Shanghai Arrival Guide Part 3: Start Your Trip Off Right

Your bags are packed and your flights are booked, but is the thought of navigating Shanghai in a foreign language stressing you out? Not to worry! Follow this 3 part guide to prepare for your upcoming trip to Shanghai!

Shanghai Arrival Guide Part 3: Start Your Trip Off Right

You’ve made it!! Now what? Check out this guide to start your trip to Shanghai off right!

Where to Eat?

Besides checking out Shanghai’s Glutton Guide for the city’s best places to eat, search for reviewed restaurants on both Culinary Back Streets and Smart Shanghai. Sample the traditional Chinese food Shanghai has to offer but also don’t be afraid to try some of the city’s non-Chinese culinary delights.

 

Safe Eating and Drinking

You must be mindful of what you are eating and drinking at all times during your trip. Just taking some simple steps to ensure healthy habits will do

 

Water

Never drink water from the tap, even from luxurious hotels. Also, do not drink boiled tap water, even after boiling the water is still not safe to drink. Only drink bottled water. Bottled water is very cheap in Shanghai and can be found everywhere from street side stands, in convenience stores, and vending machines.   

Fake Alcohol

When going out you must be mindful of consuming fake alcohol. The general rule of thumb is that if the price seems too good to be true, it usually is. Trust your gut and if you think something tastes off, just stop drinking it.

Scams

Shanghai is a very safe city but scammers do exist and they are targeting tourists. There are simple things you can do to protect yourself from getting scammed during your trip. The biggest is to recognize the most common scams.

 

Tea Scam:

The tea scam usually takes place in known tourist areas. When visiting these areas, take caution and look out for young, friendly people (or person) wanting to engage in a conversation with you. Then they may ask if you want to join them for a cup of tea or coffee. After sampling some tea or coffee, the scammer will hit you with a bill that is much more expensive than it should be and that you were expecting (sometimes into the thousands of RMB). They will not let you leave until you pay and things can get unsafe very quickly.

Art Students

In this scam, friendly college-aged people approach foreigners and claim to be art students. Usually, the tourists are lead to an art studio or stall with artwork displayed, and pressured into buying what are actually cheap reproductions. The artwork is advertised as $80-$200.

What to do if you fall victim of a scam

If you do fall into a scam, there are some things you can do to try to get your money back.

  1. Insist on using a credit card and sign the slip “Under Duress”. Then, immediately call your credit card company and keep your receipt.
  2. Try to take a picture of the spot you were scammed in, exterior with an address would be better, and try to memorize the address or how you got there. Even better, try to take a picture with or of the perpetrator.
  3. Find a police officer and explain what happened (usually there are police officers who speak some English or they will find another police officer). The officer should return with you and get your money back.

Pickpocketing

Although uncommon, be aware of pickpockets in crowded subway trains, malls and tourist areas. Keep your cell phone and wallet in things that can zip close and close to your body. Try to avoid keeping important things in your back pant pockets or in a part of your purse/backpack that is behind you or hard for you to see. Make sure every time you leave a restaurant, get out of a taxi, switch metro lines, or depart from your hotel, you have everything that you need with you. It takes only a few seconds to double check yourself and it may save you a lot of distress in the future.   

 

Taxi Safety

When using taxis to move around the city, you must be both cautious and aware of your situation and surroundings.

 

IDs

When getting into any taxi, make sure the driver has an ID with a photo, that at least somewhat resembles them. The ID should be sitting on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat.    

 

Meters

Only take marked taxis. Avoid “black cabs,” or random people in unmarked cars offering to take you somewhere for a flat rate. In fact, avoid flat rates all together. Make sure the meter is not hidden. Some drivers will roll pieces of paper over the meter and never turn them on, then charge you a much higher rate at the end of the trip. So make sure you can see the meter and see the driver turn on the meter.

 

Take all of your Things

Make sure you do not leave anything behind in the taxi! It is so easy for your phone or wallet to fall out of your pocket on the backseat without you ever noticing. Practice the rule of the last one out of the taxi has to check the backseat to make sure nothing was left behind.  

 

Receipts and Fapiaos

If you do leave something in a taxi, the only way to get it back is to have the receipt from your trip. So always ask for the receipt (发票 fapiao in Chinese)! There is very useful information printed on it that will be necessary to try to get your left behind items back. Without the receipt, it is nearly impossible to find the same taxi again. Plus, if you want to complain about your taxi driver, you need all the information on the receipt to do so.  

 

Round-About Journeys

It can be quite common for taxi drivers to take a more than direct route to run up the meter before dropping you off at your final destination and leaving you with a fare that is more than it should be. Even more frustrating, is knowing there is not much you can do it prevent it. Perhaps the only thing you can do it try to use some Chinese, be confident, look like you know where you’re going, and always pay attention! Be obvious about the fact that you are looking around at the areas you’re driving through and don’t be afraid to point at street signs. Try to keep your eyes forward and avoid turning around to talk to people who may be in the taxi with you. The driver won’t try anything if he thinks he can get caught.

For more information and tips for traveling in taxis around Shanghai, check out this link.

Now you are all set up for a safe, fun and memorable trip to Shanghai!! Enjoy your time here and we hope this arrival guide provided you with some tips and tricks to conquer the city like a local!

 

Shanghai Arrival Guide Part 2: Airport to Hotel

Your bags are packed and your flights are booked, but is the thought of navigating Shanghai in a foreign language stressing you out? Not to worry! Follow this 3 part guide to prepare for your upcoming trip to Shanghai!

Shanghai Arrival Guide Part 2: Airport to Hotel

You have now arrived in Shanghai and you are facing the hardest part of your trip: getting from the airport to your hotel. We are here to help!

Getting a Taxi

The best way to get a taxi at the airport is to wait in the “official” taxi line. Look for taxi icons on signs to direct you to the line. Drivers that approach you offering rides are sketchy and are known for overcharging. Always have your hotel address written in Chinese as well as in English to show to the driver but if you have trouble communicating with the driver, call your hotel and ask the front desk to speak with him. From Pudong International Airport (PVG) to People’s Square, the center of the city, takes about 45 minutes and costs about 150 RMB to 190 RMB, barring any traffic jams.

Positives: Probably the easiest and least stressful option. You can have a quick tour and see Shanghai’s cityscape from the comfort of your taxi. Plus, your driver will drop you off right in front of your hotel, so you won’t have to worry about locating it on your own.
Negatives: The most expensive option and if you hit traffic, you could see your travel time doubling and sitting in traffic is not the best way to start your trip.  

 

The High-Speed Maglev Train

Another option for traveling out of the airport is to take the Maglev train. Look for the Maglev icon on signs to direct you to the station. A single trip ticket is 50 RMB or 40 RMB if you show them a ticket stub for a same day flight. Round trip ticket (valid within 7 days) is 80 RMB. The train operates from 6:45 a.m. to 9:40 p.m. The terminal station is Longyang Lu, from this station you can take a metro (lines 7 and 2 connect at the Longyang Lu station) or you can take a taxi which is about a 20 minutes ride to downtown areas.

Positives: Possibly the fastest option and reasonably priced. Plus, you will have the very memorable experience of sitting on the world’s fastest commercially operating train with speeds up to 268 mph.
Negatives: After getting off the train, you will have to either find a cab or hop on a metro which will add another travel expense. Additionally, moving your luggage on and off the Maglev to a taxi or metro can be heavy and annoying.  

 

The Metro

Taking the metro is by far the cheapest option, about 9 RMB for your trip out of the airport but using the metro can be a bit tricky, especially with a lot of luggage. Traveling to People’s Square on the metro takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes. You will need to transfer trains at Guanglan Road Station, at a quick cross-platform interchange. Metro lines in Shanghai are very busy, so you will most likely not have a seat and will be crammed into the train cars. Be aware of your luggage and personal belongings while on the metro.  

Positives: So, so cheap! You will be saving some funds to spend on other things during your trip. Plus, you will be instantly thrown into Chinese culture by experiencing how the majority of Shanghai’s 24 million residents travel around the city. And this gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with Shanghai’s metro map for the rest of your trip. Did I mention it was cheap?
Negatives: Traveling by metro is hectic and not always fun with a lot of luggage. You will probably not have a seat and will have to stand with your luggage close by. You may also experience stares by locals who are not always use to seeing foreigners. And then, of course, once you get off the metro you will have to navigate to find your hotel, also not a lot of fun with heavy luggage and unfamiliarity with the city.

Sigh a breath of relief once you arrive at your hotel! You did it! Take a nap and get ready for your trip, because now you are in Shanghai!!

 

Shanghai Arrival Guide Part 1: Pre-Departure

Your bags are packed and your flights are booked, but is the thought of navigating Shanghai in a foreign language stressing you out? Not to worry! Follow this 3 part guide to prepare for your upcoming trip to Shanghai!

Shanghai Arrival Guide Part 1: Pre-Departure

Your trip to Shanghai is coming up and although you’re excited about traveling to a new part of the world, you may also be worried about safely and successfully traveling around. But don’t worry! There are simple steps you can take before boarding your flight that will make traveling to Shanghai easier!

 

Prepare Important Addresses in Chinese and English  

Print out or take a screen-shot of important addresses in Chinese characters. Taxi drivers can only speak Chinese so showing them the full address and a cross-street, will better ensure you will get to the place you need to go. Save the addresses of places like your hotel, the airport or train station, and museums or restaurants you want to check out, and your tour meeting points all, in Chinese characters.

 

Download Useful Apps

Dictionaries and Translating Apps

Having a Chinese translating App is essential to traveling around the city. Google Translate is free for download and has an offline language pack available, but otherwise you will need wifi to access. Pleco is another good dictionary that can operate fully offline. With both dictionaries, you can save certain useful translations for quick retrieval later.

Metro Guides

Walking around the city is a great way to explore, but you will soon realize how large of a city Shanghai is. Taking the metro is a great way to cover more parts of the city, faster. Shanghai’s metro is cheap, clean and easy to navigate. Explore Shanghai Metro has both a free and paid version. Note that the metro lines start closing at 10pm, so if you will be out late, you must find another way of getting around.  

 

Uber

Uber  is another way of getting around and a great alternative to hailing taxis. If it is raining or if you are out late at night, forget about trying find a cab, instead call an uber! The options for Uber China are slightly different than what you may be used to:

Uber Black: RMB 20 minimum fare for a licensed luxury black Mercedes, Audi, Buick or VW

UberXL: RMB 20 minimum fare for a van or SUV that seats up to six passengers

Uber English: RMB 20 minimum fare for a standard vehicle with an English speaking driver

Uber X: RMB 15 minimum fare (slightly more expensive than a taxi) for a standard car

People’s Uber: RMB 15 minimum fare (cheaper than a taxi for rides over 3 kilometers) for a car that can range from a Chinese-made BYD to a Maserati. You can request a car to yourself or take the car-pooling option.

 

But, Uber can be tricky to use sometimes. Where you drop your pin for pick-up may not always be your exact location. So when requesting an uber (except for Uber English), be mindful that the driver will call to ask where you are. You will need to be ready to tell them an address or intersection in Chinese so that they can find you.    

Air Quality Index

Feeling sick is an easy way to ruin a trip so staying healthy is very important. You should be aware of the pollution everyday so that you can plan your activities accordingly. On days of high pollution, avoid walking or spending too much time outside. Also, think about bringing a purifying mask along with you. The 3M brand is very reliable. Download this app for free so that you can keep track of the pollution levels and stay healthy.  

 

Find Places to Go

The city’s most popular lifestyle magazines both have apps so that you can have access to lists of restaurants, bars, clubs, museums, and events in your pocket. Check out City Weekend and Smart Shanghai to find things to do in the city. Both apps include city listings with reviews and addresses (in English & Chinese for taxi drivers), directions, map, contact and cost information. Also, check out Bon App for dining deals at the city’s most popular restaurants.

 

Do Research and Make Plans

Book a Tour

Check out the top tours on TripAdvisor and book  activities during the first few days of your trip will pay dividends during the time you spend wandering. Of course we recommend booking a food tour the first few days of your trip to give you the confidence to order on your own during your travels!

 

Buy a Guidebook

The Hunt Guide Shanghai is one of the best, compact guides we’ve seen covering the best sights, food, nightlife & shopping. Glutton Guide Shanghai, written by the founders of UnTour Shanghai, gives you an in-depth look at the city’s food scene, so you can eat shoulder to shoulder with locals at every meal. It’s curated culinary content for people who plan their trips around a city’s food scene

 

Read Up

Check out some titles to familiarize yourself with Chinese history and culture!   

 

  • Wild Swans: History of modern China, as told through a very engaging family history

 

 

Buy a VPN

If you fear you won’t be able to access your favorite sites while traveling in Shanghai, you may want to consider purchasing a VPN before arriving. You can install VPNs on both your computer and your phone. Some popular VPNs include Astrill or ExpressVPN, and cost about $10/month. Don’t forget to download and test your VPN before you arrive in China to make sure it works and you understand how to use.

Check out a list of the sites that you will not have access to here.    

 

Phone Service

You may be able to use you phone in China if your contract provides international roaming services, but note that international roaming can be quite expensive, so you should consult your provider beforehand. If your phone is unlocked, you can switch out your home SIM card for a pre-paid Chinese SIM card for about 50-100 RMB. You can find these SIM cards in airport shops (expensive), metro stations, or streetside stalls and convenience stores. Plus, you can refill as necessary.

Skype and FaceTime are also options if you are connected to a wireless network. You can use Skype for very low rates and FaceTime is free, but be aware that sometimes the connection is spotty as internet service in China is slow.

Currency

You will soon learn it is best to carry cash in Shanghai as most places will not accept credit/debit cards. Before you leave, consider exchanging some of your home currency into RMB. This will help you avoid long lines at the airport and some paperwork. You can also use your home credit/debit card to withdraw RMB at Chinese banks and ATMs once you arrive; most ATMs accept Visa & Mastercard debit cards. Withdrawal fees depends on banks but can be up to $10USD per withdrawal, so check with your bank before getting hit with surprise fees. Also, don’t forget to tell your bank you will be traveling in China so that they do not put a hold on your account.

Now you are all ready for your trip to Shanghai! Head to the airport (don’t miss your flight) and have a safe journey! We will see you after your flight!

 

UnTour Shanghai is Hiring!

UnTour Shanghai Guide

Want to get paid to eat? Like meeting other Shanghai residents who LOVE food?

We are hiring outgoing, passionate tour guides available on a part time/freelance basis for a growing culinary tourism company.

Who we are: A top-rated walking culinary tour company based in Shanghai. We cater to tourists/expats who want to know more about the food scene in Shanghai. Since 2010, we’ve taken thousands of guests on eating adventures in the city, with extremely positive feedback and many guests reporting back that it was the highlight of their time in China.

What we do: Guided, informal, three hour walking tours highlighting the city’s tastiest, most authentic eats and more. We will never carry a flag, and only do small, intimate groups. Each tour has 4-6 tasting stops in local neighborhood food stalls that are popular with locals but may be intimidating for outsiders. You won’t have scripts to memorize; rather you should feel comfortable sharing your knowledge about the city, Chinese culture, food & life in engaging, natural conversation.

Who you are: A native-English speaker with a flexible schedule. Must speak proficient Chinese, have an advanced food knowledge (and willingness to eat everything), and have lived in China for 18+ months (at least 12 of which were in Shanghai). Tai-tais, journalists, passionate eaters, freelancers with spare time or full-time workers with nights and weekends are all welcome! We need anywhere from 3-15 hours per week, to start. Additional European languages a plus, but only Chinese and native (or near native) English are firm requirements.

Remuneration is competitive, and good guides often receive tips and bonuses in addition to their wages.

To apply, please fill out the application online here.

UnTour’s Food Tours Ranks in Top 11 Cool Things to Do in Shanghai

Shanghai Food Tour UnTour

When Hannah Berry George of Metro UK came to Shanghai for just 72 hours, she declared 11 Cool Things to See & Do in the City. The list ticked off some of our favorite spots in the city – Tianzifang, M50 and a massage to beat the jet lag – but ranked third was UnTour Shanghai’s Hands-On Dumpling Delights Tour.

3. Take an UnTour Dumpling Delights Tour

If there’s one thing you do, make sure you eat the 芝麻汤圆 Zhima tangyuan – a black sesame paste glutinous rice ball that looks like a lychee and tastes like a sugar puff – at Qibao Laojie Tangyuan.

Zhima tangyuan – a black sesame paste glutinous rice ball  

 

Available every Tuesday & Saturday at 10am for RMB 550 per person, including a hands-on cooking class where we make Shanghai’s classic shengjianbao, click here to book your dumpling tour now!

 

How to Spend 72 Hours in Shanghai? With UnTour!

untour shanghai food tours

Katie Wright of The Irish Examiner didn’t get a visa when she came to Shanghai. She took advantage of the 72 Hour Visa-Free Program and spent several of those hours with UnTour, experiencing the Hands-On Dumpling Delights food tour.

If you want to taste authentic Shanghainese food, but you don’t want to end up with traveller’s tummy, book yourself on a four-hour Untour street food sampler. All dishes are included in the price (€57) and Mandarin-speaking American guides will, crucially, explain how to eat a piping hot juice-filled pork dumpling, without giving yourself third-degree burns.

Use your time wisely in Shanghai, and book a Hands-On Dumpling Delights tour with UnTour, available every Tuesday and Saturday at 10am.

Our original dumplings tour, with a cooking class! For more than 2,000 years, Chinese chefs and home cooks have been perfecting dumplings in all their delicious bite-sized forms. Carried abroad by Silk Road travelers over the centuries, dumplings are popular around the world, but nothing tops the original! From streetside stalls frying up potstickers to a family-owned boiled dumpling spot from China’s frigid northeast, we’ll taste the best dumplings Shanghai has to offer, including the city’s famous xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). You’ll also get to try your hand at making your own shengjianbao, Shanghai’s famous pan-fried buns.

Tour ticket price includes:

– UnTour Shanghai Welcome Pack
– All food and drink during the UnTour
– Bilingual guide

Shanghai’s Best Cat Cafe

cat cafe, shanghai, coffee, Untour Shanghai

Shanghai’s best cat café has arrived, and it’s the cats meow. Ok, I haven’t visited any others, but there’s just no need. At Funny Cat Café Bar there are nine friendly kitties wandering the homey living room, looking for love in all the right places.

Mila is a white, smoosh-faced ball of fluff that wears an angry expression, but is probably the most cuddly of them all. She doesn’t hesitate to come over and see what you’re drinking and ask for a scratch behind the ears.

The other cats roam the room or lounge in their tower of cages or beds spread throughout the one-room coffeehouse. A select few, including an adorable kitten get a VIP bed in front of a glowing-red space heater that really does look like a slice of heaven.

The coffee is not the best you’ve ever had, but our latte was more than fine. The Wi-fi, however, is excellent compared to some of the big-name chains fulil of people, so it’s a decent place to do work, although the tables aren’t quite at the right height, and you may have a kitty that finds your keyboard to be an inviting warm bed. Did I mention my latte came in a Garfield-foot mug?

All in all, it’s definitely worth a shot for anyone looking to spend a little cuddle time with some kitties, without the commitment of actually owning one full time. You may need to be patient, it did take a few minutes for the kitties to warm up to me and come over, but many eventually did.

Located in the heart of the former French Concession area, this friendly cat-cafe is within walking distance from Tianzifang/Taikang Lu/田子坊 or the Jiashan Lu Metro stop, or the Shaanxi Nan Lu Metro Stop

Address: 263 Yongjia Lu, near Jiashan Lu. 永嘉路263号斤嘉善路。

Join UnTour Shanghai every Tuesday and Sunday at 8am to explore the city’s best morning snacks on the Street Eats – Breakfast tour, including a coffee stop at the city’s best coffee shop (non cat-related, sorry!).

SMH Experiences Shanghai Dining with UnTour

jianbing untour shanghai

The Sydney Morning Herald joined UnTour Shanghai for a bite of the city’s best morning snacks on the Street Eats – Breakfast tour and loved it! Check out their recommendations here, or read below for more info:

Twenty four million people live in Shanghai. Many begin their day with a bowl of warm freshly pressed dou jiang (soy milk), either sweetened or salty, served with youtiao, deep-fried donut-like bread sticks. Piping-hot bowls of tiny wontons swimming in broth, dotted with dried shrimp and strips of egg, are also a favourite.

Keen to sample a range of breakfast, or street food delicacies? A street food tour might be in order. UnTour Shanghai (www.untourshanghai.com) offers a Hands-On Dumplings Delights Tour and a Street Eats Breakfast Tour.

Join UnTour Shanghai every Tuesday and Sunday at 8am to explore the city’s best morning snacks on the Street Eats – Breakfast tour!

UnTour Shanghai’s Food Tours in The Arbuturian

UnTour Shanghai dumpling tour

David Constable from The Arbuturian recently joined UnTour Shanghai on a Hands-On Dumpling Delights Tour during his 72 hour whirlwind visit to Shanghai. Here’s what he had to say about his experience:

It’s the local stalls and hole-in-the-wall businesses of dumplings that overwhelmingly reveals the true Shanghai food scene. In the tiny bolthole noodle houses throughout the French Concession, there’s a communal loosening of manners as bodies hunch over steaming bowls of noodles and dumplings…and slurp.

Dumplings here are of the highest quality. They pop in the mouth as a scalding broth releases from inside and mixes with fillings of pork and flash-fried shrimp. Sometimes the soupy mix is so hot, it burns your tongue and stings like a Satan fart in your mouth, but such is the meaty-inferno taste, that you return for another.

The best way to discover Shanghai’s street food is by booking a tour. If you can latch-on to a local with a lifetime of dumpling-experience, they’ll guide you through the variable options. UnTours are well established and renowned for their use of local guides. The company was created by American and Shanghai resident Jamie Barys who, despite her Tennessee twang and southern upbringing, must surely be in the running for Shanghai’s premier Dumpling Queen? Her business card lists her occupation as “Chief Eating Officer” – ohhhh man, I want that title.

Ready to eat your way through Shanghai’s dumpling scene? Book a spot on our Hands-On Dumpling Delights tour here and you’ll sample regional varieties AND make your own with our interactive cooking class.

Get 20% UnTour Shanghai Gift Certificates This Holiday Season!

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We’ve Got the Foodie On Your List Covered.

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the foodie in your life? UnTour Shanghai is offering 20% off all gift certificate purchases until Boxing Day!

Just enter the code “happyholidays2015” in the promotion code box during purchase of your gift certificate. Why not try our recently-redesigned Night Markets tour? We’ve revamped it to be even more delicious. We’re not just saying that – TimeOut said it too!If you’ve enjoyed our Night Markets tour before and want a taste of these unforgettable wontons, we’ll be here all holiday long, showing off Shanghai’s smoky, afterdark look.

We’ve also launched Glutton Guide Melbourne, so if you’re planning a trip down under for a beach-y Christmas, this is your guide to the city’s best coffee roasteries, donut shops, wine day trips, hidden laneway bars and so much more. (As always, Glutton Guide Shanghai is also available for all your xiaolongbao needs.)

May your holidays be delicious and your hungerlust never be sated!