Complete guide to Shanghai Expo


At the airport
Getting about
Making yourself understood
Staying in touch
Shanghai Expo 2010
Puxi and Pudong
Places to go, things to see
Attractions off the beaten track
Overrated attractions
Where to eat


At the airport

International visitors arrive at Pudong airport (PVG), which is in the eastern suburbs. There are 3 ways of getting into

The maglev at
its top speed

  • By taxi - this should not cost you more than 150RMB ($) for a ride into the city centre.
  • By maglev - the ultra-modern German-made magnetic levitation train will whisk you part of the way into town for 50RMB ($) (40RMB if you show your flight ticket).But if you're staying in the parts of town most tourists stay in, you'll still need to take a taxi or metro ride to complete your journey.
  • By bus - a fleet of city buses can take you to most locations in the city. They leave from the same place as the taxi rank. This is definitely the cheapest option, but unless you can speak Chinese, or you already know the correct bus to take, forget it.

Of the three ways to begin your Shanghai experience, taxi is the most convenient option, maglev the most spectacular, and bus is the cheapest.

Getting about

Taxis in Shanghai are much cheaper than in most western countries. The minimum fare is 12RMB ($). This goes up to 16RMB ($) for journeys starting between 11 o'clock at night and 5 o'clock in the morning. The per-mile cost also goes up by about 30% at night. Very few Shanghai taxi drivers can speak English. In practice, this gives you two choices: use a phrasebook and say the destination yourself, or get your hotel to write your destination on a card in Chinese characters, and show that to the driver.


The metro system is cheap, efficient, and very new. It has air conditioning, frequent trains (at least on the major lines), and almost 100% reliability. Signage and recorded announcements are all in both Chinese and English. The minimum fare as of summer 2008 is 3RMB and most trips around the centre of town will cost no more than 5RMB. The metro has undergone rapid expansion in recent years, and some of the new lines are less convenient to use than the original lines, with smaller trains and less frequent services.


The cheapest way of getting around the city, but not for the faint hearted. Bring your phrasebook, watch your bag, and prepare to stand. On the plus side, they're a great way to get to know the real Shanghai.

China leads the world in eco-friendly, ultra-silent electric mopeds and bicycles. Given the fact that many riders cycle on the pavement and break other traffic rules, this creates a significant hazard to pedestrians. Watch out for bikes silently whizzing up behind you when you least expect it.

Making yourself understood

The main difficulties of Chinese from a foreigner's perspective are its tonal nature, and the character-based writing system. However, taxi drivers are generally quite good at understanding common destinations as mispronounced by foreigners, with incorrect or missing tones, simply because they've had a lot of practice.The free and open-source mobile phone software Dictionary for MIDs has a Chinese-English version which can prove extremely useful, even if you don't speak any Chinese. For example in a shop, you can lookup the item you're trying to find and show the characters for it to an assistant. However, it will only work if your phone supports Chinese characters.

Staying in touch

Foreign-made GSM phones work fine in China, and the local mobile operators have roaming agreements with most major international networks. If you want to use a local SIM, you can buy China Mobile "EasyOwn" SIM cards at newspaper kiosks, corner shops, and China Mobile offices. On the street the package costs 110RMB, which includes 50RMB of call credit. It's cheaper if you go to a China Mobile office, but they'll want your passport to officially register you. You can check your balance by texting YECX to 10086. Once your balance drops below 10 RMB you'll start getting regular text reminders automatically. You can buy top-ups from convenience stores and newspaper kiosks.

Many coffee shops have free wifi - ask before you buy your cappucino. The notable exception is Starbucks which persists with making customers pay for access. A reliable chain for getting online is the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf - there are over 20 branches around town, including ones near People's Square, Jingan Temple, and Xintiandi. China Mobile SIM cards come pre-configured with a GPRS profile for getting online, but it's pretty expensive to use. You can bring the price down by texting KTG5 to 10086 and then replying 1 to the confirmation SMS. This buys you 30MB of bandwidth for 5 RMB per month, but the package will only take effect at the beginning of the next calendar month. There are other packages available for larger amounts of bandwidth: check the China Mobile website for SMS codes and charges.

Puxi and Pudong

Puxi is west of the Huangpu river, Pudong is to its east. Most of the sights that a short-term visitor to the city will be interested in are in Puxi, but Pudong does have a very nice waterfront area in Lujuiazui with cafes and bars right on the riverside, the Jinmao and SWFC towers, and the excellent Science and Technology museum.

Fom left to right, the shaded areas are People's Square, the Bund, and Lujiazui.


Places to go, things to see

People's Square
Shanghai's foreign occupiers built a racecourse here during the colonial era - the clubhouse now houses an art museum and fancy restaurant. All other traces of its equestrian past have now been erased: the square is home to the massive Shanghai Museum, a brace of other cultural venues, several hotels and shopping centres, and People's Park. Watch out for the open-air speed dating event which takes place most weekends in the park, where anxious parents conspire to marry off their offspring (who usually aren't present). The best place to catch your breath and get away from the crowds is the peaceful roof garden at Starbucks, just next to the art museum.

Shanghai Museum

What: Massive collection of cultural artifacts spanning China's 6000 year history. You could easily spend a whole day just in this museum.
Admission: Free of charge, open 09.00-17.00 (no admission after 16.00), seven days a week.The admission charge has only recently been abolished, and the ensuing increase in visitor numbers means that sometimes the museum has to stop admitting visitors for safety reasons.
Getting there: People's Square metro station. Take exit 1 and head for the circular building between the park and the expressway (pictured).



The Bund

Access to the Bund promenade will either be difficult or impossible at least until the end of 2009. If you are visiting Shanghai during this period, expect it to be closed.

What: Embankment on the Huangpu River built during the colonial era. Gives fine views of Pudong's 21st century skyline, and backs onto a distinguished collection of colonial era buildings. The six lane highway is currently being rerouted underground, which will be a major improvement.
Getting there: Nearest metro station is Nanjing East Road (Line 2). Turn right out of exit 3 (i.e. in the opposite direction to the skyscraper housing the Le Royal Meridien Hotel, with the twin radio masts) and keep walking until you reach the river. Note that the Chinese don't say "The Bund" - they call it "Wai-tan", and very few taxi drivers know the English name.


The Bridge of Nine Turnings and the
Mid-Lake Pavilion tea house with the
Yu Garden in the background

Yu Yuan Garden
Often simply called the Yu Garden, this peaceful formal garden sits in the middle of an overcrowded shopping mall. The Bridge of Nine Turnings zigzags across the lake in front of the garden, with the famous Mid-Lake Pavilion tea house at the centre. Despite its tourist-trap location, the tea house is actually very nice and definitely worth a visit. Prices are between 40-60RMB for a pot of tea. The Taoist City God Temple is unremarkable but only costs 10 RMB to get into (machine-translated website).

The Garden itself
This dates from the mid-sixteenth century, and was built as the private retreat of a Ming dynasty bureaucrat. The admission charge is very reasonable compared to many other attractions in Shanghai.
Opening hours: 8.30am to 5.00pm
Prices: Adults 30RMB, children 10RMB.

Hard at work in the kitchen of
the Nanxiang dumpling restaurant

Probably the best dumpling restaurant in the world
There are dumplings. And then there are the xiao long bao (steamed dumplings) made by the Nanxiang restaurant in the Yu garden. Many Chinese domestic tourists regard a visit to this takeaway dumpling restaurant as an essential part of their holiday here, a reputation which guarantees a long queue outside the restaurant at almost any time. If you don't fancy queuing up, you can take a peek at the preparation process through the restaurant's plate glass
Where: It's to the left of the Bridge of Nine Turnings as viewed in the photograph above - although you can't really miss the queue.


This business district on the other side of the river from the Bund boasts Shanghai's tallest buildings (the Jinmao, SWFC, and Pearl towers), Asia's largest shopping mall (the Superbrand Mall), and a riverfront strip of bars and coffee shops where you can sip your cappucino while the container ships slide by. The area has become a victim of its own popularity and the riverfront and Superbrand Mall are unpleasantly crowded on weekends. Try to visit on a weekday.
Getting there:

  • Lujiazui metro station on line 2. The Superbrand Mall and Pearl Tower are impossible to miss when you exit the station. The riverfront is beyond the Superbrand Mall - walk down the road to its right.
  • The gloriously daft Bund Sightseeing Tunnel (aka Bund Tourist Tunnel). This is basically a toy train in a tunnel with psychedelic flashing lights. Entrance is in the underpass which connects the bottom of East Nanjing Road with the Bund.
One way ticket 40RMB, return ticket 50RMB. The ticket office also sells various packages combining the tunnel with the Pearl Tower, aquarium, Jinmao Tower, and so on.


Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC)
The SWFC Observatory opened at the beginning of September. It offers three viewing floors: the 94th, 97th and 100th. The even taller 632m Shanghai Tower is under construction in an adjacent lot.Prices: For adults, 100RMB gets you to the 94th floor, 110RMB gets you to the 97th, and 150RMB to the 100th. Pensioners and students pay about two-thirds, and children get in for half price. Opening hours: 8am-11pm, last admission 10pm.
Getting there: Take metro line 2 to Dongchang Road, take exit 4 and head west down Century Avenue. Alternatively, walk up from Lujiazui metro station.

SWFC - the new block on the block

Jinmao Tower observation deck
Recently upstaged by the adjacent SWFC, the Jinmao has an observation deck on the 88th floor. For the clearest view, choose a fine morning after it has rained overnight and get there early. Otherwise you may find there's not much to see - even on a day that looks fine and clear at ground level.
Prices: 70RMB for adults, 35RMB for children, 60RMB students and senior citizens.
Getting there: It's next door to the SWFC.

Oriental Pearl Tower
Shanghai's original supertall building is actually classified as a freestanding tower rather than a skyscraper. It has three large spheres suspended from its three structural columns.
Prices: 150RMB to visit all three spheres, 135RMB for the lower two, 100RMB for the middle level one (prices only accurate to August 2008).
Getting there: Directly opposite Lujiazui metro station.

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
This is a short way along the road to the right of the Pearl Tower, as viewed from when you exit Lujiazui metro station.
Prices: 120RMB ($€) for adults, 70RMB for senior citizens, 80RMB for children.
Getting there: Chinese public holidays, and July and August: 09.00-21.00. All other times: 09.00-18.00.

Dongchang Riverfront Garden

Dongchang Riverfront Garden
While the Lujiazui riverfront staggers under the weight of visitors on a weekend, just a few blocks up stream this more recent waterfront development is pleasantly.

quiet and empty. There are not exactly many eateries to choose from - the pricey Rouge Morille is your only option. But a coffee there won't bankrupt you and you can enjoy a fine view of the river without the crowds.


Shanghai Expo 2010

Running from May 1st to October 31st, 2010, the Shanghai World Expo 2010 will showcase an estimated 200 countries. Several city blocks of rundown wharves and warehouses on both sides of the river between the Nanpu and Lupu bridges have been bulldozed to make way for the event. Other permanent improvements to the city's infrastructure include the renovation of the venerable Dapu tunnel river crossing, and a new metro line. For the best view of the current state of the Expo construction site, visit the Lupu bridge viewing platform (see below).

  • In mainland China, these are available from major post offices and Bank of Communications branches, as well as China Mobile and China Telecom offices. From now until December 31st, the prices are 180RMB ($€) for a peak day ticket, and 140RMB ($€) for a standard day ticket. The prices will rise after that but only slightly. Three day and seven day tickets will not be on sale until January 2010 - these multiday tickets will not be valid on peak days.
  • Outside mainland China, tickets are available through nominated agents in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, the U.S., Canada,Germany,and Switzerland (click the links to go directly to the relevant agents). As of late August 2009, Ticketmaster U.S. is listing the Expo but not actually selling tickets. The prices charged by overseas ticket agents appear close to the domestic price - Canadian agent Peregrine Travel is asking CA$26=164RMB for a standard day ticket, while U.S. agent Tian Bao's price is US$21.50=146RMB.
There are 9 types of tickets:

Peak Day Single Day Admission
Peak Day Special Admission
Standard Day Single Day Admission
Standard Day Special Admission
3 Day Admission
7 Day Admission
Evening Admission
Group Admission
Student Group Admission

Peak Day means first 3 days after opening, which also is the holiday of Labor’s Day (May 1–May 3, 2010), China's national day (Oct 1, 2010–Oct 7, 2010) and the last 7 days of the expo 2010 (Oct 25–Oct 31, 2010). There are 19 Peak Days total. Peak Day ticket holders can enter the expo zone at any time (Peak Days and Standard Days).

Standard Day means the whole expo time (May 1–Oct 31, 2010), excluding Peak Days. There are 168 Standard Days in total. Standard Day ticket holders can enter the expo zone on any standard day, but not on Peak Days.

3 Day and 7 Day Admission tickets are the equivalent of 3/7 Standard Day Admission tickets.

Evening Admission tickets are only valid after 17:00, and are only available in Standard Day.

Group Admission is for no less than 15 people; Student Group Admission is for no less than 30 students. Both ticket types require reservations in advance.

Special Admission is for the following people:
People born in or before 1950
Students with valid IDs
Children under 1.2m
Chinese military personnel on active duty
For Special Admission, valid IDs are required upon ticket purchase and entry, and can enter on any day, Peak or Standard.
All tickets only can enter once in the entry day.
Children shorter than 1.2m can enter for free.

There are 4 phases in the sale. The basic price is Standard Day in expo session (RMB 160 Yuan, about $20). The price will be less if paid in advance.

Pre-sale Phase I (Mar 27, 2009-Jun 30, 2009): Purchase is limited to groups, and only Peak Day Single Day Admission and Standard Day Single Day Admission tickets are available. The prices are RMB 170 and RMB 130 (respectively).

Pre-sale Phase II (Jul 1, 2009-Dec 31, 2009): Only Peak Day Single Day Admission and Standard Day Single Day Admission tickets are available for both groups and individuals. The prices are RMB 180 and RMB 140 (respectively).

Pre-sale Phase III (Jan 1, 2010-Apr 30, 2010): Peak Day Single Day Admission, Peak Day Special Admission, Standard Day Single Day Admission, Standard Day Special Admission, 3 Day Admission and 7 Day Admission tickets are available for both groups and individuals. The prices are RMB 190, RMB 110, RMB 150, RMB 90, RMB 400 and RMB 900 (respectively).

Expo Session Sales (EXPO Session, May 1, 2010-Oct 31, 2010): Peak Day Single Day Admission, Peak Day Special Admission, Standard Day Single Day Admission, Standard Day Special Admission, 3 Day Admission, 7 Day Admission and Evening Admission tickets are available for both groups and individuals. The prices are RMB 200, RMB 120, RMB 160, RMB 100, RMB 400, RMB 900 and RMB 90 (respectively). Getting there: The Expo will be linked to the city centre by the new Metro Line 13. A new station at Madang Road, near Xintiandi, will serve as the downtown entrance to the Expo, with only ticketholders being allowed onto the metro. They'll be able to exit the metro directly into the Expo site at the new Lupu Bridge station on the Puxi side, and the Expo's main station on the Pudong side.



Attractions off the beaten track

Taikang Road Art Street
Attractive, laid-back network of longtangs just off Taikang Road. A good choice for coffee or buying gifts.
Getting there: Take a taxi to the intersection of Ruijin Road and Taikang Road, then walk a couple of hundred yards up Taikang Road. The entrance to the art street is on your left. Not very easy to reach from the metro.

Lupu Bridge observation deck

Getting there: Take metro line 4 to Luban Road, and walk or take a taxi south along Luban Road.


Pudong's canals
Not so long ago they were industrial cesspools, but now several of Pudong's canals have been beautified. Take the metro to Dongchang Road on line 2, then a taxi along Pudong South Road going south, and stop next to the Pudong hotel. Take the towpath from the bridge over the nearby canal. It'll take you all the way to Pudong's Century Park - although in a couple of places you have to cross a busy road. In summer it's a very peaceful scene - couples strolling, old men and their grandchildren fishing, and not a tourist in sight.

Pudong's wildlife
Clouds of dragonflies, vigilant bats patrolling car parks, a kingfisher watching over a canal, and swallows swooping down in front of your bicycle and racing you - not exactly what you'd associate with one of the world's biggest cities. But these are all common sights in Pudong, as the downtown is really not that far from the countryside. There are plenty of dragonflies in summer around Century Park and the science museum. And bats can be found all over Pudong - you can even see them on Century Avenue between the SWFC and Donchang Road metro.


Looking down East Nanjing Road
from People's Square

Overrated attractions

East Nanjing Road
Overpriced and overcrowded, the stretch of Nanjing Road running between the Bund and People's Square is touted as Shanghai's shopping mecca - but those in the know head elsewhere. Watch out for the various tea shop and art exhibition scams along here, often perpetrated by smiling young "students" who claim to be "on holiday from Beijing".


Best compared to London's Covent Garden, this district of cafes and bars is overpriced and uninspiring. Even the architecture is fake - the buildings are meant to look like traditional longtang (lane) buildings, but it's all reinforced concrete under the brickwork. If ersatz culture is your thing, check it out. But if you want to eat and drink in a real Shanghai longtang, head for Taikang Road Art Street. The beers are cheaper there too, and you won't be surrounded by throngs of other tourists.


Clothes shopping
As noted elsewhere in this guide, Nanjing East Road is a popular choice with tourists. But for the real bargains, head for one of these alternatives, and be prepared to bargain hard.

Xinyang Market
Conveniently located inside Science Museum metro station on line 2. The touts are not too aggressive and will leave you alone if you politely rebuff them, and the place is reasonably clean and tidy. Furthermore, you can combine it with visits to the immediately adjacent Shanghai Science Museum and Century Park. The name is a play on the legendary Xiangyang market in Puxi, now closed.
Getting there: Shanghai Science Museum metro station on line 2. The market is in the same underground area as the booking hall.

Qipu Road

Qipu Road
Pronounced something like "cheap-oo" road, the market is actually a collection of large and rather rundown shopping centres centred on the intersection of Qipu Road and Henan North Road . This is definitely the destination for the cheapest bargains in Shanghai, and indeed many shops buy wholesale from here. But the area is unpleasantly chaotic and dirty, and the touts are so aggressive they will actually tail you from shop to shop.
Getting there: Take metro line 2 to Nanjing East Road, turn onto Henan North Road, and cross the Suzhou Creek. It's a 10-15 minute walk or a short taxi ride.

Shanghai South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market ("the fabric market")
Located near the Puxi side of the Nanpu bridge, this is the place to come for cheap tailored clothes and, er, fabrics. It's lively but pleasantly lacks the touting at some of the other markets.
Getting there: 399 Lujiabang Road, on the corner of Nancang Street.


Where to eat

For an excellent choice of restaurants at reasonable prices, and away from the tourist trap areas, head for the Superbrand Mall in Lujiazui (see Lujiazui section above for directions). The upper floors are full of restaurants offering almost every conceivable style of cuisine, and some with a fine view of the river. Other shopping centres with a good choice of restaurants are Raffles Plaza on People's Square, and Cloud 9 Shopping Mall at Zhongshan Park metro station on line 2.

If you haven't tried Shanghai cuisine before, you're likely to find it very different from your existing ideas about Chinese food, and possibly quite hard to get used to. On the plus side, it is generally very low fat and healthy.

Spicy ribs, Di Shui Dong

Di Shui Dong (滴水洞)
Deservedly popular Hunanese restaurant. Spicy ribs are its signature dish, but you'll work hard to find anything on the menu which doesn't set your mouth on fire. Lashings of beer put ddddd out the flames. Second floor, 56 Maoming Nan Lu, Puxi. (Avoid the Dongping Lu branch - the service is incredibly slow).

Smart Noshery Makes You Slobber (好食道)
ts English name has ensured plenty of free publicity for this Pudong institution (the owner says he chose it because it sounds "high class and distinguished"). The food is great too, despite the modest decor. Don't miss the breaded beef. 1028 Nanquan North Road, Pudong.

Bali Laguna
With a dining area which looks out at water level across peaceful Jingan Park's lake, this Indonesian restaurant's location is hard to better. But a degree of complacency appears to have affected both the food and service. Still, it's a great choice for a romantic meal. 189 Huashan Road, inside Jingan Park, Puxi.

Quick eats
A more satisfying choice for semi-fast food is Ajisen Ramen, a franchised chain of Japanese-style noodle shops. Clean, efficient service and a healthy menu mean that these restaurants are popular with local Chinese and foreigners alike. Don't be put off by the Chinese-only website: the menus in the restaurants are bilingual and easy to order from even if you don't speak any Chinese, and despite the fact that the staff generally don't speak any English. A bowl of noodles or rice costs between 20-30RMB, with a starter expect to pay between 40-50RMB per head.

Note: Reference from “Shanghai visitors’ survival book”