The Best Things to Do in Shanghai
Collected by AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
China's most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai makes an enchanting first impression with its art deco landmarks along the Bund riverfront and leafy French Concession neighborhood. Delve deeper by exploring the city's contemporary art scene, tranquil gardens, and attractions that shed light on its complex history.
Zhongshan East 1st Rd, WaiTan, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
Architecture lovers flock to the Huangpu River's western side to stroll the Bund, a waterfront tourist magnet in central Shanghai. There's a glorious mishmash of late-19th- and early-20th-century styles here, from Gothic revival to art deco. Walk...
Changning, China, 200000
One of Shanghai's most fascinating museums is hidden in the basement of a French Concession high-rise. Yang Pei Ming started collecting Maoist-era (1949–1979) propaganda posters in 1995—first as a hobby, and then to preserve these...
516 Fuxing Middle Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
Fuxing Park has quite the history. It was a Ming Dynasty private garden until the French took it over in 1909. Then came the Japanese occupation of Shanghai during World War II until the early 1950s, after which the park again...
79 Fenyang Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
Shanghai has always been China’s most cosmopolitan city. After the first Opium War (1839–1842), the city was divided into foreign concessions and entered a golden age, with a thriving nightlife scene, an active film industry, and a...
200 Hua Yuan Gang Lu, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200231
On the desolate site of the 2010 World Expo, the Chinese government has transformed an old power station into an artistic gem. Power Station of Art (PSA) is the first state-owned contemporary art museum in China, so while that precludes shows that...
20 Huqiu Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
In a stately 1930s art deco building the Rockbund Art Museum exhibits work by some of China’s most renowned contemporary artists, including mixed-media gurus Cai Guo-Qiang and Zhang Huan, as well as installations by the Italian artist Paola Pivi....
3398 Longteng Ave, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
Wang Wei and her husband, Liu Yiqian, are voracious collectors of Chinese art, both contemporary and traditional. The first Long Museum opened on the Pudong side of the river, in the suburban neighborhood of Jinqiao; the second is located on West...
170 Anyuan Rd, Jing'an, China, 200060
The original Jade Buddha Temple was built in the late-19th century to house two jade Buddha statues brought from Burma by a monk named Hui Gen. They remain the principal attractions of the temple, especially the larger of the two, a seated Buddha...
201 Renmin Ave, RenMin GuangChang, Huangpu Qu, China, 200000
Shanghai Museum is located on People's Square, the site of a former horse-racing track. Designed in the shape of an ancient bronze cooking vessel called a ding, the museum showcases antiquities from every era of Chinese history, including...
62 Changyang Rd, Hongkou Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200082
100 Renmin Ave, RenMin GuangChang, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
It can be difficult to orient yourself on the ground in Shanghai. A map will help, but an aerial view of the city will show you just how awesome this city is. You could charter a helicopter, but a far cheaper option is seeing the...
1555 Huaihai Middle Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
Historic Shanghai’s tours and events are the closest you’ll can come to traveling back in time to Shanghai’s golden age. The group was founded by longtime Shanghai residents Tess Johnston, Tina Kanagaratnam, and...
Huangpu, China, 200000
Blue Nankeen Exhibition Hall's name is a bit misleading. There's a display upstairs explaining how nankeen cloth is starched and hand-dyed a rich shade of indigo, but this is primarily a place to pick up beautiful textiles, clothing, and...
56 Shaoxing Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
Shanghai's arts and crafts enclave, Tianzifang, is a labyrinth of narrow lanes bursting with diminutive shops, restaurants, and bars. Most of the shops here are located inside shikumen, stone gatehouses dating to the early 1930s. Gear up for...
Century Park, Pudong, Shanghai, China, 201203
Covering 140 hectares (about one-half square mile), this is no small green space. Pack a picnic, grab a kite, and head over to Century Park for some space to run around, or simply to chill out and watch life go by. Open daily from 7am-6pm. 10 RMB...
231 Nanjing W Rd, RenMin GuangChang, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000
The Shanghai Race Club, built by the British in the 1800s, is a lingering reminder that horseraces were once held here, just south of Nanjing Road. Opened to the public in the 1950s, this green refuge charms with landscaped traditional gardens and...
62 Hengshan Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200031
The boat trip to the Yangtze delta is a great Shanghai excursion. The delta itself is not very interesting, as there's water everywhere and you can't decide whether you're on a river or the sea. But you pass the old harbor of Shanghai and you can...
205 Shangnan Rd, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200126
Formerly the China Pavilion, created as the iconic showpiece of the World Expo in 2010, this unmissable red structure has been dubbed the "Oriental Crown" for its resemblance to ancient Chinese royal headwear. Now converted into a 27-hall art...
685 Changjiang W Rd, Baoshan Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
The Shanghai Museum of Glass, housed in a former glassmaking factory, features ancient artifacts such as blown-glass hairpins from the Song Dynasty as well as modern glass sculptures by Chinese and international artists, many of them American....
200 Hua Yuan Gang Lu, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200231
The renovated Nanhui Power Station, situated on the banks of Huanpu River, is now home to China's first state-run Contemporary Art Museum. From local artists to international icons such as Andy Warhol, the museum boasts a great selection of...
Si Nan Lu, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
This is one of my favorite streets in the old part of Shanghai – SiNan Lu (Road). It is a hidden street, probably a mere 1KM north to south, with lot of historical stories around, with one particularly the former residence of Sun Yat-sen, which...
Minhang, Shanghai, China, 201101
Qibao, in Chinese, means 'seven treasures'. And a treasure it is. The closest water town to Shanghai, it holds both the charm of an ancient, canal-traversed village as well as one of the most famous food streets in Shanghai. Head to Qibao Old...
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Hangzhou is an easy day trip from Shanghai, just 45 minutes by bullet train from Hongqiao Station. Hangzhou is the home of China's prized Longjing green tea, which you can taste at the China National Tea Museum. The city is also known for its...
35 Fenggu Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
It's not every day you get to gape at mind-bending art inside a 97,000-square-foot aircraft hangar. Chinese-Indonesian billionaire Budi Tek founded Yuz Museum in the 1980s after he started collecting contemporary Chinese works. His expansive...
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