Public transport in Shanghai fulfills high standards of quality. There are many taxis and they are cheap, but they can be hard to find in peak hours. There´s an overwhelming number of buses that cover downtown and the suburbs at ridiculous prices, but all the signals are in Chinese, so it can be difficult to use for newcomers. The best alternative is the subway: cheap, quick, clean, with many stations and perfectly adapted to foreigners.
Driving in Shanghai is dangerous. If expats choose to drive, they must realize that the driving culture in Shanghai is VERY different from driving in European or North American countries. Signs and highway lane markings are merely “suggestions.“ The white crosswalks mean nothing to Chinese drivers. Night driving is especially dangerous, since many cars and almost all trucks drive with their bright lights on and do not dim them for incoming traffic. Buses are the road bullies: running red lights, changing lanes without using turn signals or simply forcing their way in, and honking at pedestrians who might be legally crossing the street at a crosswalk. Expats beware!
China’s car market is rapidly expanding and cars have become major status symbols. About 2000 new cars are added to Shanghai’s highways every day, but many major highways are only two lanes wide. Many expats choose to hire drivers. A driver can be hired to work for one day only, or work on a daily basis and be paid monthly for their services. Employing a full-time driver is affordable, and will cost somewhere around RMB 2,500 per month (plus overtime), whereas a day trip around the city with a driver will cost more.
A good alternative to the car is buying an electrical bike or a bicycle. You still will have to face the dangers of the road, but it’s the best way of avoiding the frequent traffic jams. There is less risk involved as traffic moves at such a slow speed, any accident is usually just a fender bender without any importance.
To travel inside China, the trains are very convenient for the nearest cities. But for farther places inside the country or going abroad, the plane is the only way. There are many Chinese companies and the flight connections in Shanghai are good, but the prices are high compared with Western countries or other Asian transport hubs like Singapore, especially for internationals flights.