The McHowe World Tour - Part III- 12 hours in Shanghai

what to do on a 12-hour LAYOVER in shanghai

 other than eating dumplings

which you should also do


if you wander around saying jiaozi (pron: jow-zuh) someone should point you in the direction of dumplings.
— solid advice from a good friend

I always feel uncomfortable saying I've been to a place if I was there for less than 24 hours.  

Take for example, Mississippi.  On our USA-roadtrip while passing through Mississippi, we hit an insane storm that had me driving at about 30 km/hour for 2 hours while Kyle slept in a Benadryl-induced coma and I was pretty sure we were going to die the whole time, so, does that mean I can tell people I've been to Mississippi? I've been on the fence about this for years.

So can I say I've been to China?  I have the photos to prove I have.  I have a pin in my map on the wall.  I'm just putting a general disclaimer that I don't really feel I've been there, or in any way can speak to what China is all about.  But I had a pretty awesome, albeit exhausting, day there.  And I do actually have some advice to give to other people with a similar layover.  

Why do I think I should share my advice despite only being there for such a short time?

Because, like any good millennial, when we were about to leave India, the first thing we did was put out a call on social media- "if you had 6 hours to spend in Shanghai what would you do?" (6 hours by the time we counted in to-and-from the airport and international security)

Here's what our friends said:




Really what we were hoping for was a specific place to get the dumplings.  We found some, but full disclosure: they were sub par, so I'm not recommending a specific spot, but I can say if you find yours in a place that's a cafeteria-like dim sum kind of place, don't take the top basket.  That one is kind of for display.  Also get bubble tea.  

the view from yuyuan gardens

What we ended up doing was reading a bunch of blog posts on what to do on a 12-hour-layover in Shanghai, and LOOK AT ME NOW.  Here's my blog post on what to do if you have a 12-hour layover in Shanghai.  

if you have a 12 hour layover in shanghai you should get dumplings.


We started the morning off by semi-figuring out our credit cards weren't really going to work there and exchanging the $20 USD we had, to pay for our breakfast of shrimp soup at the airport and then taking the bullet train into the city.  I say semi-figured it out because our cards worked sometimes but usually only after a few tries and a swipe rather than a pin.  So all day we kept having panic attacks that we weren't going to be able to pay for things, rather than say, attempting to get money out like someone who had their act together probably would have.  

Legit suggestion: make sure you have us dollars you can exchange for yuan // check with your credit card provider as to what the deal is with your credit card in china before arriving.

Kyle looked this up once we got home and what he found out was that people just have difficulty using our chip cards, it's not an issue inherient to the card, so exchanging cash at the airport is probably your best bet.  

We went to the Bund and to Yuyuan Garden and we both really felt like we hit the major points of being a tourist in Shanghai.  

the subway in shanghai is worth getting all heart eyes over

The big game changers for our trip were 1) we found a super tourist map of the city at the bullet train kiosk, (so look for that) and 2) a coworker from China got her local friend to write out very extensive directions for me on what to do, and I've shared them below.  

We made our way around all day by taking public transit, so we got day passes, which you can pick up at the same time as your bullet-train pass.


Oh man.  I love it so much.  Like actual waxing of poetry love.  

World travelling.  It's the most incredible, exhausting, inspiring, infuriating, uplifting, and terrifying thing to do.    I get lost all the time, literally and figuratively, exploring the world, trying to soak in as much as as I can.

But being lost is really scary.  I have no sense of direction, i.e. I would turn down the wrong street in my hometown, which literally has four streets you can turn onto.  So for me, that means not only am I spending all this energy making my way in a new place, but I also have spend all this time worrying about potentially wandering into danger, or really never finding my way home again.  

When a city has a rapid-transit system getting around becomes affordable, understandable and manageable.  All that needs to happen is to get a pass, look at the map, and then follow the signs.  When I'm in a city with rapid transit I don't have to be afraid of being lost.  I find it to be one of the most unifying, accessible things in the whole world.  I get to move through a new place with confidence.  

Magical liberation!

a local's advice on what to do on your layover

So if you're going to have a layover in Shanghai and are hoping to have more advice than "dumplings" this is the advice I got from the local-resource:

From Pudong International Airport(浦东国际机场) to Cheng Huang Miao (城隍庙)

1.    Walk about 300 meters to find the Pudong Airport Station (浦东国际机场站).

2.    Get on the Maglev Line (磁悬浮), which runs between Pudong Airport Station and Longyang Road Station (龙阳路站). The interval is 15-20 minutes. The same-day round trip ticket costs ¥80 per person. It is strongly suggested to buy a Maglev and Metro Pass at ¥85 round trip (磁浮地铁一票通双程) because the pass allows you to take round trip Maglev Line and unlimited rides on all metro lines within 24 hours.

3.    Change to Subway Line 2, and get off at the 6th stop, called Nanjing Road East (南京东路)

4.    Walk about 250 meters to find Subway Line 10, get on the train, and get off at the 1st stop, called Yuyuan Garden (豫园站).

5.    Take the #1 exit, and walk about 550 meter, you will then arrive at Cheng Huang Miao.

The one way trip is about 1 hour and 50 minutes.

What we did is got off at the Bund stop, looked around there for a while, got back on the subway to get over to Yuyan Gardens then walked back to the Bund.  Both places are good for wandering around and getting selfies with lots of local people and picking up handbags (if you're into that sort of thing.  I'm pretty OK with selfies but didn't want a handbag.)

The Bund lights up in full glory a little bit after sunset and if you can wait around for it it's pretty fun.  We played pretty fast and loose with our timing to get back to airport but I'm happy we did. 

We walked a lot and then headed back to the airport- there are 2 international departure terminals so if you get to one and note that your flight isn't listed anywhere don't panic, it's probably at the other one.

important to note: eastern china's airline international departure food sucks.  

So if you can, get food before you go in there.  I know it's a gamble either way.  

kyle and his panda icecream

panda head

Advice is over, I just want to take a minute to talk about how cute Kyle was on this part of our trip. 

He wore his backpack on his front, because "it's actually super comfy."

And he stopped everything to get this panda ice cream, because "OHMYGOD ITS SO CUTE!"

It took the ice cream artist a long time to make, it had peppermint cotton candy, with chocolate eyes, nose and ears, and vanilla ice cream with pop rocks underneath.

Kyle uploaded it to Snapchat with "Panda" by Desiigner playing.  

It was too much man. 

rumimilk panda icecream, snapchatting, and an epic outfit.