Top things to do in Shanghai 2018: What are the best things to do and see in China’s most populous city?
China is already synonymous with adventures, curiosity, exoticism for all Westerners and when we must mention the great cities of this huge country, we speak of course Beijing(Beijing) but also Shanghai.
Until 15 or 20 years ago, Shanghai seemed almost abandoned, frozen in a past century and outdated, but today it is a booming city, in full explosion where buildings and skyscrapers seem arise from the earth day after day. The economic activity there is very flourishing and thanks to its location close to the sea, it attracts the population, whether it is Chinese residents, expatriates from around the world or tourists.
But what to do in Shanghai ? To help you organize upstream, we have listed the main monuments and activities to visit in Shanghai but also other small curiosities of this cosmopolitan city that has many surprises.
1. The Temple of the Jade Buddha
Photo credit: Flickr – David Almeida
The Jade Buddha Temple houses three imposing statues that were cut from the jade that was brought back from Burma. This temple has existed since the end of the 19th century and although the original temple was destroyed during the Chinese Revolution during the fall of the Qing Dynasty, a new temple was created in 1928 with the two Jade Buddha statues. The roofs of the temple are richly decorated with sculptures and bells to drive away evil spirits. The interior is sumptuous with red and yellow tones and the silk bands hanging from the ceiling represent prayers.
2. Tianzi Fang
Photo credit: Flickr – Kevin Jaako
Tianzi Fang is the artistic district of the city. In all these narrow streets, you will travel in time: in fact, you will have the opportunity to see houses of the 30s and art shops that seem to come out of a photo album. A very nice area where you can walk a drink in hand and eat at the terrace cafes. A place very popular with locals and that tourists should soon know.
3. The Yuyuan Garden
Photo credit: Flickr – Henrik Berger Jørgensen
In the heart of Shanghai is the oldest garden in the city. Yu Garden is a typically Chinese garden where everything is in its place, no place at random in this arrangement that is faithful to the rules of Chinese geomancy. And yet, when we enter this garden, we have the clear impression that nature has regained its rights and evolve as it saw fit. To discover, if possible, early in the day for a peaceful walk because this garden is quickly stormed.
4. The Maglev
Photo Credit: Flickr – Spacing Magazine
The Maglev is a must try if you are visiting Shanghai! This train is unique in the world and you are sure to find it only in Shanghai. The Maglev is a train in magnetic levitation, that is to say that it does not touch the rails, as if it were levitating. It’s an amazing experience to travel almost flying low. There is currently only one route but when you know that it can peak at 430 km / h, the trip only lasts … 7 minutes to connect the Longyang Bus Terminal to Pudong International Airport . Once you are installed, watch the cars driving at 120 km / h next to you, you will have the impression that they move very slowly.
5. The Jin Mao Tower
Photo credit: Flickr – Francesco Muratori
The Jin Mao Tower is surely one of the most impressive skyscrapers in all of Shanghai. With its 88 floors, a height of 420 meters (higher than the Eiffel Tower ), it was ranked sixth in the world ranking of skyscrapers when it opened in 1999. You will surely have one of the best views and a fantastic panorama of the whole city. Note its art deco facade and elevators that are ultra-fast.
6. The In Point puzzle shop
Photo credit: MonNuage
This strange shop specializes in puzzles, it is located in the shopping center of Wujiang Point, right in the city center. Most of the themes represented in their puzzles are of Western origin and one can notice their affection for van Gogh’s paintings, for Picasso, etc. This unique store also features gigantic 3D puzzles representing the main buildings of Shanghai.
7. Shanghai Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC)
Photo credit: Flickr – tangi bertin
These two impressive buildings are located in Pudong, and are respectively the two tallest buildings in the city. The Shanghai Tower is even the second tallest tower in the world behind the Burj Khalifa tower .
With a height of 492 meters, the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) is best known for its special shape with an opening in its upper part, a kind of spectacular viewpoint open to the public. This building contains offices but also hotel rooms and restaurants. There are three points of view but the most incredible is the one at 440 m high.
8. Nanjing Street
Photo credit: Flickr – David Almeida
It is one of the city’s main arteries connecting the Bund Promenade with People’s Square. Very famous for all its shops, its multicolored neon signs, the comings and goings of the people by bike, one has the impression that the street never closes. A great place of entertainment, especially during holidays where we can no longer distinguish the day of the night.
9. The Pudong District
Photo credit: Flickr – DavideGorla
Until recently, this district was an agricultural area and today it is surely the most vibrant district of all of Shanghai with its skyscrapers, luxury hotels, shopping malls and luxury restaurants. Resembling the American or Australian CBD, in this district everything is impressive, and one finds there willingly the taste of the challenge of the Chinese.
Photo credit: Flickr – Manu Cornet
Not far from Shanghai, Qibao is to discover because this small town has still retained all its charm of yesteryear with the traditional Chinese houses. Two things characterize this city: one of its canals where it is possible to rent a boat to crisscross the city; but also the opportunity to shop quietly to find typical products such as textiles, tea, crafts or food. Do not forget to haggle, it has become commonplace!
11. People’s Square
Photo credit: Flickr – Kyle Emmerson
It is one of the key centers of the city. People’s Square is located west of the Huangpu River: you can see restaurants, fashion shops, skyscrapers, but also a park, the museum of urban planning, the big theater and the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art. A huge place, far from the hubbub of the city, which does not leave indifferent.
12. More ideas of things to do in Shanghai
- Have a look at Jiashan Market
- Cross the old French concession by bike
- Eat one night at the Bund
- Also go out to the Bund, at the Bar Rouge for example
How to get to Shanghai?
From France, Air France and Air China provide daily direct flights to Shanghai. Located 30 km southeast of Shanghai, Pudong International Airport is connected to Shanghai by Maglev train, taxi, subway or bus. It is possible to book the airport shuttle via the button above. To find a cheap flight to Shanghai, you can do your search on the website of our partner Skyscanner .
Where to stay in Shanghai
The four main areas to stay in Shanghai are Jing’an, Xuhui, Luwan and Huangpu. These four neighborhoods are central and are as close to things to see and do in Shanghai. It is not very recommendable to stay in Pudong. You can find cheap hotels in Shanghai by searching for this hotel comparison .
Have you visited Shanghai? What would you recommend more?
Main photo credit: Flickr – Bernd Thaller