Asia - Shanghai - Money Exchange? Day Tours?
Feb 11, 06, 8:37 pm
Where is the best place to exchange money in Shanghai? I know airports are usually the worst, but are the rates fixed in China? Also wondering about day trips from Shanghai. Can they be booked before arrival? Thanks in advance!
Feb 11, 06, 9:40 pm
imho, HSBC. You get a better rate if you use traveler's checks. They only accept AMEX checks. Keep your receipt if you want to exchange money back into original currency. Do not forget to sign the checks. Expect to wait 1-2 hours at any other bank in China.
Feb 11, 06, 11:57 pm
i've found that atms provide the best exchange rates, even if your own bank soaks you for $5 per transaction. fyi, there are a number of citi atms throughout town and one bofa machine on nj road (the only one in the prc, tmk). however, i can't count the number of times that i've made the treck from my house to bofa to find the atm out of service. .....so i just use whatever atms are convenient to me and take out the maximum (hsbc is y3000 per transaction, which is nice)
regarding tours, sh is really pretty easy to do on your own. plus, i've found that the lp provides as much, if not more info, than most tour guides. the only exceptions to this rule are places 30-45 minutes outside of town, such as zhouzhuang.
Feb 12, 06, 8:47 am
Thanks for all the information so far. As for day trips, I was thinking of Suzhou, Zhouzhuang or possibly Tongli or Xitang. I have searched the internet to see if these tours could be booked before arrival but haven't found anything. Can I assume they will be readily available when we arrive?
Feb 12, 06, 8:59 am
Money: I too think ATMs are the best route. There's a Citi ATM right as you exit customs at the Pudong airport. (Though unlike moondog I had trouble finding any more in the city). I find using the Bank of China ATMs charge minimal (if any?) fee. (I didn't keep exact but track would would have noticed anything outrageous).
Day trip: definitely Suzhou: even assuming you don't speak Chinese, all you need to do is show up at the train station: there are many trains per day. One of the best is (was?) an express at 7 a.m., but many through trains stop at Suzhou (make sure you get out at the right stop). It's 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Depending on your stamina, you can see 3-4 really beautiful gardens without too much strain, and head back to Shanghai in the evening. Try to avoid weekends, though.
Feb 12, 06, 9:48 am
I just returned from Shanghai. Wanted to go to one of the water-towns, and chose Tongli over the other choices. I kept hearing that Suzhou is overcrowded with tourists. Tongli actually makes for a great daytrip, and you don't need an organized tour to do it. Just get yourself to the Shanghai Stadium bus station (it's just a short 5-minute walk from a subway stop) by 8am or so. You'll get to Tongli around 10am and have many hours to tour the town, its gardens, etc. It was more than enough time to get a feel for the place. And, best of all, Tongli has a Sex Museum with interesting historical artifacts related to, well, sex.
Feb 17, 06, 3:27 am
I've found that China is the single exception when it comes to ATM's being the best deal, especially if you use a big American Bank. Travelers Checks have a rate that is less than 1% lower than the wholesale rate: ATM's usually have at least a 1% surcharge from the interbank rate (2% in my case at BofA) and the bank's international ATM fee ($5 at BofA)
Feb 17, 06, 8:04 pm
Money: I too think ATMs are the best route. There's a Citi ATM right as you exit customs at the Pudong airport..
I've also had good luck pulling $ out of the Citi ATM on the Bund, and like moondog, the BofA on Nanjing...TC's can be tricky
Hangzhou/Longjing is another possibility for a long daytrip, or an overnighter
Feb 18, 06, 2:14 am
ATM's usually have at least a 1% surcharge from the interbank rate (2% in my case at BofA) and the bank's international ATM fee ($5 at BofA)
there was a thread last summer/fall discussing international atm fees and exchange rates, in which i posted a few data points directly from my online statements.
i was surprised to find out that, even with the $5 charge (i can't always use that same atm), my atm withdrawals were much more advantageous to me than simply walking into a bank/hotel.
of course travelers checks still get the best rates. however, imo they don't justify the hassel.
it's also worth noting that while there was once a time when 90% of chinese atms rejected foreign cards, that is no longer the case ime. on the other hand, some have withdrawal limits that are so low that the $5 fee will really kill the exchange rate. on that note, hsbc atms are the best because they usually work and they have high limits.