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Shanghai - Getting there & away, getting around

Shanghai - Getting there & away

Shanghai is a nexus for international flights and is busy day and night ferrying people in and out of the city. A new airport opened in 1999 near Pudong, about an hour's drive from the city centre, handling most international and some domestic flights. Buses and taxis connect the new airport to the city centre and Hongqiao airport. Hongqiao airport is 18km (11mi) from the Bund and reachable via bus, shuttle or taxi. It has some international and most domestic flights. Departure tax is US$11(international) and US$6(domestic). Both taxes are paid at the airport from which you depart.

Shanghai is at the junction of the Beijing-Shanghai and Beijing-Hangzhou train lines. Since these branch off in various directions, many parts of the country can be reached by direct train from Shanghai. Most trains arrive and depart from Shanghai station.

Shanghai has a few long-distance bus stations; the most useful is probably Hengfeng Lu. It's a 13-hour trip to Beijing from this station.

Boats are the one of the fastest ways of leaving Shanghai and are often the cheapest. Ferries travel up the Yangzi River and there are many boats that stop along the coast. There are also regular ships and ferries to Korea and Japan.

Getting around Shanghai

Local buses are hard work. During the rush hour and the weekends they are packed to the hilt and virtually impossible to board. Stops can also be unpredictable: you may be helplessly carried past your destination. Pickpockets are another drawback.

Shanghai's Volkswagen taxis are reasonably cheap and easy to flag down, except during rush hour. Only a few take credit cards. Most taxi drivers are surpisingly honest, but you should always go by the metre.

Although it's possible to hire a car in Shanghai, it's really not worth the hassle unless you're familiar with the nightmare of Shanghai's one-way system and the appalling conditions on the roads.

Shanghai's subway system is a dream, and probably the best way to get around town. Trains are fast, cheap, clean and easy, although they can be crowded at peak hour. The new Mag Lev (Magnetic Levitation) line starts regular services between the city and Pudong airport in January 2004. The 30km (19mi) trip will take just eight minutes.

While there are some fascinating places to stroll through in Shanghai, new road developments, building sites, jam-packed walkways and shocking traffic conditions conspire to make walking in most areas an exhausting experience.

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