Compare Transportation Options From Pudong Airport To Suzhou To Find What Suits You Best.
Suzhou is a wonderful ancient city and popular travel destination famous for its extensive gardens and peaceful water towns, and of growing commercial importance in China, with more and more foreign travelers visiting Suzhou each year. While Suzhou is geographically close to Shanghai, getting from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou can be a tricky, time-consuming affair. Unfortunately for overseas travelers, there is no major international airport in Suzhou, so the most common route to Suzhou is via a flight into Shanghai Pudong Airport.
This blog will help explain the best available options to get to Suzhou from Shanghai Pudong Airport, weighing the most important criteria for all travelers to consider when traveling;
- Time: How many hours do I have to spend to get from Shanghai Airport to my Suzhou destination?
- Convenience: How many transit switches and different modes of transport during this trip am I willing to deal with?
- Comfort: How comfortable am I sharing a full vehicle and/or walking with all my luggage for some distances at various points in the journey?
- Cost: What is my budget for this journey? Am I willing to spend more for a reduced time, and increased convenience and comfort?
- Safety: Guarantee of safety during travel is important to consider in developing countries with lower safety standards, and where you don’t speak the language.
The most 4 common ways to get from Pudong Airport to Suzhou are by high-speed train (which also includes either taxi and/or subway travel as a necessary part of the journey), long-distance bus, taxi or private car. Each method varies significantly on the above criteria, and this blog will give a detailed analysis of each.
For quick reference firstly, this table provides a quick summary of the transportation options, and how each ranks on the import travel criteria.
From Shanghai Pudong Airport To Suzhou Hotel
(+subway and/or taxi)
|Time||3.5 – 4.5 hours||1.75 – 2.0 hours
|4.5 – 5.5 hrs||2.5 – 2.75 hours|
(Most Transit Switches)
|Comfort||Low To Moderate||Highest||Lowest||High|
|Safety||Moderate to High||Highest||Low To Moderate||Low To Moderate|
|Preferably Yes||No||Definitely Yes||Definitely Yes|
*Note: 1. Time criteria include the time required to get from Pudong Airport Arrival Hall to the final point in Suzhou.
2. English is not common, even in large cities like Shanghai. If you do not speak or understand Mandarin Chinese, using the bus or train can be more challenging and time-consuming. Taxi drivers also do not speak English, so communicating a destination out of Shanghai, and negotiating rates can be also a much higher challenge if you do not speak Chinese.
Table of Content:
- Time: Slowest, 4.5 – 5.5 hr
- Convenience: Low
- Comfort: Lowest
- Safety: Low To Moderate
- Cost: Lowest
- Travel Steps & Timeline:
Shanghai Pudong To Suzhou By Bus
Pudong Airport Arrival Hall → Walk to Bus Terminal & Queue / Purchase Tickets (20-30 min.)
Summary: If you are constrained on a budget, you can go by bus from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou. There is a long-distance Bus Station of Shanghai Pudong Airport which is located at the south end of the second floor of Terminal 1’s Bus Parking Lot (B1 Floor of P1 Parking Lot). The bus terminal is difficult to locate even for local citizens. There are no clear signs at the Arrival Hall, and the entrance is from the parking lot.
► The bus from Pudong Airport to Suzhou takes about 3.5 hours and depending on traffic can be up to 4 hours making the trip very long and exhausting.
► The ticket can be purchased inside the Long-Distance Bus Station, at the Gates 6, 7, 8, 9 of the Pudong Arrival Hall of Terminal 1; the exit of the coach parking area.
► Bus Ticket Price: The bus ticket costs CNY 84.
► Pudong Airport to Suzhou Bus Schedule: 09:05, 10:00, 10:40, 11:10, 11:40, 12:10, 12:45, 13:30, 14:15, 14:50, 15:20, 16:10, 16:50, 17:20, 18:10, 18:50, 19:40, 20:30, 21:00.
Recommendation: In brief, the public bus is the cheapest option but comes at a heavy cost. Expect a lot of inconvenience, missteps, and discomfort due to the long route, carrying luggage at each step, excessive time required, and the general need for a command of Chinese language to achieve successfully. The bus tickets can’t be purchased in advance, and the bus speed is extremely slow. Recommended only for the very cash-strapped, adventurous traveler.
- Time: Quickest, 1hr 45 min – 2hr
- Convenience: Highest
- Comfort: Highest
- Safety: Highest
- Cost: Get a quote
- Travel Steps & Timeline:
Shanghai Pudong To Suzhou By Car
Pudong Airport Arrival Hall → Driver Greets Passengers And Takes Their Luggage To Parked Vehicle (5 min.)
Summary: An English speaking private car service, while a more expensive choice, is by far the most expedient and comfortable way to travel from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou, as there is no waiting in queues, or changing modes of transit, and it assures that you complete the journey from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou quickly, without expended effort. If you’re planning to spend a few hours or a full day in Suzhou, the private car will save you a considerable amount of time. After a long international flight, you can relax in the backseat for a couple of hours, catch up with emails on WiFi without worrying about finding your way to Suzhou, or language difficulties or other inconveniences that may arise using other transportation options.
*For late night plane arrivals, the private car hire to Suzhou is perhaps the only viable and safe method to get there, as other options are either not running (train, bus) or not recommended (taxi) late at night.
There are door-to-door private cars from Shanghai to Suzhou that allow you to stay in a vehicle throughout the whole journey from Pudong Airport to your final destination in Suzhou. Many companies offer English speaking drivers and meet & greet services at the arrivals hall. You will be greeted by the driver at the Pudong Airport arrival hall that will be on-site prior to your arrival and be waiting for you with your name sign. The driver will escort you to the private car of your choice and help with your luggage. Then you will travel in a private car from Pudong Airport to your Suzhou destination. You can choose from economy sedans like VW Passat, executive sedans like Audi or Mercedes, or 6 passenger minivans.
Recommendation: Private car service from PVG Airport to Suzhou is recommended for time-sensitive business travelers and leisure travelers looking for the quickest, most comfortable and convenient way to travel. Private car service to Suzhou can cost upwards of US$90, but it is the only transportation option that requires you to do nothing except relax from Pudong Airport to your Suzhou destination. If you’ve just had a long international flight and have a busy work schedule ahead it is probably the right solution for you. Big groups and families with luggage should also consider this option, not only for convenience but also as the service cost is per vehicle, it actually becomes cheaper per person to travel this way for groups compared to other travel options. If you require a more luxurious travel experience, it is the transportation solution for you.
A private transfer is the safest, quickest way to travel from Shanghai to Suzhou. China Car Service is a trusted transportation service helping business travelers for almost two decades. We provide door-to-door service at competitive prices.
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- Time: 3.5 – 4.5 hrs (for first-time travelers), 2.5 – 3.5 hrs (for experienced travelers)
- Convenience: Lowest
- Comfort: Low To Moderate
- Cost: Low
- Safety: Moderate (Using Taxi for Step 1) To High (Using Subway / Maglev For Step 1)
- Travel Steps & Timeline: (see detailed step by step route description further below)
Shanghai Pudong To Suzhou By Train
Pudong Airport Arrival Hall → Walk to Taxi / Subway / Maglev Train Area & Queue and Purchase Tickets (15-20 min.)
Summary: There is no train that goes directly from Pudong Airport (PVG) to Suzhou. You will need to take a train from one of the two train stations in Shanghai: (a) Shanghai Railway Station (Shanghai Station) or (b) Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. Shanghai Station is closer to Pudong Airport but we explain the route from both stations. Although the train from Shanghai to Suzhou only takes 30 minutes, getting from Pudong Airport to one of these train stations in Shanghai takes a significant amount of time, accessible from Pudong Airport by either taxi or use of the Maglev train + subway. Once you arrive at the railway station in Shanghai, you will need to queue up for ticket purchase and wait for the next available train (which might be in the next 30 minutes or 2-3 hours). Once in Suzhou, you will need to use a taxi or public transportation to get to your hotel in Suzhou.
Recommendation: For business travelers without experience in reading traditional Chinese, or the patience for changing routes, getting to the train station and navigating yourself around the station can be a time-consuming and stressful experience. If you’re adventurous, light on luggage, enjoy trains, and have extra time to spend, then taking a train from Shanghai to Suzhou is a decent option at relatively low cost (costs are given below). Be prepared for inevitable delays, and plan your timing accordingly – wait & queue for a taxi at Pudong Airport, or wait to get the Maglev ticket and at subway stations in Shanghai, wait again at the railway station while passing through security and purchasing a ticket, and again for the next train, and again at the taxi stand in Suzhou… not to mention the pain of having to deal with your luggage at each step of the way. For those who want quick and easy, and willing to pay a bit more, private car is a better choice.
Step-By-Step Route Description By Train:
►Step 1: Pudong Airport → Shanghai Railway Station
Shanghai Railway Station is 50 km away from Pudong Airport and the journey takes 80 minutes. Hongqiao Railway Station is located on the completely opposite side of the city from Pudong Airport. The distance between Pudong Airport and Hongqiao Station is 58 km and the journey takes about 90 minutes by subway. You can save your time by taking a taxi from Pudong Airport to Hongqiao Station (about 75 mins journey in off-peak hours).
Once you arrive to Pudong Airport, pass the immigration, get your luggage, and enter into the Arrival Hall, you will need to navigate yourself to the taxi queue area or to the subway / maglev train station following the signs.
Once you reach the taxi rank area, be prepared to wait in the taxi queue for about 10-15 minutes or more to get into the next available cab depending on the number of people waiting in a queue. The taxi drivers do not speak English and you should show them your destination address written in Chinese: Shanghai Station (上海站) or Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station (上海虹桥火车站). For a late night arrival, we recommend you to book a hotel for a night and arrange a private transfer that will guarantee your safe arrival to the hotel in Shanghai or arrange a direct transfer from Pudong Airport to Suzhou.
► Taxi Fare From Pudong Airport To Shanghai Railway Station: CNY 190-230
► Taxi Fare From Pudong Airport To Hongqiao Railway Station: CNY 220-250
If you want to reach the railway station by subway, you will need to walk a quite long distance (15 mins) from Pudong Arrival Hall to Pudong Airport Station of Metro Line 2 which is located between T1 and T2.
Shanghai metro line 2 from Pudong Airport operates from 06:00 with the last train at 22:29. So, if you have a late flight after 10.30 pm, you won’t be able to use the subway.
► Pudong Airport To Shanghai Railway Station By Subway:
(a) From Pudong Airport Station take line 2 to Century Avenue Station, change there to line 4. Take line 4 from Century Avenue to Shanghai Railway Station, where you can catch a high-speed train to Suzhou.
(b) From Pudong Airport Station you can also take line 2 to People’s Square Station, change there to line 1. Take line 1 from People’s Square to Shanghai Railway Station, where you can catch a high-speed train to Suzhou.
► Pudong Airport To Hongqiao Railway Station By Subway:
The metro line 2 goes directly to Hongqiao Railway Station (don’t confuse it with Hongqiao Airport Station). Getting from Pudong Airport Station to Hongqiao Railway Station takes about 1 hour by subway. From Hongqiao Railway Station, you can catch a high-speed train to Suzhou.
► Subway Journey Cost: CNY 10
Pudong Airport Arrival Hall → Maglev Train Terminal → Longyang Station Get Off → Subway Travel or Taxi Travel → Shanghai Railway Station or Hongqiao Railway Station → Suzhou Station (train) → Taxi Queue → Taxi Travel → Suzhou Final Destination.
► Pudong Airport To Shanghai Railway Station By Maglev Train:
(a) From Pudong Airport Station takes Maglev fast train to Longyang Road Station, get off there and interchange to Metro line 2 to go from Longyang Road Station to Century Avenue Station, interchange there to line 4. Take line 4 from Century Avenue to Shanghai Railway Station, and take a high speed train to Suzhou.
(b) From Pudong Airport Station take Maglev fast train to Longyang Road Station, get off there and interchange to Metro line 2 to go from Longyang Road Station to People’s Square Station. Change from Metro line 2 to line 1. Take line 1 from People’s Square to Shanghai Railway Station and catch a high speed train to Suzhou.
► Pudong Airport To Hongqiao Railway Station By Maglev Train:
From Pudong Airport Station take Maglev fast train to Longyang Road Station, interchange to Metro line 2 to go from Longyang Road Station to Hongqiao Railway Station.
► Maglev Train Ticket Price: CNY 50
► Subway Journey Cost: CNY 6
► Pudong Airport To Hongqiao Railway Station By Shuttle Bus:
The shuttles are available from Pudong Airport T1 & T2 to Shanghai Railway Station and Hongqiao Railway Station from 07:00 – 23:00.
Pudong Airport bus to Shanghai Railway Station takes 70 to 80 minutes, the journey from PVG to Hongqiao Railway Station is 90 minutes or more depending on the traffic.
► Ticket Prices of Pudong Airport Bus: CNY 8-30. You can pay cash to the conductor on-board.
Step 2: Shanghai Railway Station → Suzhou Railway Station
Once you reach Shanghai Railway Station or Hongqiao Railway Station, buy a train ticket and get on the train from Shanghai to Suzhou.
There are 2 types of high-speed trains that depart daily: D and G train and normal trains which are slower and of a lower class (K, T and Z trains). The normal train takes about 2 hours to get from Shanghai to Suzhou, whereas high-speed train takes 30-40 minutes.
G train is both available from Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. But D train is just available in Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station and is both cheaper and slower than G train. If you are lucky to get the ticket for G train, it will take about 30 minutes from Hongqiao Station to Suzhou, and 40 minutes from Shanghai Station to Suzhou.
► Train Schedule:
From Shanghai Railway Station to Suzhou G train departs at 06:09 – 21:42, every 10-15 minutes.
From Hongqiao Railway Station G train departs at 05:48 – 22:55, whereas D train departs at 06:12 – 21:26, with the frequency of 10 to 60 minutes.
From Shanghai Railway Station, normal trains (K, T and Z trains) depart at: 08:51 – 23:47
► Train Ticket Price:
G type trains: CNY35-40 for a second class seat, CNY60-65 for a first class seat, and CNY75-120 for a business class seat.
D type trains: CNY25.5 for a second class seat and CNY30.5 for a first class seat.
► How To Buy Train Tickets:
► At a Train Station:
You can buy a train ticket at any train station in Shanghai using cash, Chinese bank card, as well as wechat-wallet and Alipay which are tied to your Chinese bank account; foreign credit cards are not accepted. You will need to bring the original copy of your passport. Self-service machines are available for passengers holding a Chinese ID card only. It is advised to buy train tickets a few days ahead in China due to the high demand.
If you choose to buy the ticket at the station on a same day you want to travel to Suzhou, you’ll need to wait for 2-3 hours on average before you can get on the next available train. So, buying a train ticket in advance is highly recommended especially if you go for a-day-trip and cherish every hour.
If you are familiar with Chinese language and have a Chinese bank account, you can book train tickets online on Chinese Railway’s official website www.12306.cn without any extra fees, filling out your passport details.
If you successfully bought the train ticket online, it is still highly recommended to arrive at the train station early (at least 40 minutes before the departure) to print out your online reservation. You will need to show your reservation number and original copy of passport. Unfortunately, there is no fast queue for just printing out your online ticket, you will still need to queue up in the normal queue (which can be unpredictably long) together with other people who want to buy a ticket.
► Change Ticket:
If you want to change your ticket to earlier or later time, you can change it only once for free. Any changes to your ticket must be made at the specific window of the station for foreigners or normal windows but you should better confirm at the window before queuing up to avoid wasting of time.
► Few Things to Note:
► Please note that during National holidays in China, the demand for trains is extremely high. The train tickets are usually sold out a month or 3 weeks ahead. It is not recommended for tourists to travel during the National holidays, particularly: 1) the Chinese New Year Period in January/February, and 2) National Golden week October 1–7th.
► Both Hongqiao Railway Station and Shanghai Railway Stations are large stations like airports, and it takes time to navigate there, find the ticket counters, the railway platform or long-distance bus area. There are also multiple security checks at the entrances. Most people do not speak English and at times it could be a stressful experience to find where to go. But as long as you carefully follow the signs, you’ll get where you need.
►The good thing about trains is that they typically depart on time without delays. So please arrive at the railway platform in advance to queue and board.
► Most railway stations in China are located out of the city center which is not that flexible. Please take into account that you will need additional time to find the transportation to your final destination in Suzhou.
Step 3: Suzhou Railway Station → Suzhou Hotel / Final Destination:
► Arrival Train Stations in Suzhou:
The trains from Shanghai arrive at Suzhou Railway Station or the Suzhou North Station. From these stations, you can take a taxi, subway, bus or a private car to get to your hotel or other destination in Suzhou.
Suzhou Railway Station (苏州站) is the main station of Suzhou located in the downtown area. The lower class trains (T and K trains) as well as G- and D- bullet trains stop there. Taxi, subway, bus are all available at this station, and the journey to Suzhou downtown will take 30 minutes.
Suzhou North Railway Station (苏州北站) is only for D- and G- trains running between Shanghai and Suzhou. It takes half an hour to reach Suzhou city center.
Suzhou Yuanqu Railway Station (苏州园区站) both only serve D- and G- trains but this station is not recommended for travelers because the location is very inconvenient and far from the city center.
- Time: 2.5 – 2.75 hours
- Convenience: Low
- Comfort: High
- Safety: Low To Moderate
- Cost: Low to High, not fixed
Summary: It is not easy to find an authorized taxi that will go from Shanghai to other neighboring cities like Suzhou. The cabs are normally operating within the city area, and there are additional tolls for taxi drivers to pay when they leave Shanghai area. Therefore, many of them tend to refuse to go to other cities. Prices would be negotiated, not by taxi meter. Even if you can negotiate with the driver in Chinese (taxi drivers do not speak English) and the driver acts in good faith, the price he actually charges is uncertain and may fluctuate a lot depending on time, traffic and the driver’s mood, causing you significant stress, frustration and delay.
*Note: More and more taxis only take payment online by Wechat or Alipay now, as cash is less and less common in China. As of the date of this blog, you must open a Chinese bank account to link to Wechat or Alipay wallet, in order to make such payments. This can be problematic for foreigners, as taxis also don’t accept international credit cards.
There are also black taxis operating, and there is a chance to be scammed. Black taxis can offer you a price which would seem reasonable or even cheap, and then they can drop you off in the middle of a highway. You may end up significantly out of pocket and at the wrong destination by taking an illegal car. Booking a trustworthy private transfer online prior to your arrival is a better and safer option to travel between Shanghai and Suzhou.
Recommendation: We recommend this option only for travelers who have the local’s knowledge and ability to negotiate in Chinese clearly with the taxi driver on pricing and the destination. Even knowledgeable travelers looking for an authorized taxi cannot be certain on the journey time. Due to the uncertainty in timing, and the rate that the taxi driver will charge, this option neither ensures you to save your time or money nor guarantee your safety.
Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou Summary
With the multitude of options available there’s no one “best way” to get to Suzhou from Pudong Airport. However, depending on the priority of your requirements there are clear winners:
- If your number #1 concern is price and you aren’t concerned about time or the inconvenience of changing vehicles, you should take a Shanghai-Suzhou High-speed Train.
- If you’re concerned about the price and you want to travel on a very low budget and have more time to spare, you should take a Long-distance Bus.
- If your number #1 priority is expediency, comfort and time then you should consider hiring a Private Car with driver from Pudong Airport.
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