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上海中国

Shanghai

China

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Shanghai Gay Guide

Introduction

As a city close to the sea, Shanghai has always been one of the most open cities in China. Several European nations had settlements in the area and it is with trade with other nations that Shanghai made its fortune. Today Shanghai is a bustling city, China’s financial center and most prosperous city. You will see some amazing modern architecture alongside traditional European influence. A mix of East and West, modern and traditional, culture and commerce. And that makes it an interesting place to visit. Interesting food, quite a bit of shopping, some fun gay night spots and many stunning sights to visit. All wrapped up in a convenient and user-friendly infrastructure, garnished with many cute guys.

Getting there

Shanghai’s main international airport is in Pudong, about 40km east of the city. It’s huge, modern and quite efficient. There are two different terminals, T1 and T2. The most convenient and exciting way to the city is by the high-speed maglev train. It uses magnetic levitation technology and reaches speeds of up to 431 km/h. A oneway ticket is ¥40-50. It is quite a ride. And the journey to Longyang Road Station takes just 7 minutes. From there, you can take subway line 2 or take a taxi for about ¥30-50 to your hotel.

The cheapest way to the exit is by subway. Line 2 takes you directly to downtown Shanghai every 6-8 minutes for ¥8. However, the journey takes about two hours. The subway runs from about 06:00 to 22:00. You can also take a taxi directly from the airport. Might be cheaper if you are travelling with a few other sisters. There are official taxi queues just outside both terminals. Expect to pay about ¥160-200 to downtown Shanghai. The journey is about an hour, more with traffic.

Shanghai also has an older airport at Hongqiao. It is mainly a domestic airport but also serves a few flights to/from Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Taipei. You can also take subway line 2 to downtown Shanghai for ¥6. A taxi will cost you about ¥100 and the journey will take about 30-40 minutes. However, the taxi queue can get very long during peak times.

Getting around

Shanghai’s subway system is convenient and easy to use. It is air conditioned and everything is signposted in English. Fares range from ¥3-9, depending on distance. You can purchase the tickets with cash from vending machines. A one-day pass is ¥18. If plan to use subway extensively, it’s probably best if you get a prepaid card that deducts the correct the fare as you go. There are currently 12 lines, with several more under construction. You can get to most attractions by subway. Trains run from about 05:30 to 22:30.

Taxis are also a good way to get around Shanghai. Fares start at just ¥14 for the first 3 km and then ¥2.4/km after that. It’s slightly more expensive after 23:00. Just bear in mind that traffic can get quite jammed during peak hours. And many drivers do not speak English so it’s a good idea to have your destination written down in Chinese. Drivers are generally honest and do turn on the meter. However, some drivers may not take if your trip involves crossing from Puxi to Pudong or vice versa.

When to go

Summers in Shanghai can get as hot as 35°C and it also rains quite a lot from June to September. Winter temperatures hardly go above 10°C during the day. This makes spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October) pretty good seasons to visit Shanghai. Just try to avoid Chinese New Year (usually in February) and “Golden Week” (early October) as the entire country is on the move during these peak travel periods. Or why not go during Shanghai Pride which usually happens in June.

What to see

Bund

Historical buildings lining the Huangpu River, best viewed at night

Yuyuan Garden

Qing dynasty pavilions and bridges surrounded by lotus ponds

French Concession

Lots of shopping and eating along tree-lined Huai Hai Road

Pudong

Impressive modern architecture with many stunning skyscrapers

Suzhou

Small city with lovely canals and bridges, 120km west of Shanghai

Stay connected

Chinese authorities still keep a close eye on internet access and. Expect some web sites and smart phone apps to be unavailable, including Facebook, Twitter, Grindr and Jack’d. Of course there is a way around this. The most effective is VPN (virtual private network). There are several providers but “VPN Fire” usually works fine for iphones. Just download their free app from iTunes and purchase a data plan (just about US$ 1 for 1GB). There are other providers and you can also get something similar from Google Play for Android users. Of course the Chinese authorities know about this and they try to fight it. So it doesn’t always work but generally it does give you access. Just connect your smart phone to a 3G or WiFi network and then connect to the VPN with the app. Many hotels offer WiFi, often free. Buying a local SIM card on the other hand is quite impossible.

Gay life

Shanghai is probably the most liberal city in China when it comes to gay issues. As a port city it has always been exposed to influences from all over the world. And also today, Shanghai has a large expatriate population from all corners of the world. So the authorities are slightly more relaxed. However, this is still China. Most of the media is still monitored and censored. And so far the government does not allow gay issued to be discussed openly. Shanghai is one of the few Chinese cities that does have an annual Gay Pride event. However, it is quite low key. No march, just picnics, events and parties. But for Chinese standards, that already pretty huge.

The police usually does not harass law-abiding gay people. However, a gay bar got raided by the police as recently as 2011. However, that particular bar had regular shows with go go boys. And with prostitution being illegal in China, the police said that the reason for the raid was a “sexual show” and that it has nothing to do with the fact that the bar was a gay bar.

So while China is opening up, the government still restricts the people’s freedoms. The (unofficial) government policy towards homosexuality is “no approval, no disapproval, no promotion”. However, the population itself is more accepting of the issue. According to a survey in 2008, more than 80% of Chinese people agreed that heterosexuals and homosexuals were "equal individuals". And according to China Daily there are about 30 million homosexuals in China (2.3% of the population). However, the same report also admits that most remain in the closet.

 



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