Shanghai, a major international shipping hub and gateway to China, is located on the eastern coast of the country, at the mouth of the Yangtze River, where the river empties into the East China Sea. So, what is the best area to stay in Shanghai, where should I stay in Shanghai (where to stay in Shanghai)? Let’s check out our suggested 8 best areas to stay in Shanghai, best places to stay in Shanghai as follows!
- Top places to visit in Shanghai — 29+ famous, must-see & best places to visit in Shanghai
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- What to eat in Shanghai? — 17+ most popular, must eat & best street food in Shanghai
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The city’s blend of historical charm, modernity, cultural diversity, culinary delights, and vibrant atmosphere create a captivating destination for tourists. Whether you want to explore historical sites, indulge in shopping and dining experiences, or immerse yourself in the city’s art and entertainment scene, Shanghai offers a wide range of attractions and experiences to suit your different interests and preferences.
So, where should you stay when you visit Shanghai? Let’s explore the best neighborhoods to stay in Shanghai to make the most of your trip and enjoy every minute of your time there.
The Bund (# best areas to stay in shanghai)
The Bund is a renowned waterfront area, around 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) in length stretching along the western bank of the Huangpu River in the central part of the city. It a symbol of Shanghai and often featured in travel brochures, postcards, and promotional materials representing the city.
This area is known as the number 1 choice for tourists when visiting Shanghai. Located opposite Pudong Lujiaxzui commercial area across the Huangpu River, this place is one of the high-end and attractive stops for all tourists.
The Bund features an impressive collection of grand colonial-era buildings that stand as architectural marvels. These structures, known for their neoclassical, Art Deco, and Gothic Revival styles, create a striking contrast against the modern skyline of Pudong. The Bund’s architecture reflects Shanghai’s historical significance and its past as an international trading hub.
Choosing the Bund as a place to stop, in addition to the wonderful living space, you also have the opportunity to see or visit many famous scenic spots of or near the area such as:
Nanjing Road: Just a few blocks west of the Bund, Nanjing Road is one of the world’s busiest shopping streets. It offers a mix of luxury boutiques, department stores, specialty shops, and traditional Chinese shops. Nanjing Road is famous for its vibrant atmosphere and is a must-visit destination for shopping enthusiasts.
Yu Garden: Located in the Old City area, near the southern end of the Bund, Yu Garden is a classical Chinese garden that dates back to the Ming Dynasty. It features beautiful pavilions, rockeries, ponds, and traditional architectural elements. The garden provides a tranquil escape from the bustling city and offers insights into traditional Chinese garden design.
People’s Square: just a short distance north of the Bund, People’s Square is a large public square and park in the heart of Shanghai. It is surrounded by notable landmarks such as the Shanghai Museum – displaying the exquisite artworks and ancient Chinese antiques, Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, and the Shanghai Grand Theatre. People’s Square is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Tianzifang: Situated in the French Concession area, Tianzifang is a lively arts and crafts enclave known for its narrow alleyways filled with boutique shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. It offers a unique blend of traditional Shikumen architecture and contemporary artistic expressions.
Jing’an Temple: Located to the northwest of the Bund, Jing’an Temple is a significant Buddhist temple in Shanghai. It has a history of over 780 years and houses a collection of Buddhist artifacts and statues. The temple’s peaceful ambiance provides a serene retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.
What about dining in the Bund area? Well, whether you’re seeking fine dining, international cuisine, or local specialties, the Bund area provides a range of choices, while offering picturesque views of the river and the cityscape. Some of good places for you to try are M on the Bund, Mr & Mrs Bund, Lost Heaven on the Bund, the Dining Room at The Waldorf Astoria Shanghai, and New Heights, among others. There restaurants offer a wide range of dishes, from European and Western flavors to Chinese and Asian cuisines.
Though it is convenient to be close to several popular tourist spots, it is pricey and crowded to stay in the Bund area. As a prominent tourist area, the dining and shopping options along the Bund tend to be more expensive compared to other parts of the city. Visitors may find that prices for meals, drinks, and souvenirs are higher in this popular area. The area can also get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons or holidays. The large number of visitors can make it challenging to find a quiet spot or fully enjoy the views without dealing with crowds. So, it seems it is only suitable for people who love crowds. If you are looking for a quiet and spiritually relaxing area, this is not good choice for you.
Pudong Lujiazui (# best places to stay in shanghai)
Pudong Lujiazui is situated on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River, directly across from the historic Bund area in central Shanghai. It was once an undeveloped agricultural area but has transformed into a vibrant business and commercial district. Today, it is the financial center of Shanghai and one of the key financial hubs in Asia. It houses the Shanghai Stock Exchange, numerous multinational corporations, regional headquarters of banks, and financial institutions.
The area is renowned for its impressive skyline, dominated by towering skyscrapers that symbolize Shanghai’s modernity and economic prowess. Iconic landmarks include the Shanghai Tower and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
While the Oriental Pearl TV Tower has a distinctive spherical design and towering height, the Shanghai Tower features a unique twisted design and is the tallest skyscraper in China and one of the tallest in the world. These skyscrapers form a distinctive backdrop that can be seen from the Bund and other parts of the city.
They offer observation decks providing panoramic and stunning views of the city and Shanghai’s skyline. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower also has a buffet restaurant and a roller coaster for you to enjoy.
The Pudong Lujiazui has a wide range of commercial and shopping centers, including luxury malls, boutiques, and high-end retail stores. The most notable shopping destinations in the area include Super Brand Mall, IFC Mall, and Shanghai World Financial Center Mall. These places cater to both local residents and international visitors seeking upscale shopping experiences.
While primarily known for its business and finance, Lujiazui district also has a few cultural and entertainment attractions. These include Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, featuring interactive exhibits on science, technology, and natural history and Shanghai Oriental Art Center, hosting various cultural performances, including concerts, operas, and theater productions.
When choosing this place as a stopover, you are well-connected to the rest of Shanghai through various transportation options. The area has its own metro station, Lujiazui Station, which provides easy access to other parts of the city and near Pudong International Airport. The district is also served by multiple bus lines and is connected to the Bund via tunnels and bridges.
However, the downside is that this place mainly focuses on shopping and transaction services, not on cultural experiences. If you are seeking a more traditional Chinese atmosphere or historical charm, you may find that Pudong Lujiazui lacks the cultural ambiance and architectural character found in other parts of Shanghai. Apart from that, though there are a variety of restaurants suitable for different tastes, the dining cost here tends to be more expensive due to its commercial nature.
Former French Concession (# what is the best area to stay in shanghai)
The Former French Concession is located in the central part of Shanghai. It covers a relatively large area, roughly bounded by Huashan Road to the west, Yan’an Road to the north, Xizang Road to the east, and Zhaojiabang Road and Huaihai Road to the south. This area holds historical significance and features a combination of Chinese and Western influences.
The Former French Concession boasts a unique architectural mix, blending traditional Chinese structures with European-style buildings. You’ll find tree-lined streets, charming alleys, and well-preserved colonial-era mansions, villas, and shikumen (stone-gate houses). The area exudes a relaxed and nostalgic atmosphere, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
The place is also known for its artistic and cultural scene. It is home to numerous art galleries, studios, theaters, and cultural centers, showcasing both traditional and contemporary works. Additionally, you’ll find cultural events, exhibitions, and festivals taking place throughout the year.
You will find the area dotted with several parks and green spaces, providing a welcome respite from the bustling city. Popular parks in the area include Fuxing Park and Jing’an Park, where locals gather for leisure activities, picnics, and tai chi practice.
Several popular parts of the Former French Concession are:
Huaihai Road and Fuxing Road: Huaihai Road (previously Avenue Joffre) and Fuxing Road (previously Rue Lafayette) are two major thoroughfares running through the Former French Concession. These streets are lined with trendy boutiques, cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and shops, offering a mix of local and international brands and cuisines. They are popular destinations for shopping, dining, and leisurely walks.
Xintiandi: Located within the Former French Concession, Xintiandi is a renovated neighborhood that blends historic shikumen houses with modern development. It features a pedestrianized area with a vibrant dining and entertainment scene. Xintiandi has plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, boutiques, and art galleries, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists.
You should know that because it is an old neighborhood, it is hard to find a luxury hotel in the Former French Concession. Instead, there are mid-range hotels with old-fashioned structures and full of memories. Therefore, this area is really suitable for tourists who love the ancient look of the place.
Qibao Ancient Town (# where should i stay in shanghai)
Qibao Town is a small historic water town located in Minhang District, about 30 minutes by metro from central Shanghai. It is near Hongqiao station and Hongqiao airport. With a history dating back over a thousand years, Qibao is known for its traditional architecture, ancient bridges, canals, and preserved cultural heritage.
There are several stone bridges spanning across the canals such as the Puhui Bridge and Yuyin Bridge, adding more charm to the town and provide picturesque scenes for visitors. The town reflects well-preserved traditional Chinese architecture with ancient buildings and narrow lanes. The buildings feature the architectural styles of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, characterized by white walls, black-tiled roofs, and intricate wood carvings.
Central Qibao Town is a pedestrianized area lined with shops, food stalls, and traditional crafts. You can explore the streets, browse through antique stores, taste local snacks, and buy souvenirs. These old streets offer an insight into the town’s vibrant past and reflect the local culture and traditions.
Another popular spot of the town is Qibao Temple, also known as Qibao Ancient Temple. It is a Buddhist temple originally built in the Song Dynasty. The temple has undergone renovations and additions over the centuries. It houses various Buddhist statues, ancient scriptures, and artifacts, providing insights into Chinese religious practices.
Qibao Temple also hosts the Qibao Temple Fair during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). It is particularly popular, featuring traditional performances, folk arts, and local delicacies.
However, because it is far from the city center, you will need to travel longer distances, which can add to travel times and transportation costs. In return, this place offers you a quiet, cool and fresh space. It is suitable for tourists who want to find a quiet vacation spot, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.
Zhujiajiao Town (# where to stay in shanghai)
Zhujiajiao Town is another charming water town located in the Qingpu District of Shanghai, about 50km from downtown Shanghai. With a history of over 1,700 years, the town is often referred to as the “Venice of Shanghai” due to its intricate network of canals, ancient stone bridges and boats as the main means of transport.
The town is home to over 36 bridges, each with its own unique design and name. The most famous bridges are Fangsheng Bridge – the largest stone arch bridge, and the iconic Qingpu Bridge.
Various cultural events and festivals are also held in Zhujiajiao Town throughout the year. The Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Lantern Festival are celebrated with colorful decorations, traditional performances, and lively activities.
The main attraction in Zhujiajiao is its Ancient Street, a bustling pedestrianized area lined with shops, teahouses, and restaurants. The street offers a wide range of local snacks, handicrafts, artwork, and souvenirs. It provides a vibrant atmosphere and a chance to experience the town’s traditional culture and cuisine.
Kezhi Garden, a classical Chinese garden, is another well-known spot in Zhujiajiao Town. It is renowned for its harmonious layout, elegant pavilions, intricate rockeries, and tranquil ponds. Visitors can explore the garden’s winding paths, admire the beautiful scenery, and appreciate the artistry of Chinese garden design.
You can take a boat trip along the canals of Zhujiajiao to explore the town’s waterways and enjoy the scenic views. The traditional wooden boats, known as “gondolas,” are steered by skilled boatmen who share interesting stories and historical information about the town. Traveling by boat and eating on the boat, this is a unique and attractive activity that not everyone can experience.
Zhujiajiao town is within walking distance of Zhujiajiao station, allowing you to easily move when needed. However, with its location in the outskirts of Shanghai, it takes your time to go to the city downtown.
Shanghai Train Station Area
Shanghai Railway Station area is situated in the Zhabei District of Shanghai. Shanghai Railway Station is a major train station in Shanghai and serves as a central transportation hub. It operates both high-speed trains and conventional trains, connecting Shanghai with various cities across China. It is also well-connected with various transportation options, making it easy to access other parts of the city.
While the Shanghai Train Station area is primarily known for its transportation facilities and commercial activities, it is also in proximity to most of notable landmarks and attractions we have introduced to you. They are:
The Bund: One of the most iconic landmarks in Shanghai, around 4 kilometers away
People’s Square: a large public square situated in the heart of Shanghai, about 3 kilometers from the station
Nanjing Road: one of the world’s busiest shopping streets, located around 3.5 kilometers from the station
Yu Garden: also known as Yuyuan Garden, a classical Chinese garden, located around 5 kilometers away
Jing’an Temple: a Buddhist temple situated about 3 kilometers from the station
The Shanghai Natural History Museum: located around 3.5 kilometers from the station. It is a modern museum with an extensive collection of exhibits related to natural history, including fossils, minerals, plants, and animals.
Former French Concession: a historic neighborhood located approximately 4 kilometers away
The vicinity of the Shanghai Train Station is a bustling commercial area with a plethora of shops, malls, and restaurants. It offers a diverse range of shopping experiences, from small local shops to large department stores. You can find a wide array of goods, including clothing, electronics, household items, and more. Additionally, the area is dotted with restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls, providing a variety of dining options for you.
The area is home to numerous hotels and accommodations catering to different budgets and preferences. A wide range of options is available, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. That’s why this area is truly a great choice for all tourists.
Pudong International Airport Area
Pudong International Airport Area is a district located in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai. It is centered around Shanghai Pudong International Airport, one of the major international airports in China.
Pudong International Airport is a modern and busy airport serving Shanghai and the surrounding regions. The airport has a dedicated metro station, Pudong International Airport Station, which offers direct access to Shanghai’s metro system. From there, visitors can easily reach other parts of the city. Additionally, taxis, buses, and private transfers are readily available for transportation to and from the airport.
The area is also a thriving commercial and business district with plenty of corporate offices, business centers, and exhibition venues. It usually hosts international conferences, trade shows, and business events, attracting professionals from different industries.
There is a wide range of hotels and accommodations, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses, providing convenient stays for those arriving or departing from the airport. Many hotels in the area provide shuttle services to and from the airport terminals.
Several attractions and entertainment options are available within reach of this area, such as:
Century Park: is designed as a spacious and green parkland, offering a peaceful escape from the bustling city. The park has a diverse range of landscapes, including open lawns, lush gardens, lakes, wooded areas, and meandering paths. The layout incorporates both natural elements and carefully manicured gardens, creating a harmonious environment for you to enjoy.
Shanghai Disneyland Resort: is the first Disney theme park on mainland China and the sixth Disney resort worldwide. The centerpiece of Shanghai Disneyland Resort is Shanghai Disneyland Park, a magical theme park that offers a unique blend of Disney storytelling and Chinese culture. Whether you’re a Disney fan or looking for a memorable family adventure, Shanghai Disneyland Resort promises enchantment and excitement.
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium: offers a captivating journey into the underwater world, allowing visitors to appreciate the beauty and diversity of marine life. With its immersive exhibits, interactive activities, and educational initiatives, the aquarium provides an engaging and informative experience for visitors of all ages.
Because this area is one of the quieter destinations, its nightlife is not as lively as other parts of Shanghai. However, that doesn’t take away the uniqueness of this place.
Hongqiao International Airport Area
Hongqiao International Airport Area is located in the Changning and Minhang districts of Shanghai.
Hongqiao International Airport is one of the two major international airports in Shanghai, located closer to the city center compared to Pudong International Airport. Apart from the airport, the area also has Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, one of the busiest railway stations in China with high-speed train services, connecting Shanghai with other major cities in China, and well-established public transportation such as metro lines, buses, and taxis, making it a convenient choice for travelers.
One of the prominent features of the Hongqiao International Airport Area is the National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC). It is one of the largest exhibition centers in the world, providing state-of-the-art facilities for trade shows, exhibitions, and conferences. The NECC hosts a wide range of events, including international trade fairs, industry conferences, and consumer expos.
Besides being a flourishing commercial, business and shopping area – with shopping malls like Hongqiao Tiandi, Hongqiao Soho and Hongqiao World Center where you can shop for fashion, electronics, and other goods, it also has different accommodation options for different tastes of tourists, from luxury and business hotels to budget-friendly ones.
A number of attractions near Hongqiao International Airport are:
Qibao Ancient Town and Qibao Ancient Town: about 10km and 30km respectively from the airport.
Shanghai Zoo: is around 10 kilometers away. It is one of the oldest and largest zoos in China, housing a wide variety of animals from around the world like giant pandas, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, and many other species.
Guhua Park: is a beautiful park situated close to the airport. It offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city, with lush greenery, serene lakes, and walking paths. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll, have a picnic, or simply relax amidst nature here.
Jinjiang Action Park: is an amusement park located around 8 kilometers away from Hongqiao International Airport. It features thrilling rides, roller coasters, water attractions, and various entertainment options suitable for families and thrill-seekers.
Shanghai Film Park: about 15 kilometers from the airport, is a unique attraction that showcases film sets and stages used in Chinese movies and TV shows. You will have an opportunity to explore different eras and settings, such as ancient Chinese streets, Western-style neighborhoods, and film studios.
With its convenient transportation connections, a wide range of accommodations, commercial facilities, and entertainment options, Hongqiao International Airport Area provides a vibrant and accessible environment for you to explore different parts of Shanghai.
Now you know a number of exciting areas to stay on your Shanghai visit. We hope with such useful information you will be able to explore most of Shanghai and have a memorable trip with your loved ones in this busiest city in the world.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Hotel Equatorial Shanghai (Agoda, Booking)
- Pudong Shangri-La, Shanghai (Agoda, Booking)
- The Langham Shanghai Xintiandi (Agoda, Booking)
- InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin (Agoda, Booking)
- Cordis, Shanghai, Hongqiao (Agoda, Booking)
- Campanile Shanghai Bund Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- The PuLi Hotel and Spa (Agoda, Booking)
- SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund (Agoda, Booking)
- The PuLi Hotel and Spa (Agoda, Booking)
- The Peninsula Shanghai (Agoda, Booking)
- Shanghai Marriott Marquis City Centre (Agoda, Booking)
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Shanghai you can refer to
- Shanghai By Night
- Best of Shanghai Half Day Tour
- Essential Shanghai 3 Day Private Tour
- Shanghai Museum Half Day Tour
- 2 Days Shanghai Private Tour
- Modern Shanghai Private Day Tour
- Shanghai City Walking Tour
- Traditional Shanghai Private Day Tour
- Private Shanghai Classic Full Day Bike Tour
- Shanghai Disneyland Admission Ticket
- Shanghai Disneyland Admission (90 days calendar)
- Huangpu River Cruise（Qingjiang Line）
- Yu Garden Admission Ticket in Shanghai
- Shanghai Tower 118th Floor Observation Deck Ticket
- Shanghai Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
- Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park Ticket
- Shanghai Pudong International Airport Transfers
- [World Highest Skywalk] Shanghai Jin Mao Tower 88th Floor Exclusive Skywalk Experience
- [Bund View·Klook Exclusive] Shanghai Magic Jungle Ticket
- Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden
- Shanghai EF PARK Power Formula Park
- Shanghai Disneyland Annual Pass
- Shanghai Disneyland (1 Day Admission/2 Day Admission)
- Oriental Pearl Tower
- CMHK | HK 7 Days unlimited data + 200 HK Local Mins + 1GB Mainland China and Macau data (HK Airport Pick Up)
- [Thailand Pick Up] Dtac GO INTER SIM Card Zone 1(Asia, Australia, USA, exclude Thailand)
- 4G LTE WiFi (MNL Airport Pick Up) for Asia
- 4G Portable WiFi (Manila Delivery) for Asia
- [Unlimited Data] 4G Portable WiFi for Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau from Uroaming (HK Airport Pick Up)
- 4G WiFi (HK Airport Pick Up) for Hong Kong/Macau/China (No Speed Limited) from Song WiFi
Read more China guide here.