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China is a vast and fascinating place where every city and town offers a different kind of travel experience. What the city of Shanghai is known for is being the modern epicenter of the country, China’s largest city, and a cosmopolitan destination with a blend of cultures. Shanghai is a wonderful place to visit if you enjoy shopping, nightlife, impressive architecture, and easy transportation options to get around. So, if you’re thinking of planning a trip to the city, here are some of the top things to see and do here.
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The Longhua Temple is one of the top tourist attractions in the city because it’s the oldest and largest religious site in town, dating back to the 10th century. The temple features a seven-story pagoda, ornate sculptures, a huge bell, and many statues of Buddha here. This site can get very crowded on weekends, so plan your visit for a weekday if possible.
Some of the most interesting experiences you’ll have when visiting Shanghai is checking out the nearby water towns, such as Zhujiajiao. This water town is west of downtown Shanghai and was once a successful commercial hub. Today, you’ll find lots of charming streets, small cafes, and little shops selling souvenirs. You can take a ferry ride along the main canal to see this area or walk along the bridges to see the architecture up close. You can reach this area by bus or taxi from the main part of Shanghai.
Shanghai’s waterfront area is known as the Bund, and this is a great place to take in the sheer size of the city’s towering skyscrapers. The Huangpu River flows through here, and the many restaurants and shops of Nanjiang Road are nearby. It’s nice to visit this area both during the day and at night to see the city come to life at different times of day and get some great photos. As an alternative to walking here or taking a taxi, you can also book a river cruise to see the Bund and the skyline from the water.
This is a beautiful green space that has a history dating back to the 16th century, when it was built for a Ming Dynasty official and his family. There are several scenic areas and pavilions that have decorated bridges, pagodas, and the Jade Magnificence Hall. This is a very peaceful place to visit, especially if you can plan to stop by on a weekday when there aren’t as many crowds. The admission fee to see the garden is approximately CNY 30 to CNY 40, depending on the season you visit. Stop by between 8:30am and 4:45pm.
Definitely plan to check out a live performance at Shanghai Circus World if you have the opportunity to see some seriously impressive acrobatics and dances. Popular programs here are Happy Circus and the ERA Intersection of Time. The venue is located in the Zhabei District, and you can buy your tickets online before the performance of your choice.
Pudong is a shiny and new area east of the Huangpu River and designated as a Special Economic Zone. The big skyscrapers here are the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Here you can also visit Century Park with its lovely gardens and outdoor recreation, Century Boulevard with sculptures, the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, and lots of great restaurants and hotel options. A few recommended restaurants here are the Canton in the Intercontinental Hotel, Danieli’s on Dong Fang Road, and Jatujak at the Xinmei Union Towers.
To learn more about Shanghai and its history, definitely plan to stop by the Shanghai Museum on People’s Square. This is an excellent museum that tells the story of the city and the nation through carvings, calligraphy, art, and artifacts. You can also check out Buddhist sculptures, Chinese furniture, and paintings here. Exhibits are presented with both English and Chinese descriptions. There is no admission fee to enter the museum, but you will need to get an entrance ticket because the museum gives out 8,000 free tickets per day. Plan to spend about an hour and a half at the museum.
Another famous temple in Shanghai that’s worth visiting is the Jade Buddha Temple, which is home to jade Buddhist statues, golden Buddhas, and the Hall of the Reclining Buddha. Monks still live here too, as the temple is an active Buddhist monastery. Most people spend about an hour at the temple, and this is a great place to find peace regardless of what form of spirituality you practice. The standard entrance fee is around CNY 20.
Fuxing Park is a lovely place to go for a walk and people-watch while visiting Shanghai. Here you’ll often see people dancing, singing, and practicing Tai Chi. This is a French-style park that was opened in 1909 and must-sees are the flowerbeds and the statue of Marx. There are some beautiful mansions nearby that you can walk past and get a glimpse into local life after visiting the park as well.
Shanghai has a long history in the textile industry, and you can walk through this famous fabric market to shop for custom-tailored garments. Lots of seamstresses and tailors work here, but be advised that many of them only accept cash payment and not credit cards. This is the kind of place where you’ll need to bargain hard to get a good price.
Even if you’ve been to Disneyland or Disney World in the West, it’s still fun to visit the Shanghai Disneyland Park, which was the first Disney park in mainland China. This is because the theme park here mixes elements of classic Disney magic and Chinese culture in a very interesting way. You can stay at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel or the Toy Story Hotel to be close to all the action here. Standard, one-day tickets for adults are approximately ¥370.00 and ¥280.00 for children.