How to Get to Shanghai from the Airport
It's the first journey you'll make in Shanghai. Do you want to get straight on the Maglev, take the convenience of a taxi, or save cash with the subway?
There are almost as many ways to get into Shanghai as there are districts in the city. Here's a quick overview of the options available. When you arrive at the airport you should see signs to the subway, buses, taxis and Maglev trains.
The airport bus won't cost you more than 30 RMB a ticket. It's surprisingly comfortable, and will make the same journey as the taxi for less cash. Each bus has a luggage storage space where you can put your bulky baggage before boarding.
There are eight bus lines which go into central Shanghai. If your destination is fairly central, a good option is to get bus line 2 to Jing'an Temple (The sign for this bus lists the final destination as the City Terminal Building. The City Terminal Building is next to Jing-an Temple).
From Jing'an Temple, you can get a taxi to your final destination. Remember it's a good idea to have your hotel or apartment address printed in Chinese. There'll be no communication glitches with the driver if it's written clearly.
A map of the eight bus lines is available here.
There are two bus stands at the airport. One runs buses to other cities such as Hangzhou, the other runs buses into Shanghai. This page has a thorough run-down on the eight bus lines into Shanghai. There are also pictures of the signs by the relevant bus stands, so you can be sure you're on the right journey.
It takes 73 minutes and costs 7 RMB to get from Pudong Airport to Jing'an Temple subway station. The journey to Jing’an Temple is direct on line 2. Of course, the advantage with the subway is that you can change lines and get closer to your final destination.
The subway, though, doesn't offer any luggage-holding facilities. It can also be extremely crowded during the morning and early evening rush hours, as well as on weekends. It is the cheapest way into Shanghai, and it can be convenient if you are alone or not carrying much luggage. Those in a group carrying three suitcases a-piece will want to look at other options.
Be aware, that at the time of writing, you will have to change subway cars at Guanglan Road station. Again, this is no big deal if you just have a small bag, but otherwise could be a hassle.
You can't ignore the Maglev. Magnetic forces keep the train floating just above the tracks as it speeds to Longyang Road.
For practical purposes, the Maglev isn’t much faster than the subway. Of course the Maglev is faster, but the extra time you’ll spend checking your bags through security before boarding and standing around on the platform means that you won’t actually save much time.
The main reason to take the Maglev is for the novelty value, which if you’ve never sat aboard a levitating train before, is reason enough.
At the time of writing, a single Maglev ticket costs 50 RMB, while a return costs 80 RMB. You can ask for a 20 per cent discount with a valid same-day air ticket.
As you come out of arrivals at Pudong airport, look for signs to a taxi stand .It will be towards your right on the ground floor; international arrivals exit on the first floor. You can reach the taxi stand by following the signs and taking the escalator down to the 1st floor.
Late at night, you’ll almost certainly be approached by taxi touts. On no account go with them, even if they are dressed professionally; instead go to the official taxi stand, which will have a long queue outside. It’s worth the wait to not get ripped off on your first taxi ride in China. Read more about the airport taxi scam here.
A taxi from the airport should cost no more than 220 RMB into central Shanghai. After 11pm, the fare to most downtown destinations will be between 200 to 300 RMB. The most important thing is to make sure you get a registered taxi and that the driver is using the meter ( if it is a registered taxi, it is extremely unlikely that the driver would try to get away without using the meter) . Read this article for more information on the difference between registered and unregistered taxis.
Once in the taxi, as long as the taxi is going by meter, there should be no confusion when you pay at the end of the journey. Whenever you take a taxi, have your destination address saved on your phone or printed in Chinese, as this way there should be no communication difficulties.
Picture: Shanghai Tour Advisors