Buses, trolleys, taxis and a metro system! What more can you ask for? Shanghai has one of the most extensive transportation systems in the world and it is very cheap and easy to navigate.
The fastest and easiest way to get around is the metro. For me it has been very convenient since there is always a stop nearby, it is also cheaper than a taxi, and faster than a bus. The metro consists of 12 lines, and extends to every corner of the city. Since there is a map in every station and color-coded arrows on the floor to help you walk towards the correct stop, it is very unlikely to get lost.
The next best thing is Shanghai's bus system. It is only two Yuan (or 33 cents) for a one way fare and it too can also take you anywhere you want. I have ridden the bus a few times, but a good tip is to always look up the correct bus number and directions to the nearest bus stop beforehand. This way, you will avoid getting lost.
If you want to go for an adventure, ride a cab! Just giving directions to a cab driver is an adventure on its own; especially if you don't speak Chinese. What I have found very useful is to print out the address and name of the place in Chinese beforehand. Once you get in the cab, show the address to the driver, so that there is no miscommunication. Taxis in Shanghai are very safe, and if you are wanting to explore Shanghai's nightlife this is the best way to do so since the metro closes at 11:00 p.m.
Even though back in the states I drive my own car and never use public transportation, while studying abroad in Shanghai
it has been very easy for me to learn how to navigate the transportation system, and I actually love it! I do not have to worry about putting gas in my car or sitting in traffic for hours. I just hop on and hop off and I am at my destination. So, my suggestion for you is if you want to live like a local, you must familiarize yourself with Shanghai's transportation system. It is part of the "Shanghainese" culture and it will be the easiest way to explore the city, so hop on board and go for an adventure, you won't be disappointed!
Katherine Guevara is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Shanghai, China. She is currently a senior at the University of Houston.