25 Best Things to Do in Shanghai
One of the most populous cities in the world, Shanghai is a transport hub and financial center with the world’s busiest container port. It is filled with things to do, places to go, and sights to see, and it is the perfect option for visitors no matter what their vacation preferences are. Peak tourist season is between October and December, which is when many events and festivities are scheduled for. Attractions that shouldn’t be missed while there include the Confucius Statue, Happy Valley Shanghai, the Longhua Temple, Shanghai Circus World, Shanghai Open Aquarium, and the Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo: djama/Fotolia
Yuyuan Garden, or Yu Garden, is an extensive Chinese garden found besides the City God Temple in the Old City of Shanghai. There are many rumors about how the garden was originated, with the most famous being that it was meant for the imperial palace in Beijing but was salvaged when the boat sank. Visitors will be able to see the park’s stunning centerpiece: a 3.5 meter, 5-ton boulder titled the Exquisite Jade Rock. When exploring the five-acre land visitors will also coming across the stunning Nine Lion Study, the Pavilion of Listening to Billows, Sansui Hall, and the beautiful Chamber of the Ten Thousand Flowers.
Contact: 218 Anren St, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-63-26-08-30
»Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
Visitors who are in Shanghai’s bustling Bund district could hop on a metro car to cross the Huang Pu River or they could go on a trippy, exciting trip through the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. Located under the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower, the tunnel is one of city’s major attractions because of the psychedelic experience it offers. Visitors get into a futuristic-looking rail car that carries them through the tunnel of strobing lights and ominous soundtrack. The entire ride lasts less than five minutes, but it is a memorable experience that visitors talk about for years to come.
»China Art Museum
The China Art Museum opened to the public in 2012 inside what was initially the China Pavilion during Expo 2010. Stretching over 39 acres, the museum is one of the largest in Asia and houses 27 exhibition halls. There are four themes that separate the exhibits: Arts Development in the New Century, Artworks featuring Shanghai’s Historical and Cultural Development, the Artworks of Noted Painters, and the Origin of Chinese Modern and Contemporary Art. Visitors will be able to see an extensive collection of Chinese paintings, prints, calligraphy, sculptures, and other artworks while there. Two of the most famed paintings at the museum are the “Immortals Toasting the Birthday of Heavenly Queen Mother” and the “Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival.”
Contact: 205, Shangnan Road, Pudong New District, Shanghai
»City God Temple of Shanghai
A folk temple, the City God Temple of Shanghai is the site of the veneration of three Chinese figures who were honored as “city gods.” Visitors can also learn about the spirit of Jinshan to which the tempical is dedicated as well as the history of the temple’s origin and growth. Visitors come from all over the world to visit the temple and the nine temples that remain on its grounds. Many enjoy the folk performances and calligraphy that can be found surrounding the temples. There are even acrobatic performances scheduled there at times. While visiting the temple, visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of food from the many restaurants that line the outside.
Contact: 249 Fangbang Middle Rd, Cheng Huang Miao, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-63-28-44-94
»Confucian Temple of Shanghai
The Confucian Temple of Shanghai is a smaller scale version of the original folk Confucian temple in the philosopher’s hometown, Qufu. Founded during the Yuan Dynasty, the temple was also a school initially and was considered the most prestigious learning institution in the country. Visitors will be able to explore the wondrous architecture and decor of the temple as well as the beautiful courtyards fitted with a pond, bridge, and many stone-carved statues. It’s best to go on Sunday mornings when the Wenmiao Market that surrounds it comes to life. There’s a temple fair held annually where visitors can experience the various traditions of the revered temple.
Contact: Wenmiao Rd, LaoXiMen, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
Photo: Richie Chan/Fotolia
The Confucius Statue in Shanghai is a completely different take in comparison to other statues of the philosopher that visitors may come across. This particular one is an extremely large and extremely life-like statue of the Chinese philosopher in a bathtub. Created by renowned artists Zhang Huan, the statue towers to the height of the cavernous room that holds it. Visitors will be able to see the detail on the statue’s long beard and even the age spots that were on his face. The stunning work was created with a combination of steel, silicone, acrylic, and carbon fiber and is a unique attraction in Shanghai.
Contact: Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, 200003, China
Photo: Zhan Ghuan
»Happy Valley Shanghai
Happy Valley Shanghai is the fourth amusement park in the Happy Valley theme chain. It opened to the public in 2009 and has become a popular place for visitors to spend the day. There are seven areas of the amusement park and each one has a different theme; visitors can lounge at Sunshine Beach or Shanghai Beach, explore Ant Kingdom and Shangri-la Woods, or hang out at Typhoon Bay, Happy Times, or Gold Mine Town. There are over a hundred attractions in the park, and some of the most popular rides are the Diving Coaster, the Mine Train Coaster, the Fireball Coaster, and the Family Inverted Coaster.
Contact: 888 Linhu Rd, Songjiang Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, Phone: +86-21-37-79-22-22
»Jade Buddha Temple
The Jade Buddha Temple was completed in 1882 and is one of the more current temples compared to its ancient counterparts. The temple draws from both Chan and Pure Land traditions of Mahayana Buddhism and is a peaceful place to visit when in Shanghai. Deriving its name from the two jade Buddha statues that were imported to Shanghai from Burma, these statues are the stars, with one three-ton sitting Buddha and another smaller reclining Buddha. Visitors can also see a much larger reclining Buddha that is made of marble and was donated from Singapore. Other aspects include the Three Golden Buddhas, the Gods of the Twenty Heavens, and 18 Arhats.
Contact: 170 Anyuan Rd, Jing'an, China, 200060, Phone: +86-21-62-66-36-68
Jing’an Temple, which translates to the “Temple of Peace and Tranquility,” is a beautiful Buddhist temple in the heart of Shanghai. The temple was first built in 247 AD during Ancient China’s Three Kingdoms period. The current temple was moved by the Song Dynasty and then rebuilt during the Qing Dynasty. Visitors can walk through the temple, its three southern-style halls, and various courtyards to see the beautiful art and architectural aspects of Jing’an. Some of the statues that shouldn’t be missed include the largest sitting Buddha made from jade in all of China, a statue of the Guanyin goddess made of camphor wood, and three-and-a-half-ton copper bell from the Ming Dynasty. Visitors will also be able to see paintings by master artists Wen Zhenming, Chu Zhishan, and Zhang Daqian.
Contact: 1686 Nanjing W Rd, JingAnSi, Jingan Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-62-56-63-66
Photo: Angelika Bentin/Fotolia
Longhua Temple, which translates to “Lustre of the Dragon Temple,” is a Buddhist temple that still preserves the architectural design of when it was first constructed during the Song dynasty. It is the largest and most accurate ancient temple complex in Shanghai and is a must-visit for visitors interested in viewing the beauty and authenticity of the cultural attraction. Aspects of the temple that shouldn’t be missed include Maitreya Hall, which has a statue of Maitreya Buddha, the Statue of the 500 Arhats, and the tallest structure, the Longhua Pagoda. Every year, the temple hosts the Longhua Temple Fair when people come from all over to celebrate the legend that a dragon visits the temple to grant people’s wishes; visitors will love seeing the sounds and sights during the festivities.
Contact: 2853 Longhua Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, Phone: +86-21-64-56-60-85
Photo: Roman Sigaev/Fotolia
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»M50 Art District
50 Moganshan Road, or M50 as it is popularly known, is a thriving contemporary art district found in the heart of Shanghai. Visitors will come across hundreds of artists who open their studios to share their art with the public. The extremely trendy art quarter is a popular place for locals and visitors and is listed as one of the “Top ten things to do in Shanghai” by Time Magazine. Often compared to New York’s SoHo, M50 is filled with former warehouses and factories that have been converted into art galleries, design agencies, cultural and visual art businesses, and artists’ studios. Visitors may come across some of Shanghai’s famed artists such as Xu Zhen and Yelan.
Contact: 50 Moganshan Rd, Putuo Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-62-66-71-25
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»Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai
The Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai was established in 2005 and can be found near People’s Square in People’s Park. Founded by the Samuel Kung Foundation, the museum was the first independent, non-profit, contemporary art institution in Shanghai. The museum’s exhibitions focus on both international and Chinese contemporary art from less known and famous artists. Visitors can see some of the new additions with works contributed by Pixar, Chanel, and Salvatore Ferragamo. In addition to the exhibitions, there are various talks, seminars, and educational programs held for children and adults throughout the year. On the rooftop of the museum, visitors will find MoCA on the Park – a full restaurant with rooftop bar and patio.
Contact: 231 Nanjing W Rd, RenMin GuangChang, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-63-27-99-00
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»Oriental Pearl Tower
A distinct landmark often used to describe Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl Tower is a TV tower found besides the Huangpu River. The tower took three years to build and was completed in 1994. For nearly thirteen years after it was the tallest structure in China until it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center. Though the tower is a stunning sight to see in the day time, visitors will really appreciate its beauty at night when LED sequences light it up in a dazzling visual display. There are fifteen observatory levels that visitors can go up to with the main Sightseeing Floor being 563 feet above the ground. There is also a revolving restaurant, shopping center, exhibition facilities, and a small hotel within the tower.
Contact: 1 Century Ave, LuJiaZui, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-58-79-18-88
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»Power Station of Art
Established in 2012, Power Station of Art (PSA) is China’s first state-run contemporary art museum. It is housed in a former power station and is on the site of the Expo 2010 near the Huangpu River. The art museum is an open platform for visitors to learn about and appreciate contemporary art from various artists. The exhibitions are always evolving and include the Shigeru Ban-Works and Humanitarian Activities and the PSA Collection Series by Li Shan. There are many events held at the museum throughout the year for visitors to enjoy as well.
Contact: 200 Huayuangang Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200231, Phone: +86-21-31-10-85-50
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»Qibao Ancient Town
Qibao Ancient Town was built during the Northern Song Dynasty from 960 to 1126 and grew to be a prosperous business center during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Today, visitors can explore the ancient town and its beautiful architecture and sites. There is folklore surrounding the town that fames it for housing seven treasures such as a jade axe and a thousand-year-old Chinese catalpa tree. Whether it’s true or not, visitors will be able to see two of the supposed seven treasures presently: a Gold Script Lotus Sutra written by an imperial concubine in the 10th century and a bell. There are lots of fun folk activities scheduled at Qibao such as shadow plays and cricket fighting, which is quite popular there. The ancient town also offers the opportunity for visitors to try delicious snacks that can’t be found elsewhere such as smoked toads.
Contact: Qingnian Rd Pedestrian St, Minhang Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 201101, Phone: +86-21-34-10-13-00
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»Shanghai Circus World
Considered one of the greatest acrobatic acts ever, Shanghai Circus World offers a thrilling experience that should not be missed. The show takes place three times a week and includes a dazzling display of staging effects and modern lighting. Traditional Chinese acrobatics are combined with dance, music, lights, animals, and just a hint of magic to make everything come alive. The performances vary from traditional bowl balancing to death-defying motorcycle stunts and everything in between; the trampoline show is also worth mentioning as it’s unique and different from anything visitors may have seen before.
Contact: 2266 Gonghexin Rd, Zhabei Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200072
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»Shanghai Disney Resort
A fairly new addition to Shanghai’s growing list of sites and attractions, the Shanghai Disney Resort didn’t open till mid-2016. It is the first Disney park resort in mainland China and includes the park, a separate entertainment district, recreational facilities, two themed hotels, and a large lake. There are plans to add two more theme parks to the resort in the future, but for now visitors can visit “the happiest place on Earth” while in Shanghai. Disney parks have always been a fun place for visitors of all ages, and it’s no different in Shanghai; the old and young will all have a memorable time visiting the interactive Enchanted Storybook Castle and other themed lands at the resort.
Contact: Huangzhao Rd, Chuan Sha Xin Zhen, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China, Phone: +86-21-20-99-80-01
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»Shanghai History Museum
The Shanghai History Museum, also called the Shanghai Municipal History Museum, is a museum dedicated to the city’s wondrous history. It was founded in 1983, and the items there reflect the development of Shanghai over the years. There are over 1,300 cultural artifacts, pictures, and literature that cover over 6,000 years of the city’s civilization. Visitors can learn about local events and other key parts of Shanghai’s history such as the First Opium War in 1840. There are fifteen categories with some of the most famous collections found in the exhibits dedicated to porcelain, jade, gold, and the writings of Xu Guangqi.
Contact: Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, 1 Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai, Phone: +86-21-58-79-30-03
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Considered one of China’s first world-class modern museums, the Shanghai Museum can be found within the People’s Square. It was first established in 1952 and then rebuilt at its current location in 1996. Nearly two million people visit the museum annually to see its extensive collection of ancient Chinese art. Many of the museum’s initial artifacts were donated by private collectors as well as institutional collections, such as those of the former Shanghai Museum of the Royal Asiatic Society. There are over 120,000 art pieces ranging from paintings and sculptures to ancient coins, seas, calligraphy works, and ceramics. There are eleven galleries for visitors to explore, with three temporary exhibition halls that house works bought in from all over the world.
Contact: 201 Renmin Ave, RenMin GuangChang, Huangpu Qu, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-63-72-35-00
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»Shanghai Natural History Museum
The natural history collection found at the Shanghai Natural History Museum is a welcome change among a city filled with modernity. Visitors can explore artifacts from the old world, which were housed in the old Cotton Exchange building until their move in 2015. It is one of the largest museums of natural sciences in China, and some of the exhibits include a pair of ancient Chinese mummies, assorted taxidermy, and towering dinosaur skeletons. The displays are interesting and filled with information, and visitors of all ages will love seeing some of the rare specimens such as a Yellow River mammoth and a Yangtze Alligator.
Contact: 510 Beijing W Rd, Jingan Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-63-21-35-48
Photo: Björn Wylezich/Fotolia
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»Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium opened to the public in 2002 and soon became one of the most popular attractions in Shanghai. The aquarium takes visitors through zones such as South America Zone, Africa Zone, and China Zone. Within these exhibits they’ll be able to see many animals such as the leafy sea dragon, electric eels, seahorses, Chinese alligator, sand tiger sharks, and the Humboldt penguin. There’s a 551-foot tunnel that visitors will love as they can walk through the coastal and coral reef, a shark cove, a kelp cave, and the open ocean. It is one of the longest tunnels of its kind in the world.
Contact: 1388 Lujiazui Ring Rd, LuJiaZui, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000, Phone: +86-21-58-77-99-88
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»Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre
The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre is the brainchild of Mr. Yang Pei Ming, the owner and curator of the museum. He started collecting the posters as a hobby in 1995 and decided to preserve and share the unique art forms with the public. The posters exhibited are mostly from 1949 to 1979 – the Cultural Revolution period during the Maoist period of communist China. There are over 5,000 prints and Mr. Ming loves explaining and discussing the exhibits with visitors. Though the museum itself is only a two-room space in the basement of an apartment building, the actual collection is rich and rare and is a must-visit attraction for visitors in the area.
Contact: Rm BOC, Basement, Block B, No.868 Huashan Road, Shanghai, China, Phone: +86-21-62-11-18-45
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»Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum was established in 2001 and can be found near the large and beautiful Century Park. It is one of China’s most visited modern museums and covers over 68,000 square meters of land. Open from 9:00 am to 5:15 pm every day except Mondays and holidays, the museum is a fun attraction for the entire family. There are thirteen permanent exhibitions such as Spectrum of Life, World of Robots, and Light of Exploration, which showcases human scientific achievements in the 20th century. There are also four science theatres at the museum. These are the largest science education cinemas in all of Asia and they show over 10,000 films annually.
Contact: 2000 Century Ave, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200135, Phone: +86-21-68-54-20-00
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Home to over 6,000 animals, the Shanghai Zoo has grown to become one of the best ecological gardens in Shanghai. The exhibits have animals from all over the world, and visitors will be able to come face to face with polar bears, gorillas, spider monkeys, maned wolves, giraffes, and much more. There are many Chinese animals as well such as the giant pandas, golden snub-nosed monkeys, and the South China tigers. In addition to the animals, visitors will also be able to see over 100,000 trees at the zoo in 600 varying species. The zoo is divided into five exhibition areas, including one specifically dedicated to birds for visitors to see the many kinds such as mandarin ducks and orioles that nest there.
Contact: 2381 Hongqiao Rd, Changning Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 201103, Phone: +86-21-62-68-77-75
Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/Fotolia
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The Bund, known as Waitan with the locals, is a beautiful waterfront area that runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai and visitors will be able to see panoramic views of the river against the modern skyscrapers that surround it. There are dozens of historical buildings that visitors can learn about. There are many walking tours available in the area that will identify the architectural and historical aspects of the landmarks and provide photo opportunities for visitors. Some of the most famous buildings are the Asia Building, the Waldorf-Astoria Shanghai Hotel, and the Union Building.
Contact: Zhongshan East 1st Rd, WaiTan, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
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25 Best Things to Do in Shanghai
- Yu Garden, Photo: Courtesy of XtravaganT - Fotolia.com
- Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, Photo: Courtesy of gringos - Fotolia.com
- China Art Museum, Photo: Courtesy of cchfoto - Fotolia.com
- City God Temple of Shanghai, Photo: Courtesy of manjagui - Fotolia.com
- Confucian Temple of Shanghai, Photo: Courtesy of Richie Chan - Fotolia.com
- Confucius Statue, Photo: Zhan Ghuan
- Happy Valley Shanghai, Photo: Courtesy of Dayzi - Fotolia.com
- Jade Buddha Temple, Photo: Courtesy of philipus - Fotolia.com
- Jing'an Temple, Photo: Courtesy of Angelika Bentin - Fotolia.com
- Longhua Temple, Photo: Courtesy of Roman Sigaev - Fotolia.com
- M50 Art District, Photo: Courtesy of klevit - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, Photo: Courtesy of klevit - Fotolia.com
- Oriental Pearl Tower, Photo: Courtesy of Kartouchken - Fotolia.com
- Power Station of Art, Photo: Courtesy of piccaya - Fotolia.com
- Qibao Ancient Town, Photo: Courtesy of Delphotostock - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai Circus World, Photo: Courtesy of faucilhon - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai Disney Resort, Photo: Courtesy of worldwide_stock - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai History Museum, Photo: Courtesy of klevit - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai Museum, Photo: Courtesy of snaptitude - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai Natural History Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Björn Wylezich - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, Photo: Courtesy of waldru - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre, Photo: Courtesy of Supak - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Photo: Courtesy of viktormugli - Fotolia.com
- Shanghai Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of Rafael Ben-Ari - Fotolia.com
- The Bund, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of djama - Fotolia.com
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