Expo 2010 – Guide to Plan your Trip for Shanghai Expo

luggage ExpoIf you have seen photos of the amazing pavilion designs and following the news and anticipation of the World’s biggest Expo since last year, I’m sure you are as excited as me about making your visit to Shanghai World Expo 2010!

However, if this is your maiden visit to the Middle Kingdom and you are a little clueless as to where to start, just follow this guide to make your preparation smooth and easy.

You will also find a list of useful articles in our Shanghai World Expo 2010 Definitive Guide, covering topics from Ticketing to Transport to Travel attractions in Shanghai. With a little reading, you can plan your itinerary better.

Planning your Trip to the Expo

So you have made up your mind to set foot on Shanghai for the big event. As you throw your clothes, ipods and your beloved pet dog into your luggage bags, you pause and ponder.. ‘should I purchase my air tickets first, or call to check if my laundry is ready?”

Truth is, there is no right order of doing things as long as it works. However, at iLearn, we have created a clear and easy checklist as our recommendation.

1. Create an Itinerary

Draw up a simple Plan:

  1. map pinsDuration of trip
    • How long do you plan to visit?
    • How long can you afford to take leave from work?
  2. Dates for trip
    • When to travel?
    • Try to avoid visiting during the 17 Expo Peak Days as it is expected to be more crowded than usual.
      • China Labor’s Day (May 1st-3rd, 2010)
      • National Day (October 1st – 7th, 2010) and
      • Expo Ending Week (October 25th – 31st, 2010)
  3. Number of people
    • Who to bring along as companions on the trip?
      Companions are good for reducing lodging and transport expenses, sharing the fun of exploring new places and for pointing the blaming finger at when you occasionally get lost.
  4. Places to visit
    • Being in Shanghai for the Expo, you probably will want to spend another 2-5 days exploring Shanghai city.
      If you have the time, why not visit nearby attractions in neighbouring cities like Suzhou and Hangzhou?
      Perhaps take a flight north to Beijing Capital or south to the bustling cities of Guangzhou or Hong Kong?
  5. Set a Budget
    • You may want to set a rough budget, how much you are willing to spend. This can be used as a reference to where you stay, how long your trip is and where to visit.

With these factors set, you are ready to make your trip arrangements.

plane wall

2. Making Preflight Arrangements

Air tickets

Plane is your obvious choice of transport to Shanghai if you are living outside China. Check with your local travel agents or International Airlines what flights and routes are available.

Your choice is usually a Direct flight (a straight ride from your city to Shanghai) or an Indirect flight (requiring you to stop over and change flights somewhere in between the journey)

Either way, you will end up at Pudong International Airport of Shanghai. (Shanghai has another airport in Hongqiao, but that serves mostly for domestic flights)

Generally booking your air tickets early will get you a cheaper price, so planning early is advantageous. You also would want to avoid last minute bookings as you might not get your desired flight dates and timings.

Keeping your ticket flexible

In the event where you want to extend your trip, Airlines usually do allow you to make changes. Additional fees may incur. It is encouraged to check with the Airlines regarding their terms and conditions for flight date changes just so you know what to expect incase of changes in plans.

Hotel booking

It is strongly advisable to make your hotel booking beforehand, at least for the first few days when you land. If you want to extend or change your plans later on, you can do so easily when you are there.

Another thing to note is, all hotels require your passports when you check in. It may seem like an obvious thing; however, in a case where you leave your luggage in your Shanghai hotel, to travel on a day trip to neighbouring Suzhou city, this becomes applicable. If you didn’t bring your passport along, it will not be possible to plan a stay over.

Where should you stay?

The site of the Shanghai World Expo 2010 is not too far South from Shanghai downtown centre. It is on the waterfront area between Lupu and Nanpu bridges and stretches along the banks of the Huangpu River.

shanghai map

Shanghai Map showing location of World Expo 2010 Site

Shanghai is relatively easy to commute around in and there are several modes of transport to the Shanghai Expo site (Transport info to Expo site – official Expo website), so it will be relatively convenient for you no matter your choice of hotel. Your budget and lodging preferences should be your priority when seeking lodging. Of course, a hotel near the city with shops and restaurants in close vicinity is usually a good idea.

Look at our Shanghai Lodging article for more information.

You can also visit Expotia.com which is the Shanghai World Expo Official Hotel Reservation website.

Visa Application

passport visaVisa is an approval document required to enter foreign countries. As with visiting other countries, the People’s Republic of China requires visitors to obtain Chinese Visa prior entry.

There are exceptions where certain nationalities are eligible to enter without visa to stay in China within 15 or 30 days. Terms vary with different countries. You can verify this with your traveling airline, travel agency or local China embassy.

Chances are that you will be required to apply for a visa. Simply head down to your local China embassy for application.

Generally you will need:

  • One completed application form (form available from the embassy or its website)
  • A valid passport with six (6) months of remaining validity and at least one blank visa page in it.
  • One recent passport-sized photo (approx. 2 x 2 square inch or slightly smaller)
  • Visa application charges applies

Different types of Visas are available dependent on your reason for visiting as well as duration of stay. A Single Entry Tourist Visa is probably what you need. Your maximum stay allowed is usually 90 days. Processing Time is about 3-5 business days. You can apply for express service to shorten your processing time and you may also entrust someone else or your travel/visa agent to drop off your application on your behalf.

Don’t fret on the fuss of visa application. It is usually simpler than it seems. Do a web search on your nationality’s requirements for entry to China or just call up the embassy for specific steps.

Travel Insurance

As with every overseas travel trip, it is advisable to apply for travel insurance. Temporary travel insurance is available to cover just the duration of your trip. A basic travel insurance policy is generally pretty affordable. Some common risks covered includes: medical expenses, trip cancellation/ interruption, delayed departure, loss or damage to personal possessions and legal assistance.

Specific coverage will depend on the type of policy and its terms.

Traveling Agents

Seeking Travel Agents are optional in your arrangements. You may seek them for air ticket booking and hotel booking. Or if you are the type who prefers to just go with the flow and let other people handle the nitty-gritty stuffs, full tour packages can be arranged with travel agencies.

Agencies will usually take care of visa application and travel insurance for you too, if you sign up for packaged tours.

There are times when you may feel rushed or lack of freedom over the itinerary, especially if it is a huge group tour, however customization may be arranged. Compare your agencies and packages if interested.

Currency in China – Renminbi (RMB)

Chinese Currency - renminbi

Chinese Currency - renminbi / RMB

The currency you will be using in China is the Renminbi (RMB) (人民币).

Converting currency to RMB outside China

You will be able to convert your currency at most banks or currency exchange counters in your country or at the International airports. Usually the exchange rate may not be as favourable as converting in China.

Converting currency to RMB in China

You may convert Foreign banknotes and traveller’s cheques to RMB in major banks in China.

Four major banks in China are Bank of China (BOC), the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and Construction Bank of China (CBC).
Your passports may be required for the conversion procedure. Your hotel may also have a currency exchange counter.

Credit / Debit Cards and ATMs

Major Credit and Debit cards like MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in major cities in China and of course in Shanghai. Large department stores and restaurants accept card payments. You will also be able to find ATMs (Automatic Teller machines) that allow you to withdraw RMB cash with your card.

Credit/debit card usually support International networks like Plus and Cirrus. Look behind your card to see what networks are supported. You will be able to find these logos on the ATMs in China where you will be able to withdraw from. An exchange rate will incur as well as a transaction fee according to your bank.

creditcard visa mastercard

It is advisable to convert at least a small amount of RMB before your trip so that you do not have to hassle with finding currency exchange counters immediately after you land. Then you have the option of converting the rest of your currency after checking into your hotels.

For your information, a cab fee from Shanghai airport to the city centre should cost below 300-400 RMB/yuan (40-70 minutes dependent of traffic conditions).

Check out our comprehensive guide to Chinese Currency – RMB.

Expo Tickets

You can read our detailed article on Shanghai World Expo 2010 – Ticketing Info.

But basically, you need to know that tickets in Expo are defined by either Peak day or Standard day. Peak days are during the dates of May 1st-3rd, October 1st – 7th and October 25th – 31st. The rest of the expo period is Standard day.

Peak day tickets are slightly more expensive, limited in volume and dated. One Peak day ticket allows 1 entry on the specified date. On the other hand,

Standard days are not dated and multi-day tickets are available.

Visting on Peak Day

This generally means that if you intend to visit the Expo during the Peak days, you will need 1 ticket for each day of expo visit. It is also advisable to purchase the Expo ticket prior your trip arrangements, to assure your entry to the expo site.

Visting on Standard Day

If your intended expo visit does not coincide with the Peak days, you are assured of your entry to the expo site as Standard day tickets are not volume limited and also not date specific.

I.e. – Getting a Single Day Standard Day ticket will allow you 1 entry ANY day within the expo period (not coinciding Peak days).
a 3 Day Standard Day ticket will allow you a TOTAL of 3 entries on ANY day within expo period (not
coinciding Peak days).

Hence for your Standard day tickets, there is no rush to purchase beforehand. You may buy your ticket onsite or at authorized sellers in Shanghai. Of course if you would like to purchase online or through overseas agents prior your trip, that is fine too and that may save some queuing time.

plane wall3. Packing your bags

luggage dog

According to our checklist, it is not a good idea to pack your dog in the luggage.

With your trip arrangements done, all you are left with is luggage packing! Here is a recommended short checklist of items to bring:

  • Travel documents (passports, air tickets, expo or other tickets, hotel booking info, itinerary, etc)
  • Cash / Credit Cards
  • Necessities (clothes / medication if required)
  • Personal comforts (mp3 player / laptop / phone)
  • Cameras and videocams (with enough storage capacity, battery and charger)

As with all holiday trips, you are sure to end up with bags of shopping and souvenirs. Either leave some room in your luggage, or bring along an empty bag to fill your goodies with.

plane wall4. Information to Prepare

  • Find out how best to reach your hotel from airport.
    Check with your hotel beforehand.If you do not mind bringing your luggage around and your hotel is near a metro station, the metro is a viable option. Pudong Shanghai International airport is connected to the metro system by a 15 minutes ride on the Maglev Train, the World’s fastest train. Otherwise, a cab is usually your choice of transport from the airport.
  • Print out or Write down your Hotel Information
    - hotel name, address and phone on paper (preferably in Chinese characters too). Show this to the driver to avoid ambiguity.

    china pavilion

    Find out about the China Pavilion and other uniquely designed pavilions

  • Do a little more reading on the Expo.
    You may want to read more on the Expo Pavilions and Expo Events and Performances to get an idea of what to expect and what to look out for.
    .
    The expo site is a huge place and if your visit is not long enough, you will have to be selective on what to visit.

plane wall

5. Some Tips and Additional Information

  • You will find official Taxi Stands at airports and train stations. Use them. Be wary of people approaching you to offer rides in non-taxi cars. There is no guarantee taking these ‘non official taxis’.
    So better be safe and take a cab that looks like a cab.
  • Transportation in Shanghai via metro/subway is an affordable and most convenient transport means. Taxis are relatively cheap too, but getting one during peak hours can prove to be a daunting task.
  • If you would like to maintain contactable on mobile while overseas, make sure your local mobile phone plans support Global/International/Auto Roaming.
    You may need to call up your mobile network provider to activate roaming services.
  • You may purchase prepaid mobile SIM cards at the airport or in many authorized shops around the country if you wish to. Passports may be required.
  • Most hotels will provide Internet connections.

I hope this guide has been useful for those keen on making the trip and if you need any more information or help, just leave a comment or send us an email :)






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2 Responses to “Expo 2010 – Guide to Plan your Trip for Shanghai Expo”

  1. N.Sit Says:

    Very neat, practical and entertaining article! My favourite is the pack-the-dog pic! lol

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