The (not-so) definitive guide to Shanghai​

The (not-so) definitive guide to Shanghai​


Shanghai has become our hometown. Walking along The Bund and looking across the river at the downtown skyline never gets old. If you are thinking about taking a trip to this urban metropolis, you won’t be disappointed. Someone told me Shanghai is the “China of the future”, and being a city of 25 million people means that life is constantly evolving. New restaurants, bars, and shops pop up almost overnight. There is always something new to see or do.

Styrofoam lady. A fascinating common sight. How do they get the styrofoam piled so high?!

This guide is meant to get you started. Check out some of the places online to make sure they are still open, their hours, and additional details. If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to me. I would be happy help and maybe even play the tourist with you!

Places to see and things to do


  • The Bund: Walk along the water to see the picturesque Shanghai skyline.
  • Lujiazui: See some of the world’s tallest buildings up close. Enjoy authentic xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung. Get a bird’s-eye view inside one of the skyscrapers.

    Delicious xiaolongbao
  • Fake Market (Science and Technology Building): Need a Michael Kors bag, fake watch, custom suit, or souvenirs? This is the perfect place to go, but be ready to bargain!
  • Fuxing Park: Enjoy a weekend morning outside strolling through the park and watching locals enjoying some downtime. Immerse yourself in the dancing, play a game of mahjong, or talk politics.
    Do you think I could find a hat like this in the fake market?


  • Carrefour: Visit a local grocery store, or wet market to see what the locals eat. Be prepared, many items in the meat department are still alive. 

  • Yuyuan Garden & Bazaar: A beautiful traditional Chinese garden oasis nestled in the middle of town is sure to delight. After a tour of the garden, take time to shop for local handicrafts and keepsakes.IMG_1857
  • Foot Massage: A must after a long plane ride or a day of sightseeing.
  • Tianzifang: Get lost in the Longtang style alleyways of charming shops and restaurants. 

  • City lights at night: Enjoy a cocktail at a downtown rooftop bar. We love Flair for a view of The Bund, and Char Bar for a view of the skyline. Try to arrive just before sunset so you get both a daytime and nighttime view.  

  • Eat, Eat, Eat!!: The choices are endless.


  • Yang’s Fry Dumplings: For another taste of delicious local fare.
  • Shanghai Disneyland!!!: Who wouldn’t want to go to Disney, am I right? Read more here.

    Don’t tell Brett, but I think I have a new boyfriend.
  • Watertowns: The Chinese Venice. Watertowns have many sights, sounds and smells that make you feel like you have stepped back in time. Qi Bao is the closest to downtown. 

  • ERA Circus: Spectacular Cirque-de-Sole style show. Performances nightly.            
  • Shop for custom pieces: fabric markets, Painter’s Street, etc.                      
  • Jing’an Temple: A large Buddhist temple tucked amongst a backdrop of tall buildings. This temple is still active and dates back to 1918.
  • Zotter’s Chocolate Factory: Pretty much like walking into Willy Wonka’s factory minus the Oompa Loompas. You will be sick by the time you leave, but it is totally worth the chocolate coma!  IMG_2504                                   
  • Local tours
    • walking tours
    • street food
    • IMG_2470
      My favorite street food. Chinese pancakes. They are sooo good!
    • temples
    • double-decker bus city tour (a cool way to see the city and get your bearings)

      Want to ride in style? Take the Barbie Bus tour an be a Barbie for the day.
    • sidecar city tour
    • bike tours
    • walk through a migrant village
    • Huang Pu River Cruise
    • any tour can be arranged according to interest
  • Museums
    • History:
      • Shanghai History Museum
      • Shanghai Museum of Natural History
      • Post Museum (history of Chinese postal service)
      • Propaganda Poster Art Centre Museum: is cooler than it sounds with3,000 posters from the time of Mao and the Cultural Revolution.
    • Modern art:
      • Power Station of Art
      • China Art Palace
      • Minsheng Art Museum
      • Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art
      • M50
    • Art Deco
      • Rockbund Art Museum (contemporary Chinese)
    • Chinese art
      • Shanghai Gallery of Art
    • General
      • China Art Palace
    • Urban
      • Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. Houses an incredible model layout of Shanghai.
    • Traditional crafts:
      • Shanghai Arts & Crafts Museum
      • Nankeen Fabric Museum. See how beautiful blue and white fabric is made and shop for some to bring home.
  • Markets
    • Pudong or Hongqiao Flower Market: Flowers, paintings, home furnishings, pets and even floating babies!

      Sometimes you don’t even have to go to a market in order to find treasures.
    • Wet Market: See local food being sold outdoors.IMG_2456
    • Tea Market (schedule a tour)
    • Marriage Market: Walk along the sidewalks and observe people with ads trying to find marriage prospects for their children and grandchildren.
    • Antique warehouse: If you like to get dirty and hunt for treasures this one’s for you! Word of warning, not everything you see is an antique and prices tend to be high. But it is fun to see some of the crazy things for sale.
  • Shanghai Aquarium:
    • Home of the world’s longest aquarium tunnel.
  • Shopping
    • Super Brand Mall: 8+ floors housing any store you can imagine.
    • IFC Mall: see if you can afford anything here.
    • East Nanjing Road: A walking street with many stores.
    • Many high-end shopping areas in Puxi
  • Take in a show, musical performance, or concert

As you can see, there are endless things to do in Shanghai which is one of the reasons we love it so much. Come on over for a week or two and immerse yourself in “the China of the future”. 

For a guide filled with helpful tips planning a trip to China, please visit this post:

The Essential Travel Guide to China


Shanghai guide

8 Replies to “The (not-so) definitive guide to Shanghai​”

  1. Reading your “Guide to Shanghai” made Jerry and me want to visit again. NYC intimidates me; I’d be paralyzed without an local representative and daily itinerary. That’s just how we travel. Your guide is super comprehensive. Good job!

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