Shanghai’s a whole different China. It’s what modern China looks like – fast paced, hectic, ever growing – constantly evolving, with a unique blend of contrasting cultural aromas that make it almost impossible for the temp tourist to understand.
I’ve been to Shanghai twice and in those two times I’ve experienced very different Shanghais. The first one was for an academic conference during the time the Shanghai Expo 2010 was running. Shanghai was over-crowded, highly polluted, hot, & wet. While I could see some of the charm, it wasn’t until my second visit during the autumn that I got to experience Shanghai in full glory – great weather, clear skies, wide empty pedestrian streets and generally friendly locals. I strongly recommend that you time your visit to the autumn or spring seasons and stay away during big events.
Following is my trip summary and 4 nights 5 days suggested itinerary. Most of the places mentioned include links to posts that I wrote with further details.
Day 1 : Huangpu District – Bund
The Bund is where Shanghai’s colonial concession era began as well as its economic bloom. Shanghai’s most European street overlooking the new Pudong area is where most tourists start their Shanghai Trip.
My posts on the Bund include :
Other things to do – Huangpu River
From the Bund…
- Take the Huangpu River cruise.
- or cross to the Pudong area with the Bund Tourist Sightseeing Tunnel
Combine the Bund with the nearby "Old Town"…
Day 1 : Old Town
If you’re looking for something a bit more classical Chinese, then head down to Old Town
Day 2 : Jingan District
If commercial shopping and museums is what you’re looking for, then Jingan is your area. It starts out next to the Bund area and goes all through Nanjing East and West rd.
Main attractions I wrote about :
- Nanjing East Road : Shanghai
- Shanghai Museum
- Shanghai’s Urban Planning Exhibition Center
- Art Museum : Shanghai
Other things to do : M50 art district ; Jingan Temple ; catch a Shanghai Acrobatics Show.
combine this with…
Day 2 : Luwan District – French Concession
My main attractions are the art centers, especially Taikang road :
Other things to see : Sun Yat-sen’s Former Residence ; Zhou Enlai’s Former Residence ; Soong Ching Ling’s Former Residence ; Site of the First National Congress of CPC
Day 3 : Pudong District
- Walk the Bund upon Huangpu river. from the Pudong side.
- Shanghai’s New Pudong Area At Night
- Shanghai Municipal History Museum
- Go up one of the towers: Best option – World Financial Centre. Shanghai’s Jinmao Tower Observation Deck and the Pearl TV Tower are also popular options.
Other attractions : Shanghai Ocean Aquarium ; Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.
Combine this with …
Day 3 : Hongkou District
Most tourist don’t venture as far as Hongkou and it’s a shame. There are real gems in this area.
- Duolun Road : Shanghai’s Cultural Historical Street
- Dashanghai’s Old Shanghai & Vintage Posters @Duolun Rd
- Jewish Refugees Museum : Ohel Moishe Synagogue Shanghai – an almost forgotten history.
Day 4 : Water towns
This is what most people who have never been to China probably think China looks like. Movies like Mission Impossible 3 show this as "Shanghai", though you’ll need to venture far to catch a glimpse of those and they’re now more a tourist attraction than residential areas. But still, they have charm, and on a weekday they could be a very pleasant taste of former China.
The ones I’ve been to:
- Qi Bao–Shanghai’s local ancient water town (within Shanghai close to Hongqiao airport)
- Xi Tang Ancient Water Town (day trip)
Other options include : Wuzhen, Zhujiajiao, Tongli.
Day 5 : Explore and Eat!
Some would go to the nearby Suzhou, some would venture as far as Nanjing, but I suggest you just take this time to wonder around Shanghai a bit more, eat and enjoy a good & cheap massage. (Food post – Chinese Food Porn– Shanghai Restaurants)
Other options for day 5 : the remaining Expo buildings, contemporary art museum, sex musuem.
Comments, suggestions, and feedback are all very welcome and appreciated.