Shanghai Travel Guide

Written by Sally Guo Updated Mar. 26, 2024

Shanghai, also known as Hu, is the biggest and most bustling city in China. It plays a key role in China's economy, culture, transportation, industry, finance, trade, and exhibitions. It is also a major entry point for foreign travelers exploring China.

Located in the Yangtze River Delta by the East China Sea, Shanghai boasts a rich cultural heritage. You can enjoy both a modern experience with attractions like the Bund, Xintiandi, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and World Financial Center, as well as a glimpse into its ancient past with visits to Yuyuan Garden and Zhujiajiao Ancient Town.

If you're interested in exploring beyond Shanghai, nearby Suzhou and Hangzhou offer easy access to charming water towns and ancient gardens.

Shanghai Facts

Best Attractions in Shanghai

More Shanghai Attractions.

Top Things to Do in Shanghai

1. Enjoy an evening stroll along the western bank of the Huangpu River, or take a nighttime cruise to admire the beautiful city lights along the Bund.

2. Get a birds-eye view of the city from iconic skyscrapers like the Shanghai Tower or Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

3. Explore the French Concession area to experience the local life and discover hidden historical gems.

4. Take day trips to Shanghai's nearby water towns like Zhujiajiao, where you can admire picturesque canals, ancient bridges, and classic architecture.

5. Treat yourself to a shopping paradise - Nanjing Road where you can find a wide range of products.

shanghai attraction map

Find more interesting activities on Top 20 Things to Do in Shanghai.

Shanghai Weather

Shanghai has a pleasant climate with four distinct seasons.

Spring is warm from March to May, while autumn is cool from September to November.

Winter, from late January to mid-February, can be chilly and misty.

Summer brings hot and humid weather, with temperatures sometimes hitting 40℃ (104℉) in July and August for up to 10 days.

Most of the rain falls between June and August, with heavy rain and thunderstorms from August to mid-September.

For clothing, wear down jackets in winter, keep cool in summer, and carry an umbrella year-round.

Best Time to Visit Shanghai

Spring and autumn are the best seasons to travel to Shanghai.

April and May bring warm and pleasant weather with green trees and blooming flowers. You'll be fine with long-sleeved shirts, a light jacket, and a sweater. Zhujiajiao Water Town, Suzhou, and Hangzhou offer beautiful spring scenery.

September and October are also a great time to visit Shanghai. You can taste delicious crabs while enjoying the beautiful fall colors.

Related Reading: Shanghai Weather

Shanghai Transportation

Shanghai is an important transportation hub in eastern China, offering easy access by air, rail, road, and water. There are plenty of flights, trains, and buses, making getting around a piece of cake.

Urban transportation is also convenient, with taxis, buses, metro trains, and Maglev trains readily available to take you anywhere in the city.

How to Get to Shanghai

Shanghai is a lively city with lots of transportation options, and getting there is easier than you might think. Whether you're starting your trip in Hangzhou, Suzhou, or Beijing (or the other way around), we've got everything you need.

Below, you'll find detailed information on traveling to Shanghai from these cities to make sure your journey is smooth and enjoyable.

Travel from Shanghai to Nearby cities by Train

With an extensive and efficient railway network, you can easily explore nearby cities from Shanghai by train.

Whether you want to stroll along the historic streets of Suzhou, experience the ancient charm of Hangzhou's West Lake, or try the local delicacies in Nanjing, the train system offers convenient connections.

Discover China by choosing the high-speed railway as your mode of travel, ensuring a seamless and enriching experience. Read these articles for more details:

Shanghai Maps

More Shanghai Maps.

Shanghai Food: What to Eat

Shanghai is a food lover's paradise. With a rich food heritage and a mix of flavors, the city offers a tempting variety of dishes that will make your taste buds happy.

One of the must-try dishes in Shanghai is the famous Xiao Long Bao (steamed soup dumplings). These bite-sized dumplings are filled with flavorful broth and succulent pork or other fillings.

For breakfast, don't miss out on Cong You Bing (scallion pancakes) or You Tiao (deep-fried dough sticks), often enjoyed with soy milk. These local breakfast treats offer a delicious start to your day.

To explore Shanghai food, check out:

Shanghai Accommodation: Where to Stay

Shanghai offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every traveler's needs and budget. Whether you're a luxury seeker, a budget-conscious backpacker, or somewhere in between, you'll find a place to stay that suits you perfectly.

If you crave luxury and comfort, Shanghai boasts a plethora of high-end hotels and resorts with stunning city views. The Bund area is famous for its upscale hotels, offering a taste of the city's glamour.

For travelers on a budget, there are numerous hostels and guesthouses scattered across the city. Areas like the Former French Concession and Jing'an District have affordable options that provide a cozy and friendly atmosphere.

While Airbnb used to be a popular choice for those seeking unique and local accommodation experiences, it's important to note that Airbnb stops operations in China currently.

Related Reading: Best Hot Spring Hotels in Shanghai

Shopping in Shanghai

Shanghai is fantastic for shopping. There's something for everyone here, from fancy stores to busy markets. Whether you like luxury or budget shopping, Shanghai has it all.

Nanjing Road, one of the world's busiest shopping streets, is a must-visit for those looking for designer brands and upscale shopping experiences. It has lots of fancy shops and huge malls.

If you prefer something more traditional, check out Tianzifang. It's a cool place with small, unique shops selling handmade stuff and local souvenirs. It's perfect for finding special gifts.

And don't miss Yu Garden Bazaar, a market in a historic area. Here, you can bargain for antiques, jewelry, and traditional Chinese clothes.

Shopping in Shanghai isn't just about buying stuff; it's about enjoying the city's vibrant culture and lifestyle. So, grab your wallet and explore this lively city's shopping scene.

How Many Days Are Enough for a Shanghai Trip?

In general, a classic Shanghai tour can be done in just three days. A full day is enough to cover the main highlights of Shanghai.

Spending two or three days provides a chance for a richer and more relaxed experience. Besides the must-see spots, you can go shopping in this modern city, visit a classic water town nearby, or have a fun day with your kids in Shanghai Disneyland.

If you're planning a longer stay in Shanghai, say more than 3 days, you can take an extended trip to nearby cities like Suzhou, Hangzhou, Huangshan, and Nanjing. There are plenty of options for exploring beyond Shanghai.

Related Reading: How to Plan a Shanghai Trip

Do I Need a Visa to Visit Shanghai?

Shanghai and the nearby provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang allow travelers from 54 countries to stay in certain areas for up to 144 hours (6 days) without applying for a China tourist visa.

With the 144-hour visa-free transit policy, you can enjoy a journey in Shanghai and nearby more easily.

144-hour visa-free areas

Want to dive into local culture and life without the hassle of obtaining a visa? Just contact us!

Travel Shanghai with Us

For a hassle-free experience, we suggest traveling with a knowledgeable local guide who can introduce you to authentic Shanghai and immerse you in the lives of the locals.

Here are our popular Shanghai tour package: 

If the suggested itineraries don't catch your eye, our expert travel advisor can tailor a Shanghai tour just for you, perfectly fitting your schedule, preferences, and budget.

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