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The Hottest Spots to Visit in Shanghai

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Shanghai is the most populous city on the planet. Located in eastern China, it's a major commercial and financial center and one of the country's leading cultural and entertainment hubs. Shanghai is famed for its towering skyscrapers, vibrant nightlife, delicious cuisine, and rich history. There's so much to see and do in Shanghai that it can be hard to know where to start. But don't worry – we've got you covered. Here are our top picks for the hottest spots in Shanghai.

Top 10 Attractions in Shanghai

Shanghai is a city with many attractions. Whether you are interested in history, culture, food, or nightlife, Shanghai has something to offer everyone. Here are the top 10 attractions in Shanghai:

1. The Bund

High angle night view looking onto the famous, historic architecture of The Bund (Zhongshan Road), facing the Huangpu river in Shanghai, China.

The Bund is a beautiful promenade that runs along the west bank of the Huangpujiang River. It's a popular tourist spot as it has a European feel and is home to some impressive architecture, including Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Renaissance styles. The Bund is always bustling and is a great place to take a stroll, day or night. You can also see some of the world's best examples of Art Deco architecture here.

The Bund and the architecture in the former French Concession Area at night, with rush-hour traffic and light trails in Shanghai, China.

Dominating the scene are the former headquarters of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, with its splendid cupola, and the harbor customs office with its bell tower. The old Peace Hotel and the Bank of China are also among the notable buildings in this area.

Tai Chi practice in a Public park in Shanghai, China

Huangpu Park, located at the north end of The Bund, is a popular attraction in Shanghai. This park is famous as the country's oldest public park, and it provides a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park also houses a fascinating museum dedicated to The Bund's history.

Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai Skyline with the Bund, the famous pedestrian walk in front and boat tours in the center

It is also a great place to embark upon a sightseeing tour of the port and the confluence of the Huangpujiang and Yangtze rivers. In addition, visitors can take a boat tour around these areas to better understand Shanghai's history and culture.


2. Yu Garden

Shanghai, China at Yuyuan Gardens

The Yu Garden is a large and beautiful park located northeast of the old town. It was initially built in 1559 and has been expanded and modified. The Outer Garden is the oldest part of the garden and features a variety of exciting buildings and decorations. The most notable feature of the Outer Garden is Sansui Tang, a large hall with intricate carvings and dragon-adorned walls. The Inner Garden is smaller and more recent but is no less impressive. It features various gardens, each with its unique atmosphere.

Shanghai Yu Yuan garden Dianchun Hall China

This garden is home to the famous Hall of Spring, which was the headquarters of the Xiaodao Hui (Company of the Little Swords) during the 1850s. The artificial rocks in this part of the garden are particularly noteworthy as they are some of the only remaining works of master garden designer Zhang Nanyang.

Shanghai, China, the traditional ancient architectures of the Yuyuan Garden district

The Inner Garden, which is much smaller and dates back to 1709, is also worth visiting. This area includes typical features of a classical Chinese writer's garden, such as attractive pavilions, decorative stones, small mountain ranges, dividing walls, and small ponds. There is also a richly decorated theatrical stage in the Inner Garden.

3. The French Concession

View of a street in the Tianzifang, a famous shopping area known for its arts and crafts in the French Concession area, Shanghai, China

The arts and crafts district of Tianzifang is a fascinating place to explore. While some of the older homes and buildings have been replaced, the character of this old European district has been carefully preserved in its architecture and layout. There are numerous small laneways and alleys just begging to be explored. Tianzifang is a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts and enjoy some of the best Chinese street food.

Wukang Mansion, old French concession of Shanghai

The French Concession is a popular tourist destination in Shanghai for its many shopping opportunities and restaurants. There are numerous small galleries and craft shops instead of the bigger stores found elsewhere in the city.

Bars and cafes in Tianzifang

It is also a fun place to visit at night with many traditional restaurants, cafes, music joints, artists' studios and workshops. Fuxing Park is another famous attraction in the area with its French-inspired fountains, gardens and pavilions. It is the city's largest park and remains a lovely place to wander and explore.

4. Jade Buddha Temple

People at the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai, China

The Jade Buddha Temple is a beautiful temple located in the Anyuan Lu district of Shanghai. It houses two statues of Shakyamuni, which were brought to China by the monk Huigen from Burma. The present building was erected in 1928 to replace the original temple built-in 1882.

Reclining Buddha in Jade Buddha temple. Shanghai, China

The most impressive sight at the Jade Buddha Temple is the splendid Hall of the Kings of Heaven. This hall is notable for its statues of the Four Heavenly Kings and two Shakyamuni sculptures. These statues are carved from white jade and are very impressive. One of the statues is nearly two meters high and is located in the Wentang Main hall. There is also a collection of Buddhist manuscripts in this hall. The other statue is situated in the west courtyard.

Guanyin, Shen Cai and his 53 teachers in the Grand Hall of Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai, China. It was founded in 1882.

The Hall of the Great Hero is another interesting site at the Jade Buddha Temple. and contains Buddhas of the Three Ages and 18 Luohan figures. The Buddhas of the Three Ages represent the past, present, and future. The 18 Luohan figures represent the disciples of Buddha.

5. Longhua Temple

The old Longhua Temple, a Buddhist Temple dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha. In the background the Longhua Pagoda, on a clear sunny day. Shanghai, China

The Longhua Temple is a religious site located in the southwest area of Shanghai that is over 1,000 years old. The temple was first built in 242 AD along with the nearby 40-meter-tall wood and brick pagoda. However, the temple has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, with the present structure dating back to the 10th century. The temple is a popular tourist destination due to its age and historical significance.
The Bell Tower, which houses a five-ton bell from 1382, the Library with its ancient manuscripts and the 500 gold-painted Luohan Buddhas are some of the main attractions at the temple.

6. Nanjing Road

Busy streets full of people shopping in popular tourist spot Nanjing Road, Shanghai, China

Nanjing Road is Shanghai's best shopping street, where you can find anything and everything you could want. It's a great place to go for entertainment too, with lots of restaurants and cinemas and street performances. If you're visiting during a major Chinese holiday, you'll be able to experience even more fun and excitement. The street is especially lively during Chinese New Year, so if you're looking for a festive atmosphere, that's the time to go.

7. The Shanghai Museum

Aerial view of People Square in downtown Shanghai with Shanghai Museum building in the foreground.

Shanghai Museum is a must-see attraction for visitors to China. Housing an impressive collection of classical Chinese art, the museum is set in a unique building that embodies traditional Chinese concepts of the Earth.

Shanghai Museum Exterior in Shanghai, China

The museum displays a wide range of artwork on four floors, including bronzes, ceramics, ink drawings, calligraphy, and seals. There is also a significant collection of art from China's ethnic minorities. In addition, the museum has an excellent gift shop.

8. The Oriental Pearl Tower

Shanghai skyline with historical Waibaidu bridge and the Oriental Pearl Tower, China

The Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower is a must-visit attraction in Shanghai. It's located in Pudong Park on the east bank of the Huangpu River and offers excellent views over the river and the city. In addition to its incredible views, the tower also has a shopping mall, a hotel, and a virtual reality rollercoaster ride.

View of the splendid night view of downtown Shanghai with the Oriental Pearl Tower lit up, China

The whole structure is lit up at night as part of a light show, making it even more spectacular. The tower is an iconic symbol of Shanghai and should not be missed while visiting the city.

9. People's Square

Shanghai People's Square with fountain and urban skyline at night panorama

The People's Square is a popular public space in Shanghai, home to the new City Hall, Shanghai Museum, and Grand Theatre. It is also home to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, which has excellent displays and city models.

People Visiting Shanghai's Grand Theatre

You can view a 360-degree movie of the city from the upper galleries. The scale model from the upper galleries is also worth seeing.

10. Xujiahui Cathedral and Sheshan Basilica

St. Ignatius Cathedral, Xujiahui district in Shanghai

The Xujiahui Cathedral, also known as the St. Ignatius Cathedral, is a beautiful Neo-Romanesque structure built-in 1911. It is located in the southern district of Xujiahui and is the largest Catholic church in Shanghai. The cathedral is worth visiting for its park-like setting and twin 50-meter-high bell towers. The cathedral's interior has been restored, and it features beautiful stained glass windows.

Sheshan Basilica, Shanghai, China

The Sheshan Basilica is a Roman Catholic church located on the western peak of the Sheshan hill. This impressive religious site was heavily damaged during the Chinese Cultural Revolution but has since been renovated and remains an important pilgrimage destination. Visitors can follow the 14 Stations of the Cross up the hill to the church, enjoying stunning views. The basilica is a beautiful example of religious architecture, and its location atop the mountain makes it even more special. Whether you are a religious person or not, a visit to the Sheshan Basilica is a memorable experience.

Top Day Trips From Shanghai

Shanghai skyline panoramic in the dramatic sky at sunset.

If you're looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, there are plenty of great day trips to choose from. There's something for everyone, from ancient temples and beautiful gardens to bustling markets and stunning mountain views.

Here are some of the best day trips from Shanghai:

1. Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Day Trip

Suzhou, 2,500 years the history of Chinese ancient town in the sunset.

On this fascinating full-day tour from Shanghai, you'll escape the city's hustle and bustle to explore two charming traditional towns. Suzhou is known for its lovely gardens, while Zhozhuang is a great place to cruise along the waterways on a Chinese-style gondola. You'll also enjoy a delicious Chinese lunch in a rustic restaurant. Your knowledgeable guide will ensure you have a truly enriching experience as you learn about daily life in these ancient towns.

Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China

The best way to explore the picturesque towns of Suzhou and Zhouzhuang is by taking round-trip transportation from your Shanghai hotel. You can enjoy a Gondola cruise through the beautiful waterways of Zhouzhuang and stroll through Net Master Garden—a great example of a typical Ming Dynasty garden. Plus, hotel pickup and drop off from Shanghai hotels are included for your convenience.

2. Shanghai Day Tour

Locals and tourists enjoying a hot summer day in downtown Shanghai in China, Asia

The best way to see Shanghai's spectacular sights is on this full-day tour. You'll be able to explore the city's history and heritage at the Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai Museum, and Yuyuan Garden. Plus, you'll get to walk along the Bund and the former French Concession. And to top it all off, you'll enjoy a traditional Chinese lunch. With hotel pickup and drop-off included, this tour is the best way to see all that Shanghai offers!

3. Zhujiajiao Water Town and Shanghai Tour

Shanghai Zhujiajiao Ancient water Town, China

You'll explore Zhujiajiao Ancient Town and key Shanghai highlights on this private guided tour. First, take a boat ride and stroll through the ancient water town of Zhujiajiao. Then, spend the afternoon discovering Shanghai: admire the 16th-century Yu Garden, walk along the Bund, and take in panoramic views of the city from the Shanghai Tower. You can upgrade to include a delicious Shanghai dinner.

This tour is the perfect way to experience the best of both Zhujiajiao and Shanghai. Your private guide will customize the itinerary to suit your unique interests, ensuring you have an unforgettable experience.

4. Hangzhou Private Tour

West Lake Hangzhou night landscape, China

This private full-day tour of Hangzhou lets you choose the attractions you visit and the places you see. With the help of your guide, you can customize your itinerary to include famous spots like Leifeng Pagoda, Yuewang Temple, Meijiawu Tea Village, Liuhe Pagoda, and Longjing Village. You can also go for a boat ride on West Lake or taste snakes on Hefang Street. This tour gives you the freedom to explore Hangzhou at your own pace and according to your interests.

This tour offers a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of Shanghai and enjoy a more personalized experience. You'll have a private guide to show you around, and you can customize your itinerary to your preferences. The tour includes round-trip bullet-train tickets, lunch, and hotel pickup and drop-off.

5. Shanghai Old and New Highlights Tour

Shanghai skyline panorama with modern skyscrapers in south China

On this privately guided tour of Shanghai, you can explore the city's old and new districts however you wish. Visit attractions like The Bund, Jade Buddha Temple, and the observation deck of one of Shanghai's tallest skyscrapers. With your guide, you'll have a great experience discovering all that Shanghai offers.
You will have the opportunity to explore the city by private vehicle, with lunch and select entrance fees included, or by private car or public transit with lunch and entrance fees at your own expense. This is a great way to get an overview and orientation of the city, perfect for first-time visitors. You will have the flexibility to customize your itinerary to your preferences, and a private guide will ensure a more personalized experience. Free hotel pickup and drop-off are included.

6. Local Food Tour in Central Shanghai

Shanghai dim sum pork dumplings and prawn dumplings with vinegar and ginger sauce.

On this culinary tour of Shanghai, you will explore the city's famous Yunnan Road, stopping at several local restaurants that serve traditional Chinese food. You will try dishes such as scallion oil noodles, steamed buns, dried chicken, and soup dumplings with black vinegar, and learn about the history and culture of this rapidly changing city from your knowledgeable guide.

With more than enough tastings for a full meal, this Shanghai culinary tour is the perfect way to enjoy traditional Shanghainese dishes and learn about the local food culture. You'll explore some of the city's best restaurants, from morning to late at night, and get a real sense of how the locals eat and spend their free time. Whether you're a foodie or just looking for a unique way to experience Shanghai, this tour will please you.

7. Night River Cruise Tour

Shanghai's Pudong District's skyscrapers at night with dinner river cruise party boats

Are you looking to make the most of your time in Shanghai? Why not experience a Huangpu River cruise and a Xinjiang food experience all in one go? With this package, you'll enjoy traveling in a private, air-conditioned vehicle, seeing some of the most famous landmarks in Shanghai from your river cruise, and having a guide translate the menu during your Xinjiang feast.

This tour is a great way to see the sights of Shanghai by day and night. You'll enjoy a private river cruise with views of the Bund, Pudong skyline, and more, followed by a traditional Xinjiang dinner. Your guide will be on hand to answer any questions you have and help you make the most of your time in Shanghai.

Top Places to eat in Shanghai

Dim Sum

Shanghai is a constantly changing and evolving city, and its culinary culture is no exception. With influences from all over China and the world, Shanghai's food scene is diverse and exciting. There are plenty of options for any palate, from traditional Shanghainese cuisine to international dishes.
For those who want to try something truly unique, these are some of the best places to eat in Shanghai:

1. Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet is Shanghai's three-Michelin-star restaurant, and it offers a unique and unparalleled dining experience. Upon arriving at the restaurant, guests are taken to a secret location - a windowless room with nothing but a long table set for ten guests. Then, they are immersed in a multi-sensory feast that features unusual taste combinations in each course. This one-of-a-kind dining experience will tantalise your senses and leave you wanting more.

Twenty different courses are all designed to be both tasty and visually appealing. The atmosphere is created to be stimulating and engaging, with music playing and images being projected onto the walls. Despite all of this, the food is still the show's star. Some of the dishes include Pop Rock Oyster and Truffle Burnt Soup Bread. This is an excellent opportunity for those who love food to enjoy some delicious dishes and engage their imaginations.

2. Qimin Organic

Qimin Organic Hotpot is a farm-to-table restaurant that serves the freshest produce possible. You can even cut your mushrooms off of a log, and the hairy crabs are live. Diners choose from various meats, produce, and seafood, then drop each ingredient into their hotpots. The broth is made from scratch using only the finest ingredients.

The meats and vegetables are sourced from Qimin's organic farm in Kunshan, ensuring the quality of each ingredient. Choose your base from one of their eight different types of broth (beef bone, tomato, chicken, and vegetable, are a few). You can also create your sauce at the DIY sauce bar.

3. Lost Heaven

Lost Heaven is a Yunnan cuisine restaurant located in the former French Concession of Shanghai. The cuisine's focus is on spice and mushrooms, and the restaurant's decor is inspired by Yunnan folk culture. The menu offers traditional tastes of the region, making it a perfect choice for those looking to experience authentic Yunnan flavors.

This style of Chinese cuisine draws on influences from Thailand, Laos, and Burma and uses ingredients that are uncommon in other Chinese dishes. The Lost Heaven restaurant in Shanghai is considered the best place to enjoy Yunnanese food and culture and has been so successful that two more locations opened in Beijing and on the Bund in 2009.

4. M on the Bund

M on the Bund is a Shanghai fine-dining institution known for its delicious food and cocktails with stunning views of the Lujiazui skyline. Opened in 1999, M on the Bund was one of the first restaurants to set up in the-then underused colonial buildings of the area. Michelle Garnaut, an Australian restaurateur, took over M on the Bund and led the Bund's renaissance. The restaurant has been consistently reliable, serving great food with fantastic city views.

The eclectic menu offers European, North African, and Australian flavors all in one place, and the weekend brunch is delicious. The pavlova is a must-try: a giant meringue cake topped with whipped cream and tropical fruit. It's both delightful and decadent.

5. Wujie

If you're a vegetarian visiting China, you'll be happy to know that Wujie offers fine vegetarian and vegan dining and some of the best food in the city. It is located in an upscale European-style building on the Bund. It uses top-quality ingredients to create dishes that blend international cooking techniques with traditional Chinese ideas on food and nutrition.

Wujie's menu is full of surprises. So if you're looking for a unique occasion dining experience while in China, be sure to check out Wujie.

Final Thoughts

Aerial photograph of Shanghai cityscape

Shanghai is a city that never fails to impress. Shanghai has something to offer everyone, whether you're looking for fantastic food, top-notch shopping, or stunning scenery.

We've shared our picks for the hottest spots in Shanghai in this blog post – so get out there and explore this fantastic city! Have an amazing trip and we wish you all the best!

Scott and Yanling Contact Us Photo


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