Travel Tips for Navigating Shanghai

What you need to know to get around the city!

Headed to Shanghai soon? Whether you’re going on business or pleasure, it’s important to brush up on some helpful travel tips before you leave.


Shanghai is divided into east and west sides by the Huangpu River, making for a large metro area. In the center of the city, the district of Puxi lies west of the river, while on the east side lies Pudong. Think of the city as laid out on a grid system, which makes it easy to navigate its many neighborhoods on foot and by car. Count on construction at any given time, so plan your route ahead of time. It’s best to walk around the city if you can; you’ll get to your destination faster and take in the sights along the way.

There are taxis around, and hailing one is relatively easy. Plus, there’s a pretty comprehensive subway system that brings you downtown as well as branched-out areas. In fact, Shanghai is known as eastern China’s major hub of air, rail, road and water transport, so you’ll never be at a loss for ways to get around.

You’ll notice all the street signs here are displayed in Chinese and English rather than pinyin, which is the transliteration of Chinese.

Check out these common terms you’ll see a lot:

  • Dong: east
  • Xi: west
  • Nan: south
  • Bei: north
  • Zhong: middle
  • Jie: street
  • Lu: road
  • Da dao: avenue
  • Da: big
  • Xiao: small
  • Qiao: bridge
  • Men: door or gate


You’re in for a real treat if you like to sample eclectic tastes. The restaurants here are among some of the best in the country, not just in terms of the food itself but also in regards to superior service. Steeped in the traditional dishes of Beijing, Sichuan, Hunan, Guangzhou and Benbang, the city abounds with local eateries. If you still crave Western food, you’ll find plenty of options downtown.


Dubbed “Oriental Paris,” Shanghai is a shopper’s delight, featuring a busy hub of commercial streets and shopping centers such as that found on Nanjing Road. Check out Huaihai Road for modern fashions, or head to North Sichuan Road for more traditional items. Major shopping centers include Xujiahui Shopping Center, Yuyuan Shopping City and Jiali Sleepless City.


If you’re a night owl, Shanghai is the place for you. Flanked on both sides of the Huangpu River by clubs and bars, the scene is lit up at night with many colors that signal it’s time to have fun. Take a night cruise on the Huangpu River or hit the Grand Theater and Oriental Art Center before going out to get a taste of local art. The Bund area and Xin Tian Di are peppered with many nightclubs and bars.

Of course, a major part of being able to easily navigate Shanghai is the ability to speak the local language. BRIC Language Systems makes it easy to learn Mandarin Chinese through online innovation.