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).
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.
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.