Top 12 Things to Do in Shanghai

Written by Vivian Updated Mar. 15, 2022

Shanghai is a multi-cultural city in China. With the Affluence of Western culture in the 19th century, mixed with Chinese culture in the south of the Yangtze River Delta (Jiangnan Culture), the city offers a great mix of old and new. Our picks of the best things to do in Shanghai will illustrate the charming features of this city.

There are three places where you can get panoramic views of Shanghai and all are located in Lujiazui Trade Zone, Pudong District:

1. Observe Shanghai from the World Financial Center

With a height of 492 meters (1,615 feet), Shanghai World Financial Center offers a great spot to view the Shanghai skyline. Its 100th floor has a viewing lounge with a glass walkway which will give you a breathtaking experience.

Shanghai World Financial Center
Shanghai World Financial Center

2. Bird's-Eye View the City from the Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower is 632 meters (2,073 feet) high with 127 stories, currently the fourth-tallest building in the world. The sightseeing route includes the “Top of Shanghai Exhibition Hall” on floor B1, “Top of Shanghai Observatory” on floor 118, and “Top 632” exhibition area on floors 125 and 126.

Shanghai Tower
Shanghai TowerShanghai World Financial Center

3. Observe the City from the Oriental Pearl Tower

Oriental Pearl Tower – As the icon of Shanghai, there are always long lines to get in for sightseeing on national holidays. This 468-meter (1535-foot) tower has two highlight attractions: one is the 259-Meter Transparent Observatory and the other is the 267-Meter Revolving Restaurant, where is the perfect place to get the panoramic night views of the prosperous Shanghai.

Top skyscrapers in Pudong
Top skyscrapers in Pudong

4. Visit the Bund and Its Buildings

The Bund (Wai Tan) in Shanghai is an iconic place that has witnessed Shanghai’s growth. With picturesque waterfront views, you can see the amazing views of colonial buildings on the Puxi side and new skyscrapers on the Pudong side. Walking along this 1.5-kilometer bund, you can find out how the old Shanghai still co-exists with the modern, bustling, and high-tech new world.

the map of the Bund and its Buildings
Historic Buildings on the Bund, Shanghai

5. Walk Through or Cycle in Former French Concession

The Former French Concession in Shanghai is a large area that had once been designated to the French from 1849 to 1943. The residents included French, Americans, British, and Russians at that time, so today you can feel and experience the exotic cultures and history here.

Considered the epitome of colonial area, the former concession is surrounded by trees and houses many Western-style buildings. Strolling around its villas, churches, and cathedrals, you may see the old Shanghai in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are also all kinds of restaurants, cafés, and stores in the area, where you can enjoy some exquisite dining and shopping.

French concession region
French Concession Region

6. Immerse Yourself in Nature at Yu Garden

Located northeast of Shanghai Old Street and first built in 1559, Yu Garden (Yuyuan) is a Chinese classical private garden. It has been largely restored and now you can see its well-preserved wooden pavilions, bridges, rocks, and lovely potted plants. Outside the garden, there is a Shanghai old district, where you can find many shops lining the streets.

A corner of Yu Garden
A corner of Yu Garden

7. Take a Ride on Shanghai Maglev Train

Running from 2003, the Shanghai Maglev Train is the world’s fastest commercially operating train, with a maximum speed of over 430 kph (267 mi/hour). The train runs very fast but passengers can barely feel it because it runs smooth.

The maglev in Shanghai shuttles between the Pudong Airport and Longyang Rd. Station. With a distance of 30 km (18.6 mi), the journey only takes 7 minutes, making it very convenient for people to catch the plane or transfer to downtown. If you are really into trains or high-speed technology, don’t miss the Shanghai Maglev Museum. It is right below the Longyang Maglev Station and free of charge to visit with a maglev ticket.

Shanghai Maglev Train
Shanghai Maglev Train

8. Visit Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum is a huge museum of Chinese ancient art. It houses 12 art galleries and over 120,000 pieces of precious collections, including bronzes, sculpture, seals, coins, paintings, jade, and more, some of which can be traced back to the Neolithic Period. It often cooperates with foreign museums and regularly holds special exhibitions. Luckily, it is free to visit.

Shanghai Museum
Shanghai Museum

9. Have Fun at Disneyland Park

Located in Chuansha New Town in Pudong District, Shanghai Disneyland Park is part of the Shanghai Disneyland Resort.  

Opened in 2016, it is the first Disneyland Park in mainland China. Shanghai Disneyland covers an area of 1.16 square kilometers. There are several rides including Mickey Street, Fantasy Garden, Adventure Island, Treasure Bay, Dream World, and Disney Pixar Toy Story. Has Disney Castle, and Marvel Hero Headquarters, etc. In 2020, the number of tourists reached 5.5 million.

Shanghai Disneyland Park
Shanghai Disneyland Park

10. Enjoy Performances at the Shanghai Circus World

Shanghai Circus World is a large indoor circus located in Jing'an District of Shanghai City. It is situated opposite the Zhabei Stadium to the south and Guangzhong Park to the north.

The 100-minute show "ERA Intersection of Time" is a must-see. The show combines Chinese history, martial arts, and incredible special effects throughout the unique spectacle. It is entertaining and suitable for all ages. 

11. Stroll Around Bustling Alleys at Tianzifang

Tianzifang is a fashionable landmark creative industry cluster formed after the reconstruction of the Shikumen complex. It is also the creative work base for many artists.

The biggest feature of Tianzifang is that it still has many residents living here. It is a good place to experience the criss-cross small lanes. Walking in the lanes of Tianzifang, you will find little shops with many interesting products, art galleries, various photo exhibitions, cafes, and restaurants. 

shanghai urban planning exhibition hall
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall

12. See Traditional Architecture at Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Water Town is a quaint and lovely old town that is 1-hour drive from the Bund, Shanghai. It has a completely different lifestyle from Shanghai, making it a great place for escaping the city’s hustle and bustle.

Going through the town’s small alleys to the end, you may see local people washing clothes on the river bank. You can also just linger at a coffee shop watching people go to and fro. The best way to view the water town is to take a gondola trip. Try to get there in the mornings, when there are not many visitors.

Zhujiajiao Water Town
Zhujiajiao Water Town

Join in a Trip to Experience These Top Things 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.

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