Only have a few days in Shanghai? looking for Shanghai top attractions? We’ve got you covered.
When you or your friends and family come through Shanghai for a short visit, it’s helpful to know Shanghai top attractions, highlights and of course some of its unique experiences as well. This guide will be satisfying to you or your guests no matter how many trips to Shanghai have been taken, especially if it’s the first!
Some City Tips
- The Shanghai Public Transportation card (SPTC) can be used on the metro, buses, taxis, and the Huangpu ferry
- Tipping is not a custom in China, so always just pay what’s on the bill
- Always be mindful of your belongings in tourist areas to avoid pickpocketing
- The Shanghai Museum is free everyday, but be sure to arrive early
- Note that the big city lights will shut off at 10 o’clock in the evening, so remember to take pictures before!
Day 1 Modern & Classic Shanghai
What better way to introduce yourself to Shanghai than to jump on the Maglev that travels at a speed of 430 km/hr! The Maglev operates to/from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Longyang Rd. station in under 8 minutes. You can purchase one-way or round-trip tickets at the station.
This famous waterfront stretches along the western part of the Huangpu River and offers the best ground-level view of the Shanghai skyline. The Bund is typically less crowded in the morning , and you can get a nice view of the Luijiazui skyscrapers and the Pearl Tower. The buildings along the Bund display over 50 individual architecture styles, reminiscent of the previous International Settlement in the 19th and 20th century.
Nearby is Yu Garden, the best preserved Chinese official garden in Shanghai. It was built in the 16th century in the middle of an old town bazaar.
East Nanjing Road
Nanjing Road is most famous commercial street in Shanghai. You can shop as you walk up the road, which leads to People’s Square.
People’s Square and Shanghai Urban Planning Museum
People’s Square is a large public square, the site of the Shanghai municipal government headquarters. On the weekends, the square turns into a marriage market, with parents attempting to find their children the perfect match.
The Shanghai Urban Planning Museum is located in People’s Square and is often considered the best museum in Shanghai. The museum traces the history and development of Shanghai as it rose into the metropolis it is today.
Lujiazui Financial Center & Observation DeckYou must take the chance to visit Lujiazui in Pudong New Area, across the Huangpu River. You can walk among the city’s skyscrapers, and appreciate the development of an area that was hardly present 20 years ago.
Several of the large skyscrapers offer observation decks where you can get a bird’s eye view of the city. The observation deck in the Shanghai World Finance Center has an observation deck 474-meters high.
Ferry & The Bund at Night
From Lujiazui, travel back across the Huangpu River to Puxi. The ferry has an upper deck where you can enjoy the view from both sides! You’ll see Shanghai’s beautifully lit up Bund and the modern skyscrapers for just ￥3! You can also take the Huangpu River Cruise if you’re looking to spend some more time taking in the views. After, take some time on the Bund at night. It’s the quintessential way to end your day touring Shanghai. Don’t forget lights go out at 10 o’clock!
Day 2 Old Shanghai Top Attractions
Get up early to try Shanghai’s delicious breakfast street-food. Choose from scallion pancakes, various types of dumplings, tea eggs, steamed buns, soy milk, and so much more!
Jing’an Park & Jing’an Temple
Also take a visit to Jing’an Park in the morning to catch a glimpse of the morning routines of Shanghai’s locals. The old and young gather together in the park to exercise, stroll, play, dance and chat.
You’ll undoubtedly notice the majestic Jing’an Temple as you near it in the heart of the city. You can enter the temple for a small fee and purchase some incense to burn. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see or hear monks singing at the temple.
This small, residential area is part of the Former French Concession, reflecting its history in its Shanghainese shikumen style architecture with French elements. The area is known for its artistic style and renovated alleyways lined with boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, and galleries. It’s the perfect place to stop for coffee or tea and relax for a bit.
Xintiandi is a nearby district in the Former French Concession with shops, restaurants, and bars in a car-free area of renovated shikumen style buildings. While there, you can also visit the site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which is now a museum.
Laoximen Old City
Laoximen, meaning, the “Old West Gate,” refers to the wall that surrounded the Old City of Shanghai before it was demolished in the early 20th century. The Old City is considered to be the core of urban life in Shanghai with the City God Temple at its center.
A short trip outside the city center is the Longhua Temple, built in 242 AD during the Three Kingdoms Period. The seven-story Longhua Pagoda at the Buddhist temple was the tallest structure in Shanghai before modern times.
Try a New Experience
Day 3 Water Town
On the final day, travel a little outside of the city of Shanghai to one of its ancient water towns. If you choose to only spend part of your day in a water town, try out one of the unique experiences that were listed above!
Much of the beauty within Suzhou is reflected in its ancient history, dating back over 2500 years. From 514 BC through several dynasties, this charming city developed around its historic canals, gardens, and water features into what it is today.
Suzhou is about a half-hour train ride or 1.5 hour drive from Shanghai.
Also known as the “Venice of Shanghai,” Zhujiajiao is the best preserved of the ancient water towns surrounding Shanghai. As you explore the town’s unique old bridges, small rivers shaded by willow trees, and courtyards attached, you’ll get a better sense of how how people used to live in ancient times in that area.
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