Shanghai is a multi-cultural city in China. With the Affluence of Western culture in the 19th century, mixed with Chinese culture in the south of the Yangtze River Delta (Jiangnan Culture), the city offers a great mix of old and new. Our picks of the best things to do in Shanghai will illustrate the charming features of this city.

1. Take A Panoramic View of Shanghai

There are three places where you can get panoramic views of Shanghai and all are located in Lujiazui Trade Zone, Pudong District:

Shanghai World Financial Center

  • Admission: RMB 180 for 94F+97F+100F; RMB 120 for 94F
  • Opening hours: 9AM-10:30PM (no entry after 9:30PM)
  • Tour idea: Shanghai Classic Tour

With a height of 492 meters (1,615 feet), Shanghai World Financial Center offers a great spot to view the Shanghai skyline. Its 100th floor has a viewing lounge with a glass walkway which will give you a breathtaking experience.

Shanghai Tower

  • Admission: RMB 180
  • Opening hours: 9AM-9PM (no entry after 9:30PM)
  • Tour idea: contact us for a customized tour to Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower is 632 meters (2,073 feet) high with 127 stories, currently fourth tallest building in the world. The sightseeing route includes the “Top of Shanghai Exhibition Hall” on floor B1, “Top of Shanghai Observatory” on floor 118 and “Top 632” exhibition area on floors 125 and 126.

Oriental Pearl Tower

  • Admission: RMB 180 for 94F+97F+100F; RMB 120 for 94F
  • Opening hours: 9AM-10:30PM (no entry after 9:30PM)
  • Tour idea: One-Day Shanghai Highlights Tour

Oriental Pearl Tower – As the icon of Shanghai, there are always long lines to get in for sightseeing on national holidays. This 468-meter (1535-foot) tower has two highlight attractions: one is the 259-Meter Transparent Observatory and the other is the 267-Meter Revolving Restaurant, where is the perfect place to get the panoramic night views of the prosperous Shanghai.

2. Visit the Bund and Its Buildings

the map of the Bund and its Buildings

The Bund (Wai Tan) in Shanghai is an iconic place that has witnessed Shanghai’s growth. With picturesque waterfront views, you can see amazing view of colonial buildings on the Puxi side and new skyscrapers on the Pudong side. Walking along this 1.5-kilometer bund, you can find out how the old Shanghai still co-exists with the modern, bustling, and high-tech new world.

  • Add: East of Zhongshan Road
  • Related attractions: Peace Hotel Museum, Old HSBC Building, Nanjing East Road
  • Best time to go: daytime- admire the dozens of well-preserved old European style buildings; at night- appreciate the gleaming skyline with buildings lit by dreamlike lights.
  • Getting there: take Metro Line 2 or Line 10 and get off at East of Nanjing Road Station(Nanjing Dong Lu 南京东路站)
  • Tour idea: Evening Huangpu River Cruise and the Bund City Lights Tour

3. Walk Through or Cycle in Former French Concession

The Former French Concession in Shanghai is a large area that had once been designated to the French from 1849 to 1943. The residents included French, Americans, British and Russians at that time, so today you can feel and experience the exotic cultures and history here.

Considered the epitome of colonial area, the former concession is surrounded by trees and houses many Western-style buildings. Strolling around its villas, churches and cathedrals, you may see the old Shanghai in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are also all kinds of restaurants, cafés, and stores in the area, where you can enjoy some exquisite dining and shopping.

  • Add: Between Huangpu and Xuhui districts
  • Related attractions: Xintiandi, Tianzifang, the Former Residence of Sun Yat-Sen, Fuxing Park
  • Suggested time for visit: 4 hours
  • Getting there: take bus nos. 167, 320, 42, 911, 920, or 926 and get off at Middle of Huaihai Rd. station(淮海中路) or South of Shanxi Rd. Station 陕西南路站).
  • Recommended walking route: Song Ching-ling Memorial Residence → Wukang Mansion → Xuhui old house art center → Wukang Road (coffee time) → Propaganda Poster Museum
  • Tour idea: Half Day Trip to Shanghai Former French Concession

4. Stroll Around Yu Garden

Located northeast of Shanghai Old Street and first built in 1559, Yu Garden (Yuyuan) is a Chinese classical private garden. It has been largely restored and now you can see its well-preserved wooden pavilions, bridges, rocks, and lovely potted plants. Outside the garden there is a Shanghai old district, where you can find many shops lining along the streets.

  • Add: located northeast of Shanghai’s Old City, near Shanghai Temple of the Town God
  • Admission: 40 Yuan during April-June and September-November; 30 Yuan during July-August and December-March.
  • Opening hours: 8:30-17:30 (March to October); 8:30-17:00 (November to February)
  • Getting there: Metro Line 10 or bus to Yuyuan Station (豫园站).
  • Tour idea: Shanghai Classical Day Tour

5. Take a Ride on Shanghai Maglev Train

Running from 2003, the Shanghai Maglev Train is the world’s fastest commercially operating train, with a maximum speed at over 430 kph (267 mi/hour). The train runs very fast but passengers can barely feel it because it runs smooth.

The maglev in Shanghai shuttles between the Pudong Airport and Longyang Rd. Station. With a distance of 30 km (18.6 mi), the journey only takes 7 minutes, making it very convenient for people to catch the plane or transfer to the downtown. If you are really into trains or high-speed technology, don’t miss the Shanghai Maglev Museum. It is right below the Longyang Maglev Station and free of charge to visit with a maglev ticket.

  • Operation hours: Longyang Rd. Station to Pudong International Airport Station - 6:45 to 21:40; Pudong International Airport Station to Longyang Road Station - 7:02 to 21:42.
  • Ticket price: CNY50 per single trip ticket, CNY80 per round trip ticket (valid in 7 days). A passenger can get a maglev ticket with a 20% discount based on a flight ticket on the same day.
  • Tour idea: Contact us to add a maglev experience to your Shanghai tour.

6. Glimpse at Shanghai’s History and Future – hit up the museums

Shanghai is positively teeming with museums, perfect for escaping from rainy or cold days. Take a look at our picks of the best museums in Shanghai and find out your favorite one.

Shanghai Museum

  • Add: 201 Renmin Ave, right next to Shanghai People’s Square
  • Admission: free
  • Opening hours: 9am to 5pm (No admission after 4pm, closed on Mondays)
  • Getting there: take metro line 1, 2, or 8, or bus nos. 112, 312, 145, or 46 and get off at People’s Square Station.

Shanghai Museum is a huge museum of Chinese ancient art. It houses 12 art galleries and over 120,000 pieces of precious collections, including bronzes, sculpture, seals, coins, paintings, jade, and more, some of which can be traced back to the Neolithic Period. It often cooperates with foreign museums and regularly holds special exhibitions. Luckily, it is free to visit.

Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum

  • Add: 62 Changyang Road, Hongkou District, Shanghai
  • Admission: CNY20
  • Opening hours: 9am to 5pm (No entry after 4:30pm)
  • Getting there: take metro line 12 to Tilanqiao (提篮桥) Station.

Built by Russian jews in 1927, Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, the former site of Ohel Moishe Synagogue, was once a meeting place for the Jewish refugees to gather for religious rites. It is now well-preserved to commemorate the nearly 30,000 Jewish refugees who lived in Shanghai after fleeing from Europe to escape the Holocaust during World War II.

Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre

  • Add: Rm BOC, Basement, Block B, No. 868 Huashan Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai (上海华山路868号总统公寓BOC室B号楼地下室)
  • Admission: CNY25
  • Opening hours: daily 10am to 5pm
  • Getting there: get the metro line 10 to Shanghai Library and there will be a half mile walk to the museum.

It is a private museum dedicated to collecting and displaying old month cards and propaganda posters from the Mao Zedong period, especially the Cultural Revolution period (from May 1966 to October 1976). There are over 400 pieces of rare posters, often Socialist realism but combined with folk art, providing interesting insights into recent Chinese history. Photos are strictly forbidden but visitors can buy great souvenir stuff from its gift shop.

Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall

  • Add: 100 Renmin Avenue (one block away from Shanghai Museum)
  • Admission: CNY20
  • Opening hours: 9AM-5PM (No entry after 4PM and closed on Mondays)
  • Getting there: take bus nos. 18, 49 or 167 to People’s Square (Fuzhou Rd.) Station; or, get the metro line 1, 2 or 8 to People’s Square Station.

Some believe this is the most underrated museum in Shanghai. It provides an important window for visitors to know the past, present and future of Shanghai. It is fascinating to see how a small fishing village has grown to become one of the world’s largest metropolises.

7. While Away the Time at Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Water Town is a quaint and lovely old town which is 1 hour’s drive from the Bund, Shanghai. It has a completely different lifestyle from Shanghai, making it a great place for escaping the city’s hustle and bustle.

Going through the town’s small alleys to the end, you may see local people washing clothes on the river bank. You can also just linger at a coffee shop watching people go to and fro. The best way to view the water town is to take a gondola trip. Try to get there in the mornings, when there are not many visitors.

  • Add: 36 Meizhou Rd, Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu District, Shanghai
  • Opening hours: 24/7, the sites in the town opening during 08:30-16:30
  • Admission: RMB 80 (including the entrance tickets for 8 scenic spots and one gondola trip); RMB 60 (including the entrance tickets for 8 scenic spots).
  • Suggested time for visit: 4 hours
  • Getting there from Shanghai: take metro line 17 from Shanghai Hongqiao Subway Station to Zhujiajiao Subway Station; or take Shanghai-Zhujiajiao Express Line from People’s Square to Zhujiajiao Bus Station.
  • Tour idea: One-Day Zhujiajiao Water Town Tour from Shanghai

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