One of the most popular discount programs designed to save money on Shanghai attractions is the Go Shanghai Card. While the savings of up to 30% are the most important part, there is far more to consider.
We’ll go over the three card options (All-Inclusive, Explorer, and Flex Pass Packaged Deal), which attractions they include and how I’d recommend using the card in one of my favorite cities in the world.
We just spent three weeks in Shanghai where my daughter attends summer Mandarin camp, and it was not long enough as there is so much to do.
1. Save Up To 30% On Shanghai Attractions
The main reason to buy a Go Shanghai Card is for discounted admission. And, based on my research, typical savings range from 7% (Flex Pass Packaged Deal) to about 30% (All-Inclusive and Explorer), depending on the type of pass chosen and how thoroughly you use it.
It is difficult to achieve this level of discount without this card, especially for those who are avid sightseers.
2. Major Attractions Participate
The 14 Go Shanghai Card attractions currently available are:
- Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower
- Shanghai World Financial Center Observatory
- Shanghai Happy Valley Theme Park
- Jin Mao Tower Observation Deck (go straight to the gate)
- Shanghai Zoo
- Shanghai Center Tower
- Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World
- Shanghai Film Park
- Shanghai Grand View Garden
- Shanghai Museum of Glass
- Pujiang River Cruise Tour
- Shanghai Tower: Guanfu Classical Art Museum
- Yu Garden (Yuyuan)
- Shanghai Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour
Note that for all of the attractions above except for the Jin Mao Tower, you’ll need to present the Go Shanghai Card at the ticket booth.
3. Prepaid Tickets Have Benefits
China is a society that now relies heavily on WeChat and AliPay digital payment options. Foreigners without Chinese bank accounts can’t use these services. Foreign credit cards aren’t accepted everywhere. This means you must carry cash in Shanghai.
Having a pre-paid attractions pass eliminates the amount of cash you need to carry around so that you can save it for food or souvenirs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run out of cash while walking around Shanghai (and ATM fees there are quite high…I’ve paid USD 15+ per withdrawal at some banks).
4. Three Go Shanghai Card Pass Options
There are three different options to enjoy the benefits of the Go Shanghai Card. The three options are:
An All-Inclusive Pass
The All-Inclusive Pass option allows users to visit all of the available Shanghai attractions (currently 14 – see full list below) at a reduced cost. The benefit to the All-Inclusive Pass is that you can make last-minute decisions about which attractions to visit. This is handy if another included attraction with which you aren’t familiar happens to be near another one that’s high on your to-do list, as some attractions are near each other.
The All-Inclusive pass is available in 1-day ($80), 2-day ($120) and 3-day ($150) increments, but needs to be used on consecutive calendar days. Visiting your first attraction activates your card.
The Explorer Pass is another great option for people who know exactly which attractions they’d like to visit. Choose from 3-attraction (currently $82), 4-attraction (currently $104), and 5-attraction (currently $119) options among the 14 attractions available to Go Shanghai Card holders.
The Explorer Pass is usable for 30 days after the first activation, so you don’t have to cram sightseeing into a set number of days.
5. Instant Digital Delivery
It’s possible to buy the Go Shanghai Card online and immediately print a pass to use. Or, you can store your pass on the new Go City Card app for Android and Apple.
While you can use the Go Shanghai Card on the app, I would also print it to in case you need to slide it through a ticket booth window to an attendant (who might need to take it somewhere).
6. Risk-Free Guarantee
If you buy a Go Shanghai Card and wind up not using it, you have 30 days from your purchase date to return any non-activated or unused passes for a full refund.
7. Free Online Guide
The downloadable, digital Shanghai guide (currently available in English) comes with each Go Shanghai Card order.
How I’d Use the Go Shanghai Card
Many of Shanghai’s best hotels are on the Pudong side within a 10-minute walk or less to the four towers on the Go Shanghai Card.
No matter which of the three Go Shanghai Card options you choose, to get the most value out of the card, you must visit the Oriental Pearl Tower. It’s the most expensive ticket of any of the included attractions.
The good news? Oriental Pearl Tower is one of the best Shanghai attractions and it’s worth taking the time to explore its three sections, including the glass floor viewing deck. Kids love the arcade and VR rollercoaster. There are many shops and places to eat on the ground floor once you enter. You’ll need two-three hours here.
The Oriental Pearl Tower is behind me as I took the above photo on Lujiazui Ring Road. This means visiting all towers on the same day is possible as they’re within walking distance of each other. Go to Oriental Pearl Tower first (ideally right at opening on a weekday) as the ticket booth line can be long. The other observation decks do not take as long to visit. Maybe plan an hour or two for each.
If on a short trip to Shanghai, I’d see Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center or Shanghai Tower (or both), and Jin Mao Tower (will be fast with expedited entry). See them all on the same day unless your hotel is nearby and you have a multi-day pass.
Then, I’d also highly recommend a Bund river cruise, and the one on the Go Shanghai Card departs from Huangpu close to Yu Yuan Gardens, one of my favorite shopping areas, though touristy. It’s free to walk around the shops and places to eat, but you’ll want to enter the gardens. Admission fee is included on the Go Shanghai Card but is quite low, so you won’t want to use it as one of your attractions on the Explorer Card. It’s included on the All-Inclusive and Flex Pass. Avid sightseers can do all of this on the same (long) day.
Or, I would split that itinerary up into two days using an All-Inclusive Pass. Do the towers in Pudong on one day. Then, meet the Hop-on, Hop-off bus at the end of the pedestrianized part of Nanjing Road. Enjoy the city’s best sights and then hop off at Yu Yuan Garden and then catch the Bund Cruise.
Happy Valley Theme Park is also fun for kids. You’ll need a full day for this adventure.
There is currently no lower, child pricing for the Go Shanghai Card. Each individual must buy the pass at the single, specified price.
I suspect there are a few reasons for this, primarily, unlike in the United States, children’s tickets in China are based on height and not age. Usually, children below 1 meter are free, but this varies by attraction. Sometimes they’re 50% off if they are between 1 and 1.4 meters. Kids over 1.4 meters no matter how old they are, require adult tickets. My daughter has been an adult for China sightseeing purposes since she was nine or ten.
If you think your child might qualify for a child ticket, then this is something you can secure at the ticket window when you present your Go Shanghai Card.
If you’ve used the Go Shanghai Card, please share your experience.