Trip guide to The International 2019 in Shanghai, China

Mar 18 2019 7 min read
  • WePlay Esports Events:

Trip guide to The International 2019 in Shanghai, China ⚡⚡⚡ Esports and gaming news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!

This year Valve decided to hold The International outside the USA and move the biggest celebration of Dota 2 to the Chinese city of Shanghai. It may seem inconvenient at first glance, but this change also gives an opportunity to travel and taste the culture of the Middle Kingdom.

Traveling to China isn’t hard nor particularly expensive. We hope this guide will help you start looking at the trip to Shanghai as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle on your to The International 2019.

How to get Visa to China

The process of obtaining Visa to China usually takes up to a week. If you are planning a trip to TI, make sure that by August you will have a passport with at least six months validity and two blank pages.

Here is the list of documents you will most likely need:

  • Passport
  • A 48mm x 33mm photo.
  • Visa application form.
  • Various supporting documents needed in separate cases. For example, if you apply outside your country of residence, you will need to submit additional papers.

You can find the Visa application form and other useful information on this website. You will need to visit a local Chinese embassy, consulate or Visa Application Center, pay the fee (between $30 and $150, depands on where you live) and receive Visa within a couple of days (it can be mailed). There are also more expensive and quick ways to get the visa.

A legitimate loophole in the Chinese visa policy

Some major cities in China, including Shanghai, enjoy 144-hour Visa-Free Transit policy. It means that you can stay in the city for up to six days without jumping through the hoops and paying additional Visa fee.

To be eligible for Visa-Free Transit you need to purchase A —> B —> C flight tickets.

A) Place where you start your journey (e.g. your country residence airport outside mainland China). 

B) Shanghai

C) Another country, which is neither A nor any city of mainland China.

This arrangement is perfect for when you want to travel to TI and then go to another country as well. The Visa-Free Transit policy allows people to travel around Shanghai and nothing should stop you from visiting Mercedes-Benz Arena during a particular international esports event.

Residents of all NA, some SA, 24 EU and most CIS countries are eligible for the Visa-Free Transit policy. Check if your country is in the Visa-Free Transit policy list before booking the tickets (it's easy to Google).

You will need to inform your carrier that you plan to claim Visa-Free Transit upon boarding and apply for the stay permit in the airport upon arrival.

Trip to Shanghai

Shanghai is an economic center of the world, and there are flights between it and most European and NA countries every day. A trip to Shanghai from London and back would cost approximately $1000 (+/-$50); New York to Shanghai and back will be about $800 (+/- $50).

Mercedes-Benz Arena (to the left), Shanghai Pudong International Airport (to the right). There is also Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, but you most likely will land at Pudong.

There is a Metro station near the airport and you can get to a 15-minute walk radius from the TI venue. For 45 Yuan, (close to $6.7) you get a ticket for 3 days of unlimited metro transit.

Airbnb and various hosting listings show that Shanghai is not an expensive city to live in. For $15 you can find a cozy room to spend the night in.

For $40 you can choose from a pretty big selection.

Things you want to know before travelling to Shanghai

The currency

The currency in China is the Chinese yuan (CNY). You can exchange the money on arrival at the airport or in one of the various banks and exchange kiosks throughout Shanghai.

Exchange rates as of 15.03.2019:

1 CNY = 0.15 USD

1 CNY = 0.11 GBP

1 CNY = 0.13 EUR

1 CNY = 0.20 CAD

1 CNY = 9.69 RUB

It can be hard to withdraw cash from the local ATMs with a foreigner’s credit card, so make sure you have enough cash upon arrival.

Google Pay doesn't work in China. Apple Pay does work, but you can't use it everywhere.


There are many places in Shanghai where you can get free Wi-Fi access. But if you don’t want to rely on your hotel or a café, you can purchase a SIM card with prepaid internet. It will cost 50 yuan (less than $8)


Chinese food is very spicy, and you shouldn't go on reckless experiments. The Hospital Chongqing Major shenanigans is a stark example of what happens when foreigners explore the food in China.

Better attend International food joints like KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut and so on. The fast food served by these chains might not be exotic, but at least you won’t end up in a hospital.

Racism in China

Most Chinese people aren’t racist, but there are things you need to keep in mind. First of all, the police won’t tolerate if a white person offends an Asian. On the other hand, a white person with blond hair can easily get a discount in a store or pick up a date.

Unfortunately, things are worse for black people in China. If you have dark skin, be prepared for prejudiced attitude from the law the enforcement officers, who may suspect you of drug trafficking or another type of criminal activity.

The language barrier is real

People in China are friendly towards foreigners, but very few of them speak or understand English. You will need to use Google Translate with voice input a lot, which brings us to the next point.

VPN is a must

Many internet services including Google Translate with voice input don’t work without VPN. Using a VPN service isn’t illegal in China, so you won’t get into trouble with it. These two VPN services should work well in China: ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Topics to avoid in China

When you are in China don’t talk about three things:

• Politics
• Religion
Lady Gaga (remove her songs and pictures from your phone to be safe)

These topics are connected with each other, and you should avoid them. If you are curious, read about the Communist Party of China, Buddhism and the meeting of Lady Gaga with Dalai Lama before your trip.

Drinking and partying in China

Chinese people drink alcohol and enjoy themselves just like everybody else. You should be fine as long as you don’t carry alcoholic beverages openly on the street and don’t bother anyone.

If you do drugs at home, better avoid taking them in China. It’s like with the food – you don’t know what’s in there and how your body will react to that. The police are extremely strict about drugs (there is a death penalty for the drug addicts in China).

Chinese people smoke everywhere

Literally. In the elevators, in the supermarkets, in cafes and restaurants. Even when children are around.

People drive their cars like crazy

Be extra careful when you are crossing the street.

Take care of your charging devices

These are typical electrical appliances in China, if it doesn’t look like what you are using at home, make sure you have a plug adapter. Electricity in China is 240 Volts, so maybe you need a transformer.

Emergency numbers in Shanghai

Hopefully, you will not need these:

• Police: 110
• Ambulance: 120
• Fire: 119
• Research the phone # of your country's embassy in China.

Where to go in Shanghai

Dota 2 may be the reason why you cross half the planet, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing you see in Shanghai. You can Google dozens of worthy tourist attractions in Shanghai, we'll just put three extraordinary places so that you have where to start from.

The Old City

Visit temples, markets, and tea houses that constitute the cultural heart and soul of the city. You’ll find attractions like City God Temple and Chenxiang Ge Temple.

There are several metro stops in the Old City, try Laoximen and Xiaonanmen.

Yuyuan Garden

One of the most peaceful places in the city with a pond and the famous ornate, classically-designed Huxinting Teahouse perched on stilts above the water nearby.

Head for the Yuyuan Garden metro station.

People’s Square (aka the heart of Shanghai)

One of the most iconic places in the city.

Head for People's Square Subway Station.

*             *             *             *             *             *             *

We hope that this trip guide will be useful to you. Have a good journey!


World Esports Stands for Charity and Peace in Ukraine

Donate to Techiia Foundation to support charity and people of Ukraine for those who suffer the most, for those who protect the country from the Russian army forces right now and for those who will never return from this war but remain in our hearts forever.

qr code
DreamLeague Season 11 Playoffs Day 3 — Predictions
DreamLeague Season 11 Playoffs Day 3 — Predictions
Tekcac: DreamLeague S11 Playoffs Day 3 Predictions
Tekcac: DreamLeague S11 Playoffs Day 3 Predictions

Other Categories

WePlay Promotes

Stand with Ukraine


Ukrainian Army NBU Fundraising


Come Back Alive Foundation