If you want to feel the dynamism, decadence and momentum of contemporary China in all its thrilling, maddening, exciting and overcrowded style, Shanghai won’t disappoint. The view from The Bund across the Huangpu River, with its skyline of futuristic-looking skyscrapers and neon lights, is one of China’s iconic sights.
Ultra-modern towers, malls and gargantuan restaurants contrast with neighbourhood temples, street-corner eateries and shady avenues from Shanghai’s early days as a colonial trading city.
Streets pulsate with life, whether it’s shoppers on a spree, grandmothers practising their fan dancing, or an international crowd partying in the hip Xintiandi district. Eat, drink, shop, walk, goggle in amazement and see its sights, because few cities on Earth can match Shanghai.
- Country: China
- Currency: Yuan Renminbi (CNY)
- Offical Language: Mandarin
- Visas: All visitors to China require a visa, your travel agent can advise
- Tipping: Not customary, except on group tours
- Electricity: Chinese outlets run on an average 220 volts and use Type A, C, and I plugs
Temperature (max C)
J 8, F 8, M 12, A 18, M 23, J 27, J 31, A 31, S 27, O 22, N 17, D 11
Rainfall (max mm)
J 44, F 56, M 73, A 87, M 91, J 168, J 138, A 134, S 133, O 53, N 49, D 40
Things to do in Shanghai are innumerable but exploring The Bund is one of the city's must-do experiences. Here you'll find a rich collection of neoclassical and Art Deco architecture, thanks to the 1920s and 1930s construction boom. The riverfront walkway here has undergone a major renovation in recent years too. The distinctive 468-metre high Oriental Pearl Tower in Pudong (one of the city's iconic structures) has an observation deck with a priceless view. People's Square park provides respite from the urban jungle downtown and the nearby Shanghai Museum is worth a look. Drinking at a tea house should be on each visitor's list too.
One of the world’s richest boomtowns isn’t short of top-notch restaurants, but Shanghai has plenty of modestly priced restaurants and terrific street food. Local residents love the new, so you can find cuisine from across China and the world. It’s the best city in the country for working up an appetite.
Shanghai has an enormous variety of hotels, ranging from modest lodges and budget retreats to serviced apartments and some of Asia’s best luxury establishments. International hotel chains tend to be pricier, with many Chinese hotel brands offering similar amenities at lower prices. There’s also plentiful mid-range accommodation choices.
Gather your energy: you can shop til you drop in Shanghai. The city is packed with a temptation of department stores, shopping malls, fashion boutiques,souvenir shops and street markets where you can purchase just about everything. Good buys include antiques, Chinese-style furniture, silk clothing, arts, crafts and jewellery.
Shanghai like a Local
The Shanghai weather is classed as 'humid subtropical' and it's on approximately the same latitude as Brisbane, New Orleans and Cairo. Be prepared for summer storms.
If you'll be in Shanghai for more than a few days, consider purchasing a Shanghai jiaotong card – you can load it with money for buses, the metro and even taxis, rather than buy individual tickets for each trip. Know before you go on public transport that crowding and pushing are acceptable here. So is spitting on the street.
If you need some respite from the bustle at any time, consider visiting the peaceful Yuyuan Garden in the Old Town: a traditional Chinese garden designed in the Ming and Qing styles.
1. Early morning excercise: Get up early and hit The Bund to join hundreds of locals in tai chi practice and sometimes a spot of ballroom dancing, too.
2. Money matters: Fixed exchange rates are the same everywhere in China, even at airports, so there’s no need to shop around. Beware of (illegal) street deals, since fake notes abound.
3. Cycle around the city: Shanghai is very flat, making cycling a good option. Avoid the heavily trafficked main roads and stick to side streets, many of which have cycle lanes.
Did you know...? The Maglev, which operates between Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport and its terminus in Pudong district, is the world’s first commercially-operated, high-speed magnetic levitation train. Its top speed is 431 kilometres per hour, and in tests it has reached 501 kilometres per hour, which makes it the world’s fastest commercial train.