Shanghai Travel Guide and Itinerary

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Sprawled out on the estuary of the Yangtze River, this city of juxtapositions is at once modern and traditional, an intoxicating mix of headiness and tranquillity. 

About Shanghai 

Shanghai is a city of superlatives. With a population of 24.28 million people, it is China’s most populous urban area and the third most populous city in the world. The Shanghai Tower, opened in 2016, is the world’s second tallest building at 632m (2,074 feet) and houses the world’s second-fastest elevator, zipping along at an ear-popping 20.5m per second (67 feet per second). Shanghai also boasts the world’s fastest commercial train the Shanghai Transrapid ferries passengers between the city centre and the international airport on maglev tracks at speeds of up to 430km/h. 

As befitting of any world-class city, Shanghai crystallized its status as a gourmet dining destination with the arrival of the Michelin Guide in 2016. Today, the city boasts 40 star-studded restaurants serving everything from inventive French cuisine to classic Shanghainese eats. Of course, the vibrant dining scene extends beyond ritzy restaurants. Shanghai’s street food scene may not be as well-known as Hong Kong’s or Chengdu’s, but the city’s signature dishes are no less delicious. 

Shanghai’s flourishing arts scene has rapidly become world-class over the past decade or so. From the prestigious Shanghai Grand Theatre to avant-garde art galleries and jazz and indie bars, the city is teeming with creativity.  

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Highlights for the Traveler 

While Shanghai is known as the financial centre of China, the city is not just about high speed and highrises. Having weathered the vicissitudes of history, Shanghai is home to a wide range of distinctive architecture. During the economic boom of the 1920s and 1930s, sumptuous Art Deco buildings mushroomed across the city, many of which survive today. Other buildings unique to Shanghai include shikumen (stone gate) housing, which combines communal Chinese-style courtyards with Western carved stone decorations. The city’s multicultural heritage is also evident in its Jewish synagogues, Jesuit cathedrals and Buddhist temples but nowhere is this diversity most evident than in the French Concession. Featuring wide, open boulevards and leafy lanes, this historic district is home to European-style villas that have been converted to trendy cafés and boutiques.  


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One of the best ways to get a feel for Shanghai’s rich and varied culture is to join a walking tour, which takes you through the ins and outs of its colourful neighbourhoods. Yuyuan Gardens, located in the Old City, is an artistic enclave believed to have been built more than 400 years ago. Wander through winding bridges, sumptuously designed pavilions and scenic ponds as you make your way to the adjacent Yuyuan Bazaar, a hodgepodge of stalls selling snacks and souvenirs. For more serious retail therapy, head to Nanjing Road a 5.5km-long shopping street that stretches from The Bund along the waterfront to Jing’an Temple, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Shanghai.  

Speaking of The Bund, a trip to Shanghai is incomplete without paying homage to this iconic waterfront promenade. This is where you’ll find a whopping 52 buildings of various architectural styles, from Gothic and baroque to neoclassical.   

If you’re travelling with young kids in tow, you can’t miss Shanghai Disney Resort. Apart from the massive theme park, the resort also includes two themed hotels as well as a dining and entertainment district, Disneytown.   

While Shanghai attracts tourists all year round, the best time to visit is probably in Spring (March to May) or Autumn (September to November) when the weather is milder. If you’re hoping to dodge the hordes of tourists, be sure to avoid the two long festivals the Chinese National Day Holiday, which takes place from October 1 to 7, and Chinese New Year, which is usually in late January or early February.  

Recommendations list to be updated.

Recommendations list to be updated.

Recommendations list to be updated.

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