Shanghai is China’s commercial and financial capital. It is the country’s New York City or London. Thus, it is also China’s busiest city, with daily international flights landing at Pudong International Airport and people coming in from China’s other provinces.
Since the city is home to the country’s finance, both domestic and international, Shanghai has a growing population of expats who live and work in the city. Most of the younger generation speak English, as it is a required course in school, although many of the people from the outer provinces of China either don’t speak English or speak very little English. Make sure to ask your hotel for information on where you want to go in Chinese, as many of the taxi drivers do not speak English. Since the World Expo is happening right now, all taxi drivers are required to post a phone number in their cars where you can call for a translator.
The city is easy to get around, which its plethora of taxi cabs and an extensive metro system. I would recommend against taking the bus, as the signs are in Chinese and there’s no official bus map to be found. Street signs are bilingual, in both Chinese and English, and major attractions tend to cluster together.
Word of caution: Shanghai’s weather can be quite a shock. While it’s winters are mild enough, colder than Southern California but warmer than New England, it’s summers are horrifyingly hot. And not just hot, but also sticky. It’s humid to the point where you step outside and you feel like you just jumped into a lukewarm swimming pool. I recommend that if anyone decides to visit Shanghai, or China for that matter, make sure to not visit in summer. The weather from February to the beginning of May is quite nice: cool and breezy, as is the weather from September to November. If you must visit in summer, make sure to pack a lot of light airy clothing.