How to Plan a Shanghai Tour

Written by Vivian Updated Oct. 31, 2023

Shanghai, one of the most exotic, lively, and interesting destinations to visit, is a trip that all travelers must go. There are many reasons why this place is consistently visited by tourists all year round. Hence, if you’re planning out a trip soon, here’s a detailed guide on how and what you can do in Shanghai.

Best Times to Visit Shanghai - Spring and Autumn

The best periods to visit Shanghai are spring (from March to May) and Autumn (from September to November).

The moderate temperatures in these two periods give travelers the most comfortable feeling. There is no extreme weather in Shanghai and the temperature is friendly all year round.

The rainy season is from mid-June to mid-July. The average rainy days in these two months are 28 days. Prepare to carry your rain gear with you all the time if you are to travel during this period.

Though it seldom rains in winter, the cold and damp winter climate is unpleasant. The temperatures can be down to 5 degrees centigrade. But at this time, there will be fewer visitors in Shanghai.

So, if you don’t want to see crowds, winter is a good time to visit Shanghai. The scenery is still nice and the temperature is bearable.

Monthly Shanghai Weather

Month Temperature Average Rainy Days Climate Information
January 0.3℃ to 7.6℃ 9 cold especially at night and a little dry
February 1.4℃ to 8.7℃ 10.6 cold and humid
March 4.9℃ to 12.6℃ 13.1 moist and not cold
April 10.4℃ to 18.5℃ 13.4 warm and comfortable
May 15.3℃ to 23.2℃ 14.5 warm and wet
June 20.1℃ to 27.8℃ 13.7 hot and wet
July 24.7℃ to 31.8℃ 11.5 sweltering and wet
August 24.7℃ to 31.6℃ 9.9 sweltering and moist
September 20.5℃ to 27.4℃ 12 a little hot and wet
October 14.3℃ to 22.4℃ 8.3 cool and a little dry
November 8.6℃ to 12.6℃ 7.9 cool and dry
December 2.7℃ to 10.7℃ 7.9 cool and dry

Shanghai Weather by Month

Best Things to Do in Shanghai

Shanghai, called “Mo Du (魔都)” by Chinese people (Mo means ambition and Du means metropolis.), is a sprawling multi-cultural metropolis, incorporating an eclectic blend of both traditional and contemporary features. With a reputation as a world-famous metropolis and tourist resort, Shanghai possesses abundant attractions for visitors to savor, and it won’t let you down.?

1. Water Towns Near Shanghai

Zhujiajiao Water Town
Shanghai Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Water Town

Known as “the largest town of Shanghai”, Zhujiajiao belongs to the Qingpu District of Shanghai and it is the typical water town of Jiangnan. Its North Street was selected as one of the “Top Ten Leisure Streets in Shanghai”.

2. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Oriental Pearl TV Tower serves as the symbol of Shanghai, at a surprising height of 486 meters. It is the third tallest radio and TV tower in the world. At the top, you can have a panoramic view of the Bund as well as a bird’s-eye view of the magnificence of Shanghai.

3. The Bund

The Bund is another renowned landmark. There are various buildings in different architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classical and Renaissance. It is recommended to visit the Bund at night, when all the colorful lights are lit up, making it a dazzling and wondrous world.

4. Yuyuan Garden

Regarded as the most beautiful garden south of the Yangtze River, Yuyuan Garden has an exquisite layout. The pavilions, corridors, courtyards, halls, stones, and streams in the garden form a tranquil and unique picture that vividly shows the quintessence of southern Chinese landscape design in the Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing (1644-1912 AD) dynasties.

5. Nanjing Road

This bustling pedestrian street is a must-see metropolitan destination, attracting thousands of fashion lovers from all over the world. Over 600 shops on the road offer many famous brands, superior quality, and new fashions. At night, flashing neon signs illuminate the magnificent buildings and spangle the night sky.

6. Disneyland Park

As the sixth in the world and the first on China's Mainland, Shanghai Disneyland Park creates many records among the existing Disney parks: it possesses the tallest theme castle, the first garden-designed zone, and the first pirate-themed garden. Besides, it combines movie figures with Chinese elements, such as the Chinese Zodiac Murals.

How Long to Stay in Shanghai? - 3 to 4 Days

A stay of at least 3 to 4 days is recommended to get a good taste of what Shanghai has to offer.

If you have more time available, extending your stay to a week or more will allow for a more in-depth exploration, as you can venture beyond the city center to visit neighboring cities like Suzhou and Hangzhou, which are known for their scenic beauty and cultural heritage.

Shanghai 3-Day Itinerary

Day 1:

Morning: Visit The Bund and enjoy the stunning skyline views of Shanghai. Explore the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall: The Magic City's Future Plan

Afternoon: Head to Yu Garden, explore its classical Chinese architecture, and picturesque gardens, and visit the nearby City God Temple. Take a stroll and shop on Nanjing Road, one of Shanghai's premier shopping streets.

Evening: Explore Xintiandi, a trendy area with charming lanes, boutiques, and a variety of restaurants for a delightful dinner.

Day 2:

Morning: Visit the Shanghai Museum, known for its extensive collection of Chinese art and cultural artifacts.

Afternoon: Explore the Former French Concession, an area brimming with tree-lined streets, trendy shops, and charming cafes. Take a walk along Tianzifang, known for its narrow alleys filled with art galleries and boutiques.

Evening: Explore the nightlife of the Bund area or catch an acrobatics show at Shanghai Circus World.

Day 3:

Morning: Take a day trip to Zhujiajiao Water Town, known for its picturesque canals, ancient bridges, and traditional buildings. Enjoy a leisurely boat ride and explore the town's charming atmosphere.

Afternoon: Take a ride to the observation deck of the Oriental Pearl Tower or Shanghai Tower, an iconic landmark offering panoramic views of the city.

Evening: Experience Shanghai's vibrant food scene by trying local dishes at a night market or dining in one of the city's authentic restaurants.

Shanghai 4-Day Itinerary

Follow the 4-day itinerary and add the following additional activity:

Day 4

Morning: Visit the Former Jewish Settlement in Shanghai, and stroll around the residential area of labyrinthine alleyways.

Afternoon: Explore urban areas like Lujiazui or visit Shanghai Disneyland for a fun-filled day of entertainment and rides.

Evening: Enjoy a river cruise along the Huangpu River to see Shanghai's skyline illuminated at night.

Shanghai 5-Day Itinerary

Follow the 4-day itinerary and add the following additional activity:

Day 5:

Morning: Take a day trip to Suzhou, known as the "Venice of the East." Explore its Master of the Nets Garden, and Humble Administrator's Garden, visit the historic Pingjiang Road, and enjoy a boat ride on the picturesque canals.

Afternoon: Visit the Tongli Water Town near Suzhou

Evening: Return to Shanghai and indulge in a relaxing evening at a spa or enjoy a performance at the Shanghai Grand Theatre.

Food You Should Try in Shanghai

1. Shengjian Steamed Stuffed Bun: a kind of fried and steamed bun, with sesame and chives on the outside and meat on the inside. It’s popular for its crisp wrapper, thick soup, and tender meat.

Shengjian Steamed Stuffed Bun
Shengjian Steamed Stuffed Bun

2. Xiaolong Steamed Stuffed Bun: a kind of steamed bun with meat stuffing, renowned for its tender wrapper and fresh meat. It is named after the cooker “xiao long”, which is weaved using bamboo skin.

Xiaolong Steamed Stuffed Bun
Xiaolong Steamed Stuffed Bun

3. Xiekehuang: a kind of baked pastry with sesame on the outside, popular for its crunchy wrapper as well as stuffing, which can be sweet or salty. It is called (‘crab-shell-yellow’) because its round shape and yellow color resemble a crab shell.

Getting to and Around Shanghai

You can enter China via Shanghai by air or boat. You can go via Beijing, Hong Kong, or Guangzhou if you can’t get to Shanghai directly. Shanghai is linked to the rest of China by efficient rail and flight networks.

Two International Airports in Shanghai

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG): Located in Pudong New District, approximately 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of downtown Shanghai, this is the biggest airline hub in eastern China.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA): Located in Hongqiao County, the western suburbs of Shanghai, this is approximately 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the city center. Together with Pudong International Airport, it serves as one of the busiest airports in the east of China.

Two International Cruise Terminals in Shanghai

Three Railway Stations

Maglev Train

Starting at Longyanglu Station at Line 2 of Shanghai Metro and ending at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Shanghai Maglev Railway is the very first elevated maglev line in commercial operation in the world.

It can run at the amazing speed of 430 miles per hour, which means it can take you from downtown Shanghai to Shanghai Pudong International Airport in only 8 minutes.

By Public City Transportation

Private Transfer Service

China Travel offers a convenient alternative to public transport. With our private tours, you'll enjoy fully-equipped vehicles, a knowledgeable local driver, and an English-speaking guide.

Contact us and we will ensure your trip is smooth and hassle-free.

Recommended Accommodation in Shanghai

Luxurious Hotel

Hotels in Pudong

Comfortable Hotel

Some hotels are not that expensive, but the location is good. Such as the Bund Hotel (near the Bund, 4-star).

Economic Hotel

If you are not too concerned about the environment around your accommodation, there are lots of hostels available, such as Kingstown Hotel Plaza Shanghai, Jinjiangzhixing Hotel, Seven Days Hotel, and so on.

Visa-Needed or Visa-Free

Citizens of certain countries may be eligible for visa exemption or visa-on-arrival when visiting Shanghai for a limited period.

For example, citizens of many European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, and many other countries can often travel to Shanghai for up to 144 hours (6 days) without a visa, as long as they are in transit to a third country.

To learn more about this policy, please click Visa-Free Transit in Shanghai for Up to 144 Hours.

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