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Shanghai (上海) is a colossal city with over 18 million (official) inhabitants in the core city, making it China's largest city and the world's eighth largest urban area with around 23 million inhabitants. It's the biggest city proper in the world. Not surprisingly, it is at the forefront of China's economy and symbolises the rapid modernisation and urbanisation of Chinese society.
Shanghai was only a small fishing village in the mid 19th century but after the first and second opium wars it exploded into a massive trading port. In the 19th century it began to symbolize all the bad and good aspects of colonialism. It was one of the first places to fight foot binding but was also the center of the opium trade and prostitution. As its wealth grew so did its insanity by being known as the pearl and as the whore of the Orient at the same time.
Heavily damaged during the revolution, being the center of the communist and the nationalist campaigns during the 1920s and 1930s it was even more destroyed during the Japanese occupation. Although many Jews and White Russians found sanctuary in Shanghai fleeing Stalin and Hitler. After the war life seemed to turn back to normal until the communist took over. The bankers in Shanghai welcomed the communist at first because the nationalist just kept taking their money and not paying them back.
The city grew during the first few years of communist rule but mellowed out during the heavy years of communism during the 1960s and early 1970s. When Deng Xiao Ping started his campaign to open up and modernize China, the Shanghainese took to the forefront and made their city back into an economic power house. Today Shanghai has exploded as the economic, fashion and pop culture center of mainland China. Not quite a Tokyo or Singapore yet, Shanghai will be at the same level as those Asian Tigers in only a matter of decades.
Shanghai is a city of districts, although many of the larger districts are broken up in smaller units. Some districts are tiny, especially the ones in the city. The districts towards the edge of the SEZ are larger like Jading or Pudong. Although these areas tend to be very rural the population is growing them and is changing the make up of the city.
Jiading（嘉定）is the largest suburb and district in Shanghai. Although mainly an industrial area there are some nice local temples, gardens, old town, and a museum to Wellington Koo that few tourists go to. Jiading is also home to China's Formula Racing One racing track.
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The Shanghai Jazz Music Festival (爵士上海音乐节) is usually held during the third week of October and features numerous national and international performancers. Check the website for the latest news, artists, prices and where it is exactly held.
Shanghai has four definite seasons, with the most pleasant to travel in being spring and autumn. It is hot and humid in summer, and cold and humid in winter. May and October are the nicest times of year to be in Shanghai, with clear blue skies, warm days, and little rain. Unfortunately, these months also coincide with two of China's "Golden Week" vacations. Generally, however, roughly the same number of Shanghairen (Shanghainese) evacuate the city for these holidays as outsiders come to visit, so avoid tourist sights such as Nanjing Dong Lu and the Yu Gardens and the crowds will be tolerable.
Spring still tends to be cool until May, when average daily temperatures are around 23 °C. A lot of rain also tends to fall around April.
Average temperatures for summer are around 31 °C, with the hottest month generally being July. It is not uncommon to have days around 36 °C, and the heat is compounded by air-conditioners pumping hot air into the streets, traffic, and rank smells that worsen with the heat. If you are in Shanghai for summer, do as the locals do: carry an umbrella and paper fan with you everywhere - an umbrella drops the temperature by a few degrees, and a fan will help keep the sweat at bay.
Autumn is generally warm up until November, with averages of 27 °C and 22 °C in September and October respectively.
Winter temperatures in Shanghai average 7 to 11 °C during the day. Since Mao's time, anywhere south of the Yangtze River was considered "warm", so there is no central heating anywhere in Shanghai. Double-glazed windows are also rare, so it is not uncommon to still require jumpers, long-johns, hats and gloves while sitting inside in front of a highly ineffectual reverse-cycle air-conditioner. The air is humid, so will chill you to the bone, and wind will cut through any number of layers. Global warming seems to be doing its job, however, as the 2006-2007 winter was unseasonably warm. If you are in Shanghai during the winter, again, do as the locals do: wear long-johns and every item of clothing you own and shed them as required.
|Avg Max||7.7 °C||8.6 °C||12.7 °C||18.6 °C||23.5 °C||27.2 °C||31.6 °C||31.5 °C||27.2 °C||22.3 °C||16.7 °C||10.6 °C|
|Avg Min||0.5 °C||1.5 °C||5.1 °C||10.6 °C||15.7 °C||20.3 °C||24.8 °C||24.7 °C||20.5 °C||14.7 °C||8.6 °C||2.4 °C|
|Rainfall||39 mm||59 mm||81 mm||102 mm||115 mm||152 mm||128 mm||133 mm||156 mm||61 mm||51 mm||35 mm|
Arriving by plane into Shanghai can be a little confusing. If coming in from an international flight you will arrive at the new Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) which is far away from the city centre. If leaving on most domestic flights, but not all domestic flights, you will leave from the older Hongqiao Airport (SHA) which is close to the city centre. Although it might soon get more complicated as both airports are starting to serve more domestic and international flights.
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Shanghai is now home to one of the world's fastest trains, the Maglev. The train runs from Longyang Road Station to a stop nearby the Pudong international airport.
Purchasing Train Tickets:
There are several locations to buy tickets in the city other then the train station itself such as at the corner of Wanghang Lu and Beijing Xilu just north of Jing'an Temple.
Few people drive their own cars or rent cars in China, as its almost impossible to arrange all the permits and it is not recommended to drive yourself either. Certainly not to big cities like Shanghai.
Bus stations are attached to both of the train stations. Buses serve all the major cities in the neighboring provinces and towns in the Shanghai region (S.E.Z.).
From the international ferry port you can get ferries to Japan and South Korea. There are weekly ferries crossing the sea between Shanghai and Kobe and Osaka in Japan. The ferry's destination alternates each week between Osaka and Kobe and the journey takes two days. Another line travels weekly as well between Shanghai and Osaka only. And everyday Thursday, there are ferries between Shanghai and Nagasaki.
Ferries also serve several domestic destinations including islands as far south as off the coast of Zhejiang.
It is possible to hire a car (usually with a driver) in Shanghai, but because it is such a high-density city, other forms of transport will usually suffice. International driver's licences are not valid in China, and the traffic is a bit crazy so you probably would not want to drive anyway. If you are taking trips outside of Shanghai, trains are usually faster and cheaper.
The Shanghai transport card acts like a credit card for buses, metros, taxis and even McDonald's purchases. You can buy them and add credit to them at metro stations and convenience stores. You pay a 30 RMB deposit, and then you can add credit as required. There is a picture of a lightning strike at metro turnstiles, taxi dashboards, and at bus doors. Simply swipe your card on the picture and it debits the correct amount. Personalise your card to prevent sneaky switching by dishonest taxi drivers.
The metro system is clean, fast, cheap and user-friendly. Most tourist sights are close to a metro line, so it is probably the most convenient method for sight-seeing. Line 1 and 2 are the best lines to be near. The metro also lets you avoid the traffic, which is particularly horrendous at peak hour, though the metro is invariably crowded at these times. Trips range from 3-5 RMB, and you can buy single trip tickets at vending machines or ticket booths in the stations.
Taxis are also relatively cheap and clean, though drivers rarely speak English (it's wise to carry a bilingual map with you so you can point, or download Shanghai Taxi App if you have a smartphone). Flag fall is 14 RMB, and goes up 2.3 RMB for each kilometre after the first 3 kilometres. A trip from Pudong International Airport to inner Puxi will cost about 150 RMB. If you are staying in Puxi, most places of interest can be reached in less than a 30 RMB taxi ride. It can be almost impossible to find a taxi in peak hour, and once you do you will just get stuck in traffic. Taxis are also scarce when it rains.
Buses can be daunting to the new-comer as all signage is in Chinese. Once on the bus, however, announcements are made in Chinese and English. They are cheap, mostly air-conditioned, and go to places the metro does not reach. Air-conditioned buses are usually 2 RMB per trip (maybe one or 2 RMB more for longer routes), while non-air-conditioned buses are 1 RMB (less comfortable and no English announcements). Some useful routes include the 911, which goes all the way along Huaihai Lu from Huangpi Lu, and out along Hongqiao Lu. The 925 leaves from People Square and goes to the Hongqiao Airport (Note: the 925B does not go to the airport).
Ferries are available to cross the Huangpu from the Bund to Lujiazui. If you get the passenger only ferry it costs 2 RMB, but if you go on the ferry that also takes bikes (including pedal, electric, motor and some small tuk tuks) it is only 1 RMB, but you end up a bit further away from the Bund.
Shanghai is a great city to walk in. See all the knick-knack shops up close, watch people slurping their lunchtime noodles, dodge the vegetable vendors on the sidewalk, and peer down quaint laneways. Walking through the leafy French Concession allows you to appreciate the European architecture and how it has been incorporated into Chinese life. The Old Town (south and west of the Bund near the Yu Gardens) also has fascinating narrow streets filled with vendors, food stalls and interesting shops. Shanghai isn't a destination for "sights" as such, but walk just one street a day and you are guaranteed to see a hundred things you have never seen before.
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At first it may seem that riding a bike in Shanghai is equivalent to suicide, but it is actually another great way to see the city. Cars, pedestrians and bikes all move slower in Shanghai, cars usually give a wide berth to cyclists and there are often bike lanes, so it is quite a safe way to get around. Some hostels will offer bike hire. You can also buy a new bike for just 300 RMB from most supermarkets, so it may even be worthwhile to buy one and then donate it to one of the many bike thieves in the city at the end of your trip. Few people wear helmets (even on motor scooters). Keep your eyes wide open, obey the road rules, and ride slowly and you'll have a great time.
Bohdi Bikes offers excellent mountain biking trips in the greater Shanghai area at a very good prices. They also rent and sell bikes for personal use. Bodhi Bikes is located at Suite 2308, Building 2, 2918 North Zhong Shan Road, Shanghai 200063 (上海市中山北路2918号2号楼2308室), Phone: 021- 5266 - 9013, Mobile: 139 - 1875 - 3119.
Trek stores also offer bike hire at both daily and weekly rental ras. Stores are located in Jinqiao, Pudong and also in Puxi.
Local food is usually quite cheap, and readily available. Street food is usually pretty safe, as it is usually cooked at a high temperature, and right in front of you. Look for places or stalls with a queue and it usually guarantees quality.
Almost every cuisine is available in Shanghai - especially in the expat-dense areas, such as Jinqiao in Pudong or the French Concession in Puxi.
Some favourites include:
Fantastic service in Shanghai called Sherpas, which home (or hotel) delivers from an extensive list of restaurants, priced the same as going to the restaurant plus a 15 RMB delivery charge. Brochures are found in most restaurants.
In Shanghai any booze hound can find fun. From swanky clubs and discos to drinking beer on the street while eating meat on the stick, there is something for everyone in Shanghai. Although places come and go very quickly (or change English names) in Shanghai there are some classics that never seem to go away. For more information and up to date information on bars check out Smart Shanghai.
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These accommodations and others including travellers ratings are:
|Asset Hotel||590, Wanping South Road||Hotel||-|
|Beehome International Youth Hostel||490 Dongchang Road||Hostel||74|
|Blue Mountain Youth Hostel||2F Building No1 1072 Nong QuXi Lu||Hostel||79|
|Captain International Youth Hostel||No. 37 Fuzhou Road||Hostel||71|
|City Hotel Shanghai||No.5-7 Shanxi Rd. (S)||Hotel||-|
|Koala International Youth Hostel||No. 1447, Xikang Road, Shanghai, China||Hostel||-|
|Le Tour Shanghai Youth Hostel||136 Bailan Road, Putuo District, Shanghai, China||Hostel||75|
|Le Tour Traveler's Rest Youth Hostel||Bldg. 36, 319 Jiaozhou Road JingAn District||Hostel||83|
|MINGTOWN Etour International Youth Hostel||No.55, Jiangyin Road, Huangpu District||Hostel||81|
|MINGTOWN Hiker International Youth Hostel||No. 450 Middle Jiangxi Rd. Shanghai. P.R.China||Hostel||81|
|Naza International Youth Hostel||No. 318 Baoding Rd||Hostel||75|
|Shanghai City Central International Hostel||No.300 Wuning Road Putuo District||Hostel||81|
|Shanghai Hai Gang Hotel||No.89 Tai Xing Road Jing'an District||Hotel||-|
|Shanghai Hidden Garden Youth Hostel||No. 840A, Lane 834, Pudong Avenue Lujiazui District||Hostel||73|
|Shanghai Koala Garden House||240 DuoLun Road Hongkou District||Hostel||78|
|Shanghai Y35 Hostel||No.35 Yong Shou Road Huangpu District||Hostel||77|
|Shijia Inn (By the Bund)||No. 480 middle Sichuan Road||Hotel||75|
|Sleeping Dragon International Hostel||394 Zhoushan Rd. Hongkou District||Hostel||-|
|The Phoenix||17 Yunnan (South) road||Hostel||82|
|Chenlong Business Hotel||No.582 Niuzhuang Road Huangpu District||Hotel||-|
|Captain International Youth Hostel-YanAn Rd||NO.7A East YanAn Rd under the Bund||Hostel||-|
|Biktime Hostel||No. 150 Xianggang Road||Hostel||-|
|Old West Gate International Youth Hostel||NO.115 Penglai Road Huangpu District||Hostel||75|
|Blue Palace Hotel||No.125 Bo Le South Road Jia Ding||Hotel||-|
|Blue Mountain HongQiao Youth Hostel||#108, HaMi Road||Hostel||76|
|Soho People's Square Youth Hostel||NO. 1307 South Suzhou Rd Huangpu District||HOSTEL||77|
|Bi Hao Apartment Hotel||NO. 32, Building No.5, Xinhui Rd Jing An District||APARTMENT||-|
|Shanghai Bund Serviced Apartment||Wuchang Rd 258 Huangpu||Apartment||74|
|Blue Mountain Bund Youth Hostel||6F, 350 South Shanxi Road||Hostel||83|
|Zhongshan Park Serviced Apartment||Room 1310, Floor 13, 99 Huichuan Road Changning District, Shanghai||APARTMENT||73|
|Magnificent International Hotel||No 381 South Xizang Road Huangpu District||HOTEL||-|
|Anqi Hotel||No.871,Laohumin Road Xuhui District||Hotel||-|
|Rock&Wood International Youth Hostel||No.615 Lane, ZhaoHua Road Changning District||HOSTEL||83|
|Super 8 Hostel||NO.2692 Long Ming Road near Tian Lin Road||Hostel||-|
|Modena Putuo||No.1,Lane 58 TongChuan Road||HOSTEL||-|
|City Home Apartment||Rm709, No.5 Building, Saintland Servic Apartment, JiangNing road, Jing An District||HOTEL||73|
|HengSheng Peninsula International Serviced Apartme||258 Wuchang Road||Apartment||-|
|White Mansion Hotel||1755 North Sichuan Road Hongkou District, Zhabei||Hotel||-|
|YesinSpace Shanghai||No. 243 Middle Wulumuqi Road Xuihui District||HOSTEL||-|
|Hi Inn East Jiangwan Road||No.199-221 East Jiangwan Road Hongkou District||Hostel||-|
|Best Western Shanghai Ruite Hotel||No 1888 Yishan Road||HOTEL||-|
|New Harbour Service Apartments||No. 88 Yong Shou Road||Apartment||-|
|Hi Inn Tang Qiao||No,2162 South PuDong Road Pudong District||HOSTEL||-|
|Mingtown Nanjing Road Youth Hostel||No. 258 Tianjin Road Huangpu District||HOSTEL||80|
|Quintet B&B||808 ChangLe Road||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Celadon Theme Guesthouse||No.153 Zhaozhou Road Huangpu District||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Ya Zhu Hotel||No. 288 Huanghe Road Huangpu District||HOTEL||-|
|Hanting Seasons Hotel Xintiandi||No. 283 Chongqing South Road Luwan District||HOTEL||-|
|FX Hotel Shanghai at Nanjing East Road||No. 257 Fuzhou Road Huangpu District||HOTEL||-|
|FX Hotel Xujiahui (Shanghai Stadium Branch)||No.2701 Xietu Road The Cross of Tianyaoqiao Road||HOTEL||-|
|FX Hotel Shanghai at Expo Exhibition Hall||No. 3500 Pudong South Road Pudong District||HOTEL||-|
|FX Inn Shanghai North Bund||No.888,Tongbei Road Huangpu District||HOTEL||-|
|Shanghai Soho Bund Youth Hostel||No.239, Da Ming Road, Hongkou District, Shanghai||HOSTEL||-|
|Shanghai Dock Bund Hostel||No.55 Xianggang Road||HOSTEL||-|
|Shanghai Fish Inn Bund||No.639 Middle Henan Road Huangpu District||HOSTEL||-|
|Mike 168 Service Apartment||Rm 627, Bld 5, No.1145 Jiangning Road Putuo District||APARTMENT||-|
|Kingtown Hotel Hongqiao||No.1111 Tianshan Road Channing District||Hotel||-|
|Kingtown Riverside Hotel Plaza||No. 126 Xinzha Road Huangpu District||Hotel||-|
|Kingtown Hotel Hongmei||No. 2975 Hongmei Road||Hotel||-|
|Jitai Inn People Square Branch||No.242 Ju Lu Road Near Rui Jin No.1 Road||HOTEL||-|
|Jitai Hotel||242号 Julu Rd Lu Wan Qu||Hotel||-|
Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.
Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.
When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.
If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.
China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.
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