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Things to do in Shanghai

Things to do in  Shanghai

Welcome to Shanghai

With its futuristic skyline, traditional shikumen (stone gate) architecture, and vibrant bursts of neon, Shanghai seamlessly combines glamour, history, and Chinese flair. The Bund (Waitan) represents the colonial center of Shanghai and evokes the architectural spirit of a European city, while the Jade Buddha Temple (Yufo Si) pays homage to China’s religious heritage. Shanghai’s Old Town (Nanshi) offers an abundance of historic charm, and the Old French Concession wows with lofty mansions and an international culinary scene. Guided city tours—from walking and biking to minivan and hop-on-hop-off bus options—help you easily navigate these areas and tick off can’t-miss highlights such as Yuyuan Garden, the Freshwater Pearl Gallery, People’s Square (Renmin Guang Chang), and the city’s picturesque lanes and alleyways. Come evening, when the Shanghai skyline lights up like a firework, take a Huangpu River cruise followed by an evening food tour. Popular day tours leave Shanghai for the traditional water towns of Suzhou and Zhouzhuang, as well as Hangzhou, home to the UNESCO World Heritage–listed West Lake. Some full-day and overnight tours whisk travelers from Shanghai to Beijing’s iconic Great Wall of China and Forbidden City; the enchanting landscapes of Guilin; or the Army of Terracotta Warriors in Xian.

Top 10 attractions in Shanghai



For a genuine experience that not only show you the history of China, but also showcase its beauty, try a visit to China’s great ancient water town known as Zhujiajiao. Formed over 1,700 years ago, this wonderful canal laden town that was once an important trading hub, has seen the days of both the Yuan, Qing and Ming dynasties, and has flourished today as a an up-and-coming bohemia of Asia. In order to truly have an understanding of this beautiful place, one must visit the towns many bridges and canals. The Fangsheng Bridge is the biggest around, wonderfully engraved with eight dragons coiling around a shining pearl. Once you’ve done that, take a boat ride on the canal gondola, where you will experience wonderful views of this historic and well-preserved town. You can also take longer boat rides lakeside, experiencing the town from a different angle and perspective.More

The Bund (Waitan)

The Bund (or Waitan) is the grand center of Colonial architecture in Shanghai. The former International Settlement runs along the waterfront of the Huangpu River, facing the Pudong district ('Bund' is a word of Indian derivation meaning 'embankment'). Loosely known as the "museum of international architecture," the Bund attracts visitors who are interested in the artsy side of Shanghai. When foreign powers entered Shanghai after the Opium Wars of the 19th century, the Bund existed as a towpath. It quickly became the center of Shanghai as Western traders built banks, trading houses and consulates along its length, and has been synonymous with Shanghai's east-meets-west glamor ever since. Today the Bund faces the new wave of trading development - the vast towers of Jin Mao, the World Finance Center and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in the financial district of Pudong.More

Shanghai French Concession

Shanghai’s Old French Concession, an area once leased to the French in the Luwan and Xuhui districts of the city, is a reminder of an older Shanghai. The visitor-friendly area is packed full of beautiful colonial mansions and hotels dating back to the first three decades of the twentieth century. The French took control of the area in 1849, but it wasn’t until the 1920s when the neighborhood reached its peak of popularity as one of Shanghai’s most elite neighborhoods. When you walk through the heart of the area on the tree-lined streets between Julu Road and Huaihai Road, you’ll find a collection of nicer restaurants and boutique shops occupying the surviving historic structures alongside Shanghai locals going about their day to day life. The French Concession is a good place to grab some food as there are so many choices; you’ll find almost everything here from Indian to French, Spanish and Thai food.More

Xin Tian Di

Xin Tian Di (Xintiandi) is a sleekly restored area of Shanghai, where the more successful of the city's young come to play. It's also a popular strolling area for tourists, who like to check out the 19th century architecture. The district abounds in shikumen, stone houses that were a popular residential form in the late 19th century and early 20th century city. When the districts that contained these houses were being razed, developers stepped in to save and restore this area. Today the shikumen house galleries, bookshops, antique stores, upmarket boutiques, bars and restaurants. It's particularly ironic that this Westernized playground should be cheek-by-jowl with the Site of the First Conference of the Communist Party of China.More

Huangpu River

The Huangpu River, extending over 71 miles (113 kilometers), flows through the middle of Shanghai’s, dividing the city into two parts – Pudong to the east and Puxi to the west. The port where the river empties into the East China Sea has now become the largest port in China and in 2012 became the world’s busiest container port. Walking along the Huangpu River juxtaposes the colonial buildings of Old Shanghai with the towering, ultramodern skyscrapers that now dominate the skyline. While it’s possible to experience the Huangpu River from the banks with a walk along the Bund, the best way to see both sides is on a river cruise. Most cruises start from the Bund and go upstream before turning south towards the Yangpu bridge. Boats depart throughout the day, but after the sun sets and the buildings to either side of the river light up, the Shanghai skyline becomes even more impressive than usual.More

Jade Buddha Temple (Yufo Si)

Yufo Si is a working Buddhist community - one of the few in China - but the star attractions of the Jade Buddha Temple are two figures brought to Shanghai by a Burmese monk in the 19th century. The most impressive is the sitting Buddha, a 1.9 m (6.5 ft) giant encrusted with semi-precious stones. This Buddha is sitting in the pose which captures the moment of his enlightenment by meditation. The other Buddha is smaller and in the attitude of 'happy repose', as he goes peacefully to death. Both Buddhas are carved from white jade. Facing the reclining Buddha is a large copy in stone, brought to the monastery from Singapore. These are the main points of a visit to the temple, but take a look at the halls while you're there, particularly the Grand Hall with its golden 'Gods of the Twenty Heavens'. There's also a restaurant that serves the public, with a simple downstairs and a swankier upstairs.More

Oriental Pearl Tower (Dongfang Mingzhu Ta)

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower once used to be the highest building in Shanghai, and it's still up there. It's certainly one of the most hyperbolic and striking features of the horizon. Many people hate it; others have developed an odd affection for its bulbous form. The design aside (it has been compared to the sound of pearls, large and small, dropping onto a jade plate - a conceit borrowed from a poem), the tower has some pretty impressive stats. It's 468 m (1,535 ft) high and the third highest TV tower in the world - the highest in Asia. Only Jin Mao Tower and the World Finance Center dwarf it on Shanghai's horizon. You can take a ride up the lifts to its observation deck - choose from the reasonable height or the vertigo level.More

Trip ideas

Ways to Beat the Crowds in Shanghai

Ways to Beat the Crowds in Shanghai

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How to Tackle Shanghai as a First Timer

Top activities in Shanghai

Recent reviews from experiences in Shanghai

Couldn't be better
Sunny, Oct. 2020
Biking Real Shanghai& Enjoy Local Food
Hope to see her again!
Excellent Tour
Haili_Y, Jan. 2021
Half Day Private Tour to Zhujiajiao Water Town with Boat Ride from Shanghai
I was able to visit the picturesque Kezhi garden, walk through the old street and live market, enjoy a scenic ride along the canals and even sample some of the local snacks at street vendors at my own pace.
Tour of Shanghai
flund2017, Jan. 2020
Private Full-Day Tour: Shanghai Old and New Highlights
We had one day in shanghai to see the sites and spent it with Lily.
Great Tour!
101WorldTraveler101, Jan. 2020
Authentic Local Food Tour in Central Shanghai
We didn’t have a lot of time in Shanghai and this was perfect to see and eat a lot in a short amount of time.
Excellent foody tour
Ricocarlo, Jan. 2020
Experience Shanghai: Dumpling Cooking Class and Tasting Tour
Even for me 4,5th time to visit Shanghai, it was really interested.
Perfect Afternoon Family Tour!
JayHopp, Dec. 2019
Secret Noodle and Wonton in Shanghai Alleyways with Local Beer
The food was fantastic, our guide was knowledgable and fun, the pace was perfect and the walk through the backstreets gave us a chance to see a unique side of Shanghai.
Great company, great guide, great day
Frobish, Nov. 2019
Suzhou Private Customized Day Trip from Shanghai by Bullet Train
Jessica was great: highly knowledgeable, completely fluent in English and very friendly.
Fun time eating and drinking around Shanghai
JJames77, Nov. 2019
Authentic Local Food Tour in Central Shanghai
The tour guide was friendly and spoke excellent English.
Best time ever
Extraordinary825688, Oct. 2019
2-Day Unlimited Private Trip to Suzhou and Hangzhou by Bullet Train from Shanghai
This 2 day trip was jam packed with activities and was the best way to see other places outside of Shanghai.
Great food, terrific walk, great morning
Voyager791981, Oct. 2019
Shanghai Breakfast Walking Tour of Former French Concession
Our tour guide was excellent, answering our many questions with good English and clarity.
Shanghai tour
Elena S, Oct. 2019
All-inclusive Customized Shanghai Layover Tour
Her English was impeccable, she managed to show us a lot of Shanghai places of interest within a short period of time that we had, and she even accommodated our request for traveling on the magnetic levitation train.
Great Way to See Shanghai
Joe S, Oct. 2019
Private Full-Day Tour: Shanghai Old and New Highlights
She was very flexible and allowed us to spend more time on the things we wanted to see and added other attractions as time allowed.
Wonderful Tour to ZhujiaJiao
MeeChen2019, Oct. 2019
Half Day Private Tour to Zhujiajiao Water Town with Boat Ride from Shanghai
Shanghai and Zhujijiao are wonderful places to visit.
Excellent tour
Fiona H, Sep. 2019
Tour of Jewish Shanghai led by a Jewish History Expert
The guide is a passionate expert on the topic of the history of the jews in Shanghai who speaks fluent English.
Wonderful Shanghai
margaretbillw, Sep. 2019
Private Full-Day Tour: Incredible Shanghai Highlights
Peggy's English was so very easy to understand.
Just us
Sandra S, Aug. 2019
Shanghai Half-Day Sightseeing Coach Tour
This was a very positive experience that any visitor to Shanghai should take in order to see this lovely city.
Not Mainstream
hermann811, Aug. 2019
Special Shanghai Tour:Modern Art Shanghai Tour
It was really interesting to see whats going on in the present art scene in Shanghai.
Tour of Shanghai
Franciscan21, Jun. 2019
Best of Shanghai Day Tour, including Jade Buddha Temple & Bund & Yuyuan Garden
We had a nice tour of Shanghai - it was very crowded and we had a nice visit to see the sights.
Fantastic walking tour with Kelly
Mickie L, Jun. 2019
Private Walking Tour in the Former French Concession
it was just the trip I was hoping for - so interesting - Kelly's English is excellent - and we had such a great time with her.
A Unique and Wonderful Morning
Pioneer31599400951, Apr. 2019
Half-Day Bike Tour of Shanghai Old Town with Food Tasting
This is a great way to see some wonderful parts of Old Shanghai and to really feel part of the daily and street life.

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