Travel tips for Shanghai

Travel tips for Shanghai

Thinking about traveling to Shanghai? Make sure to read these tips before you go to ensure that there would not be any problem during your time there.

Tip 1. Transportation in Shanghai

Metro is usually the way to go because it is affordable and can take you almost everywhere in Shanghai. If you are here for a long-term stay (2 weeks or more), then it will probably be smart to invest in a metro card as you would not have to wait in line to get your tickets every time. On the other hand, for people who are here for a short stay and aren't sure they will use the metro that often, It would be smarter to buy a single ticket each time. Usually roundtrip in a metro cost on average 6 to 10 yuan depending on your destinations. I recommend downloading Shanghai Metro app, which will give you directions with an estimate of traveling time and cost, so that you can plan your day accordingly. 

Taxi service is another option when traveling around Shanghai. There are many different taxi colors and there is a reason for that. 

- Pale green-blue/Yellow (Dazhong/Qiangsheng Taxi) - Highly recommended; they are from the two biggest taxi companies in Shanghai, so it is usually the most reliable ones.

- White and Dark green (Jinjiang/Bashi) - Good alternatives when Pale green-blue/Yellow taxies are not around.

- Blue/Red (Private Taxi) - Not Recommended, because they are known for having expensive rates and bad drivers. 

So, to avoid getting scam by drivers, it will be smart to know how the taxi driver calculate the cost of your ride. From 5 AM to 11PM fares start at RMB 14 and 16 for the yellow taxi, then at night they start at RMB 18 and 20 for the yellow taxi. For the first 3km the fares price is fixed, then it goes up by RMB 2.4 per km during the day ad RMB 3.1 at night. If you have a Chinese debit/credit card, then I would recommend download "DiDi" which is like Asian Uber that is usually cheaper at night time. Be sure to be alert when paying the taxi drivers. There have been stories where drivers would accuse you of giving him/her fake money, in reality, they switched it. Be on the lookout for drivers who take you in circles to charge you more money, I would advise to have a GPS pull up and see where he is going. Lastly, make sure to ALWAYS ask for the driver if he can take you to your destinations and he will use the meter, because sometimes they will tell you a ridiculous amount after he drove you.

Public Buses may not be the most convenient transport option for foreigners trying to navigate their way around Shanghai as their indications are mainly in Chinese.

But it will give an extra transport choice when there are no taxis available an nowhere to find the nearest Metro. Shanghai's bus stops are generally located near intersections, and a stop is usually named after the closest street intersecting the road the bus is running on. Bus fares are relatively cheap, compared with subways and taxis, around RMB 2 one way.

Be aware that Shanghai buses can be extremely crowded during rush hours.

Tip 2. Watch out for scams 

In China, expats are the main target of local scammers because of their unfamiliarity to the environment. NOTHING is free and if a deal is too good to be true most likely they are either fake or they are trying to scam you by asking you for your personal information. Beware the tag team method that is often used by Chinese merchants to persuade you into buying their products. The trick is to keep saying no repeatedly when you don't want something and try to walk away.

The notorious Chinese massages that offers "happy ending" and "nice girls" should automatically signal you about getting scam. The massage bill can end up be in the thousands of RMB even if the massage should on cost one or two hundred. In addition, prostitution is illegal in China, so keep that in the back of your mind when falling for these types of sex traps. Lawsuit is not a clever way to spend your vacation or start out your long-term stay in Shanghai. 

On top of those issues, thieves are probably what expats want to watch out for the most. When traveling in a tourist hub it is important to wear the backpack or purses in the front. Personally, someone have tried to pick pocket my wallet when I put it in the back pocket of my jeans, so make sure to put all the valuables in the front where you can see it. Places that you should be more aware are metros, the Bund, Nanjing Road, and where ever there are heavy tourists. Being cautious might seem a little bit over dramatic; however, it is way better to be over dramatic then to lose your passport or wallet. 

Tips 3: Bargaining while shopping

China is known for its knockoffs and it is great for some of us who do not want to buy the real products. It is usually impossible to bargain in department stores because the price that is tag on the item is usually the standard market price for it. However, if you went to the fake market or flea market that do not sell authentic name brand products the chances of you being scam is more than likely.

At those underground market or street flea market, never offer a price to the vendors. Always let them offer you a price first. For example, they will offer you RMB 100, then you immediately say RMB 30, and if they are okay with your counter then buy the product. If your counter is reasonable and they refuse to take the price then pretend to walk away, because sometimes they will cave in and compromise with you on your offer. Another way is to say that you are leaving in a few days and you only have this much money and try to be nice to them and ask nicely them until you get them to agree with your price. Unless it is at a department store, most of the name brand products or even jewelries found in a market are usually fake. So feel free to bargain and make sure you are getting the best deal for yourself. 

With the above few tips on how to travel in Shanghai, hopefully, you'll stay away from troubles and will make the best of your journey.

Welcome to Shanghai!

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