Riding the Shanghai Maglev (and saving some cash, too!)

Checking out the smooth nose shape of the Shanghai Maglev train before boarding; not nearly as pointed as the regular HSR trains.

Getting between Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport (PVG) and downtown is relatively easy on the metro, if not especially fast. The ride to or from People’s Square is around 90 minutes and only a couple bucks. But if you’re willing to spend an extra $6 you can shave nearly an hour off the trip and get to ride the fastest electric train operating in the world, the Shanghai Maglev Demonstration Train. It is completely worth the splurge.

The maglev ride is only seven to eight minutes, with a top speed ranging between 300km/h (186mph) and 430km/h (267mph), depending on what time of day you ride (timetable here). It is one of those amazing time-saving opportunities you wish would last longer. Alas, you’re paying for the speed so that isn’t going to happen.

The Shanghai Maglev platform and guideay, with passengers awaiting the next train

The airport station is a bit of a hike from the main terminal while the Longyang Road station is conveniently “attached” to Lines 2, 7 and 16 of the Shanghai Metro. You do walk out of the fare gates – with a LOT of taxi touts hustling to pick up fares – between the Shanghai maglev and the metro but it is a relatively easy transfer to make.

Top speed for this Shanghai Maglev trip was 300km/h; I didn’t get one of the faster rides this time.

On board the Shanghai Maglev

The ride is incredibly smooth, which is no surprise. You’re floating above the guideway, not rolling along the “track” thanks to magnetic levitation holding the car up. The lifting sensation is noticeable as the train kicks into gear, wobbling a tiny bit in place as it rises up before beginning its trek. Once it starts, however, it is hard to notice anything but the smooth ride.

Inside the Shanghai Maglev the regular seating is, well, pretty regular

The interior is not particularly special as far as seating goes. It is hardly plush and doesn’t particularly strive to be. After all, you’re only on board for a few minutes. That said, as I wandered to the “back” of the train at Longyang Road I noticed that the seats closest to the cab were only 2 on each side rather than three. Every little bit helps.

The end car on the Shanghai Maglev has better seating, though I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter.

Save some cash riding the Shanghai Maglev

The standard fare for a ride is only 50 Yuan (~$7.50) but it is possible to save 10 Yuan simply by showing a same-day plane ticket. In my case I was headed to the airport and did not yet have a boarding pass. I showed the flight booking on my phone screen and that was sufficient to score the discount. It is hard to believe that there might be passengers riding who are not also flying in or out but the default is to only sell the more expensive ticket. You must actively mention the discount to get the savings.

Make sure you get the 40 Yuan ticket for the Shanghai Maglev by showing a plane ticket when buying your ticket


More from 2017 China Walkabout


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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I wish you would stop reminding me of trip reports which I have yet to post, Seth.

    Unfortunately, I just missed the faster train by one departure — but I am not sure as to whether or not the experience would actually be any different anyway.

    I look forward to seeing you in Atlantic City this weekend…

  2. I’ve taken several rides on the Maglev, it really is one of the coolest kinds of transportation operating today. If I’m not mistaken the train was made by Siemens, so there are a lot of elements in the interior that will be familiar to anyone who’s taken Germany’s ICE high-speed trains, also made by Siemens. There was at one point a plan to build Maglev between Berlin and Hamburg, and the idea behind the Shanghai Maglev was also as a demonstration for the feasibility of Maglev as high-speed “rail,” but in both cases conventional high-speed rail has won out.

  3. My lasat time in Shanghai I told myself that I’d take the maglev into town and then force myself to take the metro or taxi back out. In the end, I took the maglev both ways. It’s really an easy way to get to the airport and worth the extra $. Although it requires a connection in town, it’s way more civilized than sitting in the back of a chinese taxi all the way out to PVG.

  4. I think the 2-2 seating you were in was the train’s “first class” or VIP section. Supposedly for 80-100rmb one way.

    1. I suppose that’s entirely possible. There was no indication that was the case and no one seemed to care where I sat. But I could see that being true.

      The seats appear to be the same width though. And load factors are ridiculously low. I cannot imagine paying extra for that given that pretty much every group on board had a full set of seats to themselves.

  5. It is bad because it ends so far from where you want to be. Add on all the time to go on from the end and the time savings isn’t so great. Also, add up the Maglev cost and the additional cost to go to the center.

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