How to Experience Local Life in Shanghai

Written by Vivian Updated Jun. 27, 2021

As a city mix of East and West, Shanghai is also a mix of old and new. Besides its fascinating skyscrapers, Shanghai also maintains a traditional and unique way of living. Follow our steps to explore the local life in Shanghai.

1. Wander Through Shanghai’s Lanes

As a travel lover, in addition to the bustling metropolis, and the antique town, you will definitely love the precipitation of a strong historical flavor of Shanghai Lanes. Its return in the 1930s at the heart of the sinuous alleys of old Shanghai, 

Wandering through the lanes, you can see the following scene: laundry poles crisscrossed overhead, surrounded by retro red brick walls, thick old wooden doors, and twinned green Windows. The old furniture, broken toilets, flowers, and plants crowded the alley are sending out a thick city atmosphere, telling the lane people's past.

Shanghai Lanes
Shanghai Lanes

2. Try Local Street Food

Trying street food is a great way to experience the local culture. Inexpensive yet appetizing street food is indeed the true essence of the Shanghai lifestyle. Shanghai is one of the best cities to go to for street food hunting. 

Walk into the alleyways where you can search for the most popular local snacks. Here are several street foods in Shanghai you don't want to miss: fried dough sticks, tofu flower soup, sugar cake, steamed bun, and soup dumplings. 

3. Ride a Bicycle to Explore Its Old Streets

Shanghai is a gorgeous mix of old and new architecture, making it the perfect place to explore on bicycles. Riding a bike is an awesome and flexible way of getting around the city which also gives you a local feel. 

You can rent a bike in Shanghai easily at a bike shop. Just pay the deposit of 300 yuan and 100 yuan for your first charge. Or you can just get on one of the shared bikes as a local do.

You can ride into the old streets of Tianzifang and the former French Concession to learn more about Shanghai's history. Or just immerse yourself in the local life by riding across Wukang Road. 

Shanghai Old Street
Shanghai Old Street

4. Join Locals Practicing Tai Chi at a Park

Join local residents in a park reveling in the fresh air and green space is a nice way of experiencing local life. You can join in their activities if you like.  

We recommend Zhongshan Park. In the morning, you can watch local people practicing tai chi, practicing martial arts, and practicing calligraphy on the paving stones. In the afternoon, there are people playing chess or running after their dogs. In the evening, you can join dances with locals.

5. Spend a Day in a Local Way

In the early morning promenade in the old streets near the Chenghuang Temple and the Yu Garden and have breakfast at Huxining Teahouse. The peaceful and transcendent atmosphere adds a kind of richness to our busy modern society.

In the afternoon, take a walk at the traditional Shikumen housing complex. The entire complex is filled with coffee shops, restaurants, art houses, and souvenir shops; enjoy the vibe you feel walking around and the art shops had some really good items.

Shikumen Residence
Shikumen Residence

6. Relax in a Water Towns

Shanghai has many prosperous water towns with a long history and profound cultural deposits, such as Zhujiajiao Water Town. These ancient towns have a lot of common characteristics, for example, there are more water and more bridges. There is an advantaged water environment. A landscape painting is vividly displayed in front of the visitors.

Zhujiajiao Water Town
Zhujiajiao Water Town

There are also some ancient water towns close to Shanghai, which are very suitable for a weekend trip. Go early and return late. If you only visit one ancient town a day, you can also experience the slow times of ancient towns. Know the top water towns close to Shanghai. We highly recommend the following water towns as your weekend getaway options:

Travel tips: No subway or high-speed train is going directly to the water towns. Feel free to contact us to book a private tour, including a vehicle and an English-speaking guide, for easy access and in-depth understanding.

7. Learn More About Shanghai's Culture at an Art Museum

Shanghai, hang out for the contemporary artists which are emphasized in dedicated districts, former factories, or rehabilitated studios. Shanghai provides an international platform for the discovery and exploration of new dimensions in contemporary art and culture.

There’s a thriving artists’ quarter on the banks of Suzhou Creek, and the place to see it is No. 50 Monganshan Road, known as Shanghai M50 Art Community. The Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) located on The Bund waterfront in the former Royal Asiatic Society building and the Magda Danysz galleries discover the most promising emerging talents in contemporary art and deserve to be brought up.

Shanghai Museum

8. Join in a Trip to Experience Local Life in Shanghai

If you want to visit these attractions above or any other places you are interested in Shanghai, China Travel can tailor-make a tour based on your own needs and requirements, which will save your time, money, and trouble. Please feel free to contact us and tell us your tour ideas.

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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