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Shanghai

Shanghai is one of China’s most famous and popular cities with travellers, reflective of China’s fast modernisation. It is multicultural, with residents from all over the world living there for work and its unique blend of modern and traditional cultures. Shanghai is a global financial hub and is the “showpiece” of China’s booming economy.

Tours and activities in Shanghai

There’s no place in China quite like Shanghai, so be prepared for a busy trip! To make sure you see everything, consider arranging an organised tour or use a local guide. They’ll be able to give you ideas on where to visit that can help you escape the crowds, and can also help you to book tickets to some of the main attractions.

Check out our tour offers and get in touch if you’d like to discuss specific requirements.

Best time to visit

Shanghai has a mild and wet climate with four seasons. July and August are the hottest months and late January to early February the coldest. The best times to visit are March to May or October to November, when the weather is at its most pleasant and comfortable. Mid-summer is incredibly busy and also very warm, so might be best avoided.

Top Attractions in Shanghai

What to see and do
The Bund
1. The Bund
Landmarks and icons

The Bund is the largest waterfront area of Shanghai and probably its most famous symbol. A testament to the unique melding of cultures in the city over the years, here you’ll find buildings in an array of architectural styles, from Gothic and Baroque to Romanesque and Renaissance.

Lover’s Wall
2. Lover’s Wall
Landmarks and icons

The flood control wall became known as ‘Lover’s Wall’ and was a romantic spot during the last 100 years. There are now added hollows in the wall for couples and it is covered in flowers and lit up at night.

Shanghai Museum
3. Shanghai Museum
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

There are too many museums in Shanghai to list them all, but the first one on your list should be Shanghai Museum. Located in the middle of People’s Square, this is home to an incredible amount of ancient Chinese art and artefacts.

It has eleven galleries and three exhibition halls, including ceramics, bronze wares, paintings and calligraphy. There are also displays showcasing early Chinese currency – it was one of the first countries to use monetary coins.

Jewish Refugees Museum
4. Jewish Refugees Museum
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

If time allows, you should also visit the Jewish Refugees Museum, the Chinese Martial Arts Museum and the Power Station of Art.

Qibao Ancient Town
5. Qibao Ancient Town
Nature, parks and outdoors

Qibao Ancient Town in the centre of Minhang District is a thousand-year-old town with waterways with beautifully preserved ancient architecture. Here you can take in traditional Shanghai culture, including cricket fighting, the wonderful Qibao Temple and an absolute must-see: The Shadow Plays. Using colourful drawings, music and actors, these tell stories about famous historical events.

 

Yuyuan Garden
6. Yuyuan Garden
Nature, parks and outdoors

Yuyuan Garden is the largest ancient garden in Shanghai with Ming and Qing dynastic architecture. Dongping National Forest Park is an area of stunning beauty – a massive man-made forest with recreational activities like grass skiing and rock climbing.

Shanghai Disneyland Park
7. Shanghai Disneyland Park
Things to do with kids

Shanghai Disneyland Park is what you would expect from a Disney resort, and is an ideal place for the family. With six theme lands, the park blends typical Disney styles and favourite characters with Chinese culture and there are plenty of rides and exhibits to keep the kids occupied.

Shanghai Wild Animal Park
8. Shanghai Wild Animal Park
Things to do with kids

For a more sedate activity with the family, check out Shanghai Wild Animal Park, covering 153 hectares and home to over 200 species. You can see performing animals, take a tour bus through the park and interact with some of the animals there.

Happy Valley
9. Happy Valley
Things to do with kids

Another theme park is Happy Valley, and more wildlife fun can be found at Ocean Aquarium.

Madame Tussauds
10. Madame Tussauds
Things to do with kids

 For older children, Madame Tussards is always a source of great amusement!

Nanjing Road and Yuyuan Garden
11. Nanjing Road and Yuyuan Garden
Leisure and shopping

Shanghai is known as the “Oriental Paris” thanks to its incredible shopping areas. You can get a tax refund and tax-free shopping on Nanjing Road and Yuyuan Garden. You’ll find shopping malls selling high-end items on Nanjing Road, and for traditional wares, try the Yuyuan Tourist Mart. Here you can pick up antiques, jade, gold and silver items, as well as local arts and crafts.

Yuyuan Tourist Mart
12. Yuyuan Tourist Mart
Leisure and shopping

For traditional wares, try the Yuyuan Tourist Mart. Here you can pick up antiques, jade, gold and silver items, as well as local arts and crafts.

Shanghai Fashion Week
13. Shanghai Fashion Week
Regular festivals and celebrations

Shanghai fashion is popular, and it now hosts its own Fashion Week twice a year in April and October. You’ll find international designers showcasing their latest designs, but the event is primarily based around promoting new Chinese talent.

Getting here and getting around

Travel to and from Shanghai is easy, as you would expect from a modern metropolis. With two international airports, Pudong and Hongqiao, over 1,000 flights travel in and out of Shanghai every day, connecting it with many domestic cities as well as New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo and many more.

An airport shuttle bus will take you to Shanghai itself, as well as other destinations in mainland China. A comprehensive railway network with high-speed trains will take you to and from the city, or you can travel by metro from the airport to the city centre. There are also tourist trains that will take scenic tours through other areas.

You can, of course, access Shanghai by water as it is an international port. Cruises from South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are all possible, and you can also tour the Yangtze River.

Shanghai is a city packed with people, so traffic congestion is possible, however the city does have an efficient and convenient transport infrastructure. You can take city buses across the city and there are currently 14 subway lines in operation. The Maglev train is also very fast and efficient.

Currently more than 50,000 taxis service Shanghai and are high-priced in comparison with many other Chinese cities; however, this is still a good way of getting around while you get your bearings. Fares start at ¥11 for daytime and ¥13.2 for night-time travel, although this rises depending on the operating company and type of cab. 

Eating and drinking

Given its rich cultural heritage, it’s no surprise to hear that Shanghai cuisine is a blend of styles and nationalities. Local dining comics in two styles: Benbang, which uses fresh fish, pork, chicken and bright colours and is mellow and sweet, and Haipai Cuisine, which is a mix of other Chinese and international dishes, with endless variety but a distinct focus on seafood.

Signature dishes include Xia Zi Da Wu Shen, which is dried and rehydrated sea cucumber stewed in oil, yellow wine and soybean sauce, Yan Du Xian, a stew of pork and ham with bamboo shoots and Ba Bao La Jiang, one of Shanghai’s rare spicy dishes, made with bean and chilli sauce, shrimps, chicken, pork, offal and bamboo shoots.

You can also enjoy local snacks like Nanxiang steamed stuffed buns, yellow pastry, chop rice cake and Leisha dumplings.

The Shanghai Chinese Restaurant has been open since 1875 and is a great place to try authentic traditional food, as is Lao Zheng Xing, which has a simple style. At Wang Bao, He you can try crab banquet and for upmarket dining, try Noble House.

Nightlife in Shanghai is sedate, but there is still plenty to do. The fashionable Xin Tian Di area offers galleries, themed restaurants, coffee shops and bars.

Getting a good night's sleep

One of the top hotels in the city is the IFC Residence, located in the financial district. This high-end hotel has luxurious rooms overlooking the city, including their own kitchen areas, an indoor pool, fitness centre, a garden, sun terrace and children’s playground.

Charms Hotel is a great mid-priced accommodation with modern rooms, a fitness centre and beauty salon. The on-site restaurant serves fantastic local cuisine and is very highly rated by visitors. It also has a great location, only five minutes from People’s Square.

For those on a budget, Jinjiang Inn Shanghai Lujiazui is a great choice. Elegant décor and plenty of facilities mean this property is rated as being great value for money.

To find out more about these hotels and view others, click here.

Top Tours & Activities in Shanghai

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