Shanghai hosted the World Expo in 2010, and along with this honor came a total urban makeover. The city undertook a massive metropolitan infrastructure renewal program resulting in a surge of much-appreciated improvements to the public transportation system.
Shanghai offers incredibly convenient public transportation. The subway system is safe, clean, and easy to navigate. As of 2012 there are eleven lines and over 270 miles of track in operation. All station signs are marked in both English and Chinese and the system is extensive enough that you can get within 15 minutes walking distance or closer of almost any spot in the city. The subway hours differ depending on the station, with most first trains departing around 5:30am and last trains departing around 11:30pm.
Single ride tickets based on distance and rechargeable subway cards are available at all subway stations. These cards can also be used to ride the bus system, which is a little bit more difficult to navigate as a foreigner if you do not have some mastery of Chinese.
Traffic and Crowds: Traffic in Shanghai is horrendous no matter what time and traffic laws are often not enforced. As a pedestrian always be extra vigilant as cars will not stop fro you.
When using Shanghai public transportation or when traveling about Shanghai in general expect to be surrounded and shoved by other people because you will be packed so tightly together. Personal space is non-existent in the overcrowded subway trains and buses in particular.
There is no such thing as waiting patiently in line. You have to weave your way to the front and expect to get bumped a little. It is important to be proactive in finding ways through the throngs of people, otherwise you could end up waiting around all day to get on a train.
Taxis: In Shanghai taxis are generally easy to come by and inexpensive. Insist that your driver turns on the meter when you enter the cab to avoid having to negotiate a fee at the end of the ride. If you need to travel far outside the city, hiring a driver for a daily fee might be the easiest option. Travel to major tourist sites outside the city is made simple by numerous bus services.
If you do not speak Chinese, bring a map and an address written in Chinese to give to your driver. Also always carry your hotel or apartment building’s business card and/or address with you in case of emergency. While hailing a cab on the street is most reliable, you can also call the taxi hotline at 96965.
Rickshaws: Enter at your own risk! Rickshaw drivers will often try to swindle foreigners, so be sure to clearly articulate what you’re willing to pay before getting in. In the event of a disagreement over money at the end of the ride it is wise to simply pay up to avoid an altercation. In a pickle, rickshaws can be convenient and fun—but take heed.
Travel throughout China: From Shanghai, there are many travel options. The modern Shanghai Pudong International and Hongqiao airports make Domestic and international flights convenient. These two airports are both easily accessible by subway, but if you are carrying lots of luggage it is better to take a cab, which will probably cost around 150 RMB ($24 USD). If speed is your concern, the Shanghai Maglev train carries passengers from Pudong International Airport to downtown Pudong in just minutes at a speed of 268mph.
Rail is another, more affordable, option for domestic travel. Shanghai is linked to all of the surrounding major cities by express rail, while smaller cities and towns are serviced by local trains with less frequent departures.
Credit Cards: Most major retailers and large grocery stores accept foreign credit cards, but it is also easy to find Chinese Bank ATMs where you can withdraw money from a US account for a small fee. Another option is to open a bank account with one of the many Chinese banks. Although your banker will very likely speak some English, it helps to have a friend who speaks Chinese accompany you to help you set up an account. Always carry some cash as smaller establishments will often not accept credit cards, whether foreign or domestic.