Got a layover in Shanghai and don’t know what to do with your time there? No worries, I was just in the exact same situtation and discovered it was a great place to have a layover in. There definitely are worse places to have a layover.

I recently had a layover in the Finacial Capital of China en route from Toronto to Colombo. It was a grueling 42 hour journey so I welcomed the chance to get out of an airplane and airport and see a city I’d never been to. I didn’t do a lot of research before I arrived but the sights, attractions, and food to be discovered there are pretty straight forward if you’re only going to be there for a short while.

Here’s the rundown on how to spend 24 hours in Shanghai

China. My first new country this year. This skyline had been on my list for a long time 🇨🇳

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How long should your layover be?

My stopover was 18 hours, which is a decent amount of time for a layover. I arrived at 8pm and was scheduled to leave at 2pm the following.

The maximum you can stay in Shanghai on the transit Visa is 144 hours. (6 days) This is a new policy introduced in January of 2016. Most other transit visa cities in China only give 72 hours. But do you really need 6 days in shanghai as a tourist? My answer is no. You can see a lot and do a lot in 24 hours and can even see a lot in as little as 8 hours. This is the least amount of time I would recommend though, as it takes around an hour to get through customs and grab your baggage and then another hour to get into the city. Then you need minimum two hours when you get back to check in and go back through customs. Leaving you with only 3-4 hours for sightseeing.

TIP:  Pudong Airport has baggage storage services making it simple to explore without your backpack or suitcase. It costs around 40 yuan to store for 24 hours. These services can be found on the departures level.

Where Should you Stay?

If you are going to be leaving the airport for an overnight layover you need to go all the way into the city. Don’t stay near the airport and try to transit back and forth. The metro system in Shanghai is world class, easy to use, and goes everywhere. The best place to stay for a short layover is The Bund, also called Wai Tan. Situated on theHuangpu River The Bund is often the first pick for visitors to Shanghai. This area is easily accessible by the metro system, with a few of the train lines intersecting in the area. Nearby Nanjing Road in the Huangpu District is also a quality place to stay with a metro stop on it. Both areas have accommodation ranging from hostels to moderate and luxury hotels.




How should you get there?

As previously mentioned, the metro in Shanghai is brilliant. What isn’t brilliant is the traffic and the fares for taxis. So what I’d suggest is just sticking to the trains.

From Pudong Airport you have a few options.

A) The MagLev

MegLev which stands for magnetic levitation is the world’s fast train and reaches speeds of over 400km an hour! There is a station at the airport that you can take Longyang Rd Station and then take Metro Line 2 from there to the Bund. The cost is 50 yuan one way or return trip for 80 yuan. The MagLev will save you around 20 minutes and is an attraction in itself. It’s not every day do you get to ride the world’s fastest train! This would be my recommendation on way to get into the city.

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B) Metro Line  2

Alternatively, there is a Metro Line 2 station at the airport which you can take all the way to The Bund and Nanjing Rd. This takes about an hour and 25 minutes and will cost you only 20 yuan.


What should you see?

You’ve made it to the city and now you wanna see the sights. Perfect, here’s the best sights to see in the core area.

The Bund

The Bund is a place but it’s also an attraction. It’s Shanghais colonial era area that runs along the Huangpu River giving the most stunning views of the Pudong district skyscrapers including the Oriental pearl town. It cool area to just take a stroll and people watch. There are river cruises that leave from the north-west corner of the Bund lasting from 1 to 3 hours. If you’re pressed for time or not that interested in being on a boat that long there’s also the option to take a ferry from The Bund to Pudong District.

Tip: Don’t do The Bund Tunnel unless you want a story about the lamest thing you’ve ever done.



Nanjing Rd

This famous road known for shopping and eating runs from The Bund all the way to Peoples Square park. Majority of the road is for pedestrians only. The street is a nice stroll but I found wandering the side streets to be more of an exciting time. I found some great restaurants and food stalls on Wufu Long Rd.


Oriental Pearl Tower

This odd looking skyscraper might be China’s most famous. It’s an impressive tower to look at and a great place to take a photo. If you want to go up there are 15 diffferent observation levels. You can buy a ticket according to which level you’d like to visit. The higher the level the more costly the ticket.


Yu Garden

A traditional Chinese garden set in the old town. It’s very picturesque but you’ll want to go here early if you can because it crawling with tourists by early morning. There more to see while you’re here like the Dajing Tower, Old City Wall and Temple of the Town Gods.


MagLev Museum

If you couldn’t get enough of the science behind how the MagLev train moved so quickly you can budget some time to visit the museum on your way back to the airport. The Museum is located at the Longyang Rd station and you ticket on the train gets you into the Museum.


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