Shanghai is a large city covering an area of 6,340 square kilometres and home to over 25 million people. It, thus, comes as no surprise, that getting around the city is not always a breeze: traffic jams a common sight in Shanghai and getting a taxi in a rush hour may prove to be an impossible task. So what is the most efficient way to commute to work in Shanghai?


Shanghai has the second longest metro system in the world ‘ and this makes commuting between the city’s 16 districts much easier as each district is connected to downtown by subway. The metro in Shanghai is modern and convenient to use with the trains arriving every two to three minutes during rush hour. However, travelling in the rush hour is not the most pleasant experience as trains can get very crowded.


Buses run regularly in Shanghai and you will easily find the line that will take you to your destination. With that, being a passenger on a Chinese bus may not be as comfortable as one may be used to: buses travel fast and it’s essential to hold on to the safety rail throughout your trip. Buses also tend to get rather crowded and you won’t be avoiding the city’s notorious traffic jams.


Shanghai has a well-developed taxi network and you will be able to choose between state taxis and private taxi services including taxi apps. State taxis are available in all parts of the city ‘ but the cars are often limited to a certain area and my not be able to travel in-between districts. You will see that the taxis come in different colours ‘ this is how you will be able to tell which area they are limited to.

Alternatively, you can use one of the many popular taxi app services. China’s number one taxi app is DiDi (look for DiDi Chuxing æ»´æ»´åºè¡ in Play Store or App Store) and works in pretty much the same way as Uber.

Note that most taxi drivers in China do not speak English and it would be best to have a business card or a note with the address of your destination written down in Chinese.

Bikes and e-scooters

E-scooters are a popular way of getting around the city ‘ especially for short distances. However, it is best to avoid using them in Shanghai’s busy traffic. Another way to travel for short distances is by bicycle. Shared bike apps are very popular in the city: there are a number of companies that operate shared bikes and you will see different coloured bicycles parked across Shanghai. Once you’ve downloaded one of the shared bike apps and registered, you will be able to unlock any bike from the same company and hop on. Mobike (now Meituan Bike) is one of the most popular bike apps across China. Note that bicycles are a good way to travel for short distances but you won’t be able to take them on the roads, bridges and tunnels.

Living close to your workplace

Living within walking distance from your office would definitely be the most convenient option, letting you save both time and money on commuting to work. Shanghai is a big city ‘ but most of its professional and social life is centred in the downtown districts. With that, living in the city’s downtown or close to big office complexes can get pricey. It is also a good idea to ask your colleagues about the housing options in the area.

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