New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

The City


Shanghai is a place where soaring sky-scrapers cast shadows on old lane houses, where one-man rickshaws wait for passengers outside the station for one of the world’s fastest trains, and where fine cuisine from around the world and 50 cent fried rice are available on the same street. With the constant interplay of change and development in a historical setting, Shanghai is truly an exciting place to be and lends itself to a vibrant student life in and outside of the classroom.

Shanghai is the largest city in China, with best estimates placing the population at 16 to 24 million inhabitants. The city has a truly unique history, even though it could be considered relatively young when compared with Beijing and other cities. This characteristic, however, is central to the framework that makes Shanghai what it is today. Besides being China’s economic center, it is also an increasingly popular tourist destination with more than three million tourists annually, a number that is on the rise.

Unlike other Chinese cities, Shanghai is a great city for day walking, and is easily accessible by public transportation and taxi. Though it can be an expensive city, your cost of living depends on where you shop; for the most part, however, students from the US will find that Shanghai is very affordable. While the city gives you the wonderful opportunity to fully immerse yourself in local Chinese culture and history, it is also the most cosmopolitan city in China and offers a truly unique perspective on Chinese life.

On the downside, Shanghai, like many other Chinese cities, is still growing. Lack of pollution regulations for cars and factories has had harmful effects on the city’s air quality. Traffic can also be a mess and it is not just because of cars. The city’s streets are loaded with all kinds of vehicles, including buses, bicycles, and motorcycles. Visitors should always be on their toes.

NYU Shanghai also makes the transition easier by taking students around for the first few days. During orientation, you’ll get to see all the famous sites like Xintiandi and the Oriental Pearl Tower as well as eat at some great local restaurants. Throughout the semester, NYU Shanghai hosts lots of other excursions and events, so students will never feel bored.


The best thing to do is look up temperature gauges. We have had good results at For current local weather try Generally, the weather in Shanghai is similar to that of New York—hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

Getting Around

Buses are very inexpensive in Shanghai, but prices vary depending on if the bus is equipped with an air conditioner or not. Air-conditioned buses cost 2RMB, while non-air-conditioned buses only cost 1RMB.

The metro is beautiful, clean, quick, and very inexpensive! Note that they use the tap cards. It’s so easy—you don’t even have to take them out of your wallet to swipe. How convenient!

Definitely fast and cheap! But be aware that there can be terrible traffic. Take the light blue- and light green-colored taxis. They are the most respected company in Shanghai. Taxi drivers try to trick foreigners by overcharging them, rather than using the meter. So, if your driver doesn’t turn the meter on, just ask him to do so. On the other hand, if you know that the quoted price is near the actual cost of the ride and you feel comfortable paying that amount, go ahead and take it.

Bicycles are by far the most popular mode of transportation for the Chinese locals. BBC News estimates that Shanghai’s population of around 20 million people owns around 9 million bicycles, which is growing at a rate of 1 million bicycles a year. Riding a bike around Shanghai will definitely make you feel like you fit in a little more with the locals, but be extremely careful on the streets.

Known more of as a tourist attraction than a mode of transportation, the Shanghai Maglev train reaches a top speed of 268 mph, running only from Longyang Road to the Pudong International Airport and back. The Maglev is a nice, exciting way of getting to and from the Pudong Airport. For a one-way fare of 50 RMB, it’s a lot cheaper than taking a taxi, which could cost upwards of 200 RMB.

Apply Now!

Upcoming Application Deadlines

Fall Semester

Priority: February 15

Regular: March 15

Applications received after March 15 will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Admission will be granted only when space is available and time allows for required travel documents to be attained.   

NYU Footer