Every summer and winter, expats in Changzhou often contemplate how to spend their holidays. Typically, Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans prefer going back in January and Febuary — those are the warmest months in the southern hemisphere. Most everybody else rushes to Pudong come June, July, and August. This makes for a commonly asked question. How do you get there? Here are the most common answers.
- Task a Chinese Friend to Pick You Up or Drop You Off
Just don’t do this if you can avoid it. Don’t. Driving from Changzhou to Shanghai by itself is time consuming, and that’s just to the city limits. And do not forget that gas and road tolls cost money. Metropolitan traffic jams are nothing new inside Shanghai. If you ask the same friend to do this for you all the time, you are taking advantage of them and wasting their time. They might end up resenting you for this.
2. Private Driver
Out of all options, this is the most expensive option. It’s also the most convenient. This can range anywhere between 700 to 1000+ RMB. If you are on a business or engineering salary, cost may not be an option and this may be a bargain for you.
Health is another reason. Getting from Changzhou to Shanghai’s international travel hub is time consuming and physically taxing. If you have, lets say, issue with your legs, the extra money for the convenience is actually worth it. At the beginning of every summer season, request for driver recommendations become common on Facebook and WeChat forums.
3. The Bus from Shanghai Central Station
Many people swear by this option as the ultimate convenience. You simple go to the main station, and the bus stop is on the far side of the plaza with the clock tower. The fare, last time I did this, was about 30 RMB. You simply stow your bags, get on the bus, and relax.
Personally, I do not like doing this. If you are worrying about your departure time, you have to calculate how often the bus leaves, and trust me, it wasn’t every half hour last time I tried. Also, the bus has to contend with Shanghai traffic. That can be congested on a summer day. Add rain, and it just gets worse. Maybe, though, it’s better for when you are returning to China, and you don’t have to worry about anything other than getting home.
4. Subway with Optional Maglev Ride
I am biased. This is my preferred method. It is easy to manage time, and that is saying a lot, since I am math stupid. It goes like this.
- Take the high speed train from either the downtown or north Changzhou stations to Shanghai Hongqiao.
- Go to the subway and get on Line 2. Before Hongqiao, there is only one stop. The subway car will not be crowded. There will, however, be a crowd of people trying to get on with you. There will be a mad dash for seats. Eventually, the crowd will thin out after many stops. You can stay on this line; it terminates at Pudong. However, if you get off at Longyang Station 龙杨战, you can transfer to the high speed Maglev. It’s 50 RMB, but it puts you into Pudong in just eight minutes.
The time calculation goes like this. Budget one hour to get to Shanghai Hongqiao via high speed train. Budget one more hour via subway and maglev. For me, it’s become the most consistently reliable. Sure, it’s not the most comfortabe way, but sometimes you do not know what delays you will face in Pudong itself. This method allows you a consistent “two hours” rule from a Changzhou train station to the airport.
Keep in mind that this is general advice. Each of these options could be broken down into more detailed “how to” explanations.