A bustling city with a vibrant waterfront and iconic buildings
Shanghai, on China’s central coast, is the country's biggest city and a global financial hub. Its heart is the Bund, a famed waterfront promenade lined with colonial-era buildings. Across the Huangpu River rises the Pudong district’s futuristic skyline, including the impressive Shanghai Tower and the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower, with it's distinctive pink spheres. It was already the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930’s, and has remained the most developed city in mainland China. In the past 20 years Shanghai has again become an attractive city for tourists from all over the world.
Here we have selected a few of the sights and experiences that you really should see on a visit to Shanghai.
Yu Yuan Gardens
The Yu Yuan Gardens were first designed in 1559, during the Ming Dynasty, by Pan Yunduan as a retirement gift for his father, and are one of the country's best examples of a Chinese garden. The gardens cover a total area of five acres and are home to the Exquisite Jade Rock, koi-filled ponds with ornately decorated bridges, colourful pagodas and tranquil enclaves separated by ‘Dragon Walls’.
Jade Buddha Temple
As with many modern Chinese Buddhist temples, the current temple draws from both the Pure Land and Chan traditions of Mahayana Buddhism. It was founded in 1882 with two jade Buddha statues imported to Shanghai from Burma.
The Bund was the city’s 'Wall Street' before the second world war, a place of trading and fortunes made and lost. Originally a towpath for dragging barges of rice, the Bund was gradually transformed into a majestic promenade of the city's most powerful banks and trading houses. This is where you come to admire the art deco and neoclassical buildings of Old Shanghai, on a leisurely stroll along the river.
Shanghai Disneyland Park opened in 2016, and has become a popular destination for all the family to enjoy. As well as the expected attractions the park also has Chinese cultural elements, such as the Chinese Zodiac Murals in the Gardens of Imagination.
For anyone with an interest in ancient arts this museum is a must-see. It is one of the four largest museums in China and contains 120,000 cultural relics which include bronzes, ceramics, painting, calligraphy and ancient sculptures.
Shanghai’s premier shopping street, stretches from The Bund to the Hongqiao district, with the city centre People’s Square Park in the middle. An endless array of famous western brands are on offer, along with more traditional Chinese specialty shops selling silk, jade, embroidery, etc., making this the ultimate shoppers paradise. When the sun goes down the numerous entertainment, drinking and dining options come alive amongst the neon-lit signs.
Xin Tian Di District
This is the hot spot for western and Asian bars, food, entertainment, boutiques. The area is popular with affluent locals, expats and tourists.
Ride the Maglev Train
The fastest train in the world travels at 431 kph, from Pudong Airport to Shanghai, taking just 8 minutes to travel the 19 miles. You may also wish to visit the Maglev Museum.
Visit the Old Town
Filled with cobbled streets lined with traditional shops selling herbal medicines, handicrafts, Chinese tea, and tasty snacks, the Old Town is the city’s original centre of power.
Learn about the use of silkworms and silk moths, the manufacturing process and the Silk Road which took this luxurious material to Europe.
Cruise on the Huangpu River
See the juxtaposition of new and old Shanghai from the river and at night, the dazzling colors of the lights of the Pudong skyline are a sharp contrast to the modest twinkling lights of the Bund.
World Financial Centre
The 5th tallest building in the world offers a birds-eye view of Shanghai from The Sky Walk on the 100th floor. The best time is sunset, or for early risers, sunrise!
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower
Visit the revolving restaurant in this space-age building and get a 360-degree view of the city. Whilst you are there, why not pop into the Shanghai Municipal History Museum, which is housed in the building.
Stroll around this ancient water town admiring the canals, bridges, and traditional architecture. Or maybe take a boat ride along the waterways for a different view of the town. Make sure to look out for Fangsheng Bridge, the largest arch bridge in Shanghai.
The Shanghai Tower is the tallest skyscraper in China standing at 632 metres (2,073 feet) high. The engineering involved in its construction is spectacular, the exterior twists one degree per floor to offset the wind effect on the higher levels. The observation deck on the 118th floor allows visitors to see into the neighbouring towers from above.
A selection of our tours to Shanghai
China Group Tour Cruise
15 day tour from £3,498
China Highlights includes two of China’s most scenic rivers - the Yangtze River, and the beautiful Li River.
China Group Tour Cruise
Private: Cruise and Panda
15 day tour from £2,947
For those with more time in China the Cruise and Panda tour means you can combine the golden route of Beijing, Xian and Shanghai with a Yangtze Cruise and Giant Panda visit.
China Group Tour Cruise
18 day tour from £3,598
Cruise the Li and Yangtze rivers, see Giant Pandas, and explore Beijing, Xian and Shanghai
Japan Group Tour City
Japan and China
15 day tour from £3,898
An incredible two-centre tour combining the sights of Japan and China.