Shanghai is a city that reveals itself slowly, so it can take a while to see all of its charms. These 20 attractions are a great place to start if you have only a few days to experience the city’s splendour. From iconic landmarks to floating towns, museums teaching the culture and history of Shanghai, beautiful green spaces and local hangouts, you’ll find something worth visiting around every corner of China’s biggest city.
Short for Moganshan 50, M50 is an ultra-hip contemporary art district on Moganshan Road that is home to some of the city’s best art galleries and museums. Located in an industrial area along Suzhou creek, M50 is often compared to Beijing’s 798 Art District or New York’s SoHo. The district embraces its grittiness and sports some very photogenic graffiti.
Want a designer look without the price tag? Head to the South Bund Fabric Market with a picture of your design and be amazed at the three floors of tailors ready to get you dressed up in style. Most stalls specialise in suits, coats or traditional dresses, but there is always someone on hand who is able to help you create a unique look. As a general rule, avoid the aggressive touts on the first floor. Their work is not as high quality as that of the second- and third-floor tailors. Depending on demand, a completed outfit should take less than a week to complete, from initial contact to final fitting.
Shanghai Disneyland has been welcoming Disney lovers from all over the world since 2016, but this isn’t just any Disney park. Many of the rides, attractions and characters have been redesigned to cater to a Chinese tourist audience.
Shanghai’s temples can be a great way to find peace within the noise of city life, whether or not you are religious. Buddhist temple Longhua is the oldest in Shanghai and has a fascinating history, from its inception in 242 AD to its use as a Japanese-run internment camp during World War II. Simply walk around the complex, or buy some incense and send up a prayer of your own.
Xintiandi is an affluent, car-free shopping and dining area in central Huangpu District. The area is worth noting for its preservation (and renovation) of old shíkùmén housing, most of which has been demolished in other parts of the city. The neighbourhood is also the site of the first congressional meeting of the Communist Party of China, so within the flashiness of Xintiandi there is also historical significance. If you have some extra cash to drop, there are a number of excellent fine-dining restaurants here.
Your colourful stories of your trip to China would be incomplete if you couldn’t boast about the spectacular acrobatics show you saw, and Shanghai Circus World is the best place to see them. Be dazzled by feats of contortion and acrobatics that you never thought possible, all from a highly modern facility that features a revolving stage, computer-controlled lighting, a mirrored cage and a digital water curtain.
Get up close to some of the world’s fiercest animals at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park. The park features over 200 species of animal in two zones: one that is more like a traditional walk-through zoo and another safari-style area that is home to the big cats, bears and other large creatures.
It’s hard to call the French Concession an attraction, as it is simply a large swathe of land that happened to be the home of the French government during Shanghai’s colonial days. However, the area is unique due to its architecture and street style, and is the perfect place to take a walk or a bike ride on a nice day. Some of the city’s best dining and drinking options are here, so be sure to save time for a tipple or two.