In Shanghai you can really appreciate the fusion of its millenary traditions with the most avant-garde modernity. Indeed, futuristic skyscrapers coexist with colonial buildings and traditional houses full of charm.
This city, famous for its contrasts, is divided by the Huangpu River. On the Bund side you will see buildings in Gothic, Romanesque, Neoclassical, Baroque and Renaissance styles and, on the opposite bank, the Pudong area presents the most modern version of this impressive city.
Shanghai will surprise you with its diversity of attractions. It is home to magnificent museums, including the Shanghai Museum, galleries, historic shikumen houses and many opportunities for daytime entertainment, nightlife and luxury shopping.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Shanghai
- What to do in Shanghai
- When to visit Shanghai
- How to get to Shanghai
- Where to stay in Shanghai
- Getting around Shanghai
- Cost of Living in Shanghai
- Where to Eat in Shanghai
Top 5 reasons to visit Shanghai
The Bund, Shanghai’s busiest pedestrian zone, stretches over 2 kilometres and offers the best views of Pudong. It houses such important constructions as the Customs House from the beginning of the 20th century, the Financial Square where the wild bull is, a replica of the Ranging Bull of Wall Street, and the Peace Hotel, built in 1930.
The Television Tower
The Television Tower, whose official name is the Oriental Pearl Tower, is the most emblematic building of the new Shanghai. Its construction, in 1995, marked a milestone in the evolution of the city into the great city it is today. It houses vertiginous lookouts, a revolving restaurant, a small amusement park, shops, other restaurants and the Shanghai History Museum.
The Shanghai World Financial Center
The SWFC is one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, at 492 metres high. The luxury Park Hyatt Shanghai Hotel is located on floors 79 to 93. It also houses a souvenir shop, a panoramic bar and viewpoints that offer splendid views of the city.
The People’s Square is the administrative centre of Shanghai. In addition to being part of the beautiful Renmin Park, the square is surrounded by some of the city’s most important museums, such as the Shanghai Art Museum, the Shanghai Grand Theatre and the Shanghai Auditorium.
Shanghai Urban Planning Center
This institution allows you to know the urban evolution of Shanghai since the beginning of the 20th century. You can discover a large model of 600 square meters that represents the entire city and its buildings, as well as old photographs and the recreation of a street in Shanghai in 1930. The general entrance fee is ¥30.
What to do in Shanghai
Explore the Nanjing Road Business District
Nanjing Road is the main commercial artery of Shanghai. The area is pedestrianized, so it receives a constant flow of visitors who walk and shop. At night, the street glows with a remarkable profusion of neon lights, and the city comes alive again.
Admire the Yuyuan Garden
The Yuyuan Happiness Garden displays a captivating range of colours, sounds and aromas. It is a pleasure to walk along its paths and admire the interconnected waterways, the pergolas, the mystical Jade Rock and all its beautiful corners. From the Great Rock you will be able to contemplate a panoramic view of the garden.
Visit the Shanghai Museum
This is the most famous museum in China. The building itself is an architectural marvel, and its spacious halls, which tell the country’s history, are home to China’s greatest treasures, from bronze, pottery and jade pieces to calligraphy.
Discovering the suburban district of Zhujiajiao
The picturesque area of Zhujiajiao is crisscrossed by a network of waterways. It was founded 1700 years ago. As you sail through the Venice of the East you will discover the Kezhi Gardens, the Yuanjin Monastery and countless tea houses.
Have fun in fascinating attractions
Visit Shanghai Disneyland Park, one of the city’s newest attractions, where the world’s largest castle of princesses is located. Another spectacular place to visit with the family is the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, which houses the longest underwater tunnel on the planet.
When to visit Shanghai
The peak tourist season is between May and September, although the best times to visit Shanghai are spring and autumn. These periods allow you to walk around without dealing with crowds, and access more affordable prices. Remember that the outstanding Shanghai International Film Festival is held every year in June.
How to get to Shanghai
Many travellers arrive in Shanghai via Shanghai-Pudong International Airport (PVG), located 40 kilometres from the city centre. You can get there by subway. Line 2, for example, takes you to the city terminal and Jing’an Temple in 60 minutes; tickets cost between ¥2 and ¥7.
You can also take advantage of this to experience a ride on the Maglev train. This magnetic levitation train takes you at a speed of 431 km/h to Longyang Road Station in Pudong, where it arrives in about 7 minutes. The single ticket costs ¥50. Taxi fare is ¥160 before 23:00, but is 35% more expensive after that.
High-speed train services arrive at Hongqiao train station, which is near the airport of the same name. The journey from Zhengzhou, for example, takes between 5 and more than 12 hours, and the ticket price ranges from ¥ 95 to ¥ 522.
New roads and highways connect Shanghai with other regional cities such as Suzhou, Hangzhou and Nanjing. The city is also only 2.5 hours from Ningbo via the Hangzhou Bay Bridge.
Shanghai Hongqiao Bus Terminal is near Hongqiao Airport. There are regular services from many major cities. For example, a bus trip between Nanking and Shanghai takes 4 hours and costs about ¥85.
Airports near Shanghai
(PVG) Shanghai Pu Dong
(SHA) Shanghai Hongqiao
Where to stay in Shanghai
The city is famous for its boutique hotels, such as The Yangtze Boutique Shanghai, whose rooms cost about ¥ 1880 a night. The Mercure Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, on the other hand, offers good quality facilities for rates around ¥ 785 per night, and if you prefer to save on accommodation you can book your room at the Charms Hotel Shanghai, which offers rooms for ¥ 395 per night.
Popular neighborhoods in Shanghai
Bund. This is the colonial district of Shanghai, famous for its riverfront promenade and outstanding historical buildings. In addition, elegant restaurants such as M on the Bund and Lost Heaven operate here.
Huangpu. Downtown Shanghai is well known for its many attractions, such as the Shanghai Museum, the People’s Square and the City Hall. Here you will find the sophisticated and exclusive restaurant Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet.
The French Concession. This area, long known as the Paris of the East, is one of the most elegant in the city. Here is the Shanghai Stadium and the vast shopping district of Xujiahui.
Getting around Shanghai
Shanghai has an excellent transportation system that includes the metro, buses, ferries and the high-speed Maglev train. You can buy a three-day subway pass for ¥ 45, or a pass combined with a ride on the Maglev train and unlimited subway use for ¥ 55 for 24 hours. The bus is paid per trip, and costs ¥2.
More than 100 taxi companies operate in Shanghai. If you decide to take a taxi, you will pay ¥14 for the flag drop and ¥2.50 for each kilometer driven.
You can only have a rental car if you travel with a driver who has a Chinese driver’s license. At companies like Avis, for example, you can rent a standard car for about ¥240 per day.
Cost of Living in Shanghai
In the Bund complex you will find shops from the South Bund Fabric Market or Armani hierarchy. On Nanjing Road, you can access good brands at reasonable prices, and don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Fuyou Antique Market for a bargain. If you’re traveling with children, take them to explore at your leisure at the Nihong Kids Plaza Market stalls.
Supermarkets and Grocery Stores
In Shanghai you will find Carrefour, Tesco and City Shop supermarkets, among other stores. You can get your bearings with prices starting from a liter of milk at ¥18; and a dozen eggs at ¥16.
Where to Eat in Shanghai
You have to try the delicious jiaozi meatballs, steamed or fried, a Shanghai classic, and also the fried pastries from Yang’s Fried Dumpling or the steamed pastries from Fuchun Xiaolong. Visit one of Shanghai’s Muslim Soup Restaurants to see how they prepare your soup with freshly made noodles, and also head over to Lost Heaven, where you can sample typical Yunnan dishes.
If you prefer to taste authentic Shanghai dishes, try Xian Qiang Fang Restaurant. In an economy restaurant you can eat for ¥ 35, while a meal in a luxury restaurant would cost you about ¥ 200. You could pay this price at the revolving buffet restaurant in La Perla Oriental.
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