If you're visiting Shanghai soon or have just arrived in Shanghai - welcome! This section of the FAQ aims to help you hit the ground running.

If you're still unsure of anything after you've gone through all of the content in this section, feel free to post specific questions on /r/shanghai.

Shanghai is a fast-paced cosmopolitan city of huge opportunity, but there may also be unpleasant issues for the newcomer such as scams, pollution, and problems with public transport that are easily remedied with a little prior research and preparation.

Visitor registration

Main article: Visitor registration

First things first: Chinese law demands that all visitors without a residence permit must go to the police station and register within 24 hours of arrival. If you stay at a hotel or hostel this is done for you upon checking in, but if you are staying with friends or family you must do it yourself. The visitor registration article has a full guide on getting your temporary residence permit.


Main article: Accommodation

Accommodation in Shanghai usually falls into two categories: short-term stay for visitors or long-term rental solutions. If you're looking to buy a house in Shanghai, we suggest getting off the internet and contacting an expert.

What should I expect in Shanghai?

Main article: What should I expect in Shanghai?

This is an incredibly broad question, and one that very much depends on where you come from, and what your preconceptions of living in Shanghai are. In general, westerners coming to Shanghai suffer from a certain degree of culture shock at first, given that the Chinese culture, language, and way of life are all markedly different from most western countries.

Where can I get a SIM card/mobile phone?

Main article: Where can I get a SIM card/mobile phone?

A mobile phone is a must-have weapon in the arsenal of anyone planning to get anything serious done in Shanghai. With more than 920 million mobile subscriptions, Chinese mobile phone numbers are 11-digits long and can take a while to commit to memory.

What are some useful Chinese phrases?

Main article: What are some useful Chinese phrases?

Being able to rattle off a few set phrases will make living in Shanghai much easier. While English is widely spoken compared with pretty much every other city in China, the majority of Shanghai residents do not speak a great deal of English, and being able to communicate basic pleasantries and make basic requests can really help.

Common scams

Main article: Common scams

While Shanghai is generally an extremely safe city in terms of violent crime, there are certain tricks and scams in operation, mostly around areas commonly frequented by unsuspecting tourists.

Water and air pollution

Main article: Water and air pollution

Although cities like Beijing, Lanzhou and Linfen grab the headlines when it comes to China's most polluted cities, Shanghai has its own issues with water and air pollution.

Making friends

It can be tough to make friends in a new city, especially in a place as large and exotic as Shanghai. If you're looking for tips on the best way to get out there and make new connections, check out this helpful blog.

Welcoming groups

Groups like the Community Center Shanghai run half-day sessions at Pudong, Minhang, and Hongqiao locations to meet the demands of back-to-school and new year time periods. Topics include health, work life, family life, and tech with breakfast, lunch, and child-care provided.

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