The most populous city in China and a global financial centre, this buzzing metropolis is never short of things to do (or to eat!). Historic sights, dining, nightlife, culture – here’s everything you should do when visiting this mega-city.
The Shanghai Maglev Train
Step out of Pudong International Airport and you’ll see the the world’s first and only commercialised magnetic levitation train. The Maglev can reach speeds up to 430 km/hour, taking a mere 8 minutes to travel 30km to its next stop at Longyang Road. Skip the taxi and traffic jams and fly into downtown Shanghai in mere minutes.
The Bund, otherwise known as 外滩 (Outer Beach in Chinese), stretches out over a sprawling 2km and is the best place to admire the phenomenal views of Shanghai’s historical-cum-modern skyline. For a bird’s eye view of The Bund and Shanghai’s cityscape, be sure to head to the observation deck on the 100th Floor of the Shanghai World Financial Centre.
Dubbed as Shanghai’s Venice, this ancient town has a history dating back almost two centuries. It boasts charming traditional Chinese residences along the canals connected by the many bridges built during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Check out the Qing Dynasty Post Office along Xihu Street too, allegedly the best preserved of its era in China.
This regal temple in downtown Shanghai was built in the tumultuous Three Kingdoms period in the 3rd century and survived being converted into a plastic factory during the Cultural Revolution. Remember to catch a glimpse of the Jade Buddha, the biggest jade statue of the Buddha in mainland China.
There’s nothing like a satisfying meal after a working up an appetite on a long walk along the Bund. Located at the Hyatt on the Bund Hotel, enjoy authentic Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing family-style fare as you admire the master chefs at work through the open kitchen at Xindalu. The signature dish here is the Peking Duck, with succulent and tender duck meat nestled under a crisp and flavourful skin. The Beggar’s Chicken is another must-try, so popular that we hear you have to pre-order this dish!
Dishes We Love: Beggar’s Chicken, Clay Pot Baby Lobster
If you want unparalleled views of the Bund, Kathleen’s is a must. Enjoy a wide selection of Asian-inspired seafood and steak dishes as you admire the twinkling lights set against the Shanghai night sky. Complete the meal with a few of their funky vintage cocktails.
Dishes We Love: Eel Dragon Sushi Roll, Grilled Australian Blackface Lamb Rump,“Rougie” Foie Gras on Asparagus Risot
Liquid Laundry stands out from the crowd of bars and restaurants at the historic former French Concession, which explains the throngs of locals and expats who flock there in record numbers – especially for brunch. Expect to enjoy American classics like the Four Cheese Mac ‘n’ Cheese, but don’t pass up their terrific wood-fired pizzas, hand-crafted charcuterie, and sinful desserts.
Dishes We Love: Eggs Benedict with Smoked BBQ Brisket, Warm Bacon-Guajillo Cornbread with Maple Butter, Rotisserie Chicken
Cha-cha to some quirky Mexican fare at MAYA, located in Jing’an, the former French Concession’s quieter northern neighbour. Tuck into MAYA signatures like the MAYA Casserole and the Huevos MAYA, but for a quirky twist, be sure to try the Beijing Duck Quesadilla!
Dishes We Love: Mango & Avocado Salad, Crispy Mexican Waffle, Adobo-Grilled Pork Tenderloin w/ Black Mole
For more insider tips about dining in Shanghai, click here!
Come here at any time of the day and you’ll find this bustling pedestrian street filled with tourists and locals alike shopping and milling about. Shop till you drop at the over 600 stores that line this 3.4 mile-long street. At nighttime, Nanjing Road is also a feast for the eyes as the colourful billboards light up the sky.
Housed in the old French Concession, Xintiandi has been transformed in the last decade to become one of Shanghai’s most popular entertainment districts. Revel in the nostalgia of old Shanghai: this is the place where the new meets the old, as seen from the architecture surrounding you. Head to the South Block, a mall in a stylish glass building for necessities, and the North Block, comprising the nostalgic Shikumen buildings, for all your luxury goods.
For a fun and edgy experience, you can’t beat the speakeasies in Shanghai. Can you even tell that’s a bar entrance in the above photo? Speak Low, a Japanese bar nestled above an inconspicuous bar tools shop along Fuxing Lu, tops our list. The Tailor Bar, located above a Chinese medicine shop, is another hidden gem where you can enjoy drinks tailored just for you as you revel in the stunning views of the Jing’an district.
Who doesn’t fancy a refreshing glass of beer and great al fresco ambience?
Check out Shanghai Brewery – with outlets dotted around the former French Concession you’ll find a selection of locally brewed craft beers on tap, including their international award-winning North Star IPA.
Click here to check out Shanghai Brewery locations.
Boxing Cat Brewery, another favourite local haunt, has a regularly rotating variety of award-winning and expertly executed craft beers. We absolutely love the smooth, light and tasty Right Hook Helles, and the Sucker Punch Pale Ale, a hoppier, less malty ale.
Click here to check out Boxing Cat Brewery locations.
Check out Arkham, a sprawling underground space lets you party till dawn every Thursday to Saturday. Enjoy live acts by guest DJs and say cheers to unfolding night with affordable drinks and shots.
Click here for more info on Arkham.
Arts and Culture
Hidden beneath a rather random apartment complex along the gorgeous treelined Huashan Road is a museum experience that you’ll find nowhere else in Mainland China. This propaganda poster art center contains hundreds of original posters that date back to the earliest days of Mao, and also includes a quaint gift shop perfect for cheap and historical souvenirs.
Competing with Beijing for the title of China’s art capital, Shanghai’s art scene is flourishing with contemporary art galleries all around town. Be sure to walk along 50 Mongshan Road (or M50 for short) for a thriving community of artists who studios are open to the public. Or wander over to the Old French Concession to admire historic buildings with modern art galleries tucked inside!