Compare Transportation Options From Pudong Airport To Suzhou To Find What Suits You Best
Suzhou is a wonderful historical city and popular travel destination, famous for its extensive gardens and peaceful water towns. It’s also growing in 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 for first-time travelers. 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 explains the best options to get to Suzhou from Shanghai Pudong Airport, keeping in mind the following 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 am I willing to make?
- Comfort: How comfortable am I sharing a full vehicle and/or walking with all of my luggage for varying distances at different points in the journey?
- Cost: What is my budget for this journey? Am I willing to spend more for a reduced time, increased convenience, and comfort?
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 brief analysis of each.
For quick reference, this table provides a 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||Low To Moderate|
|Cost||Low||(Get Quote)||Lowest||High (not fixed)|
|Preferably Yes||No||Definitely Yes||Definitely Yes|
- Time criteria includes the time required to get from Pudong Airport Arrival Hall to the final point in Suzhou.
- 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, and negotiating rates for the destination out of Shanghai can be a challenge.
Table of Content:
- Time: Slowest, 4.5 – 5.5 hr
- Convenience: Low
- Comfort: Lowest
- 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’re traveling on a budget, you can take the bus from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou. There is a long-distance Bus Station in 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 can be 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 3.5-4 hours depending on traffic, making the trip quite long and exhausting.
► The ticket can be purchased inside the Long-Distance Bus Station, at Gates 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the Pudong Arrival Hall, Terminal 1; the exit of the coach parking area.
► Bus Ticket Price: CNY 84 (US$ 12.5)
► 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: The public bus is definitely the most cost-effective option. Expect a lot of inconvenience, missteps, and discomfort due to the long route, carrying of luggage at each step, and the general need for a basic command of Chinese language. The bus tickets can’t be purchased in advance. Recommended only for the very cash-strapped, adventurous traveler.
- Time: Quickest, 1hr 45 min – 2hr
- Convenience: Highest
- Comfort: 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 is by far the most expeditious and comfortable way to travel from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou. No waiting in queues, no changing modes of transit, and an assurance that you’ll complete the journey without any 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, catch up on emails with the on-board WiFi, all without worrying about finding your way to/from Suzhou, or stressing about language difficulties and other such inconveniences.
*For late night plane arrivals, the private car hire to Suzhou is the best and safest 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 entire 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’ll be greeted by the driver at the Pudong Airport arrival hall that will be on-site prior to your arrival and waiting for you with your personalized name sign. The driver will escort you to the private car of your choice and assist you with your luggage. You can choose from economy sedans like VW Passat, executive sedans like Audi or Mercedes, or 6 passenger minivans.
Recommendation: The 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 services to Suzhou can cost as low as US$90. If you’ve just had a long international flight and have a busy work schedule ahead it’s a fantastic solution. Big groups and families with luggage can enjoy a reliable, worry-free commute. If you’d like a more luxurious travel experience, this is the ideal 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
- Travel Steps & Timeline:
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’ll 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 the Pudong Airport. The train from Shanghai to Suzhou only takes 30 minutes, however, you should prepare some additional time for getting from Pudong Airport to one of these train stations in Shanghai. You can get to these 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. Once in Suzhou, you’ll need to use a taxi or other public transportation from the station to get to your destination in Suzhou.
Recommendation: For business travelers without experience in reading traditional Chinese, getting to the train station and navigating yourself around can be a time-consuming and (at times) stressful experience. If you’re adventurous, light on luggage, enjoy train rides, and have plenty of time to spare, then taking a train is a decent option. Be prepared for inevitable delays, and plan your timing accordingly. You’ll need time to wait & queue for a taxi at the Pudong Airport or wait to get the Maglev ticket and travel to/from different subway stations in Shanghai, then wait again at the railway station while passing through security and purchasing your ticket; and again for the next train, and again at the taxi stand in Suzhou. For those looking for a more quick and easy alternative, a private car may be 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 about 80 minutes. Hongqiao Railway Station is located on the 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 time by taking a taxi from Pudong Airport to Hongqiao Station (about 75 mins journey in off-peak hours).
Once you arrive at the 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 waiting 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 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 Pudong Airport To Shanghai Railway Station: CNY 190-230 (US$ 28-34)
► Taxi Fare Pudong Airport To Hongqiao Railway Station: CNY 220-250 (US$ 32-37)
If you want to reach the railway station by subway, you will need to walk for about 15 mins from the Pudong Arrival Hall to the Pudong Airport Station of Metro Line 2, located between T1 and T2.
Shanghai Metro line 2 from Pudong Airport operates from 06:00 – 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. From there, change 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 (US$ 1.50)
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, take the Maglev fast train to Longyang Road Station, then get off there and change to Metro line 2 to go from Longyang Road Station to Century Avenue Station, then change 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 the Maglev fast train to Longyang Road Station, then get off there and change 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 the 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 (US$ 7.50)
► Subway Journey Cost: CNY 6 (US$ 1.00)
► 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 about 70 – 80 minutes, the journey from PVG to Hongqiao Railway Station is 90 minutes or more depending on traffic.
► Ticket Prices of Pudong Airport Bus: CNY 8-30 (US$ 1.50-4.50). 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, purchase 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 trains and normal trains which are slower (K, T, and Z trains). The normal trains take about 2 hours to get from Shanghai to Suzhou, whereas high-speed trains take roughly 30-40 minutes.
The G train is both available from Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. However, the D train is only available in Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station and is both less-expensive and slower than the G train. The G train 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 from 06:09 – 21:42, every 10-15 minutes.
From Hongqiao Railway Station “G” train departs from 05:48 – 22:55, whereas “D” train departs from 06:12 – 21:26, every 10 to 60 minutes.
From Shanghai Railway Station, normal trains (K, T, and Z trains) depart from: 08:51 – 23:47
► Train Ticket Price:
G type trains: CNY 35-40 (US$ 5-6) for a second class seat, CNY 60-65 (US$ 9-10) for a first class seat, and CNY75-120 for a business class seat.
D type trains: CNY 25.5 (US$ 4) for a second class seat and CNY 30.5 (US$ 4.50) 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, a Chinese bank card, and WeChat-wallet or Alipay (which are tied to your Chinese bank account); foreign credit cards are not accepted. You will need to bring your passport. Self-service machines are available for passengers holding a Chinese ID card only. It is advised to purchase train tickets a few days in advance in China due to the high demand.
If you choose to buy the ticket at the station on the same day you wish to travel to Suzhou, you’ll may need to wait 2-3 hours before you can get on the next available train. So, purchasing a train ticket in advance is highly recommended, especially if you go for a-day-trip and are rushed for time.
If you’re familiar with Chinese language and have a Chinese bank account, you can book train tickets online on Chinese Railways’ official website www.12306.cn with no extra fees, simply filling out your passport details.
If you’ve successfully purchased the train ticket online, it’s still highly recommended you arrive at the train station early (at least 40 minutes before the departure time) to print out your online reservation. You’ll need to show your reservation number and passport. Unfortunately, there is no fast queue for printing your online ticket, you’ll still need to queue up in the normal queue (which can be unpredictably long) together with the passengers who still need to purchase a ticket.
► Change Ticket:
If you wish to change your ticket to an earlier or later time, you can change it 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 confirm at the window before queuing up to avoid wasting time.
► Few Things to Note:
► During National holidays in China, the demand for trains is extremely high. The train tickets are usually sold out a month or 3 weeks in advance. It’s not recommended for tourists to travel during the National holidays, particularly: 1) Chinese New Year Period in January/February, and 2) National Golden week October 1–7th.
► Both the Hongqiao Railway and Shanghai Railway Stations are large stations, like airports, and it takes time to navigate through them, find the ticket counters, and find the platform or long-distance bus area. There are also multiple security checks at the entrances. Most people don’t 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 to be.
► Trains typically depart on time without delays. Arrive at the railway platform in advance to allow time to queue and board.
► Most railway stations in China are located out of the city center. Take into account 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:
Trains from Shanghai arrive at the Suzhou Railway and Suzhou North Stations. 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 the G and D bullet trains stop here. Taxis, buses, and subway are all available at this station. The journey to downtown Suzhou will take about 30 minutes.
Suzhou North Railway Station (苏州北站) is only for D and G trains running between Shanghai and Suzhou. From here, it takes half an hour to reach the Suzhou city center.
Suzhou Yuanqu Railway Station (苏州园区站) also serves D and G trains but this station is not recommended for most travelers because the location is very inconvenient, far from the city center.
- Time: 2.5 – 2.75 hours
- Convenience: Moderate
- Comfort: Low To Moderate
- Cost: High, not fixed
Summary: It’s not easy to find an authorized taxi that will go from Shanghai to other neighboring cities like Suzhou. The cabs are normally limited to operating within the city limits. For those that do, there are also additional tolls that taxi drivers must pay when leaving the Shanghai area. For that reason, they tend to refuse going to other cities. Prices for farther distances are usually negotiated, not calculated by taxi meter. Even if you can negotiate in Chinese with the driver (and taxi drivers don’t speak English), the price is subject to fluctuating depending on time, traffic conditions, and the driver’s mood. This is a cause of significant stress, frustration, and delay for many travelers.
*Note: More and more taxis are only accepting payments by WeChat or Alipay, cash is becoming less and less common in China. As of the date of this blog, you must open a Chinese bank account and link it to your WeChat or Alipay wallet in order to make such payments. Taxis also do not accept international credit cards.
Never attempt to take a ‘black taxi.’ These are illegal taxis driven by unlicensed drivers, you’ll see them outside of any big station or airport. These are notorious for scamming their passengers by offering a good price, only to leave their passenger in the middle of a highway. Rather, stay safe by booking a trustworthy private transfer online, prior to your arrival, to travel between Shanghai and Suzhou.
Recommendation: We would only recommend this option for travelers who master the local knowledge and ability to negotiate in Chinese. The traveler should be able to clearly negotiate with the taxi driver on pricing and explain the destination. However, this option should only be considered if all other options are unavailable. Uncertain travel times and unregulated rates should be enough to discourage most travelers.
Shanghai Pudong Airport to Suzhou Summary
With the numerous options available, there’s really no single “best way” to get to Suzhou from Pudong Airport. However, depending on your priorities, there are some clear winners:
- If your number #1 concern is price and you aren’t concerned with time or inconveniences along the way, you may consider taking a Shanghai-Suzhou High-speed Train.
- If you’re very concerned with keeping a low budget and have plenty of time to spare, you could take a Long-distance Bus.
- If your number #1 priority is safety, comfort, and time then you should consider hiring a Private Car with driver from Pudong Airport.
China Car Service provides private limousine transfers. If you are interested in private car service for your Pudong to Suzhou journey, please don’t hesitate to contact us: Bookings@ChinaCarService.com.
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