The city of Shanghai, China is a lot like an onion: seemingly straightforward on its surface but hiding layers of depth underneath. Its mix of ultra-modern, ancient, and traditional makes it a truly unique destination that’s begging to be explored. But in order to do that, you’ll have to get into the city, which is where this Shanghai Maglev train guide will come in handy.
What is the Shanghai Maglev Train?
The Shanghai Maglev Train, or SMT, is a high-speed train that connects Shanghai Pudong International Airport with Longyang Road Station in Pudong, Shanghai. The airport isn’t located in Shanghai; it’s actually situated about 19 miles east of the city. The fastest and easiest way to get into the city is to take this train.
The Shanghai Maglev is a feat of modern engineering. The word “maglev” is a contraction of the term “magnetic levitation,” which is the innovative technology the train runs on. The train’s cars levitate above the track with the help of powerful magnets.
These magnets allow the train to essentially fly at extremely high speeds up to 268 miles (430 kilometers) per hour, making it the fastest train in the world. Because of the speed at which it travels, this Shanghai Maglev train guide estimates the travel time into the city to be only 7-8 minutes. The Shanghai Maglev Train is the only operational maglev train in the world and has been in use since December 31, 2002.
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How to Find the Shanghai Maglev Train
While asking for help or directions in China can be a challenge for Westerners due to the language barrier, finding the Shanghai Maglev should be no problem. Once you go through Immigration at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, you will see Maglev signs everywhere.
The signs will point you in the right direction, so just follow them until you reach a ticket counter. There, you’ll pay for your ticket and head down to the platform. Trains arrive at the platform every 15 to 20 minutes, so you never have to wait long for the next one.
The first train that departs from the airport does so at 7:02 a.m., while the final train leaves for Longyang Road Station at 9:42 p.m. Conversely, the first train from Longyang Road Station begins its journey to the airport at 6:45 a.m. and the last leaves at 9:40 p.m.
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Shanghai Maglev Train Ticket Pricing
You’ll find in this Shanghai Maglev train guide that the pricing for tickets is straightforward. You can find basic pricing information below and info about other types of tickets here.
- One-Way Ticket – Regular Economy: 50 CNY / $7.10 USD
- Round Trip Ticket (valid for 7 days) – Regular Economy: 80 CNY / $11.35 USD
- One-Way Ticket – VIP: 100 CNY / $14.19 USD
- Round Trip Ticket (valid for 7 days) – VIP: 160 CNY / $22.71
Although the ride is only 7 to 8 minutes, this Shanghai Maglev train guide recommends going VIP if you don’t mind paying a few extra bucks. In my opinion, the experience is worth it. If you’re lucky, you might get an entire car to yourself like I did!
In general, trains in China are very prompt, and you usually only have a window of about 2 minutes to board. To ensure you don’t miss your train, I recommend getting to the ticket examiner at least 5 minutes before your train is set to depart. This should give you enough time to get to the platform and board.
Riding the Shanghai Maglev Train
My first time riding the Shanghai Maglev train was in April of 2019, just three months after I saw an experimental maglev train in Japan. During that same trip, I rode the Shinkansen bullet train several times between the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. I had thought the Japanese bullet trains were impressive—and they are—but the Shanghai Maglev is in a class of its own.
The Shanghai Maglev was almost completely silent as it sped toward Longyang Road Station. The only sound I could hear was a very gentle hiss. Above your head is a monitor that displays the train’s current speed. It’s fun to watch the numbers increase as you pick up speed and whiz past the trees and buildings outside your window!
My train maxed out at about 401 km/hour, or roughly 249 miles per hour. It’s not quite the top speed, but it’s still quite the ride! I could feel the train sway and rock back and forth as it turned and sped atop the track. I had never felt anything quite like it in my life! This Shanghai Maglev train guide recommends staying seated at all times while the train is in motion so you don’t get hurt.
NOTE: Children shorter than 120 centimeters (roughy 3.9 feet) tall are not allowed to ride the Shanghai Maglev train alone. When accompanied by an adult, they will ride for free.
Arrival at Longyang Road Station
Several transportation options will present themselves to you once you arrive at Longyang Road Station in Shanghai. You can catch several buses there, which will take you to various locations around the city. Four metro lines (Lines 2, 7, 16, and 18) are also available.
One way to get to your final destination from Longyang Road Station is hailing a taxi. However, a word of caution: some travelers who have caught taxis there have reported drivers who try to scam riders by overcharging customers. I hailed a taxi and didn’t have any problems during my ride to People’s Square but keep this in mind if you decide to catch one.
This Shanghai Maglev train guide highly recommends taking a ride on the SMT to get to Longyang Road Station from Pudong International Airport. It’s a thrilling, one-of-a-kind experience that you must have when you travel to Shanghai! As of August of 2019, you can’t ride a maglev train anywhere else in the world, so take advantage of this unique opportunity. Book a trip to Shanghai today to begin your Chinese vacation with a ride in one of these technological marvels!
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