The Shanghai subway is by far the best way to get around the horrendous traffic jams in Shanghai.
The Shanghai Metro (As it is sometimes referred) is faster, cheaper and more comfortable than any other Shanghai Travel option.
On my very first day in shanghai, I walked past a man in a bright red Ferrari who was stuck in a major traffic jam near The People's Square in Shanghai.
I didn't know we were both headed in the same direction until I saw him later on the other side of town.
He had an awesome car, equipped with a GPS mobile tracking system that guides you down the best routes with the least traffic!
He still got there an hour after me, though.
The subway in Shanghai is the safest and most comfortable way to get just about anywhere in the city, whether you travel Asia on a budget or buy Private Jets for the fun of it.
Where this thing doesn't go isn't really worth going to anyway.
The only drawback is the war raging in the underground tunnels. It's a war for space and there is no giving way, no mercy and no stopping it.
Daily ridership averages 3.09 million people per day.
That equals a Rush Hour you really don't want to get caught in.
You'll experience Rush Hour only if you decide to use the Shanghai Subway during Peak Hours.
Check out the video below for a look at the Shanghai Subway at an ordinary time of the day.
The only video you could do during the peak rush-hour is an aerial one. There are just too many people packed together.
We'll show you how to avoid the Rush-Hour or help you find it if you want. Just remember that the video doesn't offer an odor sample!
The Peak Hours are:
Monday to Friday:
Always bad with the exception of Sunday evenings when everyone is at home preparing for the next day's rush to work.
If you have to use the Shanghai Subway during any of the Peak Hours then be prepared for large crowds of people. Everyone is going in different directions and most of them consider courtesy a weakness.
In fact, most see you as a threat to their chosen path and will physically knock you before giving way. It's actually amusing the first few times but...
Getting off the train at the station of your choice will be your biggest and most challenging task.
The people are crammed into the train so bad that you can't even lift your arm to scratch your nose. Leave yourself plenty of time to push past the crowd to get to the exit doors.
That's when you'll see them. They are the worst part of the Shanghai Subway.
You'll see them from your approaching train, standing on the platform in front of the glass-sliding entrance doors. They look like an impenetrable wall, blocking the Exit route in a hoarding, seething mass.
The train stops and the doors slide open like on any subway system in the world. But the people don't care that you want off on that station.
They want on and if you get in their way, they'll physically push you to the back of the train.
The first time it happens, you'll be taken by surprise. Despite polite protests and verbal fuss from you, the doors will close and the train will lurch forward, departing your intended stop.
You can wait for the incoming crowd to abate but commuters on the Shanghai subway will only move out of the way if physically pushed or at least nudged.
The next time you intend to get off your train, you'll be more prepared. If you end up in a situation like this then just keep the elbows down and push like heck.
You may never experience this 'war' during your Shanghai travel. Sometimes the Shanghai Subway is relatively empty and the journey easy.
But if you take the train often enough at Peak Hours, then you'll eventually be confronted with people who won't let you out of the train.
Despite it, there is no better way to travel Shanghai than via the Shanghai Subway.
Shanghai Subway Lines and Where They Lead
The Shanghai Subway system includes both the underground subway and the elevated light railway lines. There are 8 Metro lines, 162 stations and 228km of tracks.
Click on the map below for a big photo of all the current Shanghai Subway lines and the names of each stop.
The Stations You'll Need to Know
The Xujiahui station is a stop on line 1. It's the commercial center of Shanghai and might very well be the place for shoppers seeking paradise.
There are 6 large shopping malls and eight large office towers within a three-minute walk of one of the station's fourteen exits.
Make sure to read the signs before choosing your exit.
The small blue signs at the beginning of each exit tunnel label and list where that exit will take you.
Get to the Bund by getting off Line 2 at the Nanjing Road (East) Station.
Line 2 is also the most important line for anyone going to the Pudong area in Shanghai.
Lujiazui station is situated in the heart of Lujiazui financial district, the developing financial center of Shanghai.
The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum station is on Line 2.
Boring, right? Not at all.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is also within walking distance of the station.
Also the Jin Mao Tower, which is the tallest building in Mainland China.
There are many things to see along Line #2. Compared to Xujiahui Station and the People's Square Station along Line 1, Lujiazui is not particularly busy during off-peak hours or at weekends.
From Monday to Friday, Line 2 is used primarily by commuters heading to the Pudong District for work.
Shanghai Subway Line 3
The Shanghai railway station is a useful place to know about. It's the major transportation hub in Shanghai.
The Railway Line, Subway Lines #1, 2, 3, and 4 as well as many Public Buses and even Inter provincial Buses meet or converge here at regular coordinated intervals.
Shanghai Subway Line 4 (Ring Line)
Begins at Yishan Road. Of note is Shiji Avenue Station because it is the largest Subway interchange station in the entire system.
Line 2 , Line 4 , and Line 6 all meet here.
Shanghai Subway Line 5
Shanghai Subway Line 6
Shanghai Subway Line 8
Shanghai Subway Line 9
Line 9 is currently the only line that does not connect to any other line. When the second phase is complete, this line will be linked to Yishan Road on Line 3.
Since this phase has not been completed yet, a Line 3 - Line 9 shuttle currently runs from Guilin Road to Yishan Road.
Shanghai Subway Fares
The base fare for journeys under 6km is ¥3 Yuan, then ¥1 Yuan for each additional 10kms.
Seniors over 70 years old get to ride the subway for free (Except during Rush Hours, 7am - 9am and 5am - 7pm on Weekdays).
I wouldn't recommend Seniors use the Subway during Rush Hour anyway.
You can buy Single Journey tickets from the Ticket Vending Machines or the Ticket Windows at the entrance to any Shanghai subway station.
There are usually long lines of people in front of the Ticket Windows. The woman / man behind the window takes their time but they will issue change and break large currency bills.
It's a good idea to carry some change with you (¥3 Yuan - ¥8 Yuan in coins) at all times. Then you can use the touch-screen ticket vending Machines and avoid the long lines at the Ticket Windows.
Only some of the machines give change so if you have only bills you'll always get stuck in the longest lines.
With the Ticket Vending Machine, you'll have to press the little "English" button in the bottom right corner of the screen first (Unless you can read Chinese).
A map of the Shanghai subway stations much like the map above will appear on the screen.
Then, you just press your finger on the name of the destination you're going to and the machine calculates the fare for you. Deposit your coins or small bills (Up to ¥20 Yuan) and you'll get a little plastic card.
You'll have to pass this card through the slop in the turnstiles and take it back on the other side.
Just remember to hang on to that card! You'll need it again when you Exit the subway. It's a real hassle getting past security without a fare card.
The new stations on Line 4 and Line 2 (West Extension) do not have Ticket Windows yet. They only use ticket vending machines so bring some coins or small bills with you.
You can pay the subway fare with cash at the Ticket booth and ticket machine each time you use the system or you can buy a Shanghai Public Transportation Card and avoid lining up for tickets ever again.
Unless, you have to recharge the card.
You can buy the Shanghai Public Transportation Card for ¥30yuan at most convenience stores around the city and at the ticket booths inside each Subway station.
The Shanghai Public Transportation Card can also be used to pay for other forms of transportation, such as the taxi or bus.
Just remember, if you pay ¥30yuan, then you have ¥30yuan credit. On most occasions, that's enough for 10 trips or a few less if you take the Subway a long distance.
Once you have this card, just swipe it over a black piece of glass on the turnstiles and you're in.
The Shanghai Public Transportation Card is similar to the Octopus card employed on Hong Kong's MTR.
Getting Lost on the Shanghai Subway
If I'm on holiday in a new city and have no pressing needs or plans, I like getting lost in the subway system and exiting.
Most People usually go wrong by getting on the Southbound train instead of the Northbound train, the one on the opposite side of the same platform.
Once you descend onto your platform, don't be rushed into getting on the first train you see.
Sometimes in Rush Hour I run for the first damn thing I could see amongst the sea of people, and I ended up going the wrong way.
Once you get onto the platform, look up at the Plasma screens overhead. They show passengers when the next two trains are coming, where they are going and what the next stop is.
If you miss your train, expect another to come along in about 4 minutes.
Which Stations Can I use to Change Lines? (Interchange Stations)
There are two types of interchange stations in the metro system:
These are stations where other subway lines are connected via tunnel and you don't have to physically leave the station and then re-enter at another.
Passengers must exit and re-enter the paid fare zone if they wish to transfer from one subway line to another. This is only possible with a Shanghai Public Transportation Card.
Otherwise you have to pay another ¥3yuan.
Shanghai's Subway Physical Interchange Stations
An Interchange Station connecting Line 1 and Line 5.
An Interchange Station connecting with Line 1 and Line 3.
An Interchange Station connecting with Line 1 and Line 4.
An Interchange Station connecting with Line 1, Line 2 and Line 8.
An Interchange Station connecting with Line 3 and Line 4.
An Interchange Station connecting with Line 2, Line 3 and Line 4.
An Interchange Station connecting Line 2, Line 4 and Line 6.
This video will give you a look at the major rush of people common to the Shanghai subway.
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