hard sleeper, soft seat and hard seat. Tickets for hard sleepers (which aren't actually hard) are like gold dust, and should be booked well in advance.

You can buy tickets in stations or through CITS (tel: +86 10 6522 2991; You should make reservations in advance, especially for hard sleepers, although you cannot book more than 10 days in advance. The useful website has an English-language timetable and lets you book tickets, for a hefty fee.

Shanghai has three large train stations: the main Shanghai Railway Station, the Shanghai South Railway Station and the Hongqiao Railway Station, near Hongqiao Airport. All are connected to the metro system.

Most trains leave from Shanghai Railway Station. Trains to some southern cities, most notably Hangzhou, leave from Shanghai South. Hongqiao station is the terminus of the high-speed Beijing-Shanghai line. Some trains to Suzhou and Nanning also leave from here.


State operator China Railways runs all train services in China.

Journey times:

From Hong Kong - 17 hours; Beijing - 7 hours 30 minutes; Hangzhou - 1 hour 30 minutes.

Travel over water


There are weekly ferry services between Shanghai and Osaka in Japan. They leave from the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal in Hongkou District.

Ferry services:

You can buy tickets from two operators: China-Japan International Ferry Company (tel: +86 21 6325 7642;; 18th floor), with departures on Saturdays; and Shanghai International Ferry Company (tel: +86 21 6537 5111;; 15th floor), with departures on Tuesdays.

Both offices are located in the Jin’an Building at 908 Dongdaming Road, north of the Bund. The journey takes two days. Accommodation onboard ranges from eight-bed dorms to deluxe twin cabins. Reservations are recommended in July and August. Passengers must be at the harbour three hours before departure to get through immigration.

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.