10 Things to do in Shanghai, China

Shanghai bristles with buildings, but the city doesn’t boast must-see sights like New York or Rome. The joys of Shanghai, instead, are on the street level, where everyday life unfolds with bewildering variety. An elderly woman in pajamas will be chopping vegetables on the stoop of her lane house, while a Prada-clad beauty will sashay past on her way to a nearby art gallery. So sharpen your elbows, pick up a pair of chopsticks and dig in.


1. Shanghai Maglev Train

How to find a Shanghai travelbuddies

The magnetic-levitation train ride from the international airport to the city is the perfect metaphor for Shanghai. The train reaches speeds of 430 km/hr (267 miles/hr), and the trip takes less than eight minutes. You’ll be feeling a bit whiplashed, but that sense of disorientation hints at the fast-paced city that lies ahead. As of now, the Maglev doesn’t extend to the rest of the Shanghai — the train line was built mostly as a prestige project to impress visitors, not to service locals — so the airport run is the one place you can enjoy the ride. Single-ride tickets cost 50 yuan.


2. Fuxing Park

shanghai park

Unlike many Chinese cities that appear to have forgotten that people occasionally like to perambulate, Shanghai is made for walking. Start your own walk in Fuxing Park smack-dab in the colonial-era French Concession, with its shady sycamore trees and stuccoed villas. In the park, you’ll find grannies in pajamas belting out Chinese opera, and Mao-suited men taking their caged birds for a stroll. Around the corner at 7 Xiangshan Road is the former residence of Sun Yat-sen, modern China’s founding father. His house, which contains period furniture and books, reminds you of what Shanghai felt like during its first heyday. Afterward, wander the nearby lanes — past elegant mansions now subdivided into several families’ homes, complete with outdoor wok stations and billows of hanging laundry — to get a sense of street-level Shanghai today.

  • 1. Fuxing Park
    105 Fuxing Zhong RoadShanghaiChina86-(0)21-6372-6083
  • 2. Sun Yat-sen’s House
    7 Xiangshan RoadShanghaiChina86-(0)21-6437-2954


3.  One of the largest STARBUCKS in the world 

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The new Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which opened Tuesday in Shanghai, is the first non-U.S. location of a new series of shops designed to offer a more “immersive” experience for coffee lovers, according to Starbucks. The first such roastery, which opened in Seattle in 2014, is about half its size, CNN reported.

The Shanghai location is the world’s largest Starbucks. It includes three coffee bars, one of which clocks in at 88 feet long — the chain’s longest to date. The coffee bars will serve brews made from beans grown in China’s Pu’er in Yunnan Province, USA Today reported. A two-story, 40-ton copper cask towers over the store, refilling the coffee bars’ various silos.

As a nod to the local beverage of choice, it also includes a tea bar made from 3-D printed materials, and an in-house bakery employing more than 30 Chinese bakers and chefs, the company stated.

The experience seems curated to keep people milling about the store. It is the first Starbucks location to integrate augmented reality, which refers to technology that combines real-world surroundings with tech, in this case the customers’ smartphones. They can point their phones at various spots around the cavernous room to learn about the coffee-brewing process.


4. Dongtai Road

Shanghai travel spot

There’s a store on Dongtai Road, a chockablock stretch of antiques and curio shops off Xizang Road, that proudly displays a milk-bottle delivery box from the 1920s. I once tried to buy it from the couple who owns the shop. The husband laughed. The wife told me that several museum curators had already offered big money, but she wasn’t selling. Amongst all of Dongtai Road’s tourist tat — and, trust me, there is plenty of it — are treasures. Some, like the milk box, aren’t for sale. But plenty else is, including lovely art-deco pieces and lots of Cultural Revolution memorabilia. About halfway up the street is my favorite book-dealer. Collectors of tiny antique metal teapots are also in luck — there’s an entire store devoted to that esoteric object. Just east of Dongtai Road is a plant-and-animal market, where you can pick up a championship cricket for the next time you need an insect to enter in a prizefight. Doesn’t everybody?


5. Green Massage

shanghai trip

Traditional Chinese acupressure is not for the weak. This isn’t some oil-slicked Swedish relaxation or even the passive yoga that characterizes Thai massage. Chinese acupressure is a little like China itself: You may be blinking back tears of pain, but ultimately, it’s a rewarding experience. Green Massage (98 yuan for 45 minutes), behind Huaihai Park, offers an experience that’s a few notches above the thousands of hole-in-the-wall massages parlors in Shanghai. At Green, there are proper massage tables, clean pajamas to change into, soothing woodwind music and scented candles. None of that changes the fact that your body will be entering the space between pleasure and pain. Enjoy.


6. Get a bird’s-eye view of the city from the Oriental Pearl Tower

shanghai landmark

No first trip to Shanghai is complete without a trip to the Oriental Pearl Tower, arguably the most iconic of Shanghai’s many neck-craning skyscrapers. Go all the way up to the 259m-high upper platform, with a glass floor, for dizzyingly stunning views of the city.


7. Spend some time with nature at Yu Garden

Yu Garden travel

 This extensive Chinese garden is spread over 2 hectares and houses many relics from the Ming dynasty. The gardens are a beautiful example of Chinese landscaping, with glittering ponds, Ming-style pavilions and towers, and a 12-metre high rockery including caves, gorges and peaks.


8. Pay your respects at the City God Temple

Shanghai travel tips

Located in the old walled city, this temple is dedicated to the city gods, in the tradition of most Chinese towns. The surrounding temple area has many restaurants, teahouses and souvenir shops, and is a great place to spend some time exploring local culture.


9. Sample some street food at Shouning Lu Food Street

Shanghai locals food with travel buddy

 One of the best known food streets in Shanghai, this tiny lane might be a little chaotic to maneuver for a first-timer, but the seafood here is to die for. Try whole barbecued fish, crayfish, roast duck and traditional Shanghai-style dumplings at very reasonable prices.

Go together with local friends in traditional market! They explain street food well. Also they will protect you from eating bugs… 🙂


10. Go Shanghai Disneyland

shanghai disney land buddy.jpg

Shanghai Disney land is the biggest Disneyland in Asia. There are some peculiarities. Among them, I’d like to tell you about Toy Story Land!! The Shanghai Disney Resort revealed the attraction line-up and concept art for the Toy Story Land at last month!

Shanghai’s Toy Story Land will include an Intamin RC Racer coaster from the Paris and Hong Kong installations (to be called Rex’s Racer in Shanghai).

Rex's Racer

And it will include the Slinky Dog Spin caterpillar ride from those parks, as well.

Slinky Dog Spin

Shanghai’s Toy Story Land will not include the Parachute Drop ride from those lands, however, substituting Woody’s Round-Up, instead — a spinner ride similar to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure.

You can purchase a discounted ticket by registering for a trip to Shanghai here.

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