City Sightseeing tour bus

Double-decker bus tour of the city for just 27RMB

For visitors to Shanghai, the hop-on-hop-off City Sightseeing double-decker tour buses are a quick and easy way to get around Shanghai’s biggest attractions. 

Not to be confused with the old school maroon and beige buses from Big Bus Tours, the kind you will also see in London or Paris, these big pillar-box red partially open-top coaches are the newer of the two tour companies rumbling along Shanghai’s streets. Run by Spring Tours, they are also the cheaper option with a ticket costing just 27RMB (Big Bus Tours are 300RMB including entry to two attractions) and passengers can get on and off the bus at any of its 15 stops as many times as they like within a one-day time frame The bus begins its route in front of the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre in People’s Square, with an army of ticket-sellers ready and waiting to explain the route in both Chinese and English. There are two route options: the Red Line, which goes through Puxi, and the shorter Green Line route in Pudong.

A Red Line bus comes within minutes, and upon boarding, each passenger is given a headset with which to listen to commentary in their choice of eight languages (including English, Mandarin, Japanese and French). Yet, as the bus passes the Shanghai Art Museum and turns toward Nanjing Xi Lu, it becomes clear that, while it claims to be GPS-linked, the prerecorded commentary is not quite synched up with the sites the bus is passing. Even worse, the observations are grating, with only occasional tidbits of information surrounded by long and repetitive stretches of the same smooth Kenny G jazz tune. 

The poor commentary isn’t an issue, however, if you’re using the bus not as an activity in itself, but as a means of transportation around the city. Between Nanjing Dong Lu and The Bund, many patrons forgo the headset altogether and just use the bus as a way to avoid the shopping bag wielding crowds.

After several stops along the Bund, the near-empty bus passes Yu Garden, heads toward the former site of the Korean Provisional Government and then moves past Xintiandi, with map clutching passengers getting on and off at each site. The only hitch in the otherwise smooth operation happens at the Shanghai Museum stop, when the bus mysteriously comes to a halt for fifteen minutes before the driver announces (in Chinese only) that the bus is inexplicably changing route to Pudong, and anybody who wants to stay in Puxi has to transfer to another bus, leaving the mostly American tourist crowd perplexed.

After the Shanghai Museum stop, the bus loops back around to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre to start the route over. Without disembarking to see the sites, the ride takes us about an hour and a half. We leave the tour with the impression that for the double-decker tour bus enthusiast, the City Sightseeing is definitely worth it for the money – just don’t expect to learn very much about Shanghai during the ride.

See more information at www.chinaspringtour.com or call 6251 5777. Purchase tickets on the bus for 30RMB, or book ahead online for 27RMB.

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