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B_Stopover in Shanghai, a good idea?

Things that it is better to know before making a stopover in Shanghai. Transportation, subway, maglev, what to do during a short stopover. What to expect at the airport.

I love stopovers, they are like a 2×1 since a long plane ride is cut in two and with it, we have the opportunity to visit a new place. All this for the price of the flight to the final destination. After taking advantage of the stopover in Doha I wanted to give myself the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that we could make a stopover in Shanghai and that, furthermore, for this type of visit, a visa is not required! The only bad thing was that I would have only 8 hours in Shanghai, but I said to myself, “let’s try to make the most of it”.

Please note that, due to recent events, is strongly possible this kind of stopover is not possible.

Was it a good idea? Here I tell you how it went in this stopover in Shanghai:

Arriving at the airport

In many airports, the normal thing is that once the plane lands, it goes to the gate and one can get off. Generally the longest is to get off, but the landing part and arrival at the gate is not. Surprise: at the Shanghai airport, yes, yes, yes, as soon as it landed, the plane stopped, waiting, I don’t know what. To make a long story short, to get to the door where it would park, we lost half an hour. Now you had to add the time to get out of the ship. But the thing did not end there.

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Passing immigration

Migration cards were distributed on the plane, at first I thought that because I didn’t go through with a visa it wasn’t necessary to fill them out. But I tell you that YES, it is necessary to fill them. Once we had the card, we headed to the “144 transit” area, where there was much less line than for the “visa” part. At that moment I thought that we would pass quickly, wrong, the line was very short, but there was only one open booth, and it seems that the one who attended was a person who was just in training, so everything happened more slowly (she had a sign that said “trainee” and one person assisting her).

In total, an hour passed and desperation accumulated more and more, we told ourselves that it was a shame that for an 8-hour stopover we had already lost almost two, and we had not yet left the airport. The line was so slow that even the visa section was completely empty, which opened a new window for those in transit. When we managed to cross, I understood even less the slowness that we had suffered, since the girl did not take five minutes to attend to us. Anyway, we already had a new stamp in the passport.

Esto es después de la parte de migración, ya estamos en China!
This is after the immigration part, we are already in China!

Trying to change the flight, anticipating misfortune

By that time, it had already become clear to us that the way of operating the runways at this airport was somewhat disastrous (that landing convinced us). We began to fear the worst: that our next flight would be delayed. That flight was still many hours away, and no delay was announced. But we felt it, we smelled it, so we decided to go to the China Eastern counter and see if it was possible to change the flight for an earlier one (too bad, we wouldn’t see Shanghai). After standing in line for half an hour, in which we could see many people in situations much worse than ours explode with anger and helplessness with the girls at the counter, they tell us that to take an earlier flight it costs 75 dollars per person.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t tell her: look, I have a crystal ball, and I’m already seeing that the flight I’m going to Hong Kong will be late.
* spoiler: we left THREE hours late* 

Perhaps we should have paid those 150 dollars, in order not to arrive at our destination at dawn. But, it wasn’t just that, we also had to go back to the luggage delivery area, ask them to deliver them to us (of course, for that they had to find them first) and then return to the counter, stand in line who knows how long and see if back then there were still places on the flight that left earlier.

NO, we said, we only have a few hours left and since getting to and from the center takes about an hour and a half, in reality we would only have about two hours in Shanghai. But I told myself that taking the maglev and being able to see the skyline of the bund buildings was enough for me this time. So off we went on the quick tour of Shanghai.

Our stopover in Shanghai

Taking the Maglev

Once we made up our minds to walk through Shanghai we went straight to take the Maglev, we quickly got two round tickets. And we went to the platform.

Maglev price per person: 80 Yuan

What makes the Maglev so special? It is a train without tracks, it literally levitates thanks to magnetism and we wanted to know what it felt like to be on that train that can reach speeds of up to 431 kilometers per hour. Although during our journey it only reached 300 km, the sensation is different from that of a “normal” train, what we did notice is that it moved horizontally more than we expected.

The train arrived in a blink of an eye in Shanghai, but it doesn’t drop us in the center but in Lognyang Rd, from there you can take the subway.

Ya tuvimos la parte rápida, ahora viene la lenta
We’ve had the fast part, now comes the slow part

Taking the Shanghai Metro

In our case we would take the green line (number 2), to go to the metro you have to leave the train station. There are quite a few arrows that indicate where to go, what can freak you out is that you have to go out into the street.

Arriving at the subway station, we go ipso facto to the little machines that sell tickets. The ticket is plastic and at the end of the trip you have to return it (sorry for those who collect metro tickets). Upon entering the station we had to pass our backpacks through a scanner and this scene would be repeated in all subway stations, train stations and even to enter the airport. They have a good check on the Chinese!

To reach our destination, we would head to Nanjingdonglu or Nanjin East Road. In the car, I was pleasantly surprised by how people offered their places to ladies carrying babies or older people. Gestures like this are being lost more and more in the big cities.

We arrived at the Bund

Taking into account the time it took to get to the Nanjin East Rd station and that we had to arrive with enough time to pass immigration, etc. From there we had about two hours to see what we could. As I told Vincent: we’re going to see the boardwalk with the building with the red pearls, and I’ll settle for that. So we headed there, there was a crowd in those streets and to top it off drops began to fall. But we got to the bund. And we saw the buildings. I stayed for a while taking photos, dodging the crowd that had the same plans as me, and contemplating the place.

After that time we took the way back to the subway station, we would stop to eat wherever we could. We ran into a shopping center, perfect since the rain was no longer just a few drops. There we looked for a place with cheap and nice dishes, and we sat down to eat, happy to have accomplished the impossible mission… or well, almost, since we weren’t back at the airport yet.

Sodas chinas
Chinese soda

Back to the airport

The return to the airport had no setbacks, again we took the metro, maglev, and again we had the scanner when entering the airport. We bought some souvenirs (the de rigueur magnet). We passed migration without problems. Furthermore, we passed the security check. Everything’s fine. We arrive at our boarding gate, from which we were supposed to leave between 6 and 7 in the afternoon, almost by the time it’s time to board they tell us that the flight is delayed and that “probably” we will board at 8 PM. 8 o’clock arrived, and we didn’t board, 8:30 and boarding finally began, we boarded the plane.

Inside the plane we had to wait hours to be able to take off since, as in the previous flights, the organization of the airport is quite disastrous and total that instead of arriving in Hong Kong, we arrived at 12 and something of the early morning. That time of arrival plus going through migration and arriving at our hotel made us arrive at 2 in the morning to our room. That was the end to the adventure called stopover in Shanghai.

Los leones nos saludan de regreso al aeropuerto (con KFC detras)
The lions greet us on the way back to the airport (with KFC behind)

Conclusion: Stopover in Shanghai, a good idea?

If you have less than 10 hours, taking into account the time it takes to leave the airport and other factors, I would say NO. You have to be prepared that the operation of the airport (at least the one I saw, Shanghai) will be a disaster. Better be mentally prepared.

On the other hand, my advice is that if you want to take advantage of the 72-hour stopover in China, stay one or two nights in the place. In that case I would say YES IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO MAKE A STOPOVER IN SHANGHAI.

Note: I hope that at this point, no one is going to beat me up and say that “how is it possible that I could think of doing a stopover for such a short time in that city” well, the only thing I can tell you is that everything I’m telling now I didn’t know and that despite the difficulties we went through I don’t regret having tried. Now, if I get the opportunity for a Chinese stopover again, I’ll know what to expect.

Una stopover en Shanghai
A stopover in Shanghai

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Olga Grijalva Alvarez

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.

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