A complete one day guide to Shanghai World Expo

From MOP:

Before attending the Expo, please be sure to check out the media all over the world on the latest Expo news and the Expo service information, mastering the latest and the most complete information in order to have the best possible World Expo experience.


General information of the Expo:

Shanghai World Expo is held in the city of Shanghai, mainly located in the Bingjiang district between Nanpu Bridge and Lupu Bridge, on both sides the Huangpu River.

After the opening of the Shanghai World Expo, this 5.28 square kilometers site will host more than 70 million visitors within the next six month. There are many pavilions on site, each pavilion will have different programs staged on each day, the designs of the pavilions are different from our traditional exhibition centers, and each pavilion has its own characteristics. Visitors will spend most of the time waiting in line outside of the pavilions. The maximum visiting time is 15 hours a day.

Preparations before the visit:

World Expo tour, time is not only precious, it is simply priceless, but before your visit you must understand the following:

1. Even if you just give a quick glance at everything as fast as you can, one day tour can probably only cover one-tenth of the over hundreds of different counties’ exhibitions. So it is recommended that you spend more time and really explore couple of the pavilions you like the most.
Tip: Generally more resources and efforts are put into the newly constructed pavilions than the rental pavilions, so the suggestion is to spend your precious time on those newly constructed pavilions.

2. The entire Expo site is divided into 2 areas: Pudong (east of the Huangpu River) and Puxi (west of the Huangpu River), Pudong has A, B, and C three areas, mainly are Expo Axis, Expo Center, Performing Arts Center and the Festival Square, it also has all the national pavilions including the Chinese National Pavilion. Puxi has D and E 2 areas, mostly are future pavilions, shops and businesses pavilions and Urban Development Area. For those who are only doing a one day tour, it is sufficient to have most of the activities in the three areas in Pudong.

3. One day tour route is to spend the least amount of time and visit the most number of pavilions, that is why this route first goes to area B, then goes to A and C, Avoid going to the Chinese National Pavilion in the morning and evening because you will waste a lot of time waiting in line. All venues recommended here are all newly constructed pavilions; you can choose other pavilions base on your preference in the vicinity of the route.

4. Buy the ticket before you go, get to know information on traffic and the Expo opening, closing time (9:00 – 24:00). Get there before 8:30, for one day trip, lining up at the Expo entrance early is necessary. When the door opens at 9, do not rush inside right the way. There are reservation machines at the entrance, for popular venues, you must first make a reservation there. If you are going with a tour group then you probably will not need to make reservations. For example the super popular venue like the Chinese National Pavilion is going with 100% reservation system, so first thing when entering the expo is to make reservations to avoid any regrets of missing the important venues. After reservations are completed you can start your day of visiting at ease. There are total of 200 reservation machines at each entrances of the site, just ask the volunteers where they are, of course there will be volunteers at the machines to teach you how to operate them, be sure to bring your valid id and ticket.

5. For sure you cannot bring in bottled water. It is understood that the Expo Axis is the largest main entrance, will take in about 23% of the visitors. The basement of the Expo Axis has a checkpoint, it is designed like the airport security checkpoint. According to estimation, each person will spend 5 seconds to go through this process. Everything will be checked, it is possible that solid food is allowed, but no water or any other liquid. There will be free drinking water stations in the Expo.


Area B:



Recommend to enter the Expo from Area B entrance, because it is the closes to the “One axis and four pavilions”. (the Expo Axis, China Pavilion, Expo Theme Pavilion, Performing Arts Center and Expo Center) Into the Expo and walking from Expo Axis to the end is the Festival Square where there will be opening ceremony. After watching the show, go to the Expo Center, where each day different opening ceremony of each National Pavilion is held there. you might see certain leaders or super-stars from certain country If you are lucky.

After visiting the Expo Center, go to the theme pavilions. There are five central theme pavilions (original poster said 4 but there are actually 5), They are called Urban Footprints, Urban Planet, Urban Dwellers, Urban Beings, and Urban Dreams. These are all in one building, but you must get in different lines for each, so choose the shortest line first and do not waste precious time. Just letting everyone know, in principle each pavilion has two tour routes, fast route is dedicated to tourists just want a quick glance, it is recommended to used the slow route in the main pavilions and each country’s constructed national pavilions.

Theme Pavilions: Walking along the Expo Axis, they are on the left side.

Urban Beings Pavilion: The exhibition examines the growth of the infrastructure of modern cities, presenting the perplexing networks of both traffic and of water and energy supply as core elements in the urban "organism". The "Soul Square" is worth watching; a large theater with seven folded screens and a 7000-square-meter velarium, an 8-minute video clip with spectacular images is shown.

Urban Footprints Pavilion: The pavilion portrays the growth of the cities as a decisive factor for human progress over the ages. The exhibition consists of four segments. In three rooms, the "City Origins", "Urban Development", and "City Wisdom" are explored. Five of the liquid crystal display scrolling kiosk broadcast flight, train, stock and foreign exchange real-time information around the world.

New Zealand Pavilion: After visiting theme Pavilions, follow the Shiboguan Road going north, you will see the New Zealand Pavilion. Before entering the hall, there is already Maori dance to give you a warm welcome; the greatest surprise in there is the “Lord of the Rings” special effects team using imaging technology to create the spectacular New Zealand sceneries which makes you feel like you are actually there.

Australia Pavilion: Exit the New Zealand Pavilion and go west and you are there. In here the “travel” activity area has a 160 meters fully enclosed glass walkway for the visitors to view Australia’s history. Of course there are plenty of group performances.

Thailand: the south of Australia Pavilion is the Thailand Pavilion. It is easy to find this building with rich Thai style. There is a mascot named “A Tai” there, you can take pictures with him.

Area B also includes Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia and so on national pavilions located at the south of Bocheng Road. North of Bocheng Road has the World Meteorological Center, the Union Pacific Pavilion, the United Nation Joint Pavilion, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Joint Pavilion and the International Information Network Development Pavilion. If time permits you can go there and stroll around.


After vesting  these venues your stomach must be growling. Walk along the Shiboguan Road towards the Shibo Boulevard, you will find the Chinese Food Street between the Expo Center and the Theme Pavilions, where there are dishes from all over the country.


Area A:








After lunch, you can go to the Expo Cultural Center to watch the performance. Cultural Center is in the northeast of the Expo Center, Oriental Song and Dance Ensemble has two daily free performances at the Performing Arts Center, Be sure the check the schedule, as the performance time may vary. These places just like the Chinese National Pavilion are “must-see spots”. Note that the China National Pavilion is a permanent, If you are interested in coming back to visit again, you can choose to skip the China National Pavilion to save a lot of time to visit other venues.

After entering the China National pavilion, first you can take the elevator to the 49-meters level. There are a few highlights there, one is the glass floor and underneath is the waiting square which makes you feel like “standing above the crowd”. Second is the famous painting “Qingming Festival” (清明上河图) 100 meters wide, and the people in the painting move. Third is the film directed by Lu Chuan – the main film of the Shanghai World Expo China Pavilion “The History of beauty” (美的历程).

After 49 meter level, you can go to 41-meter level. In there you can take the tracked bus tour. There will be a long line but it is worth the wait for the special experience. 33-meter level introduces the low-carbon future city in China, to see the future how we live in this kind of environment.

Local pavilions: If you have time check them out, each province has 600 square meters of space. Outside of them are Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong three pavilions. The LED dome lanterns; lying on the floor and watching the film on the ceiling and the reflective mirror design are most significant features of the three Halls.

Some other recommended halls near the “One axis and four pavilion” are: Going east, Asia pavilion and the United Arab Emirates pavilion, walk a little more there are the Japanese National Pavilion and Korean National Pavilion, do not miss those. Going west, must not miss the Australia’s ochre red pavilion. On the right side of the Australia Pavilion, a music box shaped building is the Singapore Pavilion. Not very big, it has a garden on the top you can rest there. Next to it is the Malaysia Pavilion, a typical southeast Asia architecture, with a stage inside for performances of Malaysia’s 47 ethnic dances. After viewing the performances go to the New Zealand Pavilion if you haven’t already to see the “Lord of the Rings” special effects team using imaging technology to create the spectacular New Zealand sceneries which makes you feel like you are actually there. After exiting the New Zealand Pavilion, look for building with bamboos through the roof, that is the Indonesia Pavilion.

United Arab Emirates Pavilion: After exiting the Hong Kong pavilion, walk along the Guozhan Road towards northeast direction, a rolling sand dune suddenly appears before you, this is the United Arab Emirates Pavilion. They said that this building will be taken apart and ship back to Abu Dhabi to be put together there after the Expo. There is virtual experience of the United Arab Emirates dream trip inside, enjoy the view of the Middle East. Do not forget to participate in the drawing here, so that maybe your dream will become into a reality, the prize is one-week trip to the UAE.

Israel Pavilion: on the edge of the UAE Pavilion, Israel Pavilion has some high-tech varieties, From diesel fuel extracted from plants to installing smart colts onto cows feet to learn their thoughts. The most amazing one is that you can swallow a photography capsule which can produce photographs of your body organs and complete the examination without any pain.

Saudi Arabia Pavilion: It is located in the north of Israel Pavilion. It has the largest foreign investment of 1.3 billion yuan in a single pavilion. Saudi Arabia Pavilion has the world’s largest IMAX 3D theater, a 1600 square meters wide screen.

Japan Pavilion: Northeast of Saudi Arabia Pavilion, looking like space fortress in the cartoons, Japan Pavilion highlights high-tech living, including high resolution cameras and telescopes and robots that know how to play the violin.

Area A’s other Asia Pavilions also include: Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, India, Qatar, Lebanon, Iran, North Korea, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, South Korea National Pavilions and three Asian joint Pavilions.

Area C:















From A to C, you can take the environmental friendly short-refute vehicle there.

Belgium – Europe Union Pavilion: Belgium Pavilion is expect to provide 25,000 daily individually wrapped Belgian chocolates so that visitors can taste the authentic Belgian chocolate for free. There also will be a 2 hours polishing diamond performance on each day.

Denmark Pavilion: Denmark Pavilion allows visitors to play in their swimming pool, visitors experience the feeling of ocean genteelly touching their toes. Little Mermaid will also keep you company there.

Spain Pavilion: Spain National Pavilion is located on the north of Finland National Pavilion, looks like a rattan basket. While learning about the history of Spain you also can enjoy the Latin music and dance at the indoor square.

France Pavilion: The France Pavilion is at the west of Spain Pavilion, looks like an art palace, and it has many treasures, including Rodin’s “Bronze Age” and so on. If you are lucky, you can also witness the 2010 pairs of couples’ new romantic weddings held inside.

United Kingdom: Once exiting the French Pavilion you can the bright UK Pavilion, tens of thousands of light-emitting feelers light up during the day through the optical fiber transmission for indoor lighting, at night they illuminate the entire building through the built-in lights.

Canada: Canadian Pavilion is located at the southwest of Area C, walk along the Tongzijing road to Guozhan road, you can see three separate buildings. You can ride a bike in from of the three-dimensional images as if you are traveling in Canada. There is also the famous Sun circus.

The United States Pavilion: The U.S. Pavilion is at the west of the Canadian Pavilion, the pavilion wall is a media waterfall. Inside the pavilion, there will be Chinese-American youth on the media screen imagining the future time and space with you.

African Join Pavilion: Walk out of the U.S. Pavilion along on Houtan road and going north you can see the last pavilion – African Join Pavilion. The outside of the pavilion has some strong African elements and there is African market inside where you can buy some souvenirs to take back home.

Other venues in area C include: Turkey, Brazil, Luxembourg, Finland, Norway, Russia, Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Kenya and other European African, North and South American national pavilions.

If area C makes you linger, and you feel that you did not have enough time in the afternoon, then you can find a place to eat dinner there and continue the tour after dinner.



According to the first two trails, media reported that China Aviation Pavilion, the Chinese Ship Pavilion and Space Pavilion are gradually getting warmer. However Puxi area where mostly are future pavilions, shops and businesses pavilions and Urban Development Area are still far less popular than Pudong area where the Chinese National Pavilion is. So if you want to solve the problem of waiting in long line for dinner, the best solution is taking care of dinner in Puxi.

Area D and E



Walk around in Puxi at night, do not think the pavilions in Puxi Area E are not important, in fact as long as you understand the Expo, you will find corporate pavilions at the Expo also play an important role. While the organizers of the Expo also provided a place called “Urban best Practice Area” letting us know how countries improve the quality of urban life. In which the French Roa Pavilion’s lighting is very beautiful, very suitable for viewing at night.

You can take the subway line 8 or the ferry to go to Area D. First take a look the Jiangnan Shipbuilding Pavilion which was converted from a old factory, you can see the China’s ship making history as well as the model of Zheng He Treasure Ship.

Come out of Chinese Ship Pavilion, and walk towards the Nanpu Bridge, first go to China’s Private Enterprises Pavilion, Vanke as China’s largest real estate companies has been very creative, Vanke Pavilion is made of compressed wheat stalks. You can go there look at China’s future urban life in year 2049.

Next to it is Yuanda Pavilion, whose construction and design embody the idea of environmental protection. The construction of the pavilion took only a short time, in addition it displays the new energy saving air-conditioning system.

Yuanda Pavilion highlights: the cylindrical sculpture in the air is a 5o million times magnified human DNA, composed by hundreds of different sized transparent spheres, the inside are filled with helium, glittering under the sun.

Information Science and Technology Pavilion Highlights: It uses Expo’s cool water technology to adjust indoor temperature in order to reduce energy consumption and emissions. All the major building materials are recyclable; the building uses Green materials to eliminate air pollution and noise pollution.

Shanghai Automotive – General Motors Pavilion: It has the world’s first sophisticated visual and dynamic experience, letting people feel the excitement of moving through the future cities and nature, all the way to year 2030 and getting shocked by it.

Private Corporate Pavilion highlights: Emphasizing environmental friendly green life, it is equated with solar panels. The entire area is powered by solar energy. The inside also has dry mist system to keep the air cool and moist. Under your feet, impressively shows 16 1.5-meters in diameter ecological aquariums with all kinds of marine life inside them.

National Grid Pavilion: The “Magic Box” uses six-face LED screen display mode, integrating with environmental concepts and world-class high technology, gives visitors unprecedented “immersive” viewing experiences. And this is the first time the technology is exhibited in the world.

Finally we can take a boat at the water gate terminal, sitting in the boat while enjoying Huangpu River’s night-views, in your head going over what you have seen at the Expo through all the day. Just like that your one day tour of the Shanghai World Expo has successfully ended.

Lastly, for those of you chose to tour the Expo in one day, please take care of your health, wear suitable sports gears and comfortable shoes.  Fashionable girls are adviced not to wear high heels.  In addition visitors who bring an umbrella please be sure to bring the short and foldable ones, the long umbrellas are not permitted to be taking inside.



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  1. That’s funny, I heard no one, no official, nothing, nowhere advertising about anything of what would be this exposition’s content whatsoever. And seems like, all over the world, no one really cares of what there is to see here.
    Interested in the latest technological developments, human future ? Well, there are plenty of dedicated events already happening anyway, not mentioning press releases of big corporate companies that make the future anyway. No one, absolutely no one, needs the Universal expo.

    On the other hand, I got fed MUCH more than I cared about the organisation, opening ceremony, government officials visiting, stars, how Shanghai is going to be held in hostage for a few month, everything non directly related to the actual content, this I know.

    That is a wonderful world we live in, where you can organise a huge shitload of absolute nothingness and still make it an expected event, dedicated to the sake of internal and international politics.

    1. You probably didn’t hear any ads cuz your country didn’t have enough money to spend for the expo, they weren’t probably planning to attend in the first place, or you just didn’t pay enough attention to it.

      This is the biggest and the most expensive world expo ever created. Each country takes their pride into this event to represent so that they can show off how great their country is or how technologically advanced they are. It also creates opportunities to raise awareness in certain environmental/global issues and try to solve or form some kind of treaty. Its also one of those events like the Olympics, where people all over the world can gather in area with similar goals in mind. If any country doesn’t show up to represent, then they look sooo bad to the eyes of the world. I heard the U.S.A wasn’t sure if they were planning to attend because of some kind of political issue, but China pretty much called them out saying “failure to attend would be considered a snub”.

      The pavilions itself shows how much effort are being put into this. And the architectures are just insane (design, themes, technology etc). I’ve never seen anything so unique put into one area. Plus many other benefits which are too long to explain here.

      So if you think if this whole event is just a pile of nothingness, then you are missing the whole point of this event and it just shows your ignorance towards international relations, as well as not enough pride into your own country’s advancement towards something greater.

      1. I think what you described is China’s attitude, but not everyone elses. As hosts, China has the expectation of encapsulating it’s history, culture, and innovation; past, present, and future; into the Expo.

        However, looking at the UK pavilion for comparison, you see a temple dedicated to saving biodiversity. I really don’t see how this “encapsulates” the UK, and I don’t think that is their intent. Otherwise you would just exhibits dedicated to Newton, Faraday, Darwin, Maxwell, Crick, Wiles, etc. But instead they focus on a few salient, pertinent issues, not necessarily unique to the UK.

        Every country has their own unique interpretation of what scale of representation they want to bring to the Expo, the one you mentioned is not necessarily the consensus.

        1. And I never read the news and can’t speak Chinese, so I never know what’s going on anywhere in the world. (That said, I still run into enough problems that need fixing where I’m at.)

          1. But the architecture does look really cool, I wonder how much a few days would cost me. Probably the next one won’t be as good. I think it’s hard to outdo a Chinese host.

  2. I’ve just finished my 2 day expo trip yesterday and I must say this is a shitty report and absolutely useless. As someone who’ve actually been there, this ‘guide’ simply regurgitates trivial (and FALSE) infos you can find on official site, and this person absolutely has no sense of amount of TIME it takes to experience and travel between pavilions. I could make a proper report myself but I have no architecture blog for people to read (and there is a chance that this comment might be deleted).

    1. but just to give few very quick tips to those who might actually care about my comment (and i need to leave for airport soon),

      – there are two main different type of pavilions: ‘open’ and ‘closed’ pavilion. Open pavilions are very open structures that you can pretty much walk in and outl, without being forced to sit in a theatre, and do pretty much what you want to see and do. Closed pavilions are organised in a very specific way, so it’s more like a ‘journey’ rather than ‘exploring world’ of open pavilions. Closed pavilions usually take so much more time, because they usually have multimedia you have to sit through. There are some very good ones out of these, so while waiting in line for those, get your friends to grab lunch/dinner while waiting in the line to save time.

      Try to go for open pavilions, instead of waiting in huge lines of closed pavilions.

      – research which pavilions you REALLY want to check out first. most likely you won’t get a time for even half of what you want to see.

      – take advantage of free bus. they only run two directions, so it’s easy to tell which way you want to go, it’ll save lot of time and energy. They’re free and you can catch them pretty much anytime at many bus stops (along the main horizontal axis).

      – bring a sun umbrella, it’ll help during hot Chinese May climate.

      – just to demonstrate how useless the infos in this ‘guide’ was, one example would be that denmark pavilion uses bicycles for visitors and they are no longer allowed near the late evening, which is important. Bicycle can be a crucial factor in experiencing this pavilion’s masterpiece of an architectural form, and the view at the top of the pavilion is just amazing. Denmark pavilion also looks fabulous at night, and i have to say this was personally the best pavilion of this expo.

      1. thanks for sharing your experiences with us, i agree the guide was generic for introducing the Pavilions, but i wouldn’t say its totally useless, most of your tips are along the same lines as what was in the guide, like time management, open vs. closed pavilions, take advantage of the transportation, find the efficient route and see what you want to see, try to save time on buying lunch and dinner… But i am glad that you had fun, and I am jealous… I haven’t had a chance to go yet, and not sure if I will.

  3. The Dutch Pavilion, known as “Happy Street,” is constructed in a figure eight – a lucky number that suggests fortune in Chinese culture. It is mainly composed of a 400-meter pedestrian street that curves upward in a figure of eight and 26 small houses along the street. They function as showcases of dutch technology of energy and watermanagement.
    Built completely on stilts, the street looks like a suspended roller coaster. The entire structure is made of metal and thus will be 100 % recycable.

  4. Some guides from netease might be useful and worth being translated:


    The website has guides and tips for one/two/three/seven day tourists, including suggestions from Wu Zhiqiang the main architect of Shanghai Expo. I haven’t been to the Expo yet but I believe the hardest thing is to avoid the crowd in peak hours (10am and 2pm as said), major Chinese holidays (5/1, 6/1, etc) and weekends. Reserve tickets for the ‘big’ pavilions and visit ‘smaller’ ones first. Some pavilions will be permanent such as the Chinese one so it might be a good idea for Shanghai residents to visit them later when the Expo is over.

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    You have ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have
    a great day. Bye

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