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What to do during a layover in Shanghai Pudong and Hongqiao airports?

Last Update: April 2019

Shanghai Pudong (PVG) airport is one of China is one of the main transportation hubs in Eastern Asia. Being the hub of China Eastern (from the SkyTeam alliance) and an important center for Air China (Star Alliance),  there are good chances to layover in Shanghai en-route from/to domestic destinations in China or long haul international flights.

6 hour

Up to 6 hour layover : what to do in PVG airport?

If you are in for a short layover, your key concern should beto make it on time to the connecting flight.

As PVG terminals are quite huge (specially Terminal 2, used by Star Alliance), you might factor in some walk time towards passport controls.  When arriving from international destinations you might want to allow up to 60-75 minutes to clear passport controls and customs towards your connecting flights.  I had mixed experience with queues in Shanghai PVG: typically they are very efficient, but you could face long waiting times, mainly due to sudden influx of long haul flights into your terminal.

Note that you should also allow additional 90-120 minutes to clear passport control (if applicable) and security on your way to your connecting flight. Therefore, if you layover is shorter than 6 hours i won’t consider the option to leave the terminal.

Free WIFI (FREE-AIRPORT-WIFI) can be obtained either by SMS to your mobile phone or available from designated kiosks, so you can catch up with work or plan your onward journey.

Restaurants serving local and international cuisine are available in the terminal concourses.  Don’t expect great food in PVG, as previous experience showed it’s typically a hit-or-miss.

VIP lounges are available  to get some rest.

Note for connecting passengers from the Hongqiao airport: If your connecting flight departs from the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA), you should allow at least no less than 4-5 hours to transfer between the airports and still make your flight. I strongly suggest to carefully check whether the connecting flight is feasible before booking.

7-12 hours layover: Visiting Shanghai

If your Chinese visa allows that and you are in for a longer layover, you might have the chance to visit the City center.

Leaving PVG to Shanghai

As part of your travel arrangements, we suggest that you carefully check your visa requirements. In general, Travellers with valid chinese entry visas are able to leave the airport for the city center, but you should check your specific condition when planning your journey.

Getting to the city

The easiest way to get to the city is via train. Pudong Airport is connected to the city via Metro Line number 2 and the amazing Shanghai Maglev Train.

Taxis are generally not recommended due to the heavy traffic, especially during the mornings.

Maglev Train: The Magnetic Levitation train is perhaps my favorite attraction in Shanghai. It crosses the 30 km from Pudong Airport to Longyang road  in roundabout 7 minutes. At full speed Maglev reaches an amazing 431 km/hour speed. Maglev departs every 15 minutes.

Line 2 Metro line: Links Pudong with the Hongqiao Airport and passes through People’s square and Lujiazui stations. Prices of Line 2 are considerable lower than the ones at Maglev.

Shanghai layover attractions tour for first timers

Here’s a simple itinerary for first timers in Shanghai .The tour should take 7-8 hours to complete, and can be pursued from both Pudong and Hongqiao airports:

  1. Walk to the Maglev train station in the Airport (it’s clearly marked with signs).
  2. Take the Maglev  and then transfer in Longyong road towards the tourist attractions. Don’t forget to take some pictures of the speedometer display your train car – 431 km/hour whoo oooho!
  3. From Longyong road, hop to Line 2 metro and drop at Lujiazui station.
  4. Take the lift to the Oriental Pearl Tower peak in Pudong. The view is spectacular (if it isn’t too foggy). If you are staying for the night, it’s even more beautiful.
  5. Cross the river to Pu-Xi (the western part) and stroll through the Bund promenade, that would be a great place for a classic Shanghai picture featuring the Oriental Pearl Tower.
  6. Have a drink in one of the Bund top-roof bars.
  7. Stroll around the Old City of Shanghai and Yuyuan garden. If you are in a short layover, this would be the time to hop to the Line 2 metro and the Maglev towards Pudong Airport (or alternatively take a taxi).
  8. Funxing park – great place to immerse into a more genuine Shanghai experience as you watch hundreds of people practicing tai chi in the park.
  9. If you are in for an overnight stopover, consider visiting the french concession or the Xintiandi area for nice restaurants and bars.

Did we forget anything? Feel free to leave us a comment to let us know.

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