Shanghai

By | 16th January 2018

Is it worth hiring a car in Shanghai?

Do you need a car in Shanghai > Should you rent a car in Shanghai China > Shanghai ( PVG ) Do you need a car in Shanghai? Is it worth hiring a car in Shanghai? Should you rent a car in Shanghai?

Shanghai Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

20%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Shanghai but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

€160

 #187/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Shanghai during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €150

86/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 964 - of which 385 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

40%

#159/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Shanghai, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Shanghai public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

80%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Shanghai

40%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

40%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Shanghai good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Shanghai because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Shanghai. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

20%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Shanghai, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Shanghai Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Shanghai", "is it worth hiring a car in Shanghai", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Shanghai?

Do you need a car in Shanghai?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Shanghai " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Shanghai?

Is it worth hiring a car in Shanghai?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Shanghai" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Shanghai?

Should you rent a car in Shanghai?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Shanghai, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Shanghai compares with other destinations in  China or  Asia.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Shanghai?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

70%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

1

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Shanghai if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Shanghai for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Shanghai for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Shanghai if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Shanghai if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Shanghai if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Shanghai, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Shanghai if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Shanghai if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Shanghai if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Shanghai, or are there good reasons not to?

Do you need a car in Shanghai? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Shanghai?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Shanghai? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Shanghai as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Shanghai?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

[China]

This naturally means that any Shanghai car hire suggestions have to lean heavily towards saying that it’s probably best not to bother, although you can always hire a car with driver if you really want to go somewhere that is out of range of the more obvious taxis or public transport options.

Naturally, it goes without saying that for getting around the huge modern metropolis that is Shanghai, you can use the well developed subway system, which is one of the busiest in the world. On top of this, whether you arrive into the main Pudong International airport or not, it’s worth experiencing the Shanghai maglev train, just for the sheer thrill of it – the ride might be over in just 8 minutes, but this is still the fastest train service anywhere in the world!

Needless to say, for heading to destinations which are outside the reach of local trains, longer distance express services combined with high-speed trains running on dedicated lines make up a comprehensive network of rail routes, and this will almost certainly be faster and more convenient than going in a car (with hired driver).

Beyond Shanghai

Suzhou and Hangzhou

In particular, trains are useful for visiting Suzhou to the west and Hangzhou to the south-east, with both of these cities being within range of a long day trip, although we would suggest that it would be far better to overnight in the beautiful city of Hangzhou, which is well renowned for its gardens.

A two-week holiday in China might well include stopping off in Shanghai when travelling between Hong Kong and Beijing, a journey which would take around 10 hours to do by express train, with Shanghai being roughly in the middle, although many people will prefer to fly.

Three Gorges

Heading inland from Shanghai, you might want to look into a cruise through the legendary Three Gorges. The hugely controversial Three Gorges Dam has meant that some of the original points of interest in the Gorges, including  spectacular cliff hugging walkways, have been submerged, but the flipside has been that the dam has made this area more navigable, so there’s a wider choice of cruises on offer, and some have much better reputations than others!

However, the Three Gorges are still nowhere near Shanghai, but they are closer to Shanghai than any other major city with which Westerners might be familiar. A typical Three Gorges cruise might last 3 or 4 nights, and it would be easiest to fly to Chongqing first and then transfer back from Yichang to Chongqing by bus. The road journey is a spectacular mix of impressive engineering through tunnels and over bridges. you could also fly back to Shanghai, or onwards elsewhere from Yichang

Needless to say, whichever way you look at it, any excursion from Shanghai that involves the Three Gorges doesn’t need a rental car.

Is it worth hiring a car in Shanghai?  There’s little reason to want to hire a car here, and it’s extremely difficult to do so unless you either hire a car with driver or already have a valid Chinese licence.

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Verdict

What is our final score for Shanghai on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

2


Would you hire a car in Shanghai?

Have you driven in Shanghai? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Shanghai}? Do you need a car in Shanghai? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *