China’s bustling metropolis
The world’s most populous city and China’s economic centre, Shanghai is a pumping metropolis that combines modern and traditional Chinese culture. Situated on the Yangtze River, Shanghai was once a small agricultural village that grew during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) into one of China’s primary trading ports. Now the city is a fascinating blend of old and new, and while it’s known for its futuristic skyscrapers, it’s also home to an array of European architecture, temples and gardens that have stood the test of time and development.
Fast-paced Shanghai is famous for its delicious snacks and street food and there is a huge variety of treats on offer – from breakfast crepes to classic pork dumplings and locally-sourced freshwater seafood.
Things to do
Also known as the Garden of Happiness, Yu Garden covers an area of more than 20,000 square metres. Highlights include the highly decorated main hall and the Hall of Spring, known for once being the headquarters of the Company of Little Swords when it ruled Shanghai. The inner garden holds pavilions, decorative stones and even a miniature mountain range.
A touch of France
The French Concession is a neighbourhood west of the Bund that’s known for its European architecture, wide tree-lined streets and abundant shopping opportunities. Tianzifang, located within the French Concession, is particularly known for its warren of alleys filled with cafés, bars and boutiques.
Famous for its seven-story pagoda, at one time the highest structure in Shanghai, Longhua Temple is one of Shanghai’s largest and oldest religious sites. Still the site of Buddhist ceremonies today, the temple complex also features a two-metre tall bell tower dating from 1382 and over 500 gold-painted Luohan Buddhas.
The Bund is a large walkway along the west bank of the Huangpujiang River. Known for its European feel, the Bund is made up of 52 buildings constructed in an array of architectural styles, including Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Art Deco. It’s a great starting point to set sail on a sightseeing boat trip around the Huangpujiang and Yangtze rivers.
The Shanghai Museum opens in new window houses China’s most important classical Chinese art. A modern building with unique architecture (its round top with square base symbolising the ancient Chinese philosophy of the square earth under a round sky), its four floors include ink drawings, calligraphy and seals, as well as large collections of jade, coins and furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1912).
Distance to city centre 30km
Taxi The trip into central Shanghai takes about an hour and costs around CNY 180. Take a taxi from the rank outside the arrivals hall and ensure the driver uses the meter.
Train The super high-speed Maglev opens in new window train runs on line 2 every 20 minutes to Longyang Rd metro stop; the fare is around CNY 50.
Bus Airport buses opens in new window travel to destinations around Shanghai, taking around 60-90 minutes and costing about CNY 16-30.
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When to go
Shanghai has four distinct climates. Winter is cold, with temperatures dropping below 0°C, though it rarely snows. Summer is hot and humid, with heavy rainfall between June and September, and typhoon season hits late August to mid-September.
Autumn (September–November) and spring (March–May) are the best times to go to avoid the hot summers and cold winters. Shanghai’s spring period also features an array of festivals, including Labor Day (May 1), the Dragon Boat Festival (early June) and the Qingming Festival (April 5), where citizens pay respect to the dead.Back to top
The best way to see large, sprawling Shanghai is either using the city’s twelve subway lines or taking a taxi. Trains operate from 5.30am to midnight daily. One-day or three-day passes are available; alternatively, the Shanghai Public Transportation card allows you to ‘top up’ as you go, and can be used for bus, ferry, train and taxi rides.
Taxi rides start at CNY 12 for the first 3km, and CNY 2.40 for each additional kilometre.Back to top