Transportation in Shanghai is known to be one of the best in the world!
The subway is a very convenient means of transportation for those traveling in Shanghai. You can travel to just about anywhere you would want to go on the metro. There are currently 14 subway lines and 364 stations, with more in the works. Tickets (plastic cards) or the Shanghai Public Transport Card can be bought in the stations – using a map to identify where you want to go however, the cost depends on the distance traveled. There are also staffed ticket offices in case you can’t figure out the automatic machines, but the staff usually do not speak English.
Buses are even cheaper than the Metro with many routes to get you around the city. However, buses can be hard to use if you are not familiar with the route as typically English is not spoken but, it is a good way to practice your Chinese! The main bus transfer stations are: Shanghai Railway Station, People’s Square, Xujiahui, Zhongshan Park Wujiaochang, Shanghai Indoor Stadium and Dongchang Road. If you are up for the challenge check out the following resources.
Trains are much more popular than flights for inter-city travel and are very affordable given the distances covered. There are four major train stations: Shanghai Railway Station, South Railway Station, Hongqiao Station, and West Railway Station. Here are some fun facts and recommendations about trains in Shanghai:
Fun Facts and Recommendations:
- Prices depend on whether you select hard (cheaper) or soft seating, the speed of the train, and peak travel times.
- There are fast trains and “stopping trains” on most routes, so pay attention to what you are selecting.
- The high speed trains (which only have soft seating) are at premium prices – but it is generally still worth paying.
- On some major inter-city routes there is no alternative to the high speed trains in peak hours.
- High speed train tickets should be booked in advance as they sell out quickly on popular routes with often no availability left on the day of travel.
- A passport is needed to book train tickets and on the day of travel.
- Keep your tickets! Tickets must be retained for inspection during the journey and at the destination station. Tickets are not transferable but may be refundable in advance if not used.
- Tickets can be bought at ticket outlets around the city and online with booking agencies however, be wary of service fees.
In Shanghai taxis are one of the more expensive forms of transportation, but most convenient and easily navigable. They can be identified by various colors such as, blue, orange, red, green, sky blue, and navy blue. Prices vary depending on distance and time of day. However, they can carry a maximum of four passengers and can be a good value for group travel as no supplementary passenger fee is charged.
- To hail a taxi, simply hold your hand out for a taxi (be sure the taxi has a business permit), and before you exit the taxi, ask the driver for a receipt (“Fapiao”).
- It is very important to have your destinations written down in Chinese to show to the cab driver if you cannot pronounce it well. If you’re having a hard time communicating with the driver, and you have the telephone number of the destination you want to go to, give the number to the driver so he or she can call for directions. This is not uncommon.
- It is important to note that the price will be rounded.
- Taxi drivers should NOT be tipped.
Shanghai is a big city and walking is a great way to see it! Simply, make sure you have a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
There are bicycles for rent in some hotels and at commercial bike rental service providers. Bikes are still popular in China, including motorbikes and a common way to get around the city. We recommend using bike lanes when available if you decide to travel by bike.
Shanghai has two international airports: Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao International Airport.
Pudong International Airport
- Pudong Airport Shuttle Bus: There are numerous routes from the airport to the city center. Each route varies in frequency, duration, and fare. Be sure to check beforehand!
- Resource: Pudong Airport Shuttle Bus
- Shanghai Maglev Train (SMT): The Maglev train travels between Longyang Road Station and Pudong International Airport. The whole journey only takes 8 minutes!
- Subway: Line 2
- Taxi: Is one of the more expensive forms and typically takes around 50 minutes to get to the city center.
Hongqiao International Airport
- Hongqiao Airport Shuttle Bus: Similar to the Pudong Airport Shuttle Bus there are various routes from the airport to the city center. Remember, each route varies in frequency, duration, and fare, so be sure to check beforehand!
- Resource: Hongqiao Airport Shuttle Bus
- Subway: Lines 2 and 10 will take you to terminal 2 of the airport.
- Taxi: It normally takes about 30 minutes to get to the city center.
Sometimes students can travel outside of China during their experience. However, whether you receive a multiple entry visa is at the discretion of the Chinese government, and they rarely grant such a visa. You should not make any travel plans until you know you have the correct status to do so. When traveling further afield always be sure to check travel restrictions, warnings, and visa requirements.
Being abroad is an exciting time, and once you’ve caught the travel bug, it’s often difficult to ignore. Being in a new place often conjures up a sense of curiosity that entices you to keep exploring. Traveling beyond your host city is a great way to continue to develop intercultural awareness and challenge yourself to take on new experiences. We encourage you to travel internationally, but also suggest that you set aside some time to travel within your host country as well. This will add depth to your experience abroad and enable you to see a different perspective of your host country. While you may be eager to travel as much as you can during your semester abroad, keep in mind that you will have to carefully plan your trips to align with your schedule and budget.
Shanghai is a large bustling city full of rich history in every little nook and cranny. Yet, at the same time it is paving the way for the future as well in fashion, art, music, food, business, technology, science, architecture and so much more. Check out our CAPA Shanghai Blog and Instagram below to see what CAPA students have to say.
Latest Posts from Shanghai
- A Sleeper Train and a Shanghai Fashion Week ExperienceJolena is an official CAPA vlogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Finance and International Business major at University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester. In this week's post, Jolena talks about taking a sleeper train to Hangzhou, visiting West Lake, and read more
- Connecting Global Cities: The U.S.-China Case Study“Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai. --- There are times when studying abroad that important global events occur and this provides the opportunity to examine them in a different culture. Photo: Shanghai, the world's top cargo port by value read more
- Academics in Shanghai: From Intensive Chinese Classes to Business CoursesJolena is an official CAPA vlogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Finance and International Business major at University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester. In this week's post, Jolena shares what it's school is really like on her study abroad program read more
Latest Posts on Instagram
“Multiculturalism is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles.”
Source: The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions November 2013
History of Shanghai
If you translate Shanghai literally it means “City on the sea.” In 1842 Shanghai was known as a small fishing village located along the Yangzi River in the western region of China. After the first Opium War China signed the Treaty of Nanking with the British agreeing to open five ports. Soon after the British first British consul moved to Shanghai. It quickly became one of the most important and modern ports in the Asia. They exported tea, silk, and porcelain to Europe and America while importing opium. Due to the demand of trading taking place in Shanghai many banks began to establish in the area transforming Shanghai into an international economic center.
In 1848 and 1849 both the French and the Americans established settlements in Shanghai therefore, transforming Shanghai into a diverse city in a few short years. Shanghai was one of the few cities in the world that did not require a visa upon entrance. Therefore, after the Revolution in Russia and emergence of Nazi Germany many Russians and Jews began to seek refuge in Shanghai. Through the mid-20th century the population grew to approximately 3 million. In 1937 the Japanese began to bomb Shanghai taking control of the eastern coast, which was then followed by the British and American conceding their settlements to Chinese rule. The Japanese were eventually defeated by the Allied Powers ending all foreign control in Shanghai however, many foreigner were sent to prison camps or out of the country during this time.
Soon after, in 1949, China was officially named the People’s Republic of China and forced under communist rule. Since then Shanghai has developed into a thriving city, home to the World Financial Centre and 23 million people.
Take a look at this timeline of Chinese history from Columbia University.
Fascinating Statistics about China
When studying abroad language or culture barriers will always be present and how to manage them will be a beneficial learning experience. One challenge you might face is finding information on certain topics in your native language. Although there are numerous statistics about China published and easily accessible thanks to the internet many of them were not in English, so here is what we could find.
The CIA World Factbook reports that the Chinese Government officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups. Among those groups 91.6% identify as Han Chinese, 1,3% as Zhuang, and 7.1% as other (including but not limited to Hui, Manchu, Uighur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongol, Dong, Buyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai and other nationalities). According to the Beijing Review foreigners were surveyed for the first time in 2010 demonstrating the following:
- Top 3 Foreign Nationalities: South Korean, American, and Japanese
- Cities in China with the highest number of foreign nationals: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou
The official language of China is Mandarin however, China is a large country with numerous provinces and autonomous regions that are home to different dialects of Mandarin as well as other languages.
- Recognized Religions in China: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism
- Top Religions in China: Buddhist 18.2%, Christian 5.1%, Muslim 1.8%, folk religion 21.9%, Hindu < 0.1%, Jewish < 0.1%, other 0.7% (includes Daoist (Taoist)), unaffiliated 52.2%
When looking at these statistics it is important to note that the Chinese Communist Party is officially atheist and only recognizes five official religions. In addition, CNN Travel reports that according to the 2010 census there were 23 million people living in Shanghai and approximately 40% of which was migrant workers.
As mentioned previously the Chinese government recognizes 56 ethnic groups, take a look at artist Chen Haiwen’s collection “Harmonious China: A Sketch of China’s 56 Ethnicities.”
Reflect: What are some various methods to study and learn about multiculturalism, other than looking at demographic statistics?
People in China
People in China and particularly Shanghai have a very interesting cultural heritage due to immigration however, it is difficult to see in the demographic statistics since Shanghai only recently began collecting data on immigrants in 2010. It does shine through when studying the history of the 56 different ethnicities in China. Here we present a few to offer a better understanding of the multicultural presence.
According to the New World Encyclopedia Han Chinese is considered one of the largest ethnic groups in the world. In the English language, the Han are often referred to as simply “Chinese.” Whether or not the use of the term Chinese correctly or incorrectly refers only to Han Chinese often is the subject of debate. There is considerable genetic, linguistic, cultural, and social diversity among the subgroups of the Han, mainly due to thousands of years of immigration and assimilation of various regional ethnicities and tribes within China.
The name Han comes from the Han Dynasty, which succeeded the short-lived Qin Dynasty that unified China. The Han Dynasty’s first emperor was originally known as the king of the region of ‘Han Zhong’, which is where the word is derived. Han, as a word in ancient China, especially in classical literary Chinese, can also mean the Milky Way, or as people in ancient China called it, the “Heavenly River.”
The Manchu people are a Tungusic people who originated in Manchuria (today’s northeastern China). During their rise in the 17th century, with the help of the Ming dynasty rebels (such as general Wu Sangui), they came to power in China and founded the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, and established a republican government in its place. The number of Chinese today with some Manchu ancestry is quite large.
The Manchu ethnicity has largely been assimilated with the Han Chinese. The Manchu language is almost extinct, is now spoken only among a small number of elderly people in remote rural areas of northeastern China and a few scholars; there are around ten thousand speakers of Sibe (Xibo), a Manchu dialect spoken in the Ili region of Xinjiang. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in Manchu culture among both ethnic Manchus and Han. The adoption of favorable policies towards ethnic minorities (such as preferential university admission and government employment opportunities) has encouraged some people with mixed Han and Manchu ancestry to re-identify themselves as Manchu.
Aspects of Manchu customs and traditions can be seen in local cuisines, language and customs in today’s Manchuria as well as cities in that region. After the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Manchus also adopted many Han customs and traditions.
Traditionally, they coiled their hair in high tufts on top of their heads, wore earrings, long gowns and embroidered shoes. The women with higher social standing wore silk and satin clothing while cotton clothing was worn by women of lower social standing. Variants of such costumes are still popular all over China. The man’s clothing once consisted of a short and adjusted jacket over a long gown with a belt at the waist to facilitate horse-riding and hunting.
In modern People’s Republic of China, the term “Hui people” refers to one of the officially recognized 56 ethnic groups into which Chinese citizens are classified. Under this definition, the Hui people are defined to include all historically Muslim communities in the People’s Republic of China that are not included in China’s other ethnic groups.
The Hui people are of varied ancestry, many of whom are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers. Their ancestors include Central Asian, Arabs, Persian, Han Chinese, and Mongols. Several medieval dynasties, particularly the Tang Dynasty and Mongol Yuan Dynasty encouraged immigration from predominantly-Muslim Persia and Central Asia, with both dynasties welcoming traders from these regions and appointing Central Asian officials. In the subsequent centuries, they gradually mixed with Mongols and Han Chinese, forming the Hui people. However, certain names common among the Hui can be understood as Chinese renderings of common Muslim (i.e. Arabic), Persian, and Central Asian names (for instance, “Ma” for “Muhammad”).
Most Hui are similar in culture to Han Chinese with the exception that they practice Islam, and have some distinctive cultural characteristics as a result. For example, as Muslims, they follow Islamic dietary laws and reject the consumption of pork, the most common meat consumed in Chinese culture. In addition, they have also given rise to their variation of Chinese cuisine, Chinese Islamic cuisine and Muslim Chinese martial arts. Their mode of dress differs primarily in that men wear white caps and women wear headscarves or (occasionally) veils, as is the case in most Islamic cultures.
Reflect: Who do you think your neighbors will be in Shanghai?
Religion in China
As previously mentioned, the Chinese government recognizes the following religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism. Although these religions are recognized many regulations are set in place by the government. The following clip explains what it is like to practice a recognized religion in and outside the boundaries of the government.
Underground Chinese Church Goes Public
It is said that Islam is one of the oldest practicing religions in China and Shanghai is home to approximately seven mosques.
“The congregation was started by Nanjing Hui Muslims who migrated to Shanghai. When the area was heavily Hui, the mosque was a center of cultural life.”
Read more at Take a stroll through Shanghai’s mosque route.
Throughout the time of Nazi Germany many Jews from around the world fled to Shanghai because it was an open port where you did not need visa for entrance or residency. Upon the arrival of the Communist party and World War II a large majority of the Jewish immigrants migrated to other countries. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of the population in Shanghai with their story portrayed through the following clips.
The Jews in Shanghai and Hong Kong-A History
Jewish Community Returns to Shanghai
Ready to learn more?!
At CAPA we appreciate the diverse backgrounds and interests of our students! We have compiled a list of resources to help you feel more at home in your new city. Included you’ll find information regarding major news sources and things to do in Shanghai. You’ll also find resources for students going abroad as an LGBTQ student, students with a disability, students who have dietary restrictions, and students who are wondering how their racial and ethnic identity may be impacted in their new city.
This is only a brief introduction to your city and all it has to offer so please reach out to your program manager with any specific questions or concerns. At CAPA we pride ourselves on our ability to meet individual student needs and go above and beyond to ensure we offer the best student experience abroad possible!
- Untour Shanghai: Culinary tours of the city
- Time’s 10 Things to Do in Shanghai
- Timeout’s 50 Things to do in Shanghai
- Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administrative Commission
Religious Services and Resources
- Religious Sites in Shanghai
- Churches in Shanghai
- Mosques in Shanghai
- Shanghai Jewish Centers
- The Ghosts of Shanghai: An article detailing the history of Jews in Shanghai
- Religion in China Growing Among Young People
- Sacred Footsteps- 5 Muslin Travel Bloggers
- NAFSA: Rainbow Special Interest Group
- Sexual Orientation Abroad
- Queer Comrades
- Nomadic Matt
- Bani Amor
- Racial & Ethnic Minority Students Abroad
- Black Life in China
- Latino Students and Expats in Shanghai
- @TravelLatina on Instagram
- Travel Noire- Experiences of a Black Traveler
- Students with Disabilities Studying Abroad
- 12 Study Abroad Resources for Students with Disabilities
- Mobility International USA
- Abroad With Disabilities (AWD) Facebook Group
- China Disabled Persons’ Federation