Ctripper posts come to us directly from the good folks at Ctrip, China's top online travel agency (and proud sponsor of ChinaTravel.net). Stay tuned for Ctrip special offers, travel tips, news on new travel deals, tours and activities, and slices of life-in-China from Ctrip staff and interns. Our Ctrip intern Alex, after staying in Shanghai for quite a while, brings you Shanghai 101: traveling Shanghai without the language barriers, the transportation hassles, etc .... >>>
Being a foreigner in Shanghai is always an adventure. Traveling through one of the largest cities in the world can be a little overwhelming if you let it get to you, but it also makes for a great learning experience. Below you will find some helpful tips and handy tools for making traveling the city a little easier on a day-to-day basis; a survival guide if you will.
Survival Tip Number One:A Mandarin Translator - Suggestion: Pleco (Free downloadable application on your ITouch, IPhone or from the Android Market)
This simple, yet very useful application can be a life-saver when you are in a cab and having a hard time communicating to the driver that you want to go to Jing'an Si subway, or Jìng'ānsì (静安寺), having this application to show the driver where you want to go in characters is very helpful. You will know the application has been a success when you get the nod of approval (or affirming grunt) from the taxi driver.
Survival Tip Number Two: The almighty “Magic Number”
As a result of Shanghai's "Better City, Better Life" clean up, in each cab you will now see a sticker on the back of the driver’s seat that contains a very important number: 962288 … the Magic Number. When you call the number and click 1 a lovely voice on the other line will ask you where you want to go. You can tell them in English, and then you simply hand the phone to the cab driver and the Shanghai call center operator will tell the driver where you want to go and give directions if necessary. Once again, you are looking for a nod or grunt to be sure the call has been a success. (Editor's note: Word is the operators are trained to answer just about any question you can think of ...)Survival Tip Number Three: Web Resources (Many websites offer a lot of information about the city, as well as reviews on restaurants, clubs, sightseeing and other forms of entertainment. Try out Shanghaiist, Cityweekend, and my suggestion: SmartShanghai)
Eating at the same few restaurants in your hotel or down the street from it can get a little old. Besides, when your in a foreign city it’s great to explore the various food options, especially in a city like Shanghai that has so much to offer. This is where websites like SmartShanghai will come in handy. Whether its all-you-can eat, scenic restaurants, American, Cantonese, French, Italian, Shanghainese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese or what ever else you're craving, you can always find a lengthy review, recommendations and, most importantly, directions and the address in English, Pinyin, and characters so you can show the cab driver.
Not only do SmartShanghai and the other sites review restaurants, they also have in-depth reviews and recommendations of clubs, bars, events and whatever else you could think of doing in Shanghai. So all you need is a printout of the address (or a photo of the screen) to show the cabbie and you should be good to go.
I hope these tips will be as useful for you as they have been for me in my time here in Shanghai. Good luck and godspeed.