Shanghai Launches Free Shanghai City Tours for International Travelers

International layovers just got a whole lot more interesting with the introduction of “Shanghai Express,” a series of free Shanghai city tours by Group.

These tours are specifically designed for travelers to explore Shanghai’s prime attractions within a few hours, completely free of charge.

Starting April 15, 2024, international passengers with layovers of eight hours or more at Shanghai Pudong International Airport can enjoy this unique offering. Group takes care of everything, including airport transfer, attraction tickets, and even e-sim cards, ensuring a hassle-free experience for participants.

The initiative is open to international travelers who qualify for China’s 72/144-hour visa-free transit or possess a 24-hour temporary entry permit. This makes exploring Shanghai’s rich culture and sights incredibly accessible for those passing through.’s Head of Marketing, Ms. Han Feng, highlighted the opportunity this program presents for international visitors to experience China’s vibrant city life, backed by’s commitment to exceptional service and resources.

For travelers looking to join these tours, registration is straightforward. After arriving at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and clearing customs, visitors can sign up at the Group desk located in Terminal 2. Tours are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

With several tour times available, each accommodating up to ten travelers, the five to six-hour excursions are perfectly timed to fit into tight schedules. Transportation to and from the airport is included, making the journey seamless.

These meticulously planned tours showcase Shanghai’s must-see sites, as determined by Trip.Best’s AI-driven rankings. From historic landmarks to modern marvels, participants will get a taste of Shanghai’s past, present, and future.

Free Shanghai city tour for Layover Travelers

Current itineraries include:

  • Shanghai Highlights City Tour (9:00-14:00): a tour of classic Shanghai highlights, including exploring traditional Chinese architecture in the Yu Garden and viewing Shanghai’s iconic and futuristic skyline at the Bund.
  • Strolling Under the Trees Citywalk Tour (16:00-22:00): a tour for the romantics and urban history lovers, which includes a city walk through the old villas and charming cafes along the beautiful Wukang Road, an immersive visit to the Yu Garden, and a stroll along the historic Bund.
  • Huangpu River Cruise Sightseeing Night Tour (18:00-23:00): a unique experience in the city that never sleeps – including the breath-taking night view of the Bund aboard the Huangpu River Cruise and a deep dive into the bustling Yu Garden at night.

Led by English-speaking guides, each tour includes transportation, tickets, e-sim cards, and team insurance.

Those seeking to travel light may store their luggage at the airport or on the shuttle bus if space permits.

Please note that the free tours do not include meals, though our guides will be more than happy to offer dining recommendations.

Rise in international transits via China

The Shanghai Express Tours are expected to enrich the experience of travellers as they transit in mainland China, sparking their interest in more in-depth trips in the future.

The International Air Transport Association reveals that transit numbers have been on the rise, with over 330,000 travellers experiencing layovers in mainland China last December alone. This represents a monthly growth of 47%. International airports in mainland China, particularly in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou, have been hubs for international flights particularly to and from the Asia Pacific region.

Malaysia is amongst the top 20 international departure countries transiting into Shanghai Pudong Airport. Transit times vary between eight hours to 144 hours.

Currently, nationals from 54 countries are eligible for the 72/144-hour transit visa-free policies in 23 cities across mainland China. As long as they hold valid international travel documents and interline tickets to countries or regions with confirmed dates and seats, they can apply for visa-free transit at border inspection in designated city ports.

Additionally, foreign nationals with international connecting flights within 24 hours can transit through nine designated airports in mainland China without immigration procedures. Those interested in exploring the local city within this timeframe may obtain a 24-hour temporary entry permit by presenting their passports and connecting ticket flights and fill out the Temporary Entry Card.

54 Eligible Countries for China’s 72/144-hour transit visa-free policy

Foreign nationals from 54 countries are currently eligible for the 72/144-hour transit visa-free policies which are effective at 31 ports in 23 cities of 18 provinces in China.

These countries include Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Passengers from these countries holding valid international travel documents and interline tickets with confirmed dates and seats, who are going to transit to third countries (or regions) via China within specific time frames, can apply for visa-free transit at the entry/exit border inspection authorities in the designated visa-free transit city ports.

The authorities will handle all temporary entry procedures, with the duration of stay of each passenger to be calculated from 00:00 on the day following entry.


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