Maglev train

For anyone arriving into Shanghai through Pudong International Airport (PVG), riding the Maglev (cífú, 磁浮) is the perfect introduction to the city’s hyperspeed dash into the future. Floating above the line, reaching speeds of up to 430 kmph (267 mph), and taking less than eight minutes to travel the 30 km (19 mi) to the other end, it’s an absolutely unforgettable experience; fields, farms, and factories all flashing by the window. A digital display in each carriage shows the speed at which you’re travelling, making for a great way to start your photo album.

There’s one big problem, though: the other end of the line is nowhere near downtown Shanghai. Instread you’ll find yourself deposited at distant Metro Line 2 Longyang Lu Station, still half an hour from the center of the city by road or rail.

If you decide to take a taxi from here be on your guard. Instances of rigged meters and false fares are rare in Shanghai, but the drivers lurking outside Longyang Lu have a bad reputation. It should cost no more than 50 RMB to get to People’s Square, regardless of the time of day.

Perhaps that’s for the best, the Maglev was never really part of the infrastructure, and it works better as technological showpiece. Even if you’re not flying in or out of PVG it’s still worth making time for: as an icon of the city, it’s up there with the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Bund.

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