You are making the right choice if you are planning to travel to Shanghai. We have just spent a week in the world fastest growing city and were fascinated by all the amazing things to do in Shanghai. Whether you are into discovering Chinese culture, or enjoying the modern feel of one of the most vibrant Asian city, you will love Shanghai!
We hope you will enjoy our selection of things to do in Shanghai, and of course feel free to share any other suggestions with us!
1. Shop till you drop
Shopping in Shanghai is an experience of its own, this is why travellers from all over Asia visit Shanghai with the intention of shopping, some of them even arrive to Shanghai with empty suitcases!
From ancient and antique local markets to high end designers boutiques, Shanghai has it all. Some of the most liked venues are the commonly called “fake market” where you will find perfect imitation of branded goods that sure look very real. The South Bund Fabric is where you can get your custom-tailored suit made in less than a week, make sure to bring a sample of what you like and they’ll be able to reproduce the exact same copy!
If you fancy bringing back a gift to your girlfriend, we would recommend you to look for the Cheongsam, a traditional silk chinese dress, you can also find pashminas and scarves of excellent quality at a reasonable cost. Here are a few of our personal recommendations of where to shop these Chinese textiles from the Qing Dynasty : Shanghai textile museum, Jiashan market, Tianzifang, or even the Cheongsam Street on Changle Road.
Needless to say that Hongqiao International Pearl City will make dream those ladies as you can create there your own jewellery from as low as 5 dollars and if you want to bring something even more unique and curious we advise you visiting the Donftai Lu Antique market where you will find all kind of interesting stuff and colourful artefacts, from Chinese dominos and chopsticks to posters of General Mao.
Be reminded that you can always bargain which makes your Shanghai shopping experience even more fun. Bargain your way or get the helped of expats guides who launched their own shopping tour around Shanghai which one has became legendary and a must do tour in Shanghai!
2. Hunt for Culinary Delicacies & Street Food
Have a taste of China while in Shanghai! Since Shanghai is a major cross-road between different provinces of China, you will find there an infinity of yummy Chinese delicacies.
If you have to try an iconic Shanghainese dish this would have to be the “Xiaolongbao”, a steamed soup dumpling which is usually filled with pork, minced crab and the broth.
A famous Shanghainese restaurant to taste this world famous dish would be the Nanxiang Steamed bun restaurant, a three floors restaurant, you will be able to taste 8 original flavoured Xiaolongbao for CNY 10.
Another famous Xiaolongbao restaurant to be visited is the Lu Bo Lang Restaurant, that has also been visited by International Bill Clinton or Queen Elizabeth! A meal should cost you around CNY 200 per person.
Do not miss on your Shanghai dining trip the Xiaoyang Shengjian Restaurants, there are about 30 branches in the city where you’ll get the opportunity to taste some mouthwatering hot pan-fried soup dumplings!
On another note, Shanghai offers an impressive and colourful street food scene where you can enjoy eating like a local in every corner of the city. Although you should always be mindful on where to eat, we recommend you exploring Fanfbang Road and Sipailou Road in the Old City.
Dig into the night street markets and feel the magic of all those lit up wok while witnessing street hawkers hand pulling a specialty of fresh noodles.
Or if you just arrived in Shanghai and crave for mouthwatering Chinese food, jump on the breakfast tour where some foodies will bring in the hidden street food spots while waking up!
3. Dine & Wine At The Bund
Still on the food topic and if you fancy a fine-dining night out you should not question yourself longer and directly head to the waterfront area of The Bund, where awaits you a dining nightlife contemplating the enchanting and futuristic views of Lujiazui across the river.
The Bund’s colonial buildings facing the skyline makes it an unique stop for anyone who passes by Shanghai. Do not miss M On The Bund to catch an unique view of the skyline.
Also make sure to visit Mr and Mrs Bund, a French eatery that has got the heart of the local expats and is now bringing travellers from all over the world for its modern French cuisine.
Lost Heaven is a great and still reasonable choice for Chinese dishes from the Province of Yunan, while Sun Chateau will treat you to the your most luxurious Chinese dining experience.
A good compromise would be Kathleens’5 where you’ll enjoy an East-West fusion with a view, located atop the Shanghai Art Museum.
4. Nightlife – From Sun Down till Sun Rise
As soon as the sun goes down, countless of lights will spangle the sky in each corner of the intriguing and sleepless Shanghai city that never lacks of a cool place to hang out until the next morning!
If you were not aware of it yet, Shanghai is undeniably one of the most happening places of Asia in terms of nightclubs and bars, where world famous DJ regularly play.
The Bund, home of the famous Le Bar Rouge should not be missed as you prepare yourself for a decadent night throughout the Shanghai night lights. Still at The Bund, why not giving a go at the nightclub MUSE and see how Shanghainese people like to party ?
Otherwise, as soon as the clock reaches midnight, there are plenty of options on where to go. Fu Xing Lu & Yong Fu Lu are two little streets where you’ll find some of the Shanghai cool crowd, a few pubs and clubs, as well as friendly locals and expats going from bars to clubs.
Party goers wanting to make it wild are recommended to head to the European nightclub Hollywood, and you will for sure be able to make it until the sunrise in there.
5. Get immersed into Shanghai Cultural Heritages
Have you always dreamt about learning Chinese? Shanghai is the perfect place to give it a try. Learning a few words of Mandarin and taking a calligraphy class will help you understand the culture and history that is behind the Chinese culture.
You may arrange a Chinese lesson for yourself at Mandalingua or Mandarin House, and bring a valuable souvenir back home!
If you want to get deeper in your Chinese cultural immersion, you may know that China is famed for its martial arts, and as you wander in the Shanghai streets you will not be surprised to meet on your way groups of Chinese adults practicing Tai Chi early in the morning, which can seem like a weird dance at first but is a form of meditation.
Kung Fu is also widely practiced and we advise you to visit the Kung Fu Museum to learn about the importance of Kung Fu in the Chinese culture.
6. Visit Museums, Arts and Theatres
For those interested in antiques and China history, you should not miss the Shanghai museum, it is considered as a world class museum and it can take you a full day to completely visit it.
Shanghai Science & Technology Museum is also one of the most visited of Shanghai offering 13 main permanent exhibitions and 4 sciences theaters.
If you are into movies, do not miss the Shanghai Film Museum that will bring you back into the Shanghainese cinema of the 1920’s with subtitled video clips. Lastly, the tree story Long Museum showcases 1,000 years of Chinese art, antiques, and porcelaines.
You may also know that China is famous for its acrobatics shows. In fact, Shanghai doesn’t lack of theater to witness those spectacular and breathtaking acrobatics realised in front of your eyes. ERA, the phenomenal acrobatics show at Shanghai Circus World has been rated by most International magazines as the best acrobatics show in Shanghai.
7. Get surrounded by futuristic buildings
Your first impression when arriving to Shanghai will be to see how huge and modern is everything, and as you will find yourself simply amazed at being surrounded by skyscrappers you might want to catch the view from the top!
To do so, we advise you to make your way to the impressible spherical Oriental Pearl Tower and climb to the highest observation deck of Shanghai at 1,148 feet that offers a 360 degrees vertiginous bird eye view.
We recommend you getting the VIP ticket to avoid queuing , and to make sure to be there on a blue sky day to make the most of your experience.
To make it short, Shanghai is the fastest growing city in the world and describes perfectly the term futuristic, so get ready to experience something unique!
8. Authentic China and Temples
Find yourself immerse in some authentic Chinese landscapes while enjoying a serene and mystical walk in the Yu Garden, venturing to the three halls of the holy Jing’An Temple in the heart of Shanghai, or even by giving tribute to the largest reclining Budhha made of marble in the Jade Buddha Temple.
If you have never seen a Chinese temple, Jing An temple really worth the visit as it has been recently renovated and is also close to many other attractions situated in the heart of the bustling Shanghai.
Lastly, if you are not into temple, you can even visit the Xujiahui Cathedral and the Jewish Synagogue, both are impressive by their architecture and history which attracts a lot of visitors every day.
9. Check out the cool neighborhoods of Shanghai by vintage sidecar
While reading this article, you might notice that Shanghai is a curious contrast between modernity and authenticity. Also it is huge, and you are always wondering if you have missed something on your way. Well, if you want to be sure to not miss anything out and discover those off the beaten tracks we highly recommend you to catch a ride around the city on a vintage sidecar.
The bunch of expats who launched the Vintage side-car Tour will bring you anywhere you want, from The Bund area, The French concession, The Old City, The financial center, to the local street markets and hidden alleyways.
Each Vintage Sidecar Guide has a minimum of three years living in Shanghai and are real insiders to a city that is just asking to be explored, we highly recommend them for a fun ride in Shanghai!
10. Travel to the Watertowns
For those who had enough time to visit Shanghai and want to go deeper into their Chinese travel experience, we recommend you spending a day or two around the water towns around Shanghai.
Few options will come to you when you’ll want to venture into the watertowns, here are our suggestions:
Only 50 minutes away from Shanghai, Zhujiajiao has got the heart of most foreign visitors with its wooden houses, enchanting atmosphere, and cool coffee shops.
Fengjing is another “Farmer-Painter”, 1800 year-old watertown famous for its canals, bridges and temples. Visitors are usually going there to meet some of the friendly Chinese artists in their workshops above the river.
Lastly, it is a must to mention Zouzhouang, a water town that prides itself for being the no 1 Chinese Watertown, it is indeed one of the prettiest but might be too touristy for the taste of some travellers!
Bonus : Practical info on how to get around in Shanghai.
Shanghai is a massive city and it takes time to travel from a point A to B. The most convenient way of transportation is probably taxi which is relatively cheap, you should avoid morning and evening rush hours, also make sure to get your destination point written in Chinese or a map as drivers don’t speak English. Subway and Trains are also a quick way to travel, very clean and organised, both are labeled in English and Chinese which makes it easy.
Shanghai’s railway and its high speed bullet train connects Shanghai to Beijing in only 5 hours and 30 mins, which makes it arguably a more convenient way to travel than by flight.
Lastly, if you would like to enjoy the comfort of a private driver in Shanghai. We recommend you to refer to our Transportation Services & Airport Transfer in Shanghai.
We hope you’ve now found some of the best things to do in Shanghai, and we will be happy to help you further in organising your trip, do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or to check our complete catalogue of guided tours in Shanghai.