“Better City, Better Life” is the theme of Expo 2010 happening in Shanghai until the end of October. Participating countries are sharing how they are improving their cities and countries with the latest technologies. In addition, many are embracing a “green environment”. Shanghai has done an amazing job in organizing this huge event. Having spent three days there, I say that if you have the chance to go don’t miss it. The Expo is a far cry from your local fair, so knowing what to expect and a bit of preparation will greatly enhance your Expo experience.
1. I’m not sure that anything can quite prepare you for the sheer magnitude of the crowds. The Chinese estimated five hundred thousand visitors a day. While I was there they were reporting between 470,000 and 500,000 each day. Just knowing what to expect can help get you into the mindset you need to cope with the crowds.
2. Don’t buy tickets in advance or online. Many convenience stores sell them. I was able to purchase mine at “Alldays” for 160CNY. This way you avoid paying any extra fees. Also, you can buy a day at a time.
3. You can no longer make reservations for any individual country pavilion. If you want a ticket for the China Pavilion, you need to be at Gate 6 when it opens at 9:30am. You will receive a reservation card that tells you what time you can line up. My reservation was for 5:30pm and it took about 45 minutes for me to actually enter the pavilion. The Chinese have gone all out, and i’m glad that I was able to do the tour.
3. Unless you are really set on getting into China, don’t arrive until after the 9:30am opening. If you arrive at 9:45am (or even a little later) you will miss the initial crush of people. Believe me, it’s scary! When the gates open the locals RUN!
4. The Expo is divided into three sections…Asia, the Americas, and
Europe/Africa.Decide on which section you want to visit and then find the closest gate on your map You can check a map online (see links at the end of this post). This will cut down on the amount of walking you will do. Believe me you will be walking plenty! The subway is easy to use, and the best way to travel to and from Expo.
5. Decide how long you are prepared to wait in a lineup On my first day I waited in line at the India Pavilion for almost two hours, and then they closed it down. I never did find out why. At that point I made the decision that my maximum wait time was 30 minutes (preferably less). For the most part the Asian pavilions have the longest waits. People were waiting up to 8 hours to get into Saudi Arabia……………………NO THANK YOU! I saw fantastic African, South American, and European pavilions with very little wait time.
6. Be sure to visit your own country’s pavilion. Cruising through the Canadian Pavilion was so much fun. The apple pie and the “Canadian” breakfast made my day!!
7. Security is enforced. All bags must go through x-ray and you are wanded as you go through. You cannot carry water inside. You will get in much more quickly if you are prepared. That means nothing in your pockets that will make the alarm sound, and NO water. The locals know that they cannot take water inside, but all have it in their bags. They insist on standing in front of security and drinking every last drop. This slows things up considerably. Also, lighters will be confiscated.
8. Stay hydrated. There is no shortage of water, etc. for sale. The prices are not much higher than out on the street. In fact, there are many well marked free water stations. Try some of the food at the pavilions. Again, prices are quite good. I loved my “Canadian” food. Part of that of course was the novelty of being able to eat “Canadian” when I live in Asia. I also ate at the Peruvian Pavilion….HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
9. Wear the coolest clothes you own, and your MOST comfortable shoes.
10. The locals can be pushy. Politely stand your ground in the lineups and they will back off and stay in line.
11. Enjoy some of the evening entertainment. I saw some awesome African drumming, dancing and singing.
12. Finally, keep smiling and have fun! Again………………..COMFORTABLE SHOES, COOL CLOTHES.
Links to help you plan your Shanghai experience: