Things to do in Shanghai
Want to get to know the real Shanghai? Get walking. Start in the Old City for a slice of history and street food taking in the Old Cantonese Restaurant, the 16th-century Dajing Lu Taoist temple and the last remaining parts of the Old City wall. Continue to Dongtai Lu antiques market where you’ll find Maoist-era figurines, propaganda posters and authentic Shanghainese mementos. Finish your exploration in the cobblestone streets and preserved facades of the iconic Shikumen buildings in the shopping, dining and entertainment precinct of Xintiandi. The lanes around People’s Square in the heart of Shanghai are also worth a look.
Another neighbourhood that yields Snapchat ops and Twitter-worthy updates is the French Concession area of Shanghai. Once the designated section for the French ex-pats, the area encompasses Luwan and Xuhui districts and includes the popular tourist and entertainment precincts of Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang. Check out the secluded old French Concession streets to explore the ambient tree-lined Huaihai Lu and grand consulate buildings, former political residences and small designer boutiques, bars and hidden cafes. Head to Fuxing Park in the early morning to join the locals practising tai chi, mah-jong and dance steps.
For Shanghai’s burgeoning art scene, Taopu is the district to go to. Wander along the length of Qilianshan Lu to peruse TOP Creative Park, which houses SHiNE Art Space, ShanghART’s Taopu studio, Madlen Company and more. For stunning Art Deco architecture, venture behind the Bund and look up to discover the Sichuan Building on Yanan Dong Lu, the China Industrial Bank Building on Sichuan Lu, and Mitsubishi Building and China Minsheng Bank on Guangdong Lu. Another charming aspect of Shanghai is the myriad streets dedicated to one product such as haberdashery, crustaceans or fowls.
While these are just a few of the colourful Shanghai districts to visit on your trip, here’s our list of must-see sights to tick off your itinerary.
With European-style Art Deco and Neoclassical architecture gracing the promenade along the Huangpu River, The Bund is a romantic and popular Shanghai destination that lures lovers and visitors alike when its stunning buildings are lit up at night.
This upmarket pedestrian street showcases the traditional Shanghai Shikumen housing – magnificent stone gatehouses located on narrow alleyways. Now a shopping, dining and entertainment precinct, the area melds the old and the new for a must-do experience.
A respite from the bustling streets, the Ming dynasty-era Yu Garden still draws a crowd keen to commune with nature, albeit a manicured classical Chinese-style garden. The scenic surrounds boasts pavilions, rockeries, goldfish ponds and cloisters to explore.
Considered Shanghai’s premier shopping street, head to Nanjing Dong Lu for the neon lights, departments stores and international brand boutiques lining this 5-kilometre pedestrian mall. One of the world’s busiest shopping streets, East Nanjing Road runs from The Bund to People’s Square.
Located across from The Bund on the Huangpu River, Shanghai’s tall building trio of the Pearl Tower, Jinmao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Centre (SWFC) cast considerable shadows over the city and offer spectacular 360-degree outlooks from their viewing platforms.