How to Spend 3 to 12-Hour Layover in Shanghai

What to do on a layover in Shanghai less than 12 hours? When the time is under 6 hours or at night, stay at the airport for an ease. For an 8 or more hours’ layover in Shanghai in the day, you can go to downtown to visit one or two top attractions, such as the Bund and Yuyuan Garden.

8-Hour Layover in Shanghai: Half Day Tour

8 hour layover in Shanghai is sufficient for a half-day tour as long as it is at daytime. However, you’d better stay at the airport, or sleep in a hotel nearby when the 8 hours fall at night. At both Pudong and Hongqiao airports, there are time lounges for you.

For 8 hours during the day, you may go to see a few classic attractions. Given that the traffic in Shanghai downtown is usually very heavy, you need 2-3 hours for travelling from and to the airport. Setting aside another 2 hours for going on board, you get merely 3-4 hours for sightseeing. Here are two suggested tour plans:


From Pudong Airport, take Shanghai Metro Line 2 for around 70 minutes to East Nanjing Rd. Station. Then walk eastwards for about 15 minutes along Nanjing Road, the Bund is before your eyes.

From Hongqiao Airport Terminal 1, Metro Line 10 can be caught. From the Terminal 2, both Line 10 and Line 2 are available. About 35 minutes later, get off at East Nanjing Rd. Station, and then walk to the Bund.

Located on the west bank of the Huangpu River, the mother river of Shanghai, the Bund is the landmark and must-see in this city. You may see exotic buildings in different styles on it, and see the skyscrapers across the Huangpu River on the east bank, like Shanghai World Financial Center, Oriental Pearl Tower, and Shanghai Tower. Time permitting, you can also take a cruise on Huangpu River in the 8 hour layover in Shanghai.

Bear in mind that go back to Pudong Airport at least 3.5 hours ahead of your boarding time, and 3 hours ahead to Hongqiao Airport.


Plan B. Yu Garden and Xintiandi

To Yu Garden from Pudong Airport, take metro Line 2 from Pudong Airport Station to East Nanjing Rd. Station, then transfer to metro Line 10 to Yuyuan Garden Station, which takes 80min in total.

If you go from Hongqiao Airport, take metro Line 10 at Terminal 1 or Terminal 2, and get off at Yuyuan Garden Station, taking 35 minutes to get there.

Centuries-old Yuyuan Garden is a representative classic garden in southern China style, with traditional halls and pavilions, rockeries and lakes. You are suggested to stroll there for 1.5 hours during your 8 hour layover in Shanghai, and then go shopping and try local snacks at the neighboring Yuyuan Bazaar for 0.5 hour. After, get on metro Line 10 again to Xintiandi Station. You can reach the historical block within 20 minutes, then discover world-famous fashion brands, creative shops and restaurants in traditional Shikumen residences.

The same as Plan A, you need to return to the airport in advance, 3.5h and 3h prior to flight time respectively to Pudong Airport and Hongqiao Airport. To Pudong Airport, take metro Line 10 to East Nanjing Rd. Station and then change to Line 2 to reach the destination. Metro Line 10 can send you to Hongqiao Airport directly.

10 to 12-Hour Layover in Shanghai

On a 10-12 hour layover in Shanghai, you would get more time to sightsee leisurely. You can expand the plan for the above 8 hour layover in Shanghai. For instance, adding the Nanjing Road, the most prosperous commercial street to Plan A; or tour all attractions listed on both the Plan A and Plan B, as they are near each other.

Read More: What to Do on an Overnight Layover in Shanghai: 12 to 24 Hours


3 to 6-Hour Layover in Shanghai

With a less than 6 hour layover in Shanghai, it would be better spend the time at the airport instead of visiting the downtown. The two airports in Shanghai are well-equipped with various restaurants of different cuisines, shops of daily uses and famed brands, and passenger-friendly lounges, offering you pleasant experiences to have meals, go shopping and rest.

Read More:
What to Do in Shanghai Airport - Pudong Airport

6 Things to Do in Shanghai Airport - Hongqiao Airport

Further Reading:
Layover in Shanghai: All about Stopover Ideas

Long Layover in Shanghai: How to plan 1 to 6 days in Shanghai

- Last updated on Apr. 25, 2023 by Catherine He -
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