China’s gateway to the world. Shanghai is one of China’s most famous cities, and for a good reason. The unique blend of modern western culture mixed with ancient Chinese heritage has attracted expats and locals in their millions. Shanghai boasts a scene of wealth and abundance that few cities globally can now match. The thriving economy has forced thousands of businesses worldwide to take notice. As a result, Shanghai is a frequent stop for most business travelers heading to Asia. With so many opportunities available in China’s biggest city, your next trip could be to Shanghai. Navigating the city on your own though can be challenging. So why do most business travelers choose to hire a driver in Shanghai?
Here’s What You Should Know About Shanghai
Situated in the Yangtze River Delta on China’s eastern coast, Shanghai is one of China’s four direct-controlled municipalities. Boasting the world’s busiest container port, many importers now choose manufacturers in Shanghai to ship their goods. The city’s 24 million inhabitants are kept busy by more than just the manufacturing sector though. Thriving fashion and technology industries mean that Shanghai’s business opportunities are vast.
Perhaps more so than any other city in China, Shanghai’s visitors and residents hold a great affection for the city. So much so that CNN once provided 50 reasons why it may be the best city in the world. While the city may offer skyscrapers and business districts to rival the likes of New York, its cultural communities and diversity of culinary experiences place it towards the top of every tourist’s list when visiting Asia.
So Why Do You Need A Driver?
Shanghai might offer a unique blend of business and culture, but it’s not immune to China’s chaotic roads and over populated cities. Being China’s largest and most populated city means that crowds are likely to be more common than not in public places. No more so than Shanghai’s roads and public transport networks. If you’re thinking of driving yourself around, here’s why it’s not a great idea:
1. It’s Dangerous To Drive Yourself Around
If you’re insistent on getting behind the wheel yourself, you’ll have to complete the process of obtaining a Chinese Driver’s license. Your international driver’s license may work elsewhere in the world, but the Chinese Government recognizes neither the International Driver’s Permit (IDP) nor the Overseas Driver’s License. Getting an official Chinese driver’s license may not be overly complicated, but it is a tedious and timely process that you’ll unlikely have time for if you’re visiting for a few days on business.
2. The Road Networks Are Chaotic
Shanghai is an extraordinarily busy place. With so many people occupying the city at any given time, the roads are a reflection of just how chaotic Shanghai can be even if you’ve been there several times before. The roads themselves may be in the relatively good condition in the city center, not plagued by abnormal potholes and narrow roads found outside Shanghai, but the sheer volume of cars hard to navigate unless you’re very familiar with Chinese driving culture. Another factor that adds to the chaos foreigners are often overwhelmed by on Shanghai’s roads is the signs along highways and city streets. If you’re lucky enough to speak fluent Mandarin, you’ll be able to figure out where you’re going, but you’re unlikely to be able to decipher any of the road signs if you’re a first time visitor. Finding yourself heading in the wrong direction might result in you missing the meetings you traveled halfway across the globe to attend.
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3. You Won’t Find English Speaking Taxi Drivers
Taxi drivers in Shanghai are unlikely to speak English. Most taxi drivers avoid picking up foreigners, citing the inability to communicate with their passengers as a good reason to not even bother ferrying tourists about. If you do manage to find a taxi at the airport or outside your hotel, be sure to have your address written down by someone fluent in Mandarin to hand over to the taxi driver. Having details lost in translation with your taxi driver is a headache worth avoiding. Missing your meeting or making a bad first impression on new clients or business partners because your taxi driver misunderstood your destination and you arrived late can quickly negate the effort you’ve made in traveling all the way to Shanghai in the first place. However, a number of car service companies can provide you with a car and an English speaking driver in Shanghai.
While Shanghai does boast one of the earliest high-speed train networks you’ll find anywhere in the world, the drivers and staff are unlikely to speak any English, meaning you’ll need to be confident about which stops you’ll be getting off, etc. to avoid getting lost in a vast city.
4. Safety Should Come First
Luckily Shanghai’s taxi network is heavily regulated, meaning that the vast majority of their drivers and vehicles are of good standing. In a city as large as Shanghai, however, there will always be some who look to take advantage of foreigners by scamming them out of their luggage or money or have failed to maintain their vehicles to a standard that you feel comfortable with. The high-speed trains are fantastic if you’ve never been on one, but they fail to reach every corner of the city. Meaning you’re likely to need a connecting metro service or bus to get you to your end destination. Both of which might seem reasonably uncomfortable and crowded getting to and from the office during weekday peak hour traffic. When traveling to Shanghai on business, safety and comfort are generally at the forefront of most travelers minds. The only way to get around that guarantees your comfort and safety, will be to hire a driver from a car service that has proved its reliability.
5. You’re Likely To Find Queues Everywhere
With an estimated 24 million people mixing with millions of visitors every year in Shanghai, it’s no secret that public transport terminals are crowded. China is famed for being the most populous nation on earth, and there are few places where that is as apparent in Shanghai. The queues to find a licensed taxi at the airport are vast and long winding, taking up to 45 minutes before you find a taxi. The bus and train terminals are worse. Although the building themselves are great and impressive, they will be filled with locals and visitors alike rushing to find their seats. The volume of people crowding an unfamiliar space is not the be underestimated when you’re visiting for the first time, or you’re in a rush to catch your flight or make your meeting on time.
Great So Where Can You Hire A Driver In Shanghai?
Hiring a driver in Shanghai is easy. There are many options online, but research should be done ahead of time. Before you book, there are some things you should consider. Booking in advance can save you time and money. Discounts are usually to be found if you’re booking ahead of time, and you’ll have enough time to change your booking should your travel plans change. Plus if you have the need for a particular vehicle, booking in advance will ensure you get the car you want. Finding a driver in Shanghai, who offers additional services can be useful, some companies even offer guided tours of the city should you have time.
The process of finding a reputable company that you’re able to hire a driver in Shanghai from should always be quick and straightforward, and so should payment methods. Avoid scams and ensure that the company you choose has a payment method you’re familiar and comfortable with.
On your way to Shanghai soon? In need of a ride once you get there? Take advantage of our online discount and book today!