I've read a few posts on this topic, but I'm still unclear.
I am traveling from Vancouver, Canada to Thailand with a 15 hour layover in Shanghai. I plan on leaving the airport for some sightseeing.
I'm good on the Transit Permit and all that. But what I am unclear about is whether or not I will have to pick up my checked bag? I obviously don't want to lug that around all day. I'm flying on China Eastern in case anybody has done this before. I do hold a Canadian passport as well.
Also, how much money do you think I should exchange for a day there? I'll only be paying for transit, food, and maybe to enter one museum or something similar that might charge. I have no intention of shopping, drinking, or spending any money that I don't really need to. I'd rather just use my credit card, but I read that foreign cards often aren't accepted outside of hotels and touristy places. So I'm guessing the train or subway won't accept them?
Speaking of which, is it worth the extra cost to take the train over the subway? I am on a super budget here. I realize most people think a few dollars means nothing, but I'm going for 2 months and 2 dollars here and there every day does in fact add up.
And finally, will it be terribly difficult to get around with only English? I'd usually make more of an effort and learn some common phrases, but since it's only for a few hours, and I'm deciding to do this last minute, I just haven't. Mostly I'm concerned about reading signs.
Are you going the entire way with China Eastern? I know some airlines directly transfer your bags if you are staying with the same airline - but they all differ in this. I'd contact China Eastern directly about that.
You can eat very cheaply if you want, simple dumpling joints should run no more than 6 RMB (1 USD) per flat of soup dumplings if you want to use that a measure of how much you should spend. Just go down some side roads in the area around Yuyuan and you'll run across people serving cheap dumplings [a lot can be found west of the Old town area near the Temple of the Town Gods]. A bottle of water will cost around 2 RMB, a can of soda around 2.5 RMB. You can price out your subway trips here: http://www.exploreshanghai.com/metro/ (Looks like Pudong Airport to People's Square is 7RMB and will take you an hour). I honestly don't recall what the price for most museums and such are, but you can probably look most of that stuff up in advance. Keep in mind that the metro closes around 10:30-11pm so if you are returning at an hour the metro is not in operation you'll need to set aside between 150-200 RMB for a taxi to the airport. There are also buses that run directly into downtown if you want to see the skyline more as you approach they are located on the curbside that runs under the skywalk between Terminal 1 & Terminal 2 of the airport and their destinations are very clearly marked.
I personally think the Maglev is a cool tourist experience - but it doesn't take you all the way into town (to Longyang Lu on Green Line) and so if you are saving money just skip the 50 RMB one-way charge.
If you have a simple map of Shanghai in English it is actually in Pinyin and all the street signs are in Pinyin - you will have no trouble getting around the streets. Also, you can just point at the food you want if you see someone else eating it. Woyao (I want). Xiexie (Thank you).
Yes, I am taking China Eastern the whole way there. I would assume that they transfer my bag. I guess I will just ask at checkin. It's not a huge deal if I have to get a locker or something for the day.
Cheap food is good. So long as I won't walk away with a stomach ache! :) I'm not a foodie like I know some people are, where part of traveling is about trying different foods. I'm a vegetarian, so there are only so many variations of vegetables you can do. But dumplings could work. Sounds good to me.
As for the Maglev, I'm interested in riding it. But maybe just one way. I read somewhere that you do have to transfer to get downtown. As you mentioned. Is it pretty obvious? I just want to make sure I have a good understanding so that I can make the most of the time I have there. Oddly enough, I haven't heard anybody mention taking a bus. Is it better than the subway? The Maglev has two stops right? Airport and the end destination and then back? That's kind of how it looked on their site.
Are there tourist maps available?
Thanks for your reply! It's really helpful.
You should be able to get a cheap tourist map anywhere in the downtown area. As you walk around the bookstore street of Fuzhou Lu there will certainly be some flapping about.
Maglev transfer to the subway is very clearly marked. Shanghai is super modern and well marked out for visitors with great mass transit - it blows places like LA out of the water on that so you should have no worries. And yes, Maglev is just a start and a finish, no other stops. I like the bus because it drops me off just a 10 RMB cab from my house and only costs like 25 RMB. Subway is most cheap and probably most convenient for you - bus is just good if you get on around Jingan Temple or something because you get a seat and your bags go under the thing so you aren't on the subway for an hour with a bunch of bags. If you only have your carry on though that isn't really a big deal.
Chinese local restaurants make some great vegetables - eggplant dishes are especially good. If you do order food make sure to print this and show them - ä¸è¦ è‚‰ (buyaorou - don't want meat). Often, the Chinese will even cook vegetable dishes with some bits of meat for flavor - they assume you want meat but just can't afford it is one joke we have.
I am hoping to only have my carry on. I'd assume there are lockers at the airport at the very least. Definitely don't want to carry everything all day.
So if I take the Maglev only one direction, should I do it on the way there, or back? Sometimes scenery is nicer in one direction. I get into the airport really early. Before either start running actually. Probably too early for anything to even be open even after the 1-1.5 hour ride in.
I'm not sure if what you told me to print is showing up correctly. It looks like letters with french accents and whatnot? I found this website: http://www.shanghaiexpat.com/go-vegetarian-shanghai which lists some things to say. I don't know that I could pronounce them without hearing it first. Apparently I'll be getting some looks of confusion for not wanting meat (including seafood). haha.
Oops - apparently I didn't notice that the chinese characters didn't show up correctly. Shanghai expat is a good source and should be helpful.
The Maglev ride itself is only 15 minutes and it isn't very scenic, the point is really just the speed and the scenery whipping passed. The subway there has its first departure at 6am, and the Meglev operation is here: http://www.smtdc.com/en/jszl1_2.asp
If you don't want to wait until 7am to leave the airport you'll want to take the Maglev on the way back.
Okay, I thought maybe the characters weren't right. haha. :) I guess I'll print up a couple of those and carry them around with me. Good tip. Thanks!
So it's just a 15 minute ride on the Maglev? Then how long on the subway the rest of the way? 7am is probably fine as I doubt much will be open even at that time, let alone if I go earlier.
Sorry, I could probably just look this up. But somehow I was under the impression that the Maglev was much longer. I must have looked at some bad information somewhere along the way.
By the way - you probably already know what you want to see but I want to recommend the Shanghai Museum in People Square as being a good thing to budget 2-3 hours for, if only for the bronze collection and scrolls. You could then walk down Nanjing East Road all the way to the Bund for the Bund/Pudong view and this puts you near the line 10 subway stop (Nanjing East Road) that you can take to Yuyuan Garden if you want to see an example of the Chinese Garden (which really is nice once you make your way through the shopping center that has sprung up around it). The area around Yuyuan is the old city and a fun place to get lost wandering around in older neighborhoods.
If you still had time after that, A walk down Fuxing Lu (Fuxing Park area reached by taking Line 10 to Xintiandi) takes you through the tree lined old French Concession and keeps you parallel to Huaihai Lu a famous shopping street with Line 1 running under it. A nice area to wander around in. Some might like to take a detour south to Tianzifang just to wander about the old nong area that has been converted into a tourist trap . . . I might pass on that myself with your short length of stay and desire to save money.
Oh - if you are considering a temple, I'd skip Jingan Temple as it is really not worth the money. Best bet is Longhua Temple reached via Line 11.