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Shanghai Travel Guide: Must-Do Activities

Nov 8

Introduction to Shanghai

Shanghai, a vibrant and bustling metropolis in China, offers many must-do activities for travellers like you. This city has something for everyone, from its awe-inspiring skyscrapers to its rich cultural heritage. Let's explore an overview of Shanghai's tourist attractions and activities and its unique blend of modernity and tradition.

Overview of Shanghai's Tourist Attractions and Activities

Shanghai boasts an impressive array of tourist attractions that cater to various interests. One must-visit spot is the iconic Bund, a waterfront promenade that showcases the city's stunning skyline and historic buildings. Additionally, you can immerse yourself in Chinese history and culture by exploring sites like the Shanghai Museum and the Yuyuan Garden.

The city offers a thriving entertainment scene for those seeking a taste of Shanghai's vibrant nightlife. Whether you prefer trendy bars, rooftop lounges, or traditional teahouses, there is always something exciting to discover after the sun sets.

Furthermore, Shanghai is renowned for its shopping opportunities. Explore Nanjing Road, one of the world's busiest shopping streets, for a retail therapy experience. Indulge in luxury brands, local boutiques, and traditional Chinese handicrafts.

Shanghai's Unique Blend of Modernity and Tradition

One of the most captivating aspects of Shanghai is its ability to blend modernity with traditional elements seamlessly. The skyline of Pudong, with its futuristic skyscrapers such as the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai Tower, beautifully contrasts with the tranquillity of the ancient water towns nearby.

Moreover, Shanghai's cuisine reflects this harmony of old and new. You can savour traditional delicacies like xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings) or indulge in international flavours at world-class restaurants.

Shanghai is a city that embraces both its rich history and its reputation as a global financial hub. With its diverse range of attractions and its unique blend of modernity and tradition, Shanghai promises an unforgettable experience for travellers seeking adventure, culture, and exploration.


Exploring the Bund

The Bund: Shanghai's iconic waterfront promenade

When visiting Shanghai, one of the must-do activities is exploring the Bund, the city's iconic waterfront promenade. This bustling area offers a captivating blend of history, architecture, and stunning views that will leave you awe-inspired.

As you stroll along the Bund, you will be greeted by a stunning skyline adorned with majestic skyscrapers on one side and the Huangpu River flowing gracefully on the other. The historic buildings that line the promenade showcase architectural styles from different eras, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Art Deco, giving the area a unique charm.

The Bund offers breathtaking views whether you visit during the day or at night. During the day, you can marvel at the architectural details of the buildings and witness the hustle and bustle of the city. As evening falls, the skyline comes alive with a mesmerizing display of lights, creating a magical atmosphere.

Photography spots on the Bund

The Bund is a paradise for photography enthusiasts, with numerous spots to capture stunning images. Here are some of the best photography spots on the Bund:

  1. The Bund waterfront: Capture panoramic shots of the skyline and the Huangpu River from the promenade. The contrast between the old and new buildings creates a captivating composition.

  2. The Peace Hotel: This iconic landmark boasts stunning Art Deco architecture. Capture its grand facade and intricate details for a timeless photograph.

  3. The Oriental Pearl Tower: One of Shanghai's most recognizable landmarks, this futuristic tower offers a unique photography backdrop. Experiment with different angles to capture its iconic silhouette.

  4. Waibaidu Bridge: This picturesque bridge offers an excellent vantage point to capture the Bund's skyline. Combining the bridge's elegant design and the city's modern architecture makes for striking compositions.

Exploring the Bund is about capturing beautiful photographs and immersing yourself in Shanghai's history and vibrancy. So don't forget to take your time, soak in the atmosphere, and create lasting memories of visiting this extraordinary destination.


Visiting Yu Garden

When you visit Shanghai, one of the must-do activities is exploring Yu Garden. This historic garden is a hidden gem that offers a glimpse into the city's rich history and culture. Here, we will delve into the history and significance of Yu Garden and highlight the must-see sections that you should not miss.

History and Significance of Yu Garden

Yu Garden, also known as Yuyuan Garden, is a classical Chinese garden that dates back to the Ming Dynasty. It was initially built in 1559 by a high-ranking government official named Pan Yunduan as a private retreat for his parents.

The garden's name, "Yu," means "peace and comfort," which perfectly describes its serene atmosphere. With its traditional Chinese architecture, intricate stone carvings, and elegant pavilions, Yu Garden is a testament to the city's architectural heritage.

The garden has faced destruction and restoration throughout its history but has always remained a symbol of beauty and tranquillity. Today, it is visited by locals and tourists alike seeking a peaceful escape from the bustling city.

Must-See Sections of Yu Garden

When exploring Yu Garden, make sure to visit these must-see sections:

  1. Grand Rockery: This massive rockery is the garden's centrepiece and offers a picturesque view. It is adorned with twisting paths, caves, and exotic plants, creating a natural wonderland within the garden.

  2. Hall of Spring: This majestic hall features beautiful architecture and intricate wood carvings. It is a perfect example of traditional Chinese craftsmanship and offers a glimpse into the opulence of the past.

  3. Dianchun Hall: This hall serves as a cultural heritage exhibition, showcasing historical artefacts and providing insights into the garden's history. It is a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

  4. Exquisite Jade Rock: This unique rock formation is a masterpiece of nature. It resembles a mountain surrounded by water, representing harmony and balance, and is considered a symbol of good fortune.

Exploring Yu Garden is like stepping back in time and immersing yourself in ancient Chinese culture. Make sure to take your time, admire the beautiful architecture, and embrace the tranquillity that this historic garden offers.


Taking a Huangpu River Cruise

If you're looking for a must-do activity during your visit to Shanghai, hopping on a Huangpu River Cruise should be at the top of your list. This scenic cruise offers breathtaking views of the city's iconic skyline and allows you to soak in the vibrant atmosphere that Shanghai is known for. This section will explore the highlights of cruising along the Huangpu River and the options available for this unforgettable experience.

Cruising along the Huangpu River: sightseeing and skyline views

Embarking on a Huangpu River Cruise is an excellent way to admire Shanghai's stunning architecture and witness the dramatic contrast between the historic Bund and the modern Pudong district. As you sail along the river, you'll be captivated by the majestic skyscrapers, including the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and Shanghai Tower, which showcase the city's impressive development. The illuminated skyline at night creates a magical ambience you won't want to miss.

Aside from the skyline views, the Huangpu River Cruise offers a unique perspective on Shanghai's history and culture. You'll pass by various landmarks, such as the historic buildings along the Bund, each with its own story to tell. The knowledgeable tour guides onboard provide fascinating insights into the city's past, making the cruise visually stunning and intellectually enriching.

Options for Huangpu River Cruise experiences

When embarking on a Huangpu River Cruise, you have several options catering to different preferences and budgets. Some cruises offer a leisurely daytime experience, allowing you to admire the city's architecture under the bright sunshine. Others provide dinner cruises, where you can enjoy a delicious meal while enjoying the mesmerizing views of Shanghai's skyline illuminated by night.

Private charters are available for those who want a more intimate and personalized experience, allowing you to customize your itinerary and enjoy the cruise with just your companions. Regardless of your choice, a Huangpu River Cruise guarantees an unforgettable experience that will leave you with lasting memories of your time in Shanghai.

So, during your visit to Shanghai, don't miss the opportunity to take a Huangpu River Cruise. It's a fantastic way to appreciate the city's beauty, immerse yourself in its history, and create cherished moments you'll treasure forever.


Discovering Shanghai's Museums

If you're looking to delve into Shanghai's rich history and culture, exploring its museums is a must. The city is home to many exceptional museums offering fascinating insights into various aspects of its past and present. In this section, we will highlight some of the top museums in Shanghai and delve into the noteworthy exhibits and collections they house.

Top Museums to Visit in Shanghai

  1. Shanghai Museum: Renowned for its vast collection of ancient Chinese art and cultural artefacts, it is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. The museum's diverse exhibits span over 5,000 years of Chinese history, from exquisite ceramics and calligraphy to ancient bronzes and sculptures.

  2. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum: Ideal for science enthusiasts of all ages, this museum offers a range of interactive exhibits that explore scientific principles in a fun and engaging way. From virtual reality experiences to hands-on experiments, visitors can learn about space exploration, robotics, and environmental conservation.

  3. Jewish Refugees Museum: Located in the historic Hongkou district, this museum commemorates Shanghai's role as a haven for Jewish refugees during World War II. Through photographs, personal stories, and artefacts, the museum provides a moving account of the experiences of the Jewish community in Shanghai.

Noteworthy Exhibits and Collections

Within these museums, several noteworthy exhibits and collections are worth exploring. For example, the Shanghai Museum houses the Jade Gallery, which displays an impressive collection of jade artefacts representing the superb craftsmanship of ancient China. The museum's Chinese Calligraphy Gallery also showcases the evolution of calligraphy, including masterpieces from famous calligraphers throughout history.

At the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, visitors can marvel at the Space Exploration Hall, which features models of rockets and spacesuits and interactive displays that simulate the experience of being an astronaut. The museum's Earth Exploration Hall is another highlight, offering insights into the planet's natural wonders and the importance of environmental conservation.

In the Jewish Refugees Museum, the exhibition "Jewish Life in Shanghai" provides a detailed account of the community's daily life during their time in Shanghai. Visitors can also explore the former living quarters of the Jewish refugees and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they faced and the support they received from the local community.

Exploring these museums in Shanghai offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the city's history, art, and culture. Whether you're interested in ancient artefacts, scientific discoveries, or captivating stories of resilience, Shanghai's museums have something to offer everyone. So, add these enriching experiences to your itinerary and embark on a journey of discovery in this vibrant city.


Experiencing Shanghai's Street Food Scene

When it comes to exploring the culinary delights of a city, indulging in its street food is a must. In Shanghai, the vibrant street food scene offers a tantalizing array of flavours and tastes that satisfy any food lover. From savoury dumplings to sweet treats, there's something to tantalize every palate. This section will delve into the world of Shanghai's street food, exploring the local specialities and must-try dishes.

Exploring Local Street Food in Shanghai

Shanghai's streets are bustling with food vendors and stalls, each offering its unique twist on traditional Chinese cuisine. Whether you're strolling through bustling markets or wandering down hidden alleyways, you will surely encounter many mouthwatering options. The best way to experience the local street food is to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and follow your senses.

One popular street food hub is the Yu Garden Bazaar, where you can find various local delicacies. These flavoursome treats are a culinary delight, from steamed buns filled with juicy pork to crispy scallion pancakes. For those with a sweet tooth, don't miss the opportunity to try the iconic Shanghai-style egg tarts or the famous xiao long bao (soup dumplings) filled with a burst of flavorful broth.

Must-Try Street Food Dishes

In Shanghai, some street food dishes should not be missed. One such dish is jianbing, a savoury Chinese crepe made from a thin batter and filled with various ingredients such as eggs, pickles, and crispy fried dough. Another must-try is shengjian bao, which is similar to xiao long bao but with a pan-fried bottom that adds an extra layer of texture and flavour.

For a unique taste experience, try the stinky tofu. Despite its pungent odour, this fermented tofu dish is surprisingly delicious and often topped with spicy sauce and crispy toppings. And if you're feeling adventurous, don't forget to sample the deep-fried scorpions or silkworms that are popular street food snacks for the more daring food enthusiasts.

Exploring Shanghai's street food scene is an immersive experience that offers a glimpse into the city's culinary heritage. From the bustling markets to the hidden alleys, the diverse range of flavours and dishes will leave you craving for more. So be sure to put on your walking shoes, bring your appetite, and embark on a culinary adventure through Shanghai's vibrant street food scene.


Shopping in Shanghai

Shopping in Shanghai is an absolute delight for any avid shopper. With a wide range of shopping destinations to explore and countless opportunities to find the best deals and unique souvenirs, you will surely have an unforgettable shopping experience. In this section, we will take you through some popular shopping destinations in Shanghai and guide you on where to find the best deals and unique souvenirs.

Popular Shopping Destinations in Shanghai

Shanghai offers many shopping options, catering to every taste and budget. Here are some must-visit shopping destinations:

  1. Nanjing Road: Known as one of the world's busiest shopping streets, Nanjing Road is a true shopper's paradise. The street has endless shopping opportunities, from luxury brand stores to local boutiques.

  2. Xintiandi: Located in the heart of Shanghai's downtown district, Xintiandi offers a unique shopping experience with its trendy fashion boutiques, international designer stores, and chic restaurants.

  3. Tianzifang: Situated in the former French Concession area, Tianzifang is a charming labyrinth of narrow alleys filled with small boutiques, art galleries, and cosy cafes. It's the perfect place to find artistic and handmade treasures.

Where to Find the Best Deals and Unique Souvenirs

If you're looking for the best deals and unique souvenirs in Shanghai, consider visiting the following places:

  1. Fabric Market (South Bund Fabric Market): This market is famous for its bespoke tailoring and custom-made clothing. Here, you can find affordable prices and choose from various fabrics to create unique pieces.

  2. Yuyuan Bazaar: Located next to the famous Yuyuan Garden, this traditional Chinese market is a treasure trove of souvenirs. From beautiful silk products to traditional handicrafts and antiques, you'll find plenty of unique gifts to bring back home.

  3. Dongtai Road Antique Market: This market is a must-visit for antique lovers. Browse through a collection of vintage items, including furniture, ceramics, and retro accessories. You might find that one-of-a-kind piece to add to your collection.

Remember, bargaining is common in Shanghai's markets, so don't be afraid to negotiate prices. Also, watch for sales and promotions, especially during major holidays and festivals.

Shopping in Shanghai is an exciting and rewarding experience. Whether you're looking for high-end fashion, unique souvenirs, or hidden treasures, the city has something to offer everyone. So embark on a shopping adventure, explore the vibrant shopping destinations, and indulge in the incredible shopping experience that Shanghai offers


Enjoying Shanghai's Nightlife

When the sun sets in Shanghai, the city comes alive with its vibrant nightlife. From trendy bars to lively clubs and entertainment districts, there is something for everyone to enjoy. In this section, we will explore the vibrant nightlife options in Shanghai and guide you on where to find the best bars, clubs, and entertainment districts.

Vibrant nightlife options in Shanghai

Shanghai offers diverse nightlife options catering to all tastes and preferences. Here are some of the must-visit places for an unforgettable night out:

  1. The Bund: Known as the heart of Shanghai's nightlife, The Bund is a waterfront promenade offering stunning skyline views. Here, you can find many upscale bars and clubs where you can enjoy cocktails while admiring the breathtaking views.

  2. Xintiandi: This trendy district in downtown Shanghai is famous for its vibrant nightlife scene. Here, you can find a mix of bars, clubs, and lounges that cater to different tastes. Whether you're in the mood for live music, DJ sets, or a relaxed atmosphere, Xintiandi has it all.

  3. Former French Concession: This charming area has various unique bars and cafes. The tree-lined streets create a cosy and intimate atmosphere, perfect for an evening of socializing and enjoying various drinks.

Bars, clubs, and entertainment districts

If you're looking for specific venues in Shanghai to enjoy the nightlife, here are some recommendations:

  1. Bar Rouge: Located on The Bund, Bar Rouge is one of the most iconic rooftop bars in Shanghai. Its stunning views, extravagant cocktails, and vibrant atmosphere make it a must-visit for those seeking a glamorous night out.

  2. M1NT: Situated in the heart of Shanghai, M1NT is a renowned rooftop club known for its luxurious ambience and international DJ performances. Enjoy the energetic music, stylish crowd, and panoramic city views.

  3. Hengshan Road: This street is famous for its nightlife, with numerous bars and clubs lining it. It offers diverse experiences, from live music venues to underground clubs, ensuring there is something for everyone's taste.

Shanghai's nightlife scene is vibrant and diverse, offering a wide range of options for entertainment and socializing. Whether you're looking for a sophisticated rooftop bar, a lively club, or a cosy bar in a charming neighbourhood, Shanghai has it all. So, venture out in the evening, immerse yourself in the city's vibrant atmosphere, and enjoy an unforgettable nightlife experience in Shanghai.


Day Trips from Shanghai

One of the great things about being in Shanghai is the accessibility to nearby destinations for exciting day trips. Whether you're looking to immerse yourself in nature, explore historical sites, or experience local culture, plenty of options are available. In this section, we will explore nearby destinations for day trips from Shanghai and provide suggested itineraries and activities to make the most of your experience.

Nearby destinations for day trips from Shanghai

  1. Suzhou: Known as the "Venice of the East," Suzhou is a charming city just a short train ride from Shanghai. Explore its famous classical gardens, visit the ancient water towns, and appreciate the rich history and beauty of the city.

  2. Hangzhou: Famous for its picturesque West Lake, Hangzhou offers a serene and scenic escape from the bustling city. Take a boat ride on the lake, visit the historic Lingyin Temple, and indulge in traditional tea ceremonies.

  3. Water Towns: Just outside of Shanghai, several water towns provide a glimpse into traditional Chinese architecture and culture. Zhujiajiao, Zhouzhuang, and Tongli are popular choices, with their ancient canal systems, stone bridges, and old buildings.

Suggested itineraries and activities

  1. Suzhou and Hangzhou Combo: If you have a full day to spare, consider combining Suzhou and Hangzhou into one trip. Start in Suzhou, exploring its classical gardens like the Humble Administrator's Garden and Lion Grove Garden. Afterwards, take a high-speed train to Hangzhou and spend the afternoon by West Lake, exploring attractions like Leifeng Pagoda and Hefang Street.

  2. Water Town Exploration: Spend a day exploring one of the nearby water towns. Start early and visit Zhujiajiao, known for its well-preserved Qing Dynasty architecture. Take a boat ride along the canals and wander through the narrow alleyways. Alternatively, visit Zhouzhuang or Tongli for a similar experience.

  3. Nature Escape to Moganshan: Head west of Shanghai to Moganshan, a mountain resort known for its relaxing atmosphere and lush green landscapes. Enjoy hiking through bamboo forests, visit tea plantations, and unwind in hot springs for a peaceful day away from the city.

Remember to check the weather and plan your day trips accordingly. Pack comfortable shoes, a map, and local currency for a smooth and enjoyable experience. Day trips from Shanghai offer a wonderful opportunity to explore the diverse beauty and culture that surrounds the city, adding even more excitement to your Shanghai travel experience.




Tips for an enjoyable trip

As you plan your trip to Shanghai, keep in mind these essential tips to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience:

  1. Plan your itinerary: With so much to see and do in Shanghai, planning your day trips and activities is important. Research the attractions you want to visit and allocate enough time for each. This will help you maximise your limited time in the city.

  2. Check the weather: Shanghai's weather can be unpredictable sometimes, so it's crucial to check the forecast before heading out. Pack accordingly and be prepared for changes in weather conditions. Bring an umbrella or raincoat during the rainy season and dress in layers for fluctuating temperatures.

  3. Be mindful of cultural differences: Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city, but respecting the local customs and traditions is essential. Familiarize yourself with basic Chinese etiquette, such as avoiding loud conversations in public and asking permission before taking photos of people.

  4. Stay hydrated and energized: Exploring Shanghai and its nearby destinations can be physically demanding, so stay hydrated and carry snacks for energy. Please bring a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day to avoid dehydration.

  5. Use local transportation: Public transportation in Shanghai is efficient and convenient. Utilize the metro system and buses to get around the city and reach your day trip destinations. Avoid peak hours to avoid overcrowding.

By following these tips, you'll be well-prepared to make the most of your Shanghai travel experience. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and nearby attractions, the city offers many opportunities for exploration and adventure. So pack your bags, embark on your day trips, and create lasting memories in the beautiful city of Shanghai.