Although the temperatures are high throughout the summer, many people book flights to Shanghai between May and November. Labour Day which is May 1 is a particularly busy time. This is also known as International Workers’ Day and is associated with the start of spring. Expect the city to be very crowded during this public holiday. Other peak times usually occur around National Day (October 1) and Chinese New Year (January or February, the exact date depends upon the lunar calendar). The atmosphere in Shanghai during the Chinese New Year celebrations is electric. A number of events take place across the city, including a number of lantern shows. The most popular is at Yu Garden. Fairs also take place, in particular Guqi Garden New Year Fair which has a whole host of traditional Chinese festivities, including lion and dragon dances, lantern shows and children’s activities.
If you are looking for cheap flights to Shanghai and are happy to brave the colder weather, the months of December, January and February are the best. Although do consider that Chinese New Year falls during this period and Shanghai will be teeming with people. You may also be able to find cheaper flights to Shanghai and lower hotel rates during the shoulder season months of March and April.
Once upon a time, the Huangpu River, which divides Shanghai into east (Pudong) and west (Puxi), was the centre of the opium trade. Today, it is the largest city in China. Millions of people from around the world take flights to Shanghai each year to visit or do business.
Take a flight to Shanghai and visit Pudong, the ultra-modern financial hub. It was a farmland less than 20 years ago, but its skyline now is futuristic, dominated by the colourful Pearl TV Tower, the Jinmao Tower and the World Financial Centre Tower.
In contrast, Puxi is the older part of Shanghai. It boasts the Bund riverfront park (there are more than 50 historic buildings in different architectural styles – British, French, Russian, German, American), the French Concession Area, Yu Yuan Garden in the Old Town and swanky haute couture shops.
Despite its overt bow to commercialism, the city also features many traditional Chinese treasures, some of which can be seen at the Shanghai Museum. Vast collections of jade artefacts, traditional costumes and furniture are all on display.
The climate in Shanghai is humid subtropical. Summer temperatures can soar to the mid-30s with 80 per cent humidity, which can be off putting to some travellers. Similarly, the damp and chilly climate during winter discourages many visitors from booking flights to Shanghai during this period. December and January temperatures can hover around the freezing mark, but snow is rare. The most temperate seasons are spring, although it’s sometimes rainy with unpredictable temperatures, and autumn, which is mostly dry and sunny. In May and October the temperature is very comfortable, usually in the teens and 20s. Typhoons can be a risk during summer and the beginning of autumn.
The roads are crowded, and, thanks to Shanghai’s superb public-transport network and cheap taxis, there’s no need to even think about renting a car. The public transport system covers metro, buses and trolleybuses. Pick up a Shanghai Public Transportation Card if you are staying for a few days. It can be used on all modes of public transport including the ferries that connect Pudong with Puxi. Several parts of Shanghai, the Bund for example, can be explored on foot. There are also biking tours.
From Pudong international airport (PVG), there are buses and taxis, but the best way to get downtown is by Maglev train. The 30 km trip takes just seven minutes.
There are also buses and taxis from Hongqiao Airport (SHA). Or, take a bus or taxi to Songhong Rd. Station and catch the subway to the city centre there.
(prices quoted are from London)