We knew we wouldn’t have long in Shanghai; after all, our time there was just a glorified long layover (17 hours on the way to Japan and 23 on the way back).
I came up with a list of things I wanted to see and do during our short stay and luckily we did manage to experience most of it; however, some of it was just a waste of time.
So if you’re like me and have only a short time to spend, or are wondering what you can do during a layover, here is my recommendation for the best things to do in Shanghai.
1. The Bund
The Bund–the symbol of Shanghai. Art deco buildings from the early 1900s line this “Wall Street” of the East, which is arguably Shanghai’s most popular tourist destination. People come from all over the world to walk this waterfront promenade, and to admire the ever-expanding Shanghai skyline from across the Huangpu River.
A stroll on The Bund at any time is nice, but the real magic happens at night when all the buildings are illuminated.
How to get there: Take Line 2 (green) or Line 10 (purple) to East Nanjing Road Station. Exit and walk towards the Huangpu River.
2. East Nanjing Road
East Nanjing Road is a shopper’s paradise in the middle of Shanghai. This is where East meets West, as the shops lining this road are all mostly brand name international stores, such as Apple, Forever 21, Coach, etc. It’s a rather attractive street lit by endless neon signs and you’ll often find lively street performers here as well.
Although you don’t have to worry about cars on this pedestrian street, you do have to watch out for touristy trams that’ll have no problem running you down.
How to get there: Take Line 2 (green) or Line 10 (purple) to East Nanjing Road Station.
3. Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar
Gimmicky yet fun, Yuyuan Garden and the surrounding bazaar are located in an older Chinese neighborhood complete with traditional architecture. The bazaar is a great place for people watching and perfect for getting all your Shanghai souvenirs.
Wandering through the maze of alleyways you start to feel as though you’ve stepped back in time– but all of that will quickly disappear when you find that inside the building with beautiful, classical architecture is a Starbucks or Dairy Queen.
How to get there: Take Line 10 (purple) to Yuyuan Garden Station.
4. People’s Square
People’s Square is located in the heart of Shanghai. What once was an elite horse-race track, is now home to the municipal government and many top Shanghai attractions, including the Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, and even a small amusement park.
It’s a great place to walk around to observe daily Shanghai life.
How to get there: Take Line 1 (red), Line 2 (green) or Line 8 (blue) to People’s Square Station.
5. Din Tai Fung
You can’t go to Shanghai and not try their regional specialty of xiao long bao. It’s like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower …or something like that. But juicy pork wrapped in a thin dumpling skin, filled with a shot of hot soup– no other dumpling can beat this if they tried. And although you’ll find plenty of restaurants and street stalls that sell them, Din Tai Fung does it best.
Just don’t let the fact that it’s originally a Taiwanese chain bother you; it’s still a Michelin starred restaurant after all.
How to get there: There are currently 6 Din Tai Fung locations in Shanghai, so check their website to see which location is closest to you.[divider]