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Shanghai metro, transportation guide

Whether you’re navigating the streets of Pudong and Puxi or trying to take a weekend trip to the neighboring suburbs, there are countless ways to get around Shanghai. Join the crowds, or avoid them, with this guide on getting around the city.


Public Transportation

One look at the swirling colorful lines of the Shanghai Metro System map might scare you away. Embrace it, because Shanghai’s expansive public transit system is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to get around the city. It won’t take long to learn its inner workings.


The Metro

The Metro system consists of 11 numbered lines, each with its own recognizable color. Line transfers are clearly marked. They extend to nearly every corner of the city, as well as some outlying regions.

The only drawback of the system is that most trains end at around 10:00 – 11:00pm and open again early in the morning, which puts a dent on nightlife events.

Check for individual line schedules and maps.

If you can, try to avoid rush hour times unless you want to rub elbows with the rest of the Shanghai urbanites.

Shanghai transportation cards
Transportation cards can be used on buses, metro and taxis. Available at metro stops.


Train Fares

The train fare is measured by distance; the farther you go, the more you will be charged. Scan your Shanghai Public Transportation Card when you enter and exit a train station. You can also purchase a Single Journey Ticket to be used within 24 hours.



There are over 1,000 bus lines sprawling over the city, from downtown Shanghai to the outskirts. Bus fares vary according to the category of the bus line, but will run between 1RMB to 2RMB.  You can pay with loose change or with your Public Transportation Card. The buses are a great way to conveniently travel and explore the city. However, bus stations do not have English, so research before you hop on one.

Shanghai buses.jpg



There are thousands of taxis roaming the streets of Shanghai ready to pick up passengers at curbsides. Though more expensive than the public transit, you might consider this option for ease and accessibility.

Hail a taxi at curbside. Look for a green light that says ‘空车’ (kong che), which means the taxi is vacant.

Taxi fares vary by distance and time of day. You can pay with cash or tap your Public Transportation Card.

Shanghai taxi.jpg

Current fares for daytime operation (5am to 11pm):

  • 1-3 km = 14 RMB
  • > 3 km = 14 RMB + 2.4 RMB per km

Current fares for nighttime operation (11pm-5am)

  • 1-3 km = 18 RMB
  • > 3 km = 18 RMB + 3.1 RMB per km

Book a taxi by calling 96965, the Shanghai Taxi Dispatch Information Service Center Hotline. English is available.

Alternatively, you can call up individual taxi companies.

Taxi Company

Booking Hotline

Dazhong (Turquoise)

021 96822

Qiangsheng  (Yellow)

021 62580000

Jinjiang (White)

021 96961

Ba-Shi (Green)

021 96840

Haibo (Blue)

021 96965


Don’t forget to ask for a ‘fa piao’ (发票), a receipt, when you leave. It will have the taxi information such as license number and company phone you can call in case you leave something in the car or wish to file a complaint.

taxi fapiao
Always ask for and keep your 'fapiao'!


Bicycles and Motorbikes

China is known as the bicycle kingdom. Even in this day of economic development when the Chinese are sporting Audis and BMWs, the streets are still full of millions of cyclists. The bike is a cheap and convenient form of transportation, and a great way to explore the city’s lanes and alleys.

Bike stores are all over Shanghai, selling the classic Forever bikes to the more modern folding bikes. You can easily get a cheap bicycle, motorbike, or scooter at affordable prices, both used and new.

Some of the major ones are:

Giant Bikes
743 Jianguo Lu, near Hengshan Lu
Tel: 021 6437 5041


Trek Bicycle Store
1058 Fuxing Dong Lu, near Xizang Nan Lu
Tel: 021 6366 3137


Devil Bikes
912 Jiangning Lu, near Anyuan Lu
江宁路912号, 近安远路
Tel: 6276 7732


Forever Bikes
139 Liaoyuan Xi Lu, near Dahushan Lu
辽源西路139号, 近打虎山路
Tel: 6563 2967


Phoenix Bicycles
Basement, 620 Quyang Lu, near Chifeng Lu
曲阳路620号, 近赤峰路
Tel: 6554 4101

Alternatively, you can get one from the numerous small bike stands around the city. They have old bikes for sale and can give you a quick tune-up for cheap.

Motorcycles that run on gasoline/diesel require a Chinese driver’s license to drive, but you do not need a license to drive electric motorbikes and scooters. However, all vehicles need to have a valid license plate.


Car Service

Car Rentals: If you want to drive in China, you will need a Chinese driver’s license. You can easily convert a foreign driver’s license to a 6-year Chinese license after completing a written test with a minimal fee. You can do so at the Shanghai Vehicle Administration (上海车管所) located at:

179 Qinchuan Road, Minhang District
(Near Metro Line 5 – Chunshen Road Station)
闵行区沁春路 179 号

Some of the major car rental and service companies in Shanghai are:

Tel: 400 882 1119


Shanghai Limousine Service
Tel: 1 877 988 6672


Shang Car Ltd.


Personal driver and car is an option for many expat families seeking comfort and convenience. There are a variety of car service companies in Shanghai, but you can also find an experienced, English-speaking driver through online ads at your own discretion.

This option can be quite expensive, however, reaching a few thousand RMB per month. Remember to double check the legitimacy of the car and driver; ask to see proper documents such as driver’s license, car authorization, and passenger transport licenses.


High Speed Railway

China’s high speed railway is the longest high speed rail network in the world whose trains run an average speed of 200 km/h (124mph). The trains were introduced in 2007 and are a clean and comfortable way to travel to nearby suburbs as well as major cities in China. Overnight trains are also available for those long distances.

To purchase a ticket, foreigners must bring their passports. Chinese citizens can use their ID cards.

There are more than a dozen lines in service, and more are still being constructed. There is currently no English website for the rail service.

Chinese website: (

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