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22 of the Best Things to See and Do in Shanghai

22 of the Best Things to See and Do in Shanghai


By avatar  Scott
Posted On 08/19/2019 16:31:49
Trip Date 03/07/2011  

Destinations | Cruises | Asia | China | Shanghai | Princess Cruise | DIY Travel | What to see in Shanghai | Shanghai Hop-on Hop-off | HOHO in Shanghai | Maglev Train



Our southeast Asia cruise aboard Princess Cruise Line's Diamond Princess departed from Tianjin, China (near Beijing). We sailed around several Asian countries and all of the way south to Singapore. As is common for us, we did a fair amount of research before leaving home so that we were prepared for DIY travel. As we learned about what to see in Shanghai, we decided to use a Shanghai Hop-on Hop-off for transportation.

If you love cruises as much as we do, we highly recommend a cruise to Southeast Asia and China. The sites in this part of the world are so different from most other cruise destinations. Each city along the route offers something different from the last and each is intriguing in their own way. It's a great overview and helpful for deciding where you would like to return to spend more time. This post will give you an assortment of ideas on what to see and do in Shanghai. We cover using the HOHO in Shanghai, what to see along the way and even riding a Maglev Train for an experience you won't soon forget.



Ports in Southeast Asia and China

Because our cruise ship was relatively large, it was too big to park at any of the ports in the city of Shanghai. Instead, we docked at a container port located outside of the city. Docking where we did meant that all passengers had to ride a shuttle bus in order to get to the city center. Even with the extra time required to get to the city center, we had a great time on our adventure!


Shuttle Buses for Transport to Shanghai

Shuttle Buses for Transport to Shanghai

We actually encountered this same issue at several ports in southeast Asia. Our tip for anyone still in the phase of deciding upon which cruise ship to sail in this part of the world would be to consider sailing aboard a smaller ship. Researching and learning about where the ship will dock in each port will tell you a lot about how much time you will need just to get to the sites that you hope to see.



Getting Around Shanghai

In Shanghai, we used one of the Hop-on Hop-off bus services to get to some areas. There are two companies that operate similar services within Shanghai. City Sightseeing offers four different loops around the city and Shanghai Bus Tours has three different lines.


The HOHO Bus

The HOHO Bus

We also did a good bit of walking and even took two taxis. As is our typical style, we moved quickly to see as much as we possibly could during our one day in the city. Of course, watching your time closely is extremely important when you go out on your own - we barely made it back to the bus pickup point on time!



1. Nanjing Road Pedestrian Walkway

The Nanjing Road Pedestrian Walkway was our first stop and one that every visitor to the city will want to include in their plan. Nanjing Road, known as Number 1 Street in China is a lively pedestrian mall and a symbol of Shanghai's history and culture. It is even included in the Seven Greatest Roads of the World.

The 1,033 meter long pedestrian walkway lies between the Bund and People's Square, one of Shanghai's best attractions which is centrally located on the road. There are more than 600 shops including not only 100-year old and famous brand shops, but also specialty shops.



2. Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum is one of the best designed museums and is centrally located in the huge downtown People's Square. The attraction contains artifacts from China's distinguished 5,000 year history. From afar, the museum looks like an ancient bronze cooking vessel. From above, it looks like a big Han Dynasty bronze mirror.


Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum

3. People's Square

The large public square located just off of Nanjing Road is People's Square. People's Square is the site of Shanghai's municipal government building. It is commonly used as the standard reference point for the measurement of distance within the Shanghai municipality.


People's Square

People's Square

Prior to 1949, People's Square was a part of the horse-racing course of Shanghai. After gambling and horse racing were outlawed, a part of the race course became the People's Square. Some parts of the race course still remain today. The clubhouse buildings became the Shanghai Art Museum and part of the track became People's Park.



In the 1990s, many significant changes were made to the square. Some buildings were moved or relocated and there have also been more recent additions to the square. The many changes have yielded a beautiful and functional city center for both locals and visitors to enjoy.

Be sure to wander around the nearby gardens of People's Park and see the "exchange" market where parents meet with pictures of their adult children who they want to marry off. This complex area also has British Colonial buildings and a large fish pond with an outdoor bar which extends over the water.


Stacy in People's Park

Stacy in People's Park

4. Xintiandi

The pedestrian shopping, eating and entertainment area of Shanghai is called Xintiandi. It is composed of an area of restored traditional shikumen ("stone gate") houses on alleys, a modern shopping mall with a cinema complex and some adjoining houses which now serve as book stores, cafes and restaurants. Xintiandi means "New Heaven and Earth" and is considered one of the first lifestyle centers in China.


Xintiandi

Xintiandi

5. French Concession

Named because of the French charm that the area still maintains, the French Concession is a short walk from the Changshu Road Metro Station. Looking at all of the Tudor mansions and buildings with French words as you walk through the area, you will think you have traveled somewhere in France! Shanghai's French Concession is also known as the "Paris of the East".



6. Jing'an Park

Jing'an Park (open 24 hours) is located close to many attractions including temples and plaza areas which makes it a great place to relax following excursions into either. The park is an area of natural beauty and is home to an artificial lake. It is a very popular location in the early hours of the morning when you'll find local inhabitants flocking to the park to practice Thai Chi.

7. Jing'an Temple

Located at West Nanjing Road in the flourishing downtown area of Shanghai, Jing'an Temple is one of the most famous temples in Shanghai. It is about 800 years old. In 1972 it burned to ruins and was reopened to the public in 1990 after reconstruction.


Jing'an Tranquility Temple

Jing'an Tranquility Temple

8. Jade Buddha Temple

One of the most revered Buddhist temples of the world is Jade Buddha Temple. It was founded in 1882 with two jade Buddha statues imported by sea from Burma to Shanghai. The sitting Buddha measures 1.95 meters tall and weighs 3 tons and the smaller reclining Buddha represents Buddha's death. The temple now also contains a much larger reclining Buddha made of marble.


The Jade Buddha Temple

The Jade Buddha Temple

Beautiful Lanterns

Beautiful Lanterns

The Grand Hall contains many statues including Three Golden Buddhas and Gods of the Twenty Heavens. Located on the second floor in the temple's northern section is The Jade Buddha Chamber.


A Happy Buddha

A Happy Buddha

The Jade Buddha

The Jade Buddha

This was the only area in China were we recall a noticeable number of street beggars asking for donations.



9. Shanghai Grand Theatre

Shanghai Grand Theatre is located just north of People's Square in the heart of the city. The theater offers musicals, ballets, operas and other musical events on its three stages:
  • an 1,800 seat main stage for operas, ballets and symphonies;
  • a 600 seat medium theater for orchestras; and
  • a small 200 seat auditorium for dramas.


Shanghai Grand Theatre at People's Square

Shanghai Grand Theatre at People's Square

The lobby is very elegant and at about 2,000 square meters is quite large. A beautiful chandelier shaped like six pan-pipes is suspended in the lobby and the floor is made of a rare marble called "Greece Crystal White". The floor has piano keyboard patterns making the lobby appear full of music!



10. The Bund

The Bund in Shanghai is actually just a street, but it is lined with some of the most imposing buildings in the world. A symbol of Shanghai, the view of Shanghai's Pudong District is second to none from this famous waterside walkway.


Pudong Skyline

Pudong Skyline

The Bund has dozens of historical buildings lining the Huangpu River that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the United States and Russia.


The Bund

The Bund

The Bund (Zhongshan Road) was the most famous street in Asia. It was here that foreign powers entered the Port of Shanghai after the First Opium War in 1842 to build their Western-style trading houses and banks. The Bund houses many buildings of various architectural styles. As the buildings appear harmonious, they have been given the name "Gallery of World Architecture".



11. Nanpu Bridge

The very picturesque Nanpu Bridge is the first modern, heavy-duty bridge in China spiraling over the Huangpu River.


Nanpu Bridge

Nanpu Bridge

12. Pudong Riverside Promenade

Take some time to walk along the Pudong Riverside Promenade. Pudong's answer to the Bund, this strip of green along the east bank of the Huangpu River offers a great view of the Bund at a distance. The east side of the river has many business district buildings, hotels, restaurants and shops.



13. Shanghai Old Street

Shanghai Old Street is an interesting visit. The Port of Shanghai's Old Town is the center of the old Chinese city and was the first part of Shanghai to be settled by the Chinese. Foreigners seldom venture here and the area retains its unique Chinese heritage.

14. Yuyuan Garden

Travelers to the Port of Shanghai should not miss a visit to the Yuyuan Garden. The historic garden and temple originally built in the late 16th century was once famed as the "top beauty in southeast China".


Yuyuan Garden Main Gate

Yuyuan Garden Main Gate

The area was destroyed during the First Opium War and later restored in 1961. The gardens are full of pathways that wind through bamboo stands and rock gardens where stone bridges cross carp- filled ponds. It has many pavilions and peaceful gardens. The wondrous feature is the Jade Rock. About 3.3 meters tall, the rock has 72 holes that connect inside the rock. When water is poured on top of the rock, it flows out from each of the holes.



15. Bund Sightseeing Tunnel

The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel is a great way to get across the river. The 646.7 meter long tunnel runs under the river and was the first of its kind for pedestrians in China. Starting from the Bund at the end of Nanjing Road, the tunnel goes to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong. It is when you are near the river that you understand the contrasting sides of the city. You can see Old Shanghai town on one side and the metropolis of Shanghai town on the other.

Carriages transport visitors from one end of the tunnel to the other. Passengers will enjoy a fast tour of Chinese history, culture and nature on an electronic display. The display uses modern sound, video and photo technology on the tunnel walls. Don't miss out on the great view and amazing experience.


The Bund Tunnel

The Bund Tunnel

16. Oriental Pearl TV Tower

A must see on the business side of town is the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, arguably Shanghai's most recognizable landmark. It is located at the tip of Lujiazui in the Pudong district by the side of the Huangpu River and opposite The Bund of Shanghai. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower belongs to the World Federation of Great Towers.


Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Among the 11 spheres featured on the tower are two large spheres located along the length of the tower. The lower sphere has a diameter of 164 feet and the upper sphere measures 148 feet across. These spheres are linked by three columns, each 30 foot in diameter.



The tower has fifteen observatory levels with exhibition facilities, restaurants and a shopping mall. Over three million tourists visit the Oriental Pearl Tower each year, and enjoy the incredible views of Shanghai from any number of its observation modules.


Up Close View of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Up Close View of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower

17. Shanghai World Financial Center

The Shanghai World Financial Center is a super tall skyscraper in Shanghai. It is a mixed use skyscraper which consists of offices, hotels and conference rooms with shopping malls on the ground floors.


Shanghai Skyline

Shanghai Skyline

The 3 observation decks in Shanghai World Financial Center offer great views of the city. The lowest observation deck is on the 94th floor at 1,388 feet above ground. Named the Observatory Bridge, the middle observation deck is on the 97th floor and is 1,440 feet high. The highest deck is located on the 100th floor at 1,555 feet high.

18. Jin Mao Tower

The 88 story super high rise standing at a height of 420.5 meters is the Jin Mao Tower. Some of the most advanced technologies were used during construction of the building which is one of the symbolic buildings of 21st century Shanghai. The tower is primarily home to finance, trade, service and entertainment businesses.


View from the Top of Jing Mao

View from the Top of Jing Mao

We found that one of the best spots for photos of both the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the "can opener" World Financial Center Building is from the top of Jin Mao Tower.



19. Shanghai Maglev Train

A ride on the Shanghai Maglev Train from downtown to the airport and back is a great way to experience the super fast train. The line was the first Maglev train used in world business with the function of transporting, displaying, tourism and sightseeing.


Maglev Train to Airport

Maglev Train to Airport

The magnetic levitation train runs from Long Yang Stop of the No. 2 subway in the west to Pu Dong International Airport in the east and helps to ease the heavy traffic between the city and airport. The whole line is 30 km. long, including both the upper departing line and lower arriving line. The 8 minute one-way trip reaches a speed of 430km/hour.


Our Speed on the Maglev Train

Our Speed on the Maglev Train

20. Yang Pu Bridge

At 602 meters long, the Yang Pu Bridge crosses the Huangpu River and is among the longest suspension bridges in the world. In addition to being one of the largest of its bridge type, carrying over 100,000 vehicles across the river each and every day, it is also one of the busiest. Tourists may take sightseeing lifts to the main bridge from which they can appreciate the views along the river.



21. Lupu Bridge

Enjoying its fame as the First Steel Arch Bridge in the World, the single span Lupu Bridge is constructed entirely of steel. The 5.4 mile total length starts at Luban Road, Puxi in the north, crosses over the Huangpu River and ends at Jiyang Road, Pudong in the south. The bridge carries 6 lanes of traffic - and even a 70,000 ton class ship can smoothly pass through underneath.

In addition to its use for transport, the Lupu Bridge is also a tourist attraction. The bridge's sightseeing platform was built at the top of its arch allowing sightseers to get an amazing view from the top. The trade off for getting the scenic view is the over 300 steps required to climb to the top!



22. Watch Shopping!

If you are at all like me and want to buy a "knock-off" luxury watch while in China, consider hailing a taxi back to the Yuyuan Garden area. We searched for and found a street vendor who took us into a back alley storeroom where we could shop! Although my hope was to find a "Rolex Submariner", I settled on a "Breitling".


Shopping for a Watch

Shopping for a Watch

Tips for DIY Travel in Shanghai

Based on our experience in making the most of our port day, here's a few tips to hopefully help you go out on your own in Shanghai:
  • If getting to the city center of Shanghai requires taking a bus from the port as we did, make sure that you know the time and place where you need to meet for your return to the ship;
  • It goes without saying again (but I'll say it anyway) - watching your time closely is critical in this very busy and crowded city. It is tough to get to all on this list of 22 things to see and do, so prioritize and make a plan before you leave home;
  • Before crossing any streets, look both ways very carefully, and not just for cars. There is a lot of movement in the city and you might be surprised at what will greet you around the next corner;


    Typical Scene On the Streets

    Typical Scene On the Streets

  • Be aware that some taxi drivers do not speak any English, so communicating your destination can be very difficult. (Our pick-up was at the Shanghai Waima Wharf Silk Museum. The traffic was horrendous so, once we felt like we nearby, we paid our driver and hopped out to walk/run the remaining distance.);
  • If possible, have your cruise ship name or pickup point (or if staying in the city, your hotel name) written in Chinese on a piece of paper that you can carry with you. Being able to show a driver where you want to go will be much easier than trying to communicate!
  • Depending on which sites you hope to visit during your stay, it may make more sense to use a combination of walking and riding the Metro rather than using the HOHO. While the HOHO does provide narration as you pass sights, the cost of a ticket plus the time spent waiting for a bus should be considered when deciding which method of transportation is best.



Cruising China and Southeast Asia

Following several days in Beijing, China, our great southeast Asian odyssey took us to Nagasaki, Japan. Don't miss our post titled 13 Sites to See in Nagasaki in One Day to read about all that we packed in to our limited time. In addition to text and photos, we've even included information on which trams to ride and which stops to exit to most easily reach each site.

Our visit to Hong Kong is next up in this series filled with ideas for anyone planning a cruise to Southeast Asia. To receive weekly e-mail notices when successive parts of this odyssey and many others are published, subscribe at Wordy Explorers User Account.

Favorite Sites in Shanghai

We thoroughly enjoyed the sights of Shanghai and would recommend a visit to this city to every traveler. In your opinion, what are the "must see" sites that visitors should include when planning a day (or more) in Shanghai.


22 of the Best Things to See and Do in Shanghai






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Created On 01/07/2019 17:06:23  
Updated On 09/17/2019 16:46:08
Scheduled On 07/25/2019 14:31:49
Posted On 08/19/2019 16:31:49
Last Editor Stacy
Location  Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, Shanghai
LinkId  ShanghaiAsia3
StoryId  1546898783791





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