Shanghai Layover - Plan Your 6-hour/12-hour Layover Trips

Written by Vivian Updated Oct. 31, 2023

Do you plan to spend only 6 to 24 hours in Shanghai? Don't know what to do in the city during a long period of waiting for an onward flight? This article tells you how to enjoy a stop-over or a day trip in Shanghai.

Do I Need a Visa for a Shanghai Layover

It depends on your nationality and the length of your layover.

Under certain conditions, passengers from 54 nationalities can benefit from the Shanghai 144-hour visa-free transit policy in China. This policy is applicable for transit through Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and some major airports.

The main requirements for 144-hour visa-free transit in Shanghai:

You are a citizen from one of the 54 eligible countries, including but not limited to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most countries in the EU. You have a layover of less than 144 hours (6 days).

Your journey is transitory, meaning you're traveling from country/region A to China Mainland to country/region B. A and B must not be the same.

Remember to inform your airline of your intention to use the visa-free transit policy so they can declare your details to the Chinese immigration authorities.

See more details of China's 144-hour visa-free transit policy.

Steps to Leave Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) During a Layover

If you have more than 6 hours, and provided you meet Visa requirements, you can leave the airport to explore Shanghai.

It takes about 1 hour to get to the urban area of Shanghai from the airport, and you need to go back to the airport 2 hours before your flight leaves.

If you arrive at night, suggest staying at the airport.

1. Transit Visa (if required)

If you plan to leave the airport during your layover, confirm whether you require a transit visa for China. Some passengers may be eligible for a visa-free transit policy, allowing them to stay for up to 144 hours without a visa. Check your eligibility based on your nationality and layover duration before leaving the airport.

2. Immigration and Customs

Upon arrival, proceed to immigration and passport control. Follow the signs directing you to the appropriate lanes for passport control. Have your passport and any required documents ready for inspection. 

3. Baggage Storage

If you have checked baggage that you don't want to bring with you on your layover, consider storing it at the airport. 

There are 6 left-luggage offices offering baggage storage at Pudong International Airport:

Terminal 1 Building: Between Gate 4 and Gate 5 and between Gate 10 and Gate 11 in the Departure Hall; and between Gate 6 and Gate 7 in the Arrival Hall.

Terminal 2 Building: Near Island A and Island M in the Departure Hall; near the International Exit in the Arrival Hall.

It is a good idea to leave your baggage at your departure hall.

The price of luggage storage varies according to luggage size and storage time. Leaving large luggage costs 50 Yuan a day, and leaving smaller pieces is cheaper.

4. Transportation

Once you've completed immigration and customs procedures, you can proceed to leave the airport.

pudong airport
Pudong Airport

How to Get to Shanghai Downtown from Pudong Airport

You can take the metro, the Maglev train, a bus, or a taxi to get to the inner city.

Get to Shanghai Downtown by Subway

Metro line 2 can take you to the urban area. In the airport, there are clear signs guiding to the metro stop. You need to change from a four-car subway train to an eight-car one at the Guanglan Road (广兰路) stop so that you can continue your journey.

Note: The subway trains traveling from the airport to Guanglan Road station have 4 cars, running from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The 8-car trains travel from Guanglan Road station to East Xujing (徐泾东) station, with a longer operating time.

Related Reading: Shanghai Metro

Get to Downtown by Shanghai Maglev

Taking the Shanghai Maglev train can shorten your journey. The line runs between Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road (龙阳路) station, and it only takes 8 minutes to complete the distance of 30 km (19 miles). You can transfer to subway line 2 to continue your journey.

The place to buy a ticket is on the second floor of Pudong International Airport Station.

Ticket Prices

Get to Downtown by Bus

There are 10 airport bus lines available, traveling between the airport and the inner city of Shanghai. Follow the signs at the airport, to direct you to the bus ticket center. The ticket costs 20 to 30 Yuan.

Get to Downtown by Taxi

Taking a taxi is expensive but convenient. The distance between the airport and the city center is about 50 km (31 miles). It costs about 180 Yuan if you go to popular commercial centers or tourist attractions like Xujiahui (徐家汇), Lujiazui (陆家嘴), People’s Square and Jing’an Temple (静安寺).

6-hour/10-hour Shanghai Layover Tour Ideas

Pudong Airport – Yu Garden – the Bund – Nanjing Road – People’s Square – the Oriental Pearl Tower - Pudong Airport.

Apart from the time-traveling between the airport and the city center, visiting the five attractions takes at least 12 hours. So select attractions according to your interests and available time.

1. Yu Garden (豫园): The gardens are very beautiful with a classical Chinese style. The nearby markets offer countless selections of traditional Chinese crafts and souvenirs. You can take your favorite ones home.

Yu Garden
Yu Garden

2. The Bund (外滩): This corridor along the Huangpu River provides a very scenic stroll and leisure spot. The Bund is also special for 52 European-style buildings lining the riverside, dating back to the 1990s. Landmark buildings of Shanghai-like the Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai Tower are opposite the Bund.

3. Shopping and Eating in Nanjing Road (南京路): It is one of the most famous pedestrian streets in Shanghai. It consists of East Nanjing Road and West Nanjing Road and the east one is more popular. A wide range of products and delicious food are offered there.

4. Zhujiajiao Water Town (朱家角水乡): Zhujiajiao is a famous ancient water town located in the Qingpu District of Shanghai, China. It is often referred to as the "Venice of Shanghai" due to its picturesque canals, stone bridges, and traditional architecture.

5. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower (东方明珠电视塔): As the fifth highest tower in the world, it is the best place to take a bird's-eye view of the Bund, both by day and by night. The main facilities are the Shanghai History Museum, Revolving Restaurant, and Space Capsule.

Option A: 220 Yuan per person for all three spheres + Shanghai History Museum
Option B: 160 Yuan per person for the first and second spheres + Shanghai History Museum
Option C: 35 Yuan per person for the Shanghai History Museum

Return to the airport from the Oriental TV Tower: Three hours before your boarding time, it is time to return to the airport. Get back to Lujiazui subway station and take line 2 to the Pudong International Airport. It takes about 1 hour.

Suggested Layover Itineraries in Shanghai

Meals and Restaurants in Shanghai

There are lots of tasty foods in Shanghai. Famous for its flavorful sauces, Shanghai’s cuisine is a must-try for you. Also, you can taste Western food, Thai food, or other regional food in the city.

Generally, the food consumption per person is about 200 Yuan a day in Shanghai, and eating at high-end restaurants costs much more.

Shanghai Oriental Pearl Revolving Restaurant

It is a buffet restaurant located at the top of Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower. The restaurant offers a wide range of cuisines in a comfortable environment. The alluring view will change as you sit in one place. One circle takes two hours. You can taste delicious food while appreciating the wonderful landscape.

Old Town God Temple Snack Street

With the design of the Ming and Qing dynasties’ architectural styles, the street gathers massive amounts of snacks from China. You can munch all the yummy foods such as xiaolongbao (small steamed buns), tangbao (a steamed dumpling filled with minced meat and gravy), strong-smelling preserved bean curd, and so on.

South Yunnan Road

This street is perfect for tourists looking for Chinese fare as it is filled with restaurants specializing in cuisines of different regions. Famous foods are kebab, wonton, xiaolongbao, Shaoxing sliced cold chicken, boiled salted duck, etc.

Layover Accommodation in Shanghai

Hotels can be found everywhere in Shanghai, and almost all hotels have hour rooms. The prices of hotels vary according to the location and star level.

Generally, a standard 3-star hotel costs 300-400 Yuan per night. Hotels around the airport cost 500-1500 Yuan per night while ones in commercial areas and near attractions are more expensive.

Shopping during the Shanghai Layover

Shanghai is a shopping paradise. Popular shopping places are Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road, Yu Garden, and many shopping plazas. You will find out more shopping areas and what you can buy in those places (including silk, antiques, snacks, books, qipao, and electronic items).

Related reading: Best Places to Go Shopping in Shanghai

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