Growing in popularity as a destination there are lots of places to see in Shanghai. Many people take guided tours to cram them all in. Yet with a Shanghai Metro Card you can find lots of things to see in Shanghai in 1 day.
The Metro system or Shanghai Subway is a really easy, cost effective and often the quickest way to get around this city of more than 20 million people.
For years I’ve lost endless time being sat in the back of a taxi in Shanghai when I could have been smart and used the subway.
On a recent trip I decided to commit to the Shanghai underground Metro system as a way to seeing some of the places of interest in the city.
The Shanghai subway Metro system is easy to identify. Stations have signs with a red M as their logo.
The underground train network stations have ticket offices and self service ticket machines. The ticket machines have a button on the top right of the screen to switch languages between Chinese and English.
Tickets for most journeys are 3 RMB. That is about 30 pence in GBP or 50 cents in US$.
Buying a Shanghai Metro Card (Shanghai Public Transport Card)
Instead of buying individual tickets I opted to buy a Shanghai Public Transport Card (Shanghai Metro Card). You can buy these at ticket offices of the Metro or in numerous convenience stores in the city.
When I bought mine I had to pay 100 RMB. Of which 20 RMB is a returnable deposit and the other 80 RMB is credit for journeys to take.
The great thing about the card is that you can use it on all sorts of transport, including buses, taxis, ferries and even the airport maglev. Mind you after saying that the Shanghai metro runs to the 2 main Shanghai airports of Hongqiao and Pu Dong.
As far as I understand the credits shouldn’t expire so I’m going to keep this card for future visits.
I now have an Oyster card for London, a Myki for Melbourne and a Shanghai Public Transportation Card (SPTC). I’m building quite a collection!
I was fortunate enough that the attendant at the office spoke clear English. However I was prepared and came with a Chinese written note explaining what I wanted to buy.
The card works just like the Oyster or Myki cards. You tap them at the gates to enter and then tap them to leave. As you tap them there is an electronic screen on the gate which tells you how much credit you have. With 3 RMB a time it takes me a long time to run down this credit!
When I first visited in 2002 I was very scared of even attempting to use the Metro. Lack of experience of communicating in China made me wary of using the Metro to explore the places to visit in Shanghai. I thought that everything would be in Chinese and I was bound to get lost.
Thankfully, like most road signs in China the Metro stations are in dual language. You’ll find maps and line networks with both Chinese and English. Also the tannoy announcements of the stops whilst on the Shanghai tube system are also in English and Chinese.
If you can get a tube map from your hotel first then you can plan your journeys.
Even still it is worth knowing that there are a couple of lines worth using if you want to see some of the popular tourist attractions of Shanghai.
Line 10 is where you will find Xintiandi, Yuyuan Garden and Nanjing Rd (E) (-access to The Bund and Nanjing Rd is a very popular pedestrian shopping street).
Line 2 also hosts Nanjing Rd (E) as well as People’s Square and Lujiazui (for the Oriental Tower and the Jin Mao Tower).
The Shanghai subway system is safe and easy to use. It is one of the most heavily used city transport systems in the world with millions of people using it each day. It is also claimed to be the longest metro system in the world, little wonder for such a vast city.
Beware of rush hour when it will be unbearably packed. Outside of busy times it is not so bad. However, you might have to bite your lip sometimes, that whole concept of waiting for people to get off the carriage first when the doors open just doesn’t seem to apply.
As one of the newest city transport systems in the world all the metro cars are modern and like the stations impeccably clean.
You will also notice that the underground stations can be very warm inside compared to the temperature outside. On the plus side you’ll often find a range of shops and pubic toilets to use.
Overall I think this is one of the fastest ways to get to all the key places to visit in Shanghai. I’m already quite fond of my Shanghai Metro card and will definitely be using it again.
If you don’t fancy using the metro but want to plan a great visit to Shanghai, get in touch with the China travel experts at C Trip.