Easy to get around thanks to an extensive public transit network, filled with eye-popping architecture, and offering something to see and do for nearly every type of traveller, Shanghai is an easy city to fall in love with. It may be chaotic at times, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be charmed. For when you decide to pay a visit to China’s second largest city, here are our top picks for things to do in Shanghai.
Nanjing Street is China’s premiere shopping street, and the 5.5-kilometre stretch starts at the Bund in the east, ending in the west by Jing’an Temple. There are over 600 business here, encompassing everything from traditional shops and megamalls, to hotels, theatres, attractions and more. Needless to say, you can spend quite a bit of time strolling, shopping and sightseeing as you go. In addition to the chance to shop, Nanjing Road is also home to many restaurants and cafes, Shanghai Museum, Jing’an Temple (one of the most famous temples in the city), and Shanghai Theatre. The street is divided into two parts: Nanjing Road East and Nanjing Road West. The eastern section is where you’ll find the one-kilometre car-free zone, and the area that also puts you close the Bund, Shanghai’s scenic waterfront.
Make your way to Tianzifang to explore this artistic corner of Shanghai. The maze of small alleys here are dotted with numerous cafés, art galleries, independent shops, tea houses, book stores, bars and restaurants, and makes the perfect area for an afternoon of aimless wandering. Pick up some unique souvenirs, grab a drink, have something to eat or just get lost amidst the many tiny storefronts. The area is also home to Shikumen buildings (a traditional Shanghainese architectural style), which give Tianzifang a picturesque balance of old and new.
Located in Shanghai’s Pudong Park, Oriental Pearl TV Tower offers visitors the chance to experience some seriously beautiful views over the city from a series of observation decks. In total, the tower stands 468 metres and there are observation decks from which to take in the views. The highest viewing point is at 350 metres (called the Space Capsule for its space-like theme), the main sightseeing floor gets you 259 metres up in the air and also incorporates a glass floor (if you dare), and the lowest viewing area is at 90 metres. The tower also houses a revolving restaurant and the Shanghai Municipal History Museum.
This classical Chinese Garden in Shanghai’s downtown area comprises almost five acres and is believed to have been built over 400 years ago. Yuyuan Garden (also called Yu Garden) features six different areas, each with their own charm: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall and the quiet Inner Garden. As you explore the manicured grounds, ornate bridges, pagodas, ponds and classical Chinese architecture, keep your eyes peeled for the many intricate carvings and sculptures scattered throughout. Once you’ve finished walking around, stop by the adjacent Yuyuan Bazaar to shop for souvenirs and sample some local snacks from the various vendors.
Upscale but also full of culture, Xintiandi is a pedestrian street full of restaurants, cafés and a large shopping mall. The area is divided into two parts: North Block and South Block. The South Block has a more modern feel, with the North Block retaining more of an old world feel thanks to the antique Shikumen buildings that house many of the area’s businesses. Together, they offer a peek into the past with a modern twist.