Shànghǎi feels very safe, and crimes against foreigners are rare. If you have something stolen, you need to report the crime at the district Public Security Bureau (PSB; 公安局; Gōng'ānjú) office and obtain a police report.

Traffic & Street Hazards

  • Crossing the road is probably the greatest danger: develop avian vision and a sixth sense to combat the shocking traffic. Don’t end up in an ambulance: Chinese drivers never give way.
  • The green man at traffic lights does not mean it's safe to cross. Instead, it means it is slightly safer to cross, but you can still be run down by traffic allowed to turn on red lights.
  • Bicycles and scooters regularly flout all traffic rules, as do many cars. Bicycles, scooters, mopeds and motorbikes freely take to the pavements (sidewalks), as occasionally do cars.
  • Older taxis only have seatbelts in the front passenger seat. Watch out for scooters whizzing down Shànghǎi roads – especially on unlit streets – without lights at night.
  • Be careful when taking a taxi alone late at night, as foreigners have been sexually assaulted and robbed. Stick to the larger taxi firms, such as the turquoise Dàzhòng, gold Qiángshēng, green Bāshì or white Jǐnjiāng taxis, and avoid black-market cabs. A registered taxi should always run on a meter and have a licence displayed on the dashboard.
  • Other street hazards include spent neon-light tubes poking from litter bins, open manholes with plunging drops, and welders showering pavements with burning sparks. Side streets off the main drag are sometimes devoid of street lights at night, and pavements can be crumbling and uneven.


Preying on visitors to the Bund, East Nanjing Rd, People's Square and elsewhere, Shànghǎi's number one scam ruins the holidays of hundreds of foreigners. One or a pair of English-speaking girls approach single men and ask to be photographed using their mobile phone, then insist on taking the victim to a traditional Chinese teahouse, where he is left to pay eye-watering and heart-stopping bills (hundreds of dollars, usually payable by credit card).

Some of the massage services offered to visitors on East Nanjing Rd will similarly scam you out of large chunks of your holiday budget in the presentation of a huge bill. Just say no.

Watch out for taxi scams, especially at Pǔdōng International Airport and outside the Maglev terminal at Longyang Rd metro station. Aim for larger taxi firms and insist on using the meter to avoid taxi sharks.