Shanghai is a city that never sleeps but also a city which is dear to my heart. It is one of my favourite cities in the world if not my favourite. The reason is simple: it is the first city I visited, lived and explored in Asia when I was still a student. Having returned recently to the Pearl of the Orient, I wanted to share a list of the top 10 things to do in Shanghai!
1. The Bund Promenade
The Bund is the very famous waterfront promenade of Shanghai and it is regarded as the symbol of the city. It offers travellers a glimpse of the old Shanghai with its historic buildings as well as a breathtaking view on the skyline of Pudong. If you happen to be in Shanghai, you simply can’t miss taking a picture at the Bund Promenade with Pudong in background.
2. Yu Yuan Garden & Bazaar
Yuyuan garden is one of the must-visit tourist attractions in Shanghai. This bustling marketplace is set in an old Chinese neighbourhood with traditional architecture and shops selling everything. It is a great place for picking up some Chinese souvenirs as well as discovering the most authentic part of the city.
3. Pudong & Its Skyscrapers
Pudong is the financial district of Shanghai, with its endless skyscrapers and feel of New York. It is a premier destination for investors, business man and innovators. Many of these tall buildings offer panoramic views over the city. The Shanghai World Financial Center is definitely worth a visit.
4. Visit Jing’An Temple
Jing’An Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the city. With more than 700 years of history, it boasts the largest jade buddha in China. The temple sits between skyscrapers and shopping malls in the popular area of West Nanjing, which is well known for its heavy expat population.
5. Explore the French Concession: Xintiandi & Tian Zi Fang
Things seem to move a little slower in Shanghai’s French Concession. This elegant area is hugely popular and on top of the list of residential neighbourhoods for expats. The leafy boulevards are home to many shopping boutiques, live-music venues, wine boutique, outstanding restaurants and art markets.
6. Excite your Taste Buds with a Food Tour
Shanghai is a foodie heaven. From simple street fare, to traditional Chinese cuisine and Bund-Style fine dining restaurants, you can get it all. However, there are some specialities that you simply can’t miss if you ever happen to visit Shanghai, such as xiao long bao (steamed dumplings), jiao zi (fried soup dumplings), you tiao (dough fritters) or da bing (sesame pastry). If you have to pick among these Shanghainese specialities, then do not miss out on the Jiao Zi from Yang’s Dumplings. You won’t regret it! Also, for a fine dining experience, I highly recommend Hakkasan.
7. Stroll at the outskirts of People’s Square
People’s Square is at the heart of Shanghai’s culture and activity. It is an animated and touristy spot. However, if you just stroll around the streets of this popular square, you will get to discover the real Shanghai life, with the real Chinese animations. So, do yourself a favour and get a walk off the beaten tracks.
8. Shopping in Nanjing Lu
Shanghai is a paradise for shopping addicts. There are so many store departments, luxury boutiques and local fashion artists shops that it is not easy to figure out what you actually should focus on. Nanjing road, is THE shopping destination per excellence in the city.
9. Take a Day Trip in Zhujiajiao Ancient Town
Located in the suburbs of Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is an ancient city with a history of more than 1700 years. Also called “The Venice of Shanghai”, this water town features curved rock bridges, lovely waterways and old stoned streets. Definitely worth a visit if you want to get to know the ancestral Chinese Dynasties.
10. Party Like an Animal
Shanghai is a city that never sleeps thanks to its nightlife scene. The city is fast paced, full of young and old expats that can’t help on partying every day until daylight. Between bars, clubs and after-parties, there is something for everyone… and there is no “shut down time limit”. Bar Rouge, Vue Bar, M2 are popular among party animals in the city!