Shanghai Metro/Subway Complete Guide for 2020

Shanghai Metro/Subway Complete Guide for 2020

HomeGetting Around ShanghaiShanghai Metro/Subway Complete Guide for 2020

Shanghai is one of the biggest cities in China and has an incredibly huge transportation infrastructure. One of the main transportation means in the city is the metro and knowing how it works can make your visit very convenient. Being one of the cheapest options means you can also save quite a lot of money by traveling on it. We will take you step-by-step on how you can carry out all the necessary steps to travel on Shanghai metro. We are also going to share other useful information about lines, Shanghai metro map, fares, and any other common questions that a tourist would need to get used to the metro service in Shanghai.

How to Use Shanghai Metro

1. Going to the Station

Shanghai Metro Sign

Above is the Shanghai metro sign that you will see about 200-500 meters from any station to let you know that you are close to a station. Each station has at least 2 entrances and 2 exits, so you will see this sign on each entrance/exit with its name and line number that passes through it. The signage is in both Chinese and English for most stations.

There are service centers present on each station as well where you can get consultancy, money exchange, and some other non-tourist services as well.

2. Security Checks

You have to pass through a security checking booth before you can enter the station. Every passenger must pass their luggage through these booths. Therefore not submitting to security check requests can lead to refusal from entering the metro station.

You can take most of the regular use items on the metro. If you are carrying a substance that may be dangerous in any way (flammable/explosive/toxic/radioactive) you may not gain entry into the station. You can find a complete list of objects on the official website of Shanghai metro.

3. Tickets/Cards Options for Shanghai Metro

To travel via Shanghai metro, you have many options for tickets/cards that you can choose from as per you needs.

➤ Single Journey Tickets

Single Journey Tickets are a onetime use commodity that you can purchase from any station and use them for just one trip. This ticket will be scanned on a card reader machine at the ticket gate for entry. When you are leaving at your destination, you will find a slot machine where you will insert the ticket and it will be taken from you.

The price range of Single tickets is between CNY 2-9. This is determined based on the distance you are going to travel. Here are the rates you can expect to pay for each distance measure:

  • 0-6km (6 included): CNY 3
  • 6-16km (6 and 16 included): CNY 4
  • More than 16km: CNY 1 for every 10km

Prices for traveling to every station are also mentioned on the price table which is available at every metro station. You can easily figure out your ticket price using this. One person can only purchase a maximum of 9 tickets in a single go if you are buying from a ticket machine. If there is an issue or complication you can simply ask the station staff for help.

➤ One Day Pass

This card gives you access to the Shanghai metro for the whole day and you can use it multiple times. After leaving the station, you simply have to swipe it on the reader at the gate and keep the card with you. The validity of this card is 24 hours and you can get it for CNY 18. You can use this card on all metro trains except Maglev.

➤ Three Day Pass

This ticket works in the same way as the One day pass and the only difference is price and duration. You swipe it on the reader at the exit gate and then keep the card with you when you leave. This ticket costs CNY 45 and is valid for 72 hours. You cannot use this card for Maglev train either.

➤ Souvenir Tickets

These are the same as single tickets but can be kept after taking the ride. When you exit the train station, you can put this card on the card reader at the gate. Damaged or lost cards will mark you as using “invalid ticket” or “traveling without a ticket”. To get this ticket you will need to the People’s Square Station where they have a souvenir shop.

➤ Coupon Ticket for Maglev & Metro

This coupon is for traveling on the Maglev once (or twice if you buy a round-trip ticket). It functions in the same way as any other multiple-use cards available for Shanghai metro. A single side ticket costs CNY 55 whereas a round-trip ticket costs CNY 85. In the price of a Maglev ticket, you also get a One Day Pass built-in which means you can use the same card to travel on Shanghai metro lines for 24 hours after purchase. You can get this card from the two Maglev stations i.e. Longyang Road and Pudong International Airport. It is also available at some other major stations across the city.

➤ Shanghai Transportation Card

This card is one of the most convenient ways of traveling around Shanghai as it covers all the major public transport channels operating in the city. This includes Maglev trains, metro lines, local and long-distance buses, tourist buses, taxis, trucks, and ferries. It is also supported in some parking meters, parking lots, highway toll booths, gas stations, and auto-repair stores. The fares applicable for use on metro lines is the same as on other cards. You can get this card from any of the countless Public Transportation Card service centers all across Shanghai including metro stations.

Points to Remember
  • For any card, you are allowed to have a onetime maximum overdraft of CNY 8.
  • Cards that go to zero or negative balance after use will no longer be usable.
  • If you pay more than CNY 70 on any card in a month, all further payments will be eligible for a 10% discount.
  • In case you purchase a ticket and then don’t use it, you can get a refund for it from the issuing station on the same day. If a ticket has been used but there is still balance in it, you will not get any refund on that balance. Damaged cards will be invalid and therefore ineligible for refunds.

4. Crossing the Turnstile/Gate

To go to the platform, you will need to cross a turnstile or gate to verify your ticket. Both the turnstile and gates are to provide access to passengers to the metro platform. For passengers that are traveling without luggage, they can simply scan their ticket on the three-pole turnstile and then walk through it. For passengers who are traveling with luggage, they can walk through the ticket gate which allows movement of luggage through.

If a turnstile or gate is working, you will see a green arrow indicating the same. If it is out of service, you will see a red arrow. In case you are unable to scan your ticket or the turnstile/gate breaks down, do not try to knock on it or tamper with it. Call the Metro staff at the station for help.

There are certain restrictions on luggage that you must follow as well. The weight of the luggage should not exceed 23kg per passenger. The volume of your luggage should be under 0.2 cubic meters and the maximum length allowed is 1.7 meters. Please adhere to this limit so you don’t cause trouble for other passengers.

After you have crossed the turnstile, make sure your ticket is safely tucked away. Bending your ticket or damaging it in any other way could make it invalid, thereby making you responsible for bearing the loss.

5. Taking the Escalator/Elevator

Once you cross the turnstile/gate, you will take the escalator leading to the platform. You should stay attentive when using the escalator. Always face forward and do not lean on the rails. Also keep yourself away from the fringes, especially if you are wearing a long dress to avoid getting caught. Elderly people, children, and partially disabled people should always be with a supervising adult while getting on an escalator.

People in wheelchairs, baby carriages, and trolleys/luggage cannot use the escalator. For these people, the station has a separate elevator which they can take to go up to the platform. Some stations provide staff operated elevators where vertical elevators are not present.

If an escalator or elevator is broken, do not use it no matter what. If you need any kind of assistance, always ask the staff for help and do not tamper the metro equipment.

6. Waiting for Metro Train

Displays at each station provide live information on which train is coming to which line at what time. So you can easily find the correct line and direction of your train by looking at these displays. Make sure you stay behind the safety line at all times before boarding the train. There are seats installed throughout the platform so people can sit while waiting for their train.

7. Getting on the Metro

You should stay behind the safety line even when the train arrives. Do not attempt to climb immediately as that could lead to injuries. Wait for the train to stop, then the doors will open and some passengers will leave. After that, you may get on the train. If there is not enough space or too many people getting on, you may need to wait. Make sure you get on the train before the train buzzers stop buzzing. If you are unable to find your way inside, then simply walk back behind the safety line and wait for the next train.

8. Getting off the Metro

The metro train has electronic displays all across it which provide information on the next stop where the train is heading to. The train also has an announcer who keeps relaying the same information over the speakers. Stay vigilant and as soon as you hear the name of your destination station, ready your belongings to get off. Once the train stops and the doors are open, get off quickly so other passengers can get on.

9. Exiting the Station

Once you have arrived at your destination, head for the exit turnstile/gate and swipe your ticket. If it is a single-use ticket then you can simply insert it into the designated slot. If it is a multiple-use ticket or souvenir ticket, you can swipe it on the card scanner and walk through it. Once you are clear, look for signboards which mark the exit leading to your destination and then use that particular exit to leave the station.

Shanghai Metro Lines and Map

The Shanghai metro has a total of nineteen lines operating in and around the city. These are lines 1-18 and the Pujiang line. Each line has its own route and most of them allow transfers between lines as well. To see the routes and timings for each line, click on the link for each line provided below for details. Lines 14, 15 and 18 are yet to be opened.  

Complete list of all stations on Shanghai Metro Lines
Detailed Map of Shanghai Metro

Shanghai Metro Transfers

If you are going to a destination that does not fall directly on any of the lines at your station, you will need to make a line transfer. What this means is that you will need to travel on one line for a certain distance and then get off that train and go into another train. This is how a transfer works and for most transfers, you do not need to exit the station.

When it comes to buying your ticket, we highly recommend using a through ticket instead of buying two tickets. A single through ticket will not only cost less but will also mean taking care of only one ticket. Of course, if you are using a multi-use card then you can simply load the required fare into it from any station.

There are two types of transfers; physical transfer and virtual transfer. For a physical transfer, you can simply change the subway lines without leaving the station. There are designated routes given along the platforms so you can change your line. For virtual transfers, you have to leave the station and then reenter the station for the line you are supposed to take next.

Metro Map and Apps

Looking directly at the Shanghai metro map can overwhelm you. There are so many lines intersecting each other, so it is best to narrow things down. Simply find your current location and your destination on the Shanghai metro map. Then, use the information provided above for lines and transfer to map out your route. It is quite logical and so it can easily be done by anyone. You can also figure out times using the above links, thereby choosing the best time to take your train.

Your life will be a lot easier by using dedicated smartphone apps for Shanghai metro that allow you to figure out your route and fares quite easily. Here are a couple of apps that you can try out:

Explore Shanghai App

This app is great for exploring Shanghai and is one of the best sources for exploring and using the Shanghai metro service. The app got recognized by CNN and Lonely Planet as well for being the best subway app for Shanghai. It has an up to date Shanghai metro map with route planner, find the nearest station, offline mode and many more features. You can download it for iOS or Android using the following links:


Metro Shanghai Subway App

This is also another great app for using the metro in Shanghai. It has the latest Shanghai metro map with route planning, offline mode and support for 11 different languages which is huge. You can download this app for iOS and Android using the following links:


Shanghai Subway Official Guide App

This is the official app released by Shanghai metro authorities as a guide for people traveling on the metro around the city. It has the Shanghai metro map and other basic information to help out users but is relatively less reliable and is not as intuitive. However, the information is quite accurate so you may want to keep it as a backup option. The official app is only available for iOS but they do have a direct download link for their android app on their website. You will need to enable third-party app installation option in your android phone settings to be able to install and use this app. The iOS and Android (from the official Shanghai metro website) links are provided below.


Take Virtual Tour of Whole Process of Shanghai Metro