Shanghai Metro Guide


Click to view the full system map.

I ride the Shanghai Metro just about every day.  It’s a modern and massive system that rivals New York, London, Paris….  And at just CNY3-4 per ride, why on earth would you not want to take the Metro?  It cuts through traffic on the streets above with an average of 3 minutes between each stop.

And the Metro is a great way to see all sorts of interesting people.  Just take a look at the very first post on this site, about the Shanghai Metro Makeup Girl.  As one friend said, she was just about falling out of that dress.  And the guy sitting next to her just couldn’t keep his eyes off.

So how does it work?


Why not just buy a Metro Card?  You can use it for Taxi rides too!

Just buy a Metro Card and use it for Taxi rides too!

You can buy a single ride ticket each time you ride, but that’s the hard way to do it.  Instead, buy yourself a Metro Card (the Shanghai Transport Smart Card).  Just go up to the service counter they have in each station, and hand over CNY100 or CNY200.  They’ll deduct CNY20 as a deposit, and put rest on the card for you to use.

Then each time you ride, simply place the card on top of the turnstile and when you see the remaining balance on the little screen, walk on through.  At the end of your ride you do the same thing.  And if you run low on funds, you can easily refill the card at any of those service counters.

Obviously this is great for people living in Shanghai, but what about for tourists?

It’s fantastic for tourists!  You can use the Metro card to pay for a ride in any of the 50,000 or so taxis that roam around Shanghai.  [Be sure to read our Shanghai Taxi Guide for lots of tips.]  So if you don’t feel like riding with the crowds during rush hour, you can sit inside an air conditioned taxi during a rush hour watching people walk past you on their way to ride the Metro.

At the end of your trip, you can either return the card and get your deposit (and any remaining balance back), or use the card to pay for a ride on the high speed Maglev train to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport (the fare is CNY40 with the card, CNY50 without).Not only can you get the CNY20 deposit back (along with any remaining balance) but you .  So don’t stand there in front of the ticket machine each time you ride the Metro.  Just get a reusable Metro card!

Returning the Metro Card?

If you’re planing to return the card, keep these things in mind a few things:

  • Keep the little receipt they gave you when you first bought it.
    – If the balance is less than CNY10, you can turn in the card at any Metro station.
    – If the balance is more than CNY10, you need to go to one of a few certain stations, or a number of Banks or other agencies around Shanghai.

Or, you know… keep the card.  It’s a nice memento from your trip.

You can read more about the Shanghai Metro Card over at

Author: Asia Curious

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