Before You Go
- Beijing’s Best Sights
- Beijing’s Best Restaurants
- Beijing’s Best Nightlife
- Beijing’s Best Arts and Leisure
- Beijing’s Best Shops
- Beijing’s Best Hotels
- Best of the Great Wall
- Shanghai’s Best Sights
- Shanghai’s Best Restaurants
- Shanghai’s Best Nightlife
- Shanghai’s Best Arts and Leisure
- Shanghai’s Best Shops
- Shanghai’s Best Hotels
- Shanghai’s Best Excursions
All non-Chinese citizens require a visa to enter the country. The tourist visa is known as the L and comes as Single Entry (valid for 3-6 months), Double Entry (valid for 6 months), or Multiple Entry (valid for 6 months or 12 months). Contact your local Chinese embassy or consulate for details. Your passport must have at least six months remaining before it expires.
International flights into Beijing come into Capital Airport. It’s one of the busiest airports in the world and one of the best equipped. A special branch of the Beijing subway system called the Airport Express line goes to downtown Dongzhimen. If you’d rather take the bus, there are six shuttle bus routes into the city. Or, you can hail a taxi.
Most domestic arrivals into Shanghai usually land at Hongqiao Airport. International flights (and some domestic, depending on the airline) come into Pudong International Airport. This mighty air-hub is connected to the city by the super-fast Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) train, which takes just eight minutes to cover the 30 kilometers (19 mi) to Longyang Road station. Other options for getting into town include a taxi or the metro.
Travel between Beijing and Shanghai got infinitely more convenient with the opening of the High-Speed Railway in June 2011. The train zips between the cities in just five hours. A cheaper option is the regular train, which usually sets off in the evening and arrives early the following morning. Air travel between the cities is fast and convenient, taking just under two hours.
What to Take
The fancier restaurants and bars in Beijing and Shanghai may balk at shorts, sandals, and sneakers, so pack some dressier outfits. Take a waterproof jacket if you’re visiting in late spring or summer. Umbrellas can be bought cheaply at most convenience stores. Both cities are populated with shops of all varieties, from pharmacies to clothing shops, so don’t panic if you forget to pack something.
© Susie Gordon from Moon Beijing & Shanghai, 2nd Edition