The best way to get around in Shanghai is taxi and Metro. Taxi works best if you are not that cost senstive, since taxi is cheap compared to U.S. and Europe. 11 RMB (1.3 USD) – 20 RMB can get to most places, especially those attractions. Metro works better if you want to experience the Metro, or you don’t want to challenge yourself to speak English or mandarine with a taxi driver.
There are several types of buses you can choose.
Air Con vs. Non Air Con
Most route offers buses with air condition, or without it. The stops are exactly the same, but the price is not. Typically, buses with A/C charges 2 RMB (25 US cents) for the whole route, and buses without A/C charges 1 RMB.
10 years after the first air con bus put into operation in 1996, now 63% of buses are aircon buses. In 2007, 50% of Shanghai buses (or 70% of urban buses) will be equipped with aircon. In 2010, all urban buses will have aircon installed.
Typically, buses with A/C are of better condition. See these Scrawl on Shanghai Buses without A/C.
Self-served or conductor-served
Many buses are self-served. There is no conductor on the bus, and you have to pay either with Shanghai Transportation Card, or coins (no change is provided). The driver acts as a conductor.
On other buses, you can give cash to a conductor, and they provide changes. Look at the side of the bus to determine which type it is. It is really embarassing to get on to a bus without a conductor, and you don’t have the change to pay the fee. You either deposite big bills like 10 RMB or 50 RMB into the box, and donate the part higher than the ticket to the bus company, or leave. Some passenger does deposite 10 RMB, and stand at the gate to be temp conductor, and collect coins from the next 4 passengers. It happens all the time.
Urban Buses or Suburb Buses
There are still other types of buses. Most buses are urban buses, and you can tell it from their numbers, for example, Bus 42, 926, 911… There are some buses named by two Chinese characters, like Xumin Line 徐闵线. Chances are, these buses go to suburb areas of Shanghai. There are some speical buses, like Bridge Line #1 – #5, Tunnel Line #1 – 6, and Pudong Airport Shuttle #1 – #7.
Buses are very easily accessed in the whole city. If you can read Chinese maps, do spend some time on the map and study the route of buses. Typically, you can get to any place by one bus, or two buses. Here is instruction on How to Read Shanghai Bus Stop Plate.
Have questions? Call 96900 for Navigation Direction. Please note: this phone charges about 1 RMB per minute (not so sure though).