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05 June 2010 @ 02:10 pm
World Expo 2010: Shanghai, China [Tips and Suggestions]  
For those who will be going later and don't want to have things spoiled, I've included a list of tips and mostly general information that might come in handy. Personally, I kind of wish I knew all this stuff beforehand so I could have planned and used my time wiser. Hopefully, it'll help somewhat, if you have the time to skim through =)

Ten tips on stuff you should bring/do, and a blurb on what kind of schedule would let you see the most pavilions, from my personal experience.

Actual pavilion review post will be up...soon, hopefully OTZ Typing it up is taking longer than I thought, haha...

To be taken with a grain of salt, since I don't know how drastically things will change. In the less than two weeks I was in Shanghai, I know they've made plenty of modifications to accommodate the growing numbers.

1. Two words: foldable chair. You will thank me, believe me, because the lines are HUGE. Also, if you're planning on getting reservation tickets, you're going to have to be there before the park opens, and foldable chairs are a god-send. I wish I had one on me the first few days I went, but a small, not too heavy foldable chair is ideal. I can't even count the number of people with one, or the people who ended up sitting on their maps on the floor as a poor alternative.

2. Always carry a map. They hand maps out at all information centers, which are grey buildings with a huge question mark on them, not hard to miss. Of you could ask any of the many volunteers in green where the nearest one is. They carry maps in Chinese and English. The place is huge, huge enough that they have like, a bus at least every 30 seconds running throughout the day.

3. Hat. Or umbrella for that matter. I'm serious. I imagine if it's scorching hot in May, it'll be worse in June and July. I ended up using my map half the time, but that was because I was one hand short of holding an umbrella.

4. Master the art of prevent other people from cutting in line in front of you. Ok, granted, this will probably be hard to achieve. Dear gods, I don't know if it's just Chinese people or what, but gods, it's like the must-cut-in-line version of kleptomania. Basically, the most effective way is to bodily block the entire width of the aisle. So groups are good, especially if everyone's sitting down in a row. If not, I've found that gripping the railings is essential. And if it's one of those annoying aisles that are way too wide, having both hand on hips with elbows out helps a lot. Seriously, I wish I could have been an inflatable balloon, and expanded three times my normal width OTZ Or you could opt for the no-personal-space approach, and basically stick like glue to the person in front of you.

5. Bring an empty water bottle. They don't allow liquid past their security gates, but bring an empty water bottle to fill up. They have water fountains near every restroom. Water fountains have the classic push and drink fountains, and also places specifically designed to let you fill up a bottle with water. Drinks in the park go for 5 yuan a bottle, which is expensive.

6. If you can, bring food/lunch/dinner/snacks/stuff you can eat. Needless to say, food is also expensive in the park, and while they don't allow you to bring water, you can bring all the food you want. I once saw two people lugging a huge bag of food between them. Cucumbers seem to be a favorite, as it's easy to eat and replenishes water. I also saw people with tomatoes, bread, and chips.

7. Passports are serious business, especially since stamped ones selling on the internet have gone as high as 5000 yuan. They only sell so many a day, so if you want to buy one, run into the first official merchandise store you can see and hope to get one. (You can see parts of my incompletely stamped passport in the review post that I'll post soon.)

8. Buses, they are your best friends, and also possibly worst enemies. There are two bus routes that go east and west, and another that goes across the river. You could also take the subway across the river. Buses save you a lot of time and energy. Down side? They're super crowded OTZ Hopefully they'll have things under control more in the future, but when I went, the concept of "let people get off first so you'll have room to get on" was non-existent.

9. A word on the Expo Greenway. This is one of the things they made stricter in the time I was there, so it might have gotten even more strict, I don't know. The Greenway is basically a shorter sometimes no line wait line for the elderly, handicapped, and those with small children in strollers. By small children, I mean babies, literally. And by elderly, I mean people over the age of 70, and sometimes you have to be over 80 to qualify.

To qualify as elderly, you have to have credentials, basically the Chinese ID card thing. Yes, real credentials, since people were abusing this feature and renting wheelchairs just to bypass lines. Now, renting wheelchairs also requires valid credentials, and the person in need of wheelchair must be personally present, to avoid scamming. I remember seeing people who clearly weren't handicapped and in their early twenties sitting in wheelchairs early on, it was so ridiculous.

For the super popular 3+ hour wait line pavilions, the age minimum was 80, and you had to prove it. Even then, the wait line only shortens to about an hour, no lie. And they only allow one person to accompany said elderly. For the not super popular but still pretty big pavilions, the age is 70+ with proof, but the entire family is allowed in with the elderly. For the smaller ones, sometimes they don't check and will just let you in, depending.

Basically, if your grandma/grandpa also wants to go see the Expo, go with them and you might get to bypass a lot of long lines. The only reason I got into both China and Japan's was thanks to my grandmother =P

10. While I did not go to any of the pavilions across the river, I've heard that they're awesome =) But for those, make sure you get a reservation ticket at a reservation machine so you can bypass the lines. It seems that since there's so many people, even the pavilions there have accumulated sizable wait times.

And this is a rough plan of action I would take to viewing pavilions, if I was given a second chance to do so. Hence it's very subjective and isn't so much a suggestion as a personal observation of what works best for viewing as many country pavilions as possible.

Get there sometime between 7:00-7:30 to get in line. Believe me, if you want to see some of the popular pavilions with 3+ hour wait lines without waiting 3+ hours in the scorching sun, this is the best way.

The get-into-the-expo line isn't bad, since it doesn't move and with your foldable chair, sitting for 2 hours isn't that bad. (Standing, on the other hand, is hell. I had to do that, more than once OTZ) Yes, the expo opens at 9:00am. Call me crazy if you want, but this was my actual schedule when I was there.

As soon as you get past security check, start running, and maybe you'll be lucky enough to get a reservation ticket for the China pavilion. At this point, know which super popular pavilion you want to go to (Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, to list a few), and run like the wind there. Get in line, and believe me, you'll only have to wait about half as long as opposed to going there later in the day.

Or if you want a ticket for Taiwan's, this is when you get in line for the ticket. They start passing out tickets at 9:30, so it's only a half hour wait; it moves fast after they start. There's also one at 6:00 in the evening, but for that, you'd probably have to get there at 5:00, or even earlier, to start waiting. We got there at around 5:10, and there were already tons and tons of people.

After that, it should be around lunch time. Big pavilions take a long time to go through; Germany's for example, took over an hour. Have lunch, and then head over to any of the joint pavilions. The middle of the day's the busiest and hottest time, and there's really no point in standing in way too long lines then.

Caribbean, Pacific, Africa, Central/South America, or any of the joint Asian or European pavilions will do. Joint pavilions are all nicely air conditioned rooms with little to no waiting in line (except when getting your passport stamped), a cool refuge and many pavilions very quickly.

Alternatively, you could cross the river, as the pavilions over there have shorter lines. Though according to my mother, not that short anymore it seems, with so many people in the park at one time. I've heard the aviation and automobile pavilions were exceptionally good. Also, they have performances =D

At around 6:00-6:30 in the evening, start heading over to Europe. Don't go to the really big pavilions, but go to the slightly smaller ones with shorter lines. Then after 7:00, the lines for European pavilions move pretty fast, especially after 8:00. Lines in the day that took 2+ hours now take around 30 minutes on average. Except Germany, Germany's lines is always long except at the beginning of the day.

Basically, the lines stop letting you queue at around 9:00, though the expo doesn't close until later. The time period from 7:00-9:00 is really good for going to the big pavilions that have horrid lines in the day time, aside from the super popular pavilions. Classic example for me being Australia, where during the day it was a 2+ hour wait line, but when I went after 8:00, they had someone at the door practically ushering more people to go in. A line with a wait time of 0 minutes is my favorite kind of line.

In summary:
- get there earlier, since security checks take a while
- make the first pavilion you go to a super popular one with rumored 3+ hour wait line
- go to joint pavilions/smaller pavilions with shorter lines until it gets later
- go to popular/semi-popular pavilions in the evening, since lines are considerably shorter then
- 7:00-9:00pm: best time for European pavilions; basically no wait time for lesser popular pavilions in other areas
Nanashiamoyr on June 6th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
It was tiring and omg, I...really don't want to see a crowds that big again for a while. There were actually a lot of benches and rest places, and those almost always seem to be full XD

The security checkpoints made it feel like I was going through airport security, except a lot more crowded XD