Once a remote fishing village, today Shanghai has become the busiest and most modern and one of the world’s largest city. In the midst of a maze of dense skyscrapers, it is not difficult to see the silhouettes of ancient, nostalgic architectures. That’s how Shanghai is, the present and the past go hand in hand, creating a very unique charm for this large urban area. So, is Shanghai worth visiting, how to visit Shanghai, what to do in Shanghai and how to plan a budget trip to Shanghai for the first-time perfectly? Let’s check out our Shanghai travel blog (Shanghai blog) with the fullest Shanghai travel guide (Shanghai tourist guide, Shanghai city guide, Shanghai guide, shanghai visitor guide) from how to get to Shanghai, best places to visit, best time to come, what to eat as well as top things to do in Shanghai to help you maximize your trip as follows!
- Top places to visit in Shanghai — 29+ famous, must-see & best places to visit in Shanghai
- Disneyland shanghai blog — The useful Disneyland Shanghai guide & how to spend a day in Disneyland Shanghai
- What to eat in Shanghai? — 17+ most popular, must eat & best street food in Shanghai
- Where to stay in Shanghai? — 8 best places & best areas to stay in Shanghai
- Top places to visit in Shenzhen — 23+ must-see & best places to visit in Shenzhen
Overview of Shanghai (# shanghai travel blog)
Shanghai is located about 1,207 km from Beijing and about 1,450 km from Guangzhou. And this is also an important bridge between the capital Beijing in the North and the economic center Guangzhou in the South. Shanghai is the most populous city in China. Shanghai is located between Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, it takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes by air to travel to the capital Beijing. This city has a special location, located in the East of China, so it has many natural blessings. All of this gives Shanghai favorable conditions for economic development and tourism development.
The city borders Jiangsu to the north, Anhui to the west and Zhejiang provinces to the south. Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang form the Yangtze River Delta triangle. This is the world’s largest urban concentration (1/10 of China’s population) and a key economic region of China (1/5 of the country’s GDP).
Shanghai is a magical city, where Eastern and Western cultures blend harmoniously together. The typical Western architecture of the Bund both contrasts and blends with the modern architecture of Lujiazui’s skyscrapers.
If you ask where Shanghai is, surely many people will know that this is a large city in mainland China, but if you ask what area Shanghai is located, not everyone can answer.
Shanghai, also known by the very beautiful and poetic name – The Fragrant Harbour city, is the city with the largest population in China. This city also has a special location on the East coast of China, blessed with nature, so the climate here is extremely mild. All of this creates favorable conditions for The Fragrant Harbour city to develop economically in parallel with tourism development. Come here and experience, this place will definitely not disappoint you.
In Xintiandi, we still see the old buildings of Shikumen area. All the old architecture still exists in the heart of bustling Shanghai. Jing’an Temple is still located next to Nanjing Road, crowded Huaihai Road, People’s Square, Zhongshan Park or the busy Wujiaochang, Xujiahui, Yuyuan Mall, etc. shopping malls.
Coming to Shanghai, you will have unforgettable experiences when you can hear resounding opera songs, enjoy typical dishes in long-standing restaurants, tasting authentic French dishes, and enjoy snacks in the famous Chenghuang Temple, enjoy tea in the old town alleys and find bars in the wooden houses of Hengshan Road.
Why should you visit Shanghai? (# shanghai blog)
Ancient city: Besides that development, Shanghai city also experienced ancient times. This city still retains its ancient beauty, tinged with time such as traditional gardens, water towns, medieval-style architectural houses and buildings…
Modern city: Shanghai, no exaggeration, is not inferior to the US cultural capital of New York. This is one of the busiest and most bustling cities in the world with unique, luxurious, lavish buildings, especially the Shanghai Bund, which is a leading financial center.
Unique culture: Shanghai is not the capital of China but it is considered the cultural center of this country. The culture here is a combination of Western modernity and Chinese tradition, creating a unique and charming culture that few places have.
Easily traveling to other tourist destinations: As a large city, Shanghai possesses extremely modern infrastructure. Coming here, visitors can easily move to other tourist destinations at Shanghai Pudong International Airport or by bus, especially by train.
When is the best time to travel to Shanghai? (# shanghai travel blog)
The most suitable time to visit and travel to Shanghai is from from March to May or from September to early November. The climate at this time is spring or autumn, the weather is quite cool and fresh, pleasant, so visitors can explore the city in a comfortable way.
However, the remaining months of the year are not a bad time to visit this city. Each month has its own beauty that you cannot miss. Come to Shanghai in the spring to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of traditional festivals, in the summer to watch sunset at the Bund, in the fall to admire the red leaf streets and in the winter to see the white snow or just simply is to tasting spicy hot pot here. Interesting, is not it?
Coming to the suburbs of Shanghai in spring, you can see dragonflies flying everywhere creating an extremely gentle scene. Peach blossoms in Nanhui area, cherry blossoms in Gucun park and tulips in Shanghai flower port are also blooming.
There is a folk saying “autumn wind, crab legs itch”, meaning that when the weather turns to autumn, enjoying hairy crab is the best. The yellow-legged crabs, thick meat that is both soft and sweet, are also a special feature that you should try when you come to Shanghai at this time.
People in Shanghai often have the custom clean their gravesites and make ritual offerings to their ancestors before and after the Qingming time, so traveling between cities is often difficult. In the first half of May and after the National Day, there is a long break, so going to Shanghai is not the perfect choice. Tourists should also avoid the above times to make their trip as convenient as possible.
From the first half of June onward is the rainy season, so it often rains continuously and from the end of August to the end of September there are often sudden thunderstorms. If you come to Shanghai during the above two times, remember to bring a small umbrella with you!
How to get to Shanghai? (# shanghai travel guide)
As mentioned above, Shanghai is one of the large cities in China with leading modern infrastructure and transportation in Asia, so getting here is quite easy. You can visit this city by plane, car or train…
By plane (# shanghai travel blog)
Shanghai has two airports, Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Hongqiao International Airport (SHA), located in the east and west of the city, respectively. Pudong Airport gathers most international flights while Hongqiao Airport mainly serves domestic flights, with the exception of a few flights to Japan and South Korea.
Pudong International Airport
Pudong International Airport is located in the coastal areas of Jiangzhen, Shiwan and Zhuqiao. Getting from here to the city center, you have to go about 30 km. Pudong International Airport is divided into two terminals T1 and T2 and there is free bus transportation between these two terminals.
To getting to city center from the airport, you can take railway line 2, maglev train, bus number 10 or take a taxi from Pudong international airport to the city and vice versa.
Maglev train: The Maglev train arrives at Longyang Road station, you can transfer to line 2, line 7 and line 16. The journey takes about 8 minutes, one-way ticket prices range from 50 – 100 Yuan. This is a high-speed train dedicated to the journey from Pudong airport to downtown Shanghai. With a speed of up to 430 km/h, it only takes you 8 minutes to reach the center.
But if you bring a lot of luggage like me, it’s very hard to go this way. Because after stopping at Longyang Road station, you will have to change to the subway line to go back to the hotel. And Longyang station is not very close to the city center where we booked hotel.
NOTE: You can buy Maglev train tickets at the counter in the airport or buy online in advance here.
In my opinion, you should only try the Maglev train, but take a taxi for good.
Taxi: From the airport to the city center is about 40-60 km long. This is the most convenient option, cost around are 150 – 250 RMB during the day and 200 – 300 RMB at night from the city center to the airport and vice versa. You can ask the hotel receptionist to call you for a ride to the airport in advance.
By bus: Airport buses can take you to prominent attractions such as: Hongqiao, Jing’an Temple, Wujiaochang, People’s Square, Century Avenue, Lujiazui, Xujiahui and other urban areas.
In addition, you can also take a long-distance passenger bus to nearby cities such as Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Qingtian, Wenzhou, Nantong, Qidong, Kunshan, Suzhou, Wuxi, Zhangjiagang and Huzhou.
Note: When entering at Pudong Airport (and other airports in China), foreign guests will have to do the procedure for taking fingerprints on the machine and fill in the information from entry.
Hongqiao International Airport (# shanghai travel guide)
Hongqiao International Airport (mainly serving domestic flights or flights from Hong Kong or Macau) and is divided into two terminals T1 and T2. Passengers need to know the departure terminal to avoid being late for their flight. If you get the wrong terminal, don’t worry too much, just get on the bus to go to the other terminal and it’s free.
By train: Lines 2 and 10 can go to Hongqiao airport terminal (where line 2 only goes to terminal 2, line 10 can go to terminals 1 and 2).
By bus: From Hongqiao Airport, you can take a bus to Zizhu National High-Tech Industrial Development Park, Jiading West Railway Station, Pudong Airport, Shanghai Station, East Yan’an Road at the Bund, Lupu Bridge, Qinglan New Village, Shanghai Zoo and other places in the city.
Taxi: There is a taxi pick-up point at Terminal 1 and south of the arrival gate (ground) of Terminal 2.
Long-distance bus: Hongqiao airport has long-distance bus routes to Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Zhangjiagang and other nearby cities. You can also take a bus to places in the inner city of Hongqiao.
Shuttle bus: There is a free shuttle bus service for passengers going to the wrong station T1, T2 of Hongqiao airport. The waiting station is gate 6 of the departure floor of Terminal 1 (first service starts at 6am and last departure is at 11pm) and the waiting station Terminal 2 arrives at gate 1 (starts serving at 6:30am), last trip is 11pm).
By train (# shanghai guide)
Shanghai is an important rail transport hub with four stations: Shanghai Railway Station (i.e. new passenger station), South railway station, West railway station and finally Hongqiao station. These stations connect Shanghai with most cities in China.
Shanghai Station is the largest railway station divided into North Station and South Station. Every day, there are many trains from Shanghai to all major cities in China. Shanghai people often call it the new passenger station to distinguish it from the old Shanghai station (ie Laobei Station).
Address: No. 303, Fuling Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai.
Transportation: Take subway line 1, line 3, line 4 to Shanghai station.
South Railway Station
Shanghai South Station is located at the southern gateway of the city. Most trains are long-distance trains to the south and short trains in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
Address: 9001 Humin Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai.
Transportation: Take Line 1 and Line 3 to Shanghai South Station.
Hongqiao Railway Station
Hongqiao Station is an important transportation hub from Hongqiao to the east of Terminal T2 of Hongqiao International Airport. There are EMU trains and high-speed EMU trains transporting passengers.
Address: Shenhong Road, Minhang District, Shanghai.
Transportation: Take subway line 2 and line 10 to Hongqiao station.
Shanghai West Railway Station
Shanghai West Station is about 5 km east of Shanghai Station (new passenger station). Basically, this station has quite a few trips.
Address: No. 22, Taopu Road, Putuo District, Shanghai.
Transportation: Take metro line 11 to Shanghai West Station.
Getting around Shanghai (# shanghai travel blog)
Metro (# shanghai blog)
This is the means of transport I use the most because it can go to many Shanghai tourist attractions and the price is also very cheap (from 3 – 6 yuan / trip). Before entering each subway station, you will be screened and your bags will be checked. Compared to Beijing, the number of people using public transport during rush hour in Shanghai is still much smaller.
Currently, 14 metro lines have been opened in Shanghai which are line 1 to line 13 and line 16. There are also transfer points between lines.
Currently, there are several new subway lines under construction. Subway fares are charged at 3 CNY for the first 6km and 1 CNY for every 10km after that. You can buy a one-way ticket at the metro station or use a Shanghai public transport card.
All Shanghai Rail Transit stations have 1-day pass and 3-day pass for the convenience of visitors to Shanghai. For a one-day ticket, the ticket price is RMB 18 and is valid for 24 hours. The 3-day pass costs 45 CNY and is valid for 72 hours. All apply to rail transit lines, except maglev train lines.
Subway operating hours usually start from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and end from 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. You can ask the staff on the subway or at stations to know the schedule of each line.
The subway system is spread everywhere, making it convenient to travel to key attractions and bustling commercial streets in Shanghai. To save time, you should learn about the Shanghai subway route map and look it up before traveling. At the subway exits there are signs showing street names and surrounding shopping centers, but if you get lost, you can ask the staff here.
Buses in Shanghai have basically completed the upgrade of the air conditioning system, but the ticket price remains the same at 2 Yuan. Particularly, the suburban districts are quite far away, so ticket prices will range from 1 – 11 CNY depending on each location. In Shanghai, there are many one-way routes, so buses have different itineraries. If you know you won’t be taking the same route as when you go or return, it’s best to proactively find your own get-off point first.
Shanghai public transportation is very crowded during rush hour, especially at 7 – 9 am and 5 – 8 pm there will often be traffic jams, so please avoid these times.
The starting taxi price in Shanghai is 14 Yuan / 3 km (for Touran models it is 16 Yuan / 3 km). Every next 3 – 15 km will be charged 2.5 CNY/km and from 15 km onwards will be charged 3.6 CNY/km. Night taxi prices will increase by 30%.
Taxi can be caught everywhere in the city. Many people have commented to me that taxis in Shanghai are expensive, but in fact the prices are very reasonable, only about 15 – 20 yuan for one trip.
Unlike Beijing, Shanghai taxis always turn on Baidu Maps for directions. If you don’t know what software Baidu Maps is, you can refer to the review at the following link.
In Shanghai, there are 3 bus routes specifically for tourists: Shanghai City Tour (red line), Shanghai Ancient Temple Tour (Green Line), Shanghai Pudong Area (Blue Line). These lines operate 24 hours a day and pass through famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. Visitors can admire the historical, natural and cultural beauty of Shanghai in the shortest and most convenient time.
Shanghai has a large tourist area and some roads in the city center ban bicycles, so it is difficult to travel all the tourist areas in Shanghai by this type of vehicle. However, you can choose to rent bicycles at some attractions and the service is quite good.
For example, the old horse riding tour in Xuhui district or visiting the old house in Yuyuan Road, etc. In general, the Wukang road, Tianping road and Hengshan road are all good options for cycling.
Where to go and what to do in Shanghai?
If you are a fan of the movie “New Shanghai Bund”, you definitely cannot help but know this famous place. Traveling to this city you will witness the entire scene of the blockbuster and famous around the world. The second reason that the Bund should be on your list of places to visit, this is a famous tourist destination all over the world, a place that any tourist wants to see once when come to this luxurious city.
The Bund is located by the beautiful Huangpu River, once a busy trading place, so this area has many high-rise buildings, financial and commercial centers built in 1930 according to quaint European architecture.
Shanghai is a blend of classical and modern architecture. Walking along the Bund, you will feel like you are walking between two sides of the world, with traditional houses on one side, typical Western European architecture on the other hand, and high-rise buildings on the other. Lujiazui skyscrapers are racing to rise. All have made this place have a charm that cannot be found anywhere else.
Some people say that the story of the Bund represents the entire city of Shanghai. The Bund consists of 52 buildings of different styles and is also known as the “Bund International Architecture Exhibition”. Although the buildings on the Bund are not from the same designer or built in the same period, their architectural colors are essentially identical and the overall contour treatment is remarkably surprised coordinated.
You can walk around the bustling Bund, have dinner watching the romantic Huangpu River or take a boat to see the night view… those are definitely memorable experiences on your trip.
If you are knowledgeable about history, you will certainly know that the history of this bustling financial district comes from its past as an area of British settlement. Later, this settlement combined with the United States to become the world’s most famous Shanghai Public Concession area. That is the reason why the architectural works here have a combination of European and Asian beauty. What an interesting place, right?
Always among Shanghai’s top favorite places to visit, Nanjing road is known as “China’s No. 1 commercial street” with hundreds of famous stores and shopping areas. This place is truly a paradise for shopping addicts with more than 600 stores displayed along both sides of the road, creating an extremely bustling and crowded scene.
At first glance, modern buildings are mixed with old European-style buildings. Advertising lights and neon lights flash throughout the night along the road. Visitors can also find a taste of old Shanghai through miniature versions of old trams.
This walking street is very suitable for young people for living virtual purposes, couples walking hand in hand and even tourists who love the bustle of the energetic Nanjing Street.
According to statistics, up to 1.7 million visitors come to Nanjing Avenue every day. Why not hesitate to immerse yourself in the million-tourist street to enjoy the unique atmosphere as well as shop for items for your friends and loved ones after a long trip, right?
Shanghai Disneyland Park
Address: 4MV5+945, Pudong, Shanghai, China, 201205
The first Disneyland park in Mainland China is located in the new Pudong area, Shanghai. It features the world’s first pirate-themed Disney castle and the longest parade among any other Disney park. You will definitely get new experiences when immersing yourself in this magical kingdom.
Shanghai Disneyland Park is divided into 6 special theme parks: Mickey Avenue, Garden of Whimsiness, Adventure Island, Treasure Bay, Tomorrowland and Dreamworld. No matter who you are or what age you are, at Shanghai Disneyland park, you will find life in a happy world.
Shanghai Disneyland requires visitors to keep their clothes neat and not to wear long clothes. Tourists 16 years old and above are not allowed to wear cartoon character costumes. Camera stands, selfie sticks, baby chairs and deck chairs are prohibited.
Oriental Pearl TV Tower (Dongfang Mingzhu)
Address: 1 Shiji Blvd, Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai, China, 200120
The Oriental Pearl Tower is located across the Huangpu River from the Bund. This tower marks the landmark development of Shanghai. Sitting in the elevator for the entire length of 351 meters to see the scenery on both sides of the Huangpu River is something not to be missed when visiting Shanghai. If you want to enjoy the food and enjoy the night view, going to the 267 meter high revolving restaurant is not a bad suggestion.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower 468 meters high includes 11 spheres of different sizes. This design comes from a great artistic concept and offers the most careful investment. On the 3 main spheres you can see the city on both sides of the river from different heights. You can fully enjoy the panoramic view of Shanghai at an altitude of 259 meters in a transparent room. At night, you can also experience the beauty of the “Never sleep City” in colorful neon lights.
In any check-in photo of the city of Shanghai, there will also appear an image of a building with a special shape. That is the Mingzhu Oriental Television Tower, the symbol of Shanghai.
When I hadn’t been to Shanghai, I thought this tower was green, pink, and red, and it didn’t look good. But you have to go to the place to see it with your own eyes to see the tower is really beautiful, especially when the lights are on in the evening.
Mingzhu Oriental Television Tower is also a miniature world of entertainment, food, fairs and shopping, etc.
Waibaidu Bridge (the Garden Bridge)
Address: Waitan, Huangpu, China, 200002
When looking through tourist attractions in Shanghai, I accidentally came across the image of a steel bridge standing proudly in the heart of the modern city, and that image brought back many memories.
Surely you watch the movie “New River of Separation” and will remember the part where Zhao Wei jumped to her death, and that bridge has the same shape as this Waibaidu bridge. That’s why I call this the bridge for Zhao Wei to commit suicide.
Waibaidu Bridge is the first bridge built entirely of steel in China. With the main task of connecting the two districts of Huangpu and Hongkou, Waibaidu Bridge has witnessed many events in the history of Shanghai city.
Shanghai Chedun Film Park
- Address: 4915 Beisong Hwy, Chedunzhen, Songjiang Qu.
- Hours: 8:30 AM–4:30 PM
- Ticket price: ¥80 – The official website of Shanghai Film Park does not sell tickets online. If you want to buy tickets, you can buy them here.
Inaugurated in 1998, Chedun Film Park is the set of most of the nationalist period films of Chinese cinema.