10 Tips for Visitors to Shanghai

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  1. Electricity – In Shanghai the electrical voltage is supplied at 220 volts (compared to the US 120 volts) so an adapter is necessary. The most common plug type is two or three pronged.
  2. Currency exchange – You can exchange foreign currency at the Shanghai Airport, in hotels or at the Bank of China. The exchange rate should be the same where ever you make the transaction. Banks are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
  3. Local Currency- the Chinese currency is the Renminbi (RMB) and comes in units of Yuan (also called Kuai), Jiao (also called Mao) and Fen. 1 Yuan has 10 Jiao which each have 100 Fen. Notes come in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2. Chinese coins come in denominations of 1 Yuan, 5, 2 and 1 Jiao and 1 Fen.
  4. Weather – Shanghai has a subtropical maritime monsoon climate. The average annual temperature is 18°C. The flood season is from May to September and in early September typhoons may occur. July and August are the hottest and most humid months, temperatures can reach 35°C. January to February is the coldest period and the ideal travel time is during the short spring or autumn.
  5. Festivals – Shanghai, celebrates multiple national and religious festival throughout the year. These offer a unique opportunity to see Chinese traditional holidays. Take into account that during festivals the city can be crowded and hotel rates can be higher. Some attractions may be closed and there may be other special events like temple fairs which you can only attend during festivals.
  6. Language – Shanghainese have their own dialect which differs from standard Mandarin. Many young people speak good English and people working in the hospitality field are usually proficient in English.
  7. Taxis- taxis have day rates (5am-11pm) and night rates (11pm-5am). During the day you will pay RMB14 for 0-3km, RMB2.4 per km for 3-10km and RMB 3.6 per km after that. At night the rate is RMB 18 for 0-3km, RMB 3.6 per km for 3-10km and RMB 5.1 per km after that. You will be charged waiting time at the rate of 1km per 5 minutes. On the three highways outside of the city where there are tolls passengers are required to cover the toll fee. Rates are according to a meter and taxi drivers should issue receipts. The different colored taxi cabs represent different companies.
  8. Public toilets – Toilets in stores and restaurants are free and you will probably be allowed to use the facilities even if you are not a guest in the restaurant. Public toilets charge about 1 Yuan and the fee is displayed outside the toilet.
  9. Water – It is advisable not to drink tap water (mainly because of a high concentration of trace metals) but rather to buy bottled water. Many hotels and Tour Company provide bottled water.
  10. Scams – Do not accept any unsolicited services. It is not considered rude to ignore street hawkers. Common scams include (but are not limited to)inviting you to a tea ceremony, art students selling works of art, tour guides which approach you on the street, illegal currency exchange on the street and taxis that literally take you for a ride!