Last year, we visited Bali, Indonesia and our return flight to Amsterdam included a 17 hour layover in Shanghai, China. Sounds pretty miserable right, especially when traveling with a child? Well, it shouldn't be and this article will explain why and how to make the best of it.
The first thing you should check is whether you are eligible for a 'Visa-Free Transit'. Currently, 51 countries can apply for such a visa upon arrival and this allows you to explore the city, which -of course- is the best thing to do. You can find more information here.
It took us some time to find the right counter, but once we were there we were out and ready to see Shanghai in merely a few minutes.
We arrived at Pudong airport, which is about 30 kilometers away from Shanghai Downtown. We landed around 7:00 in the morning, a good time to make the most out of our 1 day chance to see Shanghai.
THE MAGLEV TRAIN
So how do you get there fast? Well here it comes: the MAGLEV TRAIN. It is the fastest commercial high-speed electric train in the world and this thing is AMAZING! I LOVED it! We bought a Maglev & Metro Pass, which includes a round trip for the Maglev and one-day pass for all metro lines and it cost us 85 RMB (about 12,5 USD) per person. A great deal! At its top speed, the Maglev runs 431 km/h (268 mph) and it only takes about 7 minutes to reach the Longyang Road station near the heart of Shanghai!
At Longyang Road station, we asked how we could get to Shanghai Tower, which was one of the things we wanted to see. We simply asked and everyone directed us to metro line 2 and said that we were just a few stops away. So on we went!
We got out at Lujiazui station and the sight of Shanghai's most iconic buildings was fantastic! It was perfect weather and I loved seeing these huge and beautiful skyscrapers!
Afterwards, we went on a Hop On & Off Bus and we took a ferry to The Bund, the famous waterfront area in Central Shanghai. It was beautiful seeing the same towering buildings from across the Huangpu River.
SUNSET FROM SHANGHAI TOWER
We then decided to go back to Shanghai Tower and get to the observation deck to see the sunset from there. Mommy and daddy felt this would also be a great place to let me out of the child carrier for a while and let me run around and stretch my legs.
Some information about the observation deck: currently, visitors can get access to the 118th floor and 119th floor, which are 546m and 552m high respectively. The 119th floor of the tower is currently the second highest observation deck in the world, only 3 meters less than the secondary observation deck of Burj Khalifa, which is 555m high (note the 119th floor only opens on the weekends). In the future, the 121st floor will also open; by then it will become the highest observation deck in the world. The normal entry price is 28 USD.
So how was it? It was fabulous. I had a great time, the sunset was beyond spectacular. Let the pictures below do all the talking.
THE BUND AT NIGHT
Afterwards, we decided to walk all the way to The Bund once more, this time to see it at nighttime. It was a magical experience.
So there you have it: a long layover in Shanghai isn't that bad, is it?
There are a few helpful tips however.
THE MAGLEV SCHEDULE
The Maglev train has a pretty tight schedule and it doesn't run at any time or late at night. Thankfully, we found someone with a cellular internet connection who looked up the schedule for us.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY
Ok, important: it's not that easy to get cash in Shanghai! Your credit card may not work everywhere, and that includes McDonalds or a large bank. Our advice: make sure you bring cash into Shanghai. We found that the AMT machines at metro stations in general accept international credit cards.
Hope you enjoyed this article and you find it helpful on your next layover!