Shanghai residents often find themselves defending the city to visitors who come to China hoping to tick off big ticket sites from their bucket list, many of which are found in Beijing. There aren’t the same kind of must-see tourist destinations in Shanghai beyond the Bund. Instead, the city reveals itself slowly. If you know where to take them, visitors will come away loving Shanghai just as much as you do.
Take them on a walk through the French Concession
The sceptics may read this and scoff, “A walk?” Trust Culture Trip on this one. You’re going to want to experience the French Concession this way (and take all your guests here). The former colonial concession is best viewed at street level. Making up most of the Xuhui District, the French Concession is full of charming colonial architecture, relaxing cafes, and incredible boutiques. To give your feet a break, pop into some of the museums in the area, like the Propaganda Poster Art Center. Or, go back in time to the former home of Sun Yat-sen’s wife Soong Ching-ling.
Get into nature on Chongming Island
Previously accessible only by ferry, Chongming Island off the northeast coast of Shanghai feels like a separate world, and it’s only an hour’s bus ride from downtown. Chongming is the third largest island in China and contains a national forest, protected wetlands, migratory bird sanctuaries, eco-farms, and one of only three Confucian temples in Shanghai. And that’s just the beginning. Depending on when you go, you may get to celebrate one of Chongming’s unique annual festivals with the locals, festivals like the Chongming Hairy Crab Festival, the Mingzhu Lake Cup Fishing Competition, the Qianwei Autumn Ecological and Cultural Festival, the Chongming Cook Stove Painting Festival, and even a national cricket fighting tournament.
Go shopping at a local market
Skip the fake markets. Unless your guests really want to barter for a Couch purse that will fall apart in two months, such places should be avoided. Instead, take them to one of Shanghai’s more local markets. Thifty shoppers can find unique souvenirs at the Caojiadu Flower and Bird Market, the Hotel Supplies Market, the Camera Market, and more. Even if you’re not looking to buy, these markets give visitors a peak into a local person’s life. And those who just like to haggle can still exercise their skills here.
Dig into history
Sure, Shanghai may not have the Forbidden City or the Great Wall, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of history to explore. For instance, did you know that Shanghai used to be a refuge city for displaced Jews during the Holocaust? You can learn all about it at the former Ohel-Moishe Synagogue, now called the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. Or how about taking guests to see Longhua Temple, which dates back to AD242. There is no shortage of history in this relatively young city. You just have to know where to look.
Eat well and drink even better
Visitors can’t come to Shanghai without experiencing its culinary wonders. First, spend a day eating cheap with your guest. Consume all the Xiao Long Bao and street food your stomach can take. Then, blow the rest of your cash on some of the city’s award winning restaurants. As an international city, Shanghai has restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world. And its bars are a must-see too. Make your guest try the local liquor: baijiu. Then cleanse their palate with a tasteful offering from one of the city’s most interesting watering holes.