Discover Shanghai in less than 24 hours Group launches free transit tours to turn your layover into a mini-vacation

International layovers don’t have to mean waiting for hours at the airport terminal; it’s also possible to make the most of the short window of time and explore the country you’re transiting in.

Enter “Shanghai Express”, free layover city tours launched by Group to show travelers the top highlights of Shanghai before their next flight—all within a few hours.

Just show up!

Shanghai in 24 hrs: Shanghai Express Tours
The Shanghai Express Tours are expected to enrich the experience of travelers as they transit in mainland China.

Starting from April 15, international travelers stopping by the Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) for over eight hours will have the opportunity to take part in these layover city tours—the first of their kind in Shanghai. You don’t have to worry about researching where to go and how, as these tours take charge of everything: airport pick-up and send-off, attraction tickets, e-sim cards, and more. All you need to do is show up.

The tours will be available to international travelers who are eligible for China’s 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy, as well as those holding a 24-hour temporary entry permit issued by the airport border inspection.

“As visa-free transit policies open up new avenues for international travelers to explore China, Group is excited to unveil this innovative program for those with just a short stopover,” said Han Feng, head of marketing at

“We will leverage our extensive resources to ensure a memorable tour experience and provide world-class customer service to help flyers enjoy what Shanghai has to offer.”

A trip in between flights

Shanghai in 24 hrs: Shanghai's futuristic skyline
Shanghai’s futuristic skyline. Photo by Edward He from Unsplash

Upon passing customs after arrival at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, travelers may head to the Group currency exchange counter at Island A in the Departure Hall of Terminal 2 for in-person registration. A professional guide will be available at the counter one hour before the start of each tour to assist with the registration process. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Travelers will be able to choose from several tour timings. Each free tour accommodates a maximum of ten travelers and lasts five to six hours, including transportation from and back to the airport.

The tours feature some of the top attractions on the AI-powered Trip.Best list for Shanghai based on user reviews and expert curation, leading visitors on a journey through the past, present, and future of the bustling metropolis.

Current itineraries

Shanghai in 24 hrs: The tours feature some of the top attractions in Shanghai
The tours feature some of the top attractions in Shanghai. Photo by Denys Nevozhai

Travelers may choose from the following current itineraries:

Shanghai Highlights City Tour (9:00-14:00): A tour of classic Shanghai highlights, including exploring traditional Chinese architecture in the Yu Garden and viewing Shanghai’s iconic and futuristic skyline at the Bund.

Strolling Under the Trees Citywalk Tour (16:00-22:00): A tour for the romantics and urban history lovers, which includes a city walk through the old villas and charming cafes along the beautiful Wukang Road, an immersive visit to the Yu Garden, and a stroll along the historic Bund.

Huangpu River Cruise Sightseeing Night Tour (18:00-23:00): A unique experience in the city that never sleeps—including the breathtaking night view of the Bund aboard the Huangpu River Cruise and a deep dive into the bustling Yu Garden at night.

Led by English-speaking guides, each tour includes transportation, tickets, e-sim cards, and team insurance. Those seeking to travel light may store their luggage at the airport or on the shuttle bus if space permits. Please note that the free tours do not include meals, though our guides will be more than happy to offer dining recommendations.

Detailed information about the tours can be found here.

Rise in international transits via China

Shanghai in 24 hrs: The Bund at nigh
The Bund at night. Photo by Chingling Yiu

The Shanghai Express Tours are expected to enrich the experience of travelers as they transit in mainland China, sparking their interest in more in-depth trips in the future.

The International Air Transport Association reveals that transit numbers have been on the rise, with over 330,000 travelers experiencing layovers in mainland China last December alone. This represents a monthly growth of 47 percent.

International airports in mainland China, particularly in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou, have been hubs for international flights particularly to and from the Asia Pacific region. Singapore is among the top 10 international departure countries transiting into Shanghai Pudong Airport. Transit times vary between eight hours to 144 hours.

Currently, nationals from 54 countries are eligible for the 72/144-hour transit visa-free policies in 23 cities across mainland China. As long as they hold valid international travel documents and interline tickets to countries or regions with confirmed dates and seats, they can apply for visa-free transit at border inspection in designated city ports.

Additionally, foreign nationals with international connecting flights within 24 hours can transit through nine designated airports in mainland China without immigration procedures. Those interested in exploring the local city within this timeframe may obtain a 24-hour temporary entry permit by presenting their passports and connecting ticket flights and fill out the Temporary Entry Card.

Discover the beauty of China with ease

Shanghai in 24 hrs: The Great Wall of China
Transit numbers through China have been on the rise. Photo by William Olivieri from Unsplash

The Shanghai Express Tours are set against the backdrop of Group’s various initiatives to support international travelers to discover the beauty of China with ease as the country relaxes visa requirements.

With visa-free entry extended to Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg, China is now visa-free for eligible travelers from 15 countries. Group witnessed a triple-digit year-on-year rise in international travel bookings to China in the first two months of 2024. Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Chengdu drew the most attention from global travelers, with theme parks like the Shanghai Disney Resort and historic sites like the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum capturing significant interest.

Shanghai in 24 hrs: Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi'an, China
Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi’an, China holds the astounding Terracotta Warriors. Photo by Aaron Greenwood from Unsplash recently launched an initiative with the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site in Xi’an to provide overseas online integration to offer international travelers deals, guided tour options, and more information about its astounding Terracotta Warriors and remarkable history. Group has also been working with airlines to provide international and domestic flight combos to encourage more travelers to venture beyond traditional hotspots. The “Explore China” campaign, launched with Air China in March, gives travelers from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland a free additional flight within China when they purchase a single round-trip flight to the country.

The “Beyond Shanghai: Experience China” campaign, launched with China Eastern Airlines in February, also rewards customers booking flights to Shanghai with a complimentary domestic flight within mainland China.

Shanghai in 24 hrs: Shanghai Disneyland
Shanghai Disneyland. Photo by Wenhao Ruan from Unsplash

To enhance convenience for visitors to China, Group has implemented various initiatives. Notably, the China Travel Guide on the app offers practical information on navigating the country. It covers topics such as entry requirements, internet access, payment, transportation and more with easy-to-follow tips and explanatory videos.

Since its release in September 2023, the guide has served more than 100,000 international travelers planning to visit China. Furthermore, to streamline payment options for visitors, Group has also partnered with Alipay, a leading digital payment and lifestyle service platform. Through this partnership, selected packages and travel guides are available on the Alipay app, providing support for international visitors.

Meeting the needs of all kinds of travelers, whether you’re just passing through or planning a deep dive, Group is committed to using its expertise and resources to make such trips memorable, and help you explore China’s endless possibilities.

The new lifestyle.