How to Use the Metro (Subway) in Shanghai

Shanghai’s metro is clean and safe as is very easy to navigate, but if you have never used it before it might be a bit confusing initially.  However, in this quick review we will explain everything that you need to know about how to use the Shanghai’s metro.

How to Navigate Shanghai’s Subway Lines:

How to Use the Metro (Subway) in Shanghai - Global StorybookThe first thing that you need to know is the name of the station that you are traveling to.  For example, if you are going to visit the Jing’an Temple, you need to get off at the Jing’an Temple station.  If in doubt – you can easily locate the nearest subway station on any city map.  The next thing that you need to do is to look up on which subway line this stop is located.  For example, the Jing’an Temple station is located on Line 2.

Finally, you need to know the stop from where you will be taking the subway from, and the direction of the train.  The direction of the train can be easily identified by the last stop to which a particular subway line is heading.  For example, the Line 2 runs from East Xujing station in the West to the Pudong Airport station in the East.  These two final stations (on the opposite ends) represent the two, parallel directions of the train.

So, if you are getting on at, let’s say, Hailun Road station on Line 10 – you need to catch a train heading in the West direction, towards either Hangzhong Rd or Hongqiao (this line splits towards the end), then transfer at the Nanjing Rd (East) station to the Line 2, heading in the direction of East Xujing in the West, and get off at your station – Jing’an Temple.

How to Use the Metro (Subway) in Shanghai - Global StorybookHelpful tip: download one of the free ‘Shanghai metro’ apps that can help you navigate its subway system quickly.  We recommend the app called “Metro Shanghai Subway”.  One of this app’s most helpful features is the “route planner” – plug in the names of any stations (“to” and “from”) and it will give you the line numbers, the directions of the trains, and the names of any transfers.

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How to Buy a Metro Ticket:

How to Use the Metro (Subway) in Shanghai - Global Storybook

Some vending machines accept coins only – look for the one with “insert banknotes” (upper left hand corner), if you do not have any coins.

There are two options – you can buy one through an electronic vending machine or from an official ticket seller.  The easiest option is to buy one through a vending machine.

Once you get to the ticket booth – the first thing you should click on is the word “English” at the top right corner, to change the language.  Unfortunately there are only two language options – English and Mandarin (Chinese).

How to Use the Metro (Subway) in Shanghai - Global Storybook

Switch to “English” – upper right-hand corner tab.

Once you switch the language, the next thing you need to do is to locate the station to which you will be traveling to.  To do this quickly – you need to know the Line on which the station is located, as mentioned above.  Then, all you have to do is click on the line number (bottom tab), find the station you need, and click on it.  The machine will then prompt you to the payment screen where you can select the number of tickets and make a payment.

Please note the ticket machine only accepts small bills (up to 10 Yuan) and coins.  It does not accept credit cards, or any bills larger than 10.  If you do not have any small bills on you – you can then buy the ticket through a ticket seller.

Helpful tip: remember the exit of your station (A, B, C, etc.) where you get in, if you are planning to come back there and get out at the same entrance.  Also, you can find maps with helpful Exit directions at most stations around Shanghai.

Finally, the most important thing that you need to remember – is that you must keep your ticket for the duration of the trip, since you will need it to exit the station. 

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Subway ticket cost: 3-6 Yuan (depending on the distance) for a one way ride.

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