Shanghai Travel Guide 2023: What to know before you go

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Is Shanghai worth visiting? Shanghai is worth visiting for its diverse attractions and museums, wonderful restaurants, and non-stop nightlife.

Shanghai, which sits on the Yangtze River, is one of the most populated cities in the world. It is the largest economic and trade center in China, and one of China's cultural centers. The bustling, trendy city of Shanghai is where the modern meets the traditional.

Shanghai is a popular destination for tourists, business travelers, backpackers. The varied sights and continuous modernization of Shanghai make the city a great place to travel.

Best things to do in Shanghai

How many days in Shanghai is enough? For first time visitors, 4-5 days is perfect to experience all Shanghai has to offer.

There are plenty of places you can visit in Shanghai, including tallest skyscrapers, historical landmarks, ancient gardens, best temples, water towns, Disneyland, dining and nightlife, etc.

The Bund

Most explorers start their time in Shanghai off at The Bund, the city’s most famous area for tourists.

Walking on the Bund, you can see both Shanghai’s history and modernization. A boat tour here along the banks of the Huangpu River in Central Shanghai will allow you to soak in the rich views of this place.

Pudong New Area

Shanghai is famous for its iconic skyline. Located east of the Huangpu River, Pudong New Area is the site of the city's iconic modern skyline and fast-paced financial district.

For a bird's eye view of Shanghai, Oriental Pearl Tower, Jinmao Tower, and Shanghai World Financial Center are just some of the skyscrapers equipped with top-floor observatories.

Oriental Pearl Tower

This TV tower that appears to have a giant pearl lodged in its core, is one of the biggest and most iconic buildings in Shanghai, and is a bucket list item that you need to see.

Nanjing Road

Nanjing Road is one of the coolest places to explore in all of Shanghai. This long strip is filled with stores, restaurants, and malls of every price range and is an awesome way to spend an evening.

Shopping is one of the best things to do in Shanghai, and one of the best places to shop in the city is on Nanjing Road.

Shanghai Museum

China’s culture is one of the oldest in the world and stretches back over thousands of years. And you can’t visit Shanghai without learning just a little bit more about that history at the Shanghai Museum.

How many collections does the Shanghai Museum have? Located in the People’s Square near Nanjing Road, Shanghai museum was founded in 1952 with a collection of more than 210,000 rare cultural relics.

Yu Garden

What is special about the Yu Garden or Yuyuan Garden? The design of the garden is very unique, as it harmoniously combines pavilions, alleys, bridges and pagodas. Located at the old city, This traditional Chinese garden is a peaceful oasis in the heart of Shanghai.


Reconstructed on the old neighborhood, Tianzifang is a block of old lane houses of cultural and artistic features. Within the French Concession area, the zigzagging alleyways of Tianzifang, lined with traditional shikumen-style buildings, are populated with a fantastic combination of trendy cafes, art galleries, and quirky boutiques.

Shanghai Disney Resort

The 3.9 square kilometer resort allows visitors to experience everything from fantasy and romance to adventure and magic. Disney’s Enchanted Storybook Castle here is the biggest ever in the world.

Zhujiajiao Water Town

This town was established 1,700 years ago and has kept all of its charm. Go to Zhujiajiao Water Town, a water town with fascinating canals, bridges, and architecture, for countryside excursions. This is a good place to try some tasty local snacks.

Nearby cities

What are the closest city to Shanghai Shanghai is relatively close to other major destinations, such as Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing and Huangshan. These day trips are only worth doing, if you’re in the city for over five days.

Where to stay in Shanghai

As a big modern city, Shanghai has a huge range of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget.

Accommodation choice in Shanghai is plentiful, so you can easily find hotels top luxury brands, modish boutique hostels to budget vacation rentals.

Where should a first time visitor stay in Shanghai? Best areas and places to stay In Shanghai - Within these areas, you’ll find all of the Shanghai attractions and several local gems.

People's Square

What area is best to stay in Shanghai? If you are looking to stay in the central area, the Bund and People’s Square neighborhood is a perfect option.

They are perfect locations for sightseeing and from the People’s Square Metro Station you can easily get to all of the most interesting areas of Shanghai.

The Bund

The most touristy area in the city is also one of the best places to stay with a fantastic selection of accommodations at every price range. The views of best hotels aren’t half bad either.

Hotels in the downtown Shanghai close to the Bund and People’s Square is the best accommodation area for most travelers.

Old Town

If you want to stay in old town of Shanghai, it’s a good idea to stay in accommodations near the Yu Garden.


Shanghai's traditional center and noted for attractions like the Shanghai Museum, People's Park, City Hall, People's Square, the Bund, and Yu Garden.

Pudong New Area

Pudong area is most convenient for business travellers, as it is where the financial area and industrial zones are located.


Xintiandi is a car-free, pedestrian-only area full of cafes and cobblestone streets, currently Shanghai's hippest lifestyle destination. The quaint feeling of the neighborhood is only enhanced by the preserved traditional shikumen buildings. This is the perfect neighbourhood for visitors who don’t mind being a bit further away from the typical tourist sites and prefer to soak up the city vibe at a more languid pace.

French Concession

Shanghai French Concession is a leafy neighborhood full of trendy bars and restaurants. In the former French concession (FFC) you will not only find hotels that suit all sorts of tourists, you will also be close to fun nightlife bars, best cafés and top shopping.


Xujiahui is a central commercial center in Shanghai, known for its bustling shopping centers. History and modern life collide in Xujiahui, What is now Xujiahui was a part of the French Concession.

What to eat in Shanghai

Food is a vital part of Chinese social life. Like many Chinese cities, Shanghai has a strong food culture and some absolutely incredible food. Shanghai is known for its delicious and diverse food, and there are many great things to try when you’re visiting Shanghai.

What foods is Shanghai famous for?

If you are willing to go father and try something new, you should not miss Shanghai’s famous soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao) and pan-fried buns (Shengjianbao). If you're visiting in the fall and winter, get your pincers on some hairy crabs (Dazhaxie).

Famous places to eat in Shanghai

Shanghai cuisine is light, with a variety of flavours. The defining characteristic of Shanghai food is balanced sweetness, and seafood is one of the staple ingredients. The dining scene in Shanghai has gotten increasingly international, offering a wide range of cuisines from around the globe at affordable prices. But be sure to explore the local neighborhoods and street food markets to discover even more culinary delights.

Best nightlife and bars in Shanghai

From high-end rooftop bars to microbreweries, and everything in between, Shanghai has something to suit all nightlife tastes. A variety of cocktails with a vibrant music scene, in particular, are everywhere. This range of drinking options, coupled with the city’s multicultural food scene, makes for an exciting sensory experience.

Best time to visit Shanghai

What month is the best time to go to Shanghai?

The best time to visit Shanghai is either in spring, from March until May, or in the fall, from September until early November. The days are sunny and nights cool, perfect for going around the city. Not only will you avoid the showers and humidity of summer or chilly weather of winter, you'll enjoy fewer crowds and more competitive hotel prices.

What is the cheapest time to visit?

Shanghai? Winter in Shanghai typically lasts from December through February, and is usually the quietest time of year for tourists. Summer is a prime tourist season, however the weather is hot and rainy, and hotel and flight prices reflect the surge. It would be much more convenient to avoid visiting Shanghai during the National Day and Spring Festival holidays, when the city is overwhelmed with local tourists.

Is Shanghai better in winter or summer?

Summer (June to August) is the peak season, however the weather is hot and rainy. The winter months of December and January are chilly, but are also considered the best time to visit Shanghai as Christmas and Chinese New Year fall in these months. A great time to visit China is during the China Lunar New Year, as the entire country is in the holiday mood and decked out in the festivities.

What are the rainy months in Shanghai?

Shanghai experiences a humid subtropical climate. Shanghai experiences four distinct seasons, with a significant difference in temperature between the hottest part of summer and the depths of winter. In the hottest months of July and August, humidity is around 60% and most of Shanghai's rainfall occurs during this period.

Is it a good time to go to Shanghai?

There really is no wrong time to visit Shanghai as the city is considered a year-round destination. Being a modern city with less natural sights, the main tourist attractions are inside buildings, Shanghai can be visited all year round. Some ancient towns near Shanghai are also worth visiting all year round. Summer and winter may also be good times to visit, depending on your planned activities and budget.

How many days should I spend in Shanghai?

You need at least 3 days to really see the main Shanghai highlights. Truly speaking, 2 days are barely enough to scratch the surface of this gigantic city. One week in Shanghai gives you enough time to see all the popular attractions, visit historic sites, and really get to know the city. Generally speaking, two weeks is usually the recommended days. From the two weeks, visitors usually spend around 3 to 5 days in Shanghai and spend the rest in other destinations.

How to get to Shanghai

Like most big, busy cities in the world, it is pretty convenient to get around Shanghai. Preparation for your trip to Shanghai usually starts with the booking of your international flights or international cruise for Shanghai from your native country. You are advised to book either domestic flights and train tickets if you are going to travel Shanghai from other parts of China.

What is the cheapest way to travel to Shanghai?

Loads of direct flights ply to the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport from all around the world. If you're traveling to Shanghai internationally, chances are you'll land at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG). The airport is located approximately 40 km (25 miles) from Shanghai City Center.

Shanghai transportation: How to get from airport, cruise port, railway station to your hotel?

By taxi. The most convenient way to get to downtown Shanghai from Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) is by taxi.

By airport shuttle bus. A 24-hour bus service is also available.

By metro. Shanghai’s subway system links most of the big attractions in the city. The trains are cheap, fast and reliable.

By Maglev train. The Maglev Train takes 8 minutes to get from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road metro station.

How to get around in Shanghai

As the most developed city in China, Shanghai has built perfect ground transportation for the public to transfer easily. Downtown Shanghai is easy to explore on foot, but buses, taxis, bicycles and metro when you want to explore further area.

Is Shanghai easy to travel around?

Shanghai has an extensive and well-developed network of public transport that includes metro rail trains as well as buses and taxis.

What is the cheapest way to travel Shanghai?

Aside from walking, the bus is the cheapest way to get around Shanghai since a single ride costs only 2 CNY. The city bus is the main transport vehicle for local residents.

What is the best way to travel in Shanghai?

The Shanghai metro is affordable, relatively easy to use, and services most of Shanghai neighborhood and its top attractions. There are 20 metro lines and some 508 metro stations.

Is Shanghai a good city to cycle?

Shanghai is a wonderful city for cycling. Many Shanghai residents waver through the busy streets and cycle to their destinations daily. Is biking popular in Shanghai? Yse, there are a number of bike-sharing apps available in Shanghai.

Is Shanghai a walkable city?

Certain places are easy to cover on foot, such as the Bund, Yu Garden, Tianzifang and Nanjing Road. Is Shanghai easily walkable? Walking is a great way to explore the city, especially if you’re in a neighborhood with narrow streets that are not easily accessible by car.

Travel tips for first time travelers

Is Wi-Fi free in Shanghai?

There is free Wifi available at all shops, cafes and other public places.

Always carry cash

Cash is still king for tourists. Shanghai still operates a predominantly cash-based society for tourists.

Use bank ATMs

The availability of ATMs in Shanghai means you don’t need to carry large amounts of cash on you.

Is it OK not to tip?

Tipping is not obligatory, but it’s appreciated. Gift-giving is an important part of Chinese culture.

Watch your bags

Always be mindful of your bags on public transportation and around key tourist attractions.

How safe is Shanghai for tourists?

Shanghai is a very safe city, especially compared to other cities of comparable size.

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