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12 Best Things To Do in Shanghai, China

things to do in shanghai china
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If you’re looking for things to do in Shanghai, you won’t be disappointed. From stunning architectural feats to cultural attractions, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. And of course, no visit to Shanghai would be complete without experiencing its unique local life. Therefore, a stroll along some of Shanghai’s most distinctive neighborhoods is something first-time visitors can’t miss!

Whether you’re looking for an exciting city break or a chance to experience a different culture, you’ll be impressed by the vitality of this cosmopolitan city. Here are 12 best things to do in Shanghai that should definitely be on your bucket list. Let’s check them out!

Take a stroll along The Bund

One of the best things to do in Shanghai is to take a walk along The Bund. This waterfront area offers stunning views of the Huangpu River and the skyline beyond.

The Bund
The Bund in Shanghai in the evening 

During the day, you can enjoy the sights of The Bund’s impressive skyscrapers and old colonial-era buildings. When the lights are on in the evening, the scene is even more stunning as the illuminated buildings along the river bank all join in a spectacular light show! While you’re in the area, be sure to also take a Huangpu River cruise for an even better view of the city.

If you’re traveling with kids, exploring the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel under the Huangpu River is also a fun experience. The tunnel features a tourist train with a vibrant light show as it takes visitors across the river to the other side.

Visit the Shanghai Marriage Market

Marriage Market
Parents looking for prospective sons/daughters in law at Shanghai Marriage Market

Visiting the Shanghai Marriage Market is one of the most interesting things to do in this city.

Located in People’s Park, Shanghai Marriage Market is a place where parents take on the roles of matchmakers for their children, exchanging information about their children’s education, occupation, and income level. The children’s handwritten resumes are displayed on colorful umbrellas along the park, making for an interesting sight.

The market is a great place to visit if you’re interested in exploring the local culture during your trip to Shanghai. And who knows, you might just meet your future spouse here!

Go shopping on Nanjing Road

When it comes to things to do in Shanghai, you will surely want to include a shopping spree down Nanjing Road on your itinerary.

Shopping Nanjing Rd
Crowds of people going shopping on Nanjing Road

Located within walking distance from The Bund, Nanjing Road is the city’s most famous shopping street. The area is huge and has a vibrant commercial ambiance. Shops sell everything from local food and modern clothes to traditional souvenirs, tech gadgets, and jewelry.

There are also plenty of big shopping centers selling high-end products from world-renowned brands. Whether you’re looking to do some serious shopping or just browsing for interesting items, Nanjing Road is the place to be.

Enjoy the vibes of Xintiandi

Xintiandi is one of the most unique areas in Shanghai where the past and the present seem to coexist.

Shikumen buildings in Xintiandi

The area is most known for its Shikumen buildings. Typical of Shanghai, Shikumen is a residence style whose architecture was partly influenced by the Western style. You can take a walk around the narrow alleys to admire these old structures.

Then, don’t forget to head to one of the modern and stylish coffee shops or gourmet restaurants in the area to sit back and people-watch with a coffee in hand.

Visit Yu Garden

Yu Garden
Yu Garden

Dated back to the 16th century, Yu Garden is a typical example of a classic Chinese garden with bonsai trees, ponds, fish, rocks, and houses decorated with specific cultural symbols. 

Here you can admire the ancient architecture and learn more about Chinese aesthetics and culture. It’s very crowded on the weekends and during China’s public holidays so don’t forget to plan your visit accordingly.

Feel romantic at Tian’ai Road

Tian’ai Road got its name from the Chinese translation of “sweet love”, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular spot for couples.

Tian’ai Road
One of the love poems displayed on the wall on Tian’ai Road

The walls on either side of the road are lined with dozens of slates, each carved with a love poem in Mandarin or English from a renowned writer. It’s the perfect place to take a stroll hand-in-hand with your significant other, as many couples believe that walking along Tian’ai Road will help their love last forever.

Whether you’re a romantic at heart or just looking for some unique sightseeing opportunities, Tian’ai Road is definitely worth a visit.

Have a fun day at Shanghai Disneyland  

Shanghai Disneyland is a must-visit for any Disney fan or anyone traveling with kids.

The park has all the things you would expect from a Disneyland park, but with a unique Chinese twist that you can’t experience anywhere else. For example, more characters are lining up to greet and take photos with guests as this is what Chinese visitors love to do!

Also, not all staff can speak English as the majority of guests are from China. Yet you won’t feel any language barrier at all since everyone here seems to share the same passion for anything Disney-related.

Shanghai Disneyland is also a great place to see the future of Disney parks, as it features some of the latest technology and attractions. The rides are also themed around popular fairy tales, future worlds, pirates, and adventures, making them both fun and educational for kids of all ages. And of course, no visit to Shanghai Disneyland would be complete without seeing the iconic castle.

If you’re looking for a truly magical and memorable experience, be sure to add Shanghai Disneyland to your list of things to do in Shanghai.

Explore the Oriental Pearl Tower

Oriental Pearl Tower is a must-see when in Shanghai. At 468 meters, it’s the world’s fifth tallest TV tower and one of Shanghai’s symbols.

TV tower
The unique design of Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower distinguishes it easily from other buildings in the area

The tower contains 11 linked spheres of different sizes, where you can take part in many exciting activities, such as checking out a shopping center, having dinner at a revolving restaurant, staying at a hotel, and visiting some impressive exhibitions.

The highlight is the observation deck where you can behold the mesmerizing city view from above. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s even an indoor roller coaster!

Visit the China Art Museum

Housed inside an impressive building with unique design, China Art Museum is truly a hidden gem in Shanghai.

The museum features more than 1,400 artworks, covering a wide range of topics and styles. Here you will find many contemporary Chinese art exhibitions alongside displays of classical paintings. Admission to the China Art Museum is free, making it a great stop during your trip to Shanghai.

Visit the Jin Mao Tower and Sky Walk

Jin Mao Tower is one of the most striking buildings in Shanghai. At 420 meters tall, it’s also one of the tallest. Visitors will immediately recognize Jin Mao Tower by its outer design with eight columns and an octagonal shape in the middle.

The topside view of the Grand Hyatt Shanghai hotel’s atrium inside Jin Mao Tower
The topside view of the Grand Hyatt Shanghai hotel’s atrium inside Jin Mao Tower

The interior of Jin Mao Tower is just as impressive with a shopping mall, offices, and the Grand Hyatt Shanghai hotel – one of the highest hotels in the world.

There’s also an observation deck called Sky Walk, which offers a 360-degree view of Shanghai city and an impressive topside view of the hotel atrium below. Whether you’re looking for a place to shop, stay or simply admire the view, Jin Mao Tower is well worth a visit.

Visit Shanghai’s most famous temples

Shanghai is a city with a rich history and culture, and its temples are some of the most popular attractions. Shanghai’s most famous temples are Longhua Temple, Jade Buddha Temple, and Jing’an Temple.

The oldest temple in Shanghai, Longhua Temple is famous for its Evening Bell-Striking Ceremony on New Year’s Eve, which is believed to bring peace and luck to the world. The Longhua Temple complex also features a beautiful garden where cherry blossoms make for a great sight every spring.

Another equally well-known temple for visitors to Shanghai is the Jade Buddha Temple. Here you can admire its two jade Buddha statues imported from Myanmar, as well as a large marble reclining Buddha statue donated from Singapore.

Located right on the bustling shopping road West Nanjing, Jing’an Temple offers a haven for anyone seeking some peace and tranquility in the middle of Shanghai. The temple is extremely popular with locals who come here to pray for health and fortune, so you may expect to see large crowds of people when visiting this place.

Savor the best of Shanghai’s street food

Shanghai is also a food lover’s paradise, and the city’s street food scene is not to be missed.

things to do in shanghai china
Shanghai Street Food

South Yunnan Road is the most popular street food spot for visitors, as it’s located near the central People’s Square. In addition, Xiangyang Road, East Yuhang Road, and Wujiang Road are also considered go-to street food heavens for locals, especially those who want to grab a quick breakfast bite before heading to work.

The most special place for street food in Shanghai is probably the Muslim Market, which is open only on Fridays. Visiting this market, you will have the chance to taste a variety of yummy Muslim foods such as skewered lamb, kebabs, and Nan bread.

Have you been to Shanghai before? Which things to do in Shanghai from this list pique your interests the most? Don’t hesitate to let us know by commenting below!

Author Bio:

Fiona Mai is a 20-ish Vietnamese travel blogger who has been to 21 countries so far. She was lucky enough to call herself a past resident of Helsinki, Berlin, Brisbane, Hanoi and Kingston upon Hull. Even more fortunate right now to be back to where she comes from: Saigon, Vietnam. Read more about her journeys here: http://fionatravelsfromasia.com/ 

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