As China’s largest city, Shanghai shouldn’t be missed if you’re visiting China. The unique mix of colonial-era buildings and modern sky scrappers makes Shanghai one of the most visually interesting cities one can visit. So if you’re here, what should you do and see to make the best of your visit? Read on to find out travel bloggers’ favorite places in Shanghai.

This Best Things to do in Shanghai post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read our Disclosure Policy.

Shanghai museum

Visit the Shanghai Museum

by Angela Corrias of Chasing the Unexpected

Shanghai Museum is one of the most important and first sights to see in the city. Visiting its several floors feels like traveling around China, through its history and rich culture. There is an entire floor devoted to the local architecture and furniture style, and it includes finely carved tables, chairs and all types of pieces of furniture from different dynasties. You will also find a floor for the traditional clothes from the different regions and ethnic groups, one for the local ceramics and pots, for which China has been famous around the world for centuries, and one for the coins and local money, ancient and more modern.

As it’s an important part of the local culture, a pavilion displaying beautiful pieces of Chinese calligraphy couldn’t possibly miss. Inscriptions, paintings, stone steles, they look like mesmerizing artwork and can decorate any room in any country.

Admission is free but visitors need to go through a security check. The museum is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm (last entry an hour before closing time), except Mondays.

Getting There:

Shanghai Museum is very easy to reach as it’s in 201 Renmin Da Dao (near Wusheng Road) and right close to the metro station People’s Square lines 1 and 2.

Yuyuan Market

Shop at the Yuyuan Market

by Annick Lenoir-Peek of The Common Traveler

All those souvenirs that you need to bring back for family and friends? You’ll find them at the Yuyuan Market and Bazaar. This pedestrian-friendly area houses tons of stores and stalls where you’ll find anything from postcards to silk products, to an extra suitcase to carry everything you’ve bought. (No kidding, that’s what we had to do!) If you’re looking for knock-off luxury items like Gucci and Givenchy, you’ll be able to find plenty of suppliers here who approach you with a menu of goods for sale. Don’t forget to people-watch while you’re here!

Getting There:

Metro line 10 has a stop called Yuyuan Station. Take exit 1 and walk to the bazaar.

woman at Tron in Shanghai Disneyland

Have Fun at Shanghai Disneyland

by Elizabeth Smith of Peanuts or Pretzels

Shanghai is full of some pretty awesome cultural and historical places to visit; however, Shanghai Disneyland offers up some fun and excitement of a different kind.  This is the first Disney park to open in mainland China, and it’s accessed most easily from central Shanghai via metro line 11.

Having opened back in 2016, we were lucky enough to visit Shanghai Disneyland during the Grand Opening festivities. The park is massive, with so much open space that you don’t really notice the crowds…except for the queue lines.  While you will find some of the same classic rides as in some of the other Disney parks around the world, you will also find cutting edge technology and exciting attractions that can’t be found anywhere else.

Pirates of the Caribbean, for example, is one of the absolute coolest immersive attractions we have ridden; and while the original Pirates rides at other parks are classic…this new version really puts them all to shame. It’s awe-inspiring!  Then there’s Tron, Josh’s favorite ride at this park. Laying forward over a motorbike, you are strapped into this launch coaster and shot out of the station head-first. It’s exhilarating and highly entertaining, so much so that they are planning to build other Tron coasters at other parks. But for now, Shanghai is the only place you can experience it.

Visiting Shanghai Disneyland in the summer is hot, humid, and crowded. So we recommend visiting on the shoulder seasons when the kids are back in school and the weather is a bit better.  Also be sure to get Fastpasses in advance for popular attractions, to ensure you get to enjoy them without the long lines.

Getting There:

Located about 40 minutes from Pudong International Airport, most visitors opt to take a taxi. Those wishing to ride the subway should take metro line 11, stopping at Disney Resort Station, and using exits 2 or 4. Alternatively, public buses 50, 51, and 52 will take you to a stop at the Disney Resort.

dragon statue on wall

Relax in the Garden of Mandarin Yu

by Annalisa Franceschini of Travel, Connect Experience

Shanghai’s Garden of Mandarin Yu is one of the most fascinating architecture in China. When you approach it, don’t get scared by the hundreds of visitors and by the commercial roads thriving around it. Once you get the ticket and enter the garden, the crowd will scatter around and become quieter. As a traditional Chinese garden, this little Eden hidden in Shanghai’s Old Town was conceived to be a place to calm the mind, do art, and contemplate. The narrow paths on the ground have plenty of little turns, in order to distract the evil ghosts and make them lose their way. The overtures on the walls that separate the environments in the garden are rounded so that hungry spirits cannot find any corner to hide into.

It will take you a few hours to explore the myriad of wooden rooms and to gaze at the exquisite roofs. The statues of dragons, sages, and arcane animals will send you back in time to another age, if not to another dimension completely. If you want to experience the garden as it’s meant to be experienced, choose your favorite spot, and sit quietly, observing everything that is going around you. Look at the small trees, and at the colorful carps in the ponds. Imagine life through the eyes of a noble person, in a China that has faded away.

Getting There:

Take Metro Line 10 to Yuyuan Station, exit 1.

Shanghai skycrapers

Admire the View from the Observation Deck of the Shanghai Tower

by Annick Lenoir-Peek of The Common Traveler

If you like tall buildings, don’t miss visiting the tallest building in Shanghai. As the third-largest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower rises 127 floors above and 5 floors underground. The observation deck is found on the 118th floor and is the world’s highest indoor observation deck. The express elevator takes a mere 55 seconds to get you there.

The building spires in order to cope with the wind in Shanghai. Stay as long as you want. The view at night time is amazing and worth the approximately $27 entry fee, which can be paid by cash or credit card. While the building was completed in September 2015, the observation deck opened to the public in July 2016.

Getting There:

Take Metro Line 2 and get off at Lujiazui Station. Get out from Exit 6 and walk 500 meters (550 yards) south.

maglev train

Ride the Maglev Train

by Annick Lenoir-Peek of The Common Traveler

The perfect way to get from Shanghai’s Pudong airport to downtown Shanghai? Ride the Maglev Train! The name is derived from the mechanism – it operates on magnetic levitation. The end result is a train that travels 268 mph (431 km/h) for most of the 18.6-mile ride taking only 7 minutes and 20 seconds. You can go home bragging that you’ve ridden on the world’s fastest commercial electric train in the world.

A roundtrip ticket costs $12.80 (80 Yuan) and it is worth traveling backward and forward. Trains depart every 15 to 20 minutes, and is totally worth it!

Getting There:

Board it at the Shanghai airport, or at the opposite end at Longyang Road, servicing metro lines 2, 7, and 16.

Shanghai skyline reflected onto river

Stroll Along the Bund

by Annick Lenoir-Peek of The Common Traveler

This famous waterfront promenade is THE place to see and be seen in Shanghai. On one side, the mid-1800’s colonial-era buildings contrast with the ultra-modern skyscrapers located across the Huangpu River. This is where everyone comes to take photos with the Shanghai skyline in the background.

At less than one mile in length, a stroll along the Bund is a must-do for every visitor. The walk is easy, making it accessible to strollers and wheelchairs.

Getting There:

Almost every city tour will stop at the Bund for photographs. For those riding the subway, the East Nanjing Road Station on metro lines 2 and 10 lead to a 10-minute walk to your destination.

movie set of Jackie Chan over buildings

JACKIE CHAN FILM GALLERY – SNEAK PEEK

by Chandresh Jain of Family on the Wheels

Jackie Chan ( JC) spent almost 58 years in the movie industry and is a well-known name across Globe. Be it action, comedy or drama, every domain of acting was perfected by him. He is probably the most popular artist of the East in the west part of the world.  Finally, to offer their millions of fans a glimpse inside the making of a megastar, they decided to roll out JC life journey through  “JC FILM Gallery”. It took almost 5 years to design and develop and was inaugurated on the 60th Birthday of Jackie in 2013. Honestly, we were totally blown up with the detailing and designing aspects of it.

Inside each sector of the gallery, every figure and prop has its own little story to tell. Even the ticket office is designed like a truck crashing through the side of the building. They have tried to recreate the setup used in actual film shooting including Drunken Master, Police Story, the Myth, Rush Hour and many more. It raises the expectations and announces that inside the Gallery would be a kung fu kicking roller coaster of a ride through Jackie’s film career.

Visit the Jackie Chan Film Gallery in the Putuo District of Shanghai. The entrance fee is approximately USD $20.

Getting There:

About a 15-minute drive from the Hong Qiao airport in the Puxi area of Shanghai. Located about 15-minute walk from either Weining Road stop on metro line 2 or Dahube stop on metro line 13.

Your time in Shanghai will be busy getting from one place to another. Our recommendation is to take the subway (metro) while in Shanghai. Intimidated by the thought? We’ve created an easy how-to guide on riding the Shanghai metro. Don’t miss this experience!

If you enjoy modern cities, take a flight to Macau, the Vegas of the East, and spend a day or two exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Read more China articles here:

Happy travels!
Annick, The Common Traveler

List of places to see and things to do while visiting Shanghai, China, including directions on how to get to each one using the Shanghai metro. #shanghai #china
List of places to see and things to do while visiting Shanghai, China, including directions on how to get to each one using the Shanghai metro. #shanghai #china
List of places to see and things to do while visiting Shanghai, China, including directions on how to get to each one using the Shanghai metro. #shanghai #china
List of places to see and things to do while visiting Shanghai, China, including directions on how to get to each one using the Shanghai metro.