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Getting around Shanghai

Public transport

Travelling by Shanghai Metro (tel: +86 21 6437 0000; is by far the easiest way to get around the city. It's cheap, signs and announcements are in English, and it covers pretty much all of Shanghai. Taxis are also a good option. Again, they're cheap and easy to flag down, apart from during rainstorms!

Public buses are rarely used by foreign visitors without a good understanding of Chinese. Fares are paid to the conductor. Major city-centre routes are numbered - suburban and longer-distance buses tend to only have their destination in characters.


Taxis are plentiful in Shanghai, cheap and metered, and are usually just hailed from the street. Drivers don't speak English, so if you don't speak Chinese, have the address of the place you're going to written down in characters so you can show the driver. Tipping is not expected.

For a more expensive, but English-speaking taxi service, try Shanghai Eastern Taxi Service (tel: +86 21 5447 7388).


Few tourists to Shanghai attempt to drive, as hiring a car is a lengthy process and roads are congested. Visitors also need a Chinese driving licence, which can only be obtained by resident permit holders. Basically, don't bother.

Car hire

Car rentals usually come with a driver, but familiar foreign rental agencies are only slowly breaking into the market. Avis (tel: +86 21 6607 6501; has multiple offices in the city.

Bicycle hire

Riding around the tree-lined streets of the former French Concession can be pleasant, but generally speaking, Shanghai's roads are a bit too congested and polluted for enjoyable cycling. Bikes are available for rent from most backpacker hostels in the city.

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Featured Hotels



China's first carbon neutral hotel has open-plan rooms that are beautifully designed with low furniture and sunken living areas exuding space. Bathtubs are in the bedroom rather than the bathroom, while grey slate tiling gives this excellent boutique hotel an urban vibe.

Yueyang Hotel

A decent budget option in the French Concession area of Shanghai, Yueyang Hotel has smart, spacious rooms with big double beds, desk and chair, TV, kettle and free broadband. Shower rooms are clean and modern, although, annoyingly, the hot water isn't always piping hot. English is minimal.


In the heart of the French Concession, the spotless rooms, great service and attention to detail at Quintet has been winning over visitors. As the name suggests, there are just five rooms, each individually designed to a standard you’d expect from pricier stays. The staff are super friendly too, with a wealth of knowledge about the area.

The Waterhouse at South Bund

Once a dockyard factory, The Waterhouse is now one of Shanghai’s sharpest boutique hotels. Lavish furnishings and the odd nod to the city’s shipping heritage offset its industrial chic. There are just 19 rooms, 11 of which are suites. Thanks to its location, views across the river to Pudong are stunning whichever one you bed up in.

Magnolia Bed & Breakfast

This cosy little bed and breakfast located in a 1930s French Concession home has art deco features as well as modern comfort and design. There are only five rooms so book well in advance.

Fairmont Peace Hotel

After more than three years of renovations, Shanghai’s definitive art deco building reopened in 2010 under the direction of the Fairmont group. The main challenge in modernising the building was balancing out the architectural integrity of its history with the need to upgrade a building that was not originally designed to be a hotel. Connoisseurs of old Shanghai will be pleased to know that the famous antediluvian jazz band is back in action.