Shanghai is the largest and most developed city in China, the country’s main center for finance and fashion, and one of the world’s most populous and important cities.
Shanghai is one of four cities in China that are administered as municipalities at the same level in the hierarchy as provinces (discussion). It is not part of any province and there is no government structure at province, prefecture or city level, just a government for Shanghai Municipality and one for each of the 16 districts within it. This is an overview article for the entire municipality.
The municipality covers quite a large area — 6341 km2 or 2,448 square miles — and has a population around 24 million, which is about the same as Australia and more than all but two US states and all but six EU member countries. Its GDP is larger than that of many countries, and it has the world’s busiest container port. Shanghai is the main hub of the East China region, all of which is densely populated, heavily industrialized, prosperous, well supplied with migrant workers from poorer parts of China, and still growing.
Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate. Cities at roughly comparable latitude (just over 30°) include New Orleans, Cairo and Perth.
Spring can feature lengthy periods of cloudy and rainy weather.
Summer temperatures often get over 35°C (95°F) with very high humidity, which means that you will perspire a lot and should take lots of changes of clothing or plan on shopping for clothing during the visit. Thunderstorms also occur relatively often during the summer. There is some risk of typhoons in their July–September season, however they are not common.
Autumn is generally mild with warm and sunny weather.
During winter, temperatures rarely rise above 10°C (50°F) during the day and often fall below 0°C (32°F) at night. Snowfall is rare, typically only occurring only once every few years, but transportation networks can sometimes be disrupted in the event of a sudden snowstorm. Despite the fact that winter temperatures in Shanghai are not particularly low, the wind chill factor combined with the high humidity can actually make it feel less comfortable than some much colder places that experience frequent snowfalls.
Arrival method: The airport is on metro line2 , many of the better hotels provide free airport shuttles for their guests, and there are six airport bus lines connecting to downtown. There are also buses to other cities nearby such as Suzhou and Hangzhou.
Address: west of downtown in Minhang District
Shanghai’s older airport, much closer to the center than Pudong. It serves mainly domestic flights, the only exception being the city shuttle services to Tokyo-Haneda, Seoul-Gimpo, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taipei-Songshan. There are two terminals: the shiny, new and enormous T2, used by virtually all airlines, and the now renovated but still comparatively small T1, used by only by low-cost operator Spring Airlines and the international city shuttle services. You can transit between terminals on the airport shuttle bus, although with waiting and travel time it can take up to 45 minutes. For those in a hurry, taking metro line 10 between the two terminals may be worth the ¥3 for the ticket.
Shanghai Railway Station
Address: 100 Moling Road
Arrival method: three stops north from People’s square on line 1.
Hongqiao Railway Station
A huge new station located in the same building complex as Hongqiao Airport. The connecting metro stop shares the same name, Hongqiao Railway Station, and is one stop beyond the Hongqiao airport stop. High-speed trains to Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, Kunshan, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Zhenjiang, Nanjing, Hefei, Wuhan, Jiaxing, Hangzhou, Hefei and other smaller stations use this station. Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station on Wikipedia Shanghai Hongqiao railway station.
Shanghai South Railway Station
Provides service towards the South, except for high-speed trains on the Shanghai–Hangzhou high-speed line which now use the new Hongqiao station, and services to Hong Kong (due to lack of immigration and customs facilities).
Shanghai West Railway Station / Nanxiang North Railway Station/ Anting North Railway Station
Some high-speed trains to Nanjing direction stop at these smaller stations. In addition, there are a few trains to and from Shanghai Station for connections to other trains. Shanghai West Station is on metro line 11 .
Shanghai East Railway Station
Plans to build the station, which will be based in Pudong’s Chuansha district, were announced in 2012.
There are several long-distance bus stations in Shanghai. You should try to get the tickets as early as possible.
Beiqu Long-distance Passenger Station
Address: 80 Gongxing Lu.
Hengfeng Road Express Passenger Station
Address: 270 Hengfeng Lu.
This is one of the largest and is just north of the main railway station. It serves most destinations in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces as some more remote cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou.
Zhongshan Beilu Long-distance Passenger Transport Station
Address:1015 Zhongshan Bei Lu.
Xujiahui Passenger Station
Address: 211 Hongqiao Lu.
Pudong Tangqiao Long-distance Passenger Station
Address: 3842 Pudong Nan Lu.
Shanghai Ferry Company
Once a week service from Shanghai to Osaka and vice versa.
Takes two nights. ¥1,300-6,500
Japan-China International Ferry Company
Address:18th Floor, Jinan No.908 Dong Da Ming Rd
Alternates each week with Osaka and Kobe as the Japanese departure/arrival city.
The Shanghai Metro network (see map at its official website) is great — fast, cheap (¥3-10 depending on distance), air conditioned, and fairly user-friendly with signs and station arrival announcements in both Mandarin and English. The drawbacks are that trains can get really packed during rush hour, trains do not run late at night (the latest you will see a train run is around midnight on Friday and Saturday nights), and the network does not go everywhere yet, though it is continually being expanded.
The bus system is cheaper and much more extensive than the metro, and some routes operate after the closing time of the metro (route numbers beginning with 3 are the night buses that run past 11PM). It is however slower in general, and all route information at bus stops is in Chinese, but here is a handy list of bus routes and stops in English. Once inside the bus, there are English announcements.
It is a good choice for transportation in the city, especially during off-peak hours. It is affordable — ¥14 for the first 3 km during the day, ¥18 after 11PM, ¥2.4/km up to 10 km, and ¥3.5/km after; when wheels aren’t rolling, time is also tracked and billed but first 5 min. are free; a ¥1 fuel surcharge is also applied. Going from the centre out to Pudong Airport will be around ¥200.
A useful ferry runs between the Bund (from a ferry pier a few blocks south of Nanjing Road next to the KFC restaurant) and Lujiazui financial district in Pudong (the terminal is about 10 minutes south of the Pearl TV Tower and Lujiazui metro station) and is the cheapest way of crossing the river at ¥2 per person. The ferry is air-conditioned and allows foot-passengers only (bikes are not allowed except for folding models). Buy a token from the ticket kiosk and then insert it into the turnstile to enter the waiting room — the boats run every 10 minutes and take just over 5 minutes to cross the river. This is a great (and much cheaper) alternative to using the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. However, the ferry stations are not directly connected to public transport so you need to walk a bit.
It is the original Chinese city going back about 1000 years, now a major tourist area. The center of that area is Yuyuan Gardens. The International Settlement was built North and West of the Old City, starting in the 1840s. In colonial-period Western books, “Shanghai” means that settlement.
The riverside avenue that was the center of 19th century Shanghai and is now a major tourist attraction. The Bund, also called Waitan, is a famous waterfront on the west bank of Huangpu River and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai. Here, the charm of Shanghai as a bustling metropolis combining the century-old history and flourishing future is fully presented, making the Bund Shanghai a must-see attraction.
What was once the horse racing track on the edge of the British district is now a large and busy downtown park. The old track’s clubhouse now houses a museum and a fine restaurant. Under the square at the edge of the park is a metro station that is one of the hubs of the Shanghai system and one of the busiest subway stations on Earth; lines 1 ,2 and 8 meet there. Nearby are several large high-end malls and department stores.
For a taste of 1920s Shanghai, with much classic Western-style architecture, head for the stately old buildings of the Bund and nearby parts of Huangpu; this is still a major shopping area as well. If your taste runs more to very modern architecture, remarkably tall buildings and enormous shopping malls, the prime districts for skyscrapers are Pudong and Jing’an. See the linked articles for details.
The French Concession is the area of Shanghai that the French government administered from 1849 until 1946. The tree-lined avenues and the many fine old houses in the area still retain an air of the “Paris of the East”. In particular, the many wrought iron fences and stair railings will look familiar to anyone who knows Paris or Montreal.
This has been a fashionable area for well over a century and is now very developed as well. There are plenty of large buildings, mainly upmarket residential and office towers, quite a few hotels and a number of enormous shopping malls. At the same time, many of the picturesque older buildings — even whole neighbourhoods — have been renovated. There are a huge number of boutiques, galleries, bars and cafes scattered through the area.
It was technically not part of it, but largely owned by the Catholic Church and effectively an extension of the Concession. The area has many buildings built by the Church during the French period and thereafter. The most prominent of these is St. Ignatius Cathedral, the neighbouring Bibliotheca Zi-ka-wei, a library built by the Jesuits; a number of preserved convent and school buildings; the Jesuit observatory; the T’ou-se-we Museum, housed in part of a former Jesuit orphanage with interesting displays on the history of Xujiahui, the orphanage and its workshop famed for producing works of Chinese and Western art; and the tomb of Xu Guangqi, an imperial official and famous Catholic convert whose family donated much of the land in Xujiahui to the church. This collection of buildings from Xujiahui’s Catholic past is promoted as a themed walking tour called “Origin of Xujiahui”, and boards with maps can be found near any of them with directions to visit the others.
When the French controlled the area, this street was Avenue Joffre. Today it is the main street of the Luwan area, and one of Shanghai’s main shopping streets. In fact, Shanghai people seeking upmarket goods are at least as likely to look here as on Nanjing Road, which attracts more visitors from other parts of China than locals.
It is an area of old shikumen houses, two-storey buildings on narrow lanes. It has been extensively redeveloped and now has new shopping malls, trendy bars and restaurants, and much tourism. It is sometimes considered a sanitized, touristy and upscale “Disneyland” version of the original old neighborhoods it displaced. It is certainly rather pretty, worth at least a look for any first-time visitor to Shanghai. Prices are generally on the high side, but there are some good deals to be had at off-peak times such as lunch specials in some restaurants and happy hour in bars. Although there are many shops here, most are international or Hong Kong-based chains.
It is newer than Xintiandi and emphasizes arts, crafts and boutique shopping where Xintiandi has more stress on brand-name goods and entertainment. Unlike Xintiandi, the shikumen residences in Tianzifang have been preserved, rather than knocked down and rebuilt. Slightly further from the central part of the French Concession, Tianzifang first gained fame when several prominent artists took up residence there, taking advantage of the cheap rent. There are still galleries and artists’ studios here, although handicraft, souvenirs and cafes now dominate.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is located in Pudong Park in Lujiazui, Shanghai. Surrounded by the Yangpu Bridge in the northeast and the Nanpu Bridge in the southwest, it creates a picture of ‘twin dragons playing with pearls’. The entire scene is a photographic jewel that excites the imagination and attracts thousands of visitors year-round.
This 468 meters (1,536 feet) high tower is the world’s sixth and China’s second tallest TV and radio tower. However, even more alluring than its height is the unique architectural design that makes Oriental Pearl TV Tower one of the most attractive places anywhere. Its base is supported by three seven-meter wide slanting stanchions. Surrounding the eleven steel spheres that are ‘strung’ vertically through the center are three nine-meter wide columns.
The whole park is like a world full of wonders and fantasies. It features seven theme lands, respectively Mickey Avenue, Gardens of Imagination, Fantasyworld, Adventure Isle, Treasure Cove, Tomorrowland, and Disney Pixar Toy Story Land.
Blending authentic Disney style and Chinese elements, this park gives visitors a brand-new experience. On the Mickey Avenue, Mickey and his friends welcome world guests. Princesses out of animated classics interact with visitors in the Enchanted Storybook Castle. In the Treasure Cove, Captain Jack performs amazing stunts and guides you to an adventure to seek treasure and meet monsters. Both relaxing and thrilling facilities are available throughout the park, making visitors totally obsessed with this wonderland.
With an area of 346 acres (140 hectares), Century Park is divided into seven parts, including the Lakeside Scenic Area, the Forest Landscape Area, the Amenity Grass, the Nature Reserve, the Folk Village, the Exotic Zone, and the Mini Golf Course. There are eight entrances in total, and five of them are open to the public: Gate 1 at the end of Century Avenue, Gate 2 at the crossroad of Jinxiu Road and Minsheng Road, Gate 3 at the crossroad of Jinxiu Road and Jinsong Road, Gate 5 at the crossroad of Huamu Road and Fangdian Road, and Gate 7 at the intersection of Huamu Road and Yinghua Road.
Dianshan Lake is the source of Huangpu River, the mother river of Shanghai, and the largest natural fresh water lake in the city. It covers an area of 62 square kilometers (24 square miles), as nearly 12 times large as the West Lake of Hangzhou. It used to be land in ancient times, but later it turned into a lake. It takes its name, Dianshan Lake, due to its proximity to Mt. Dianshan.
Shanghai Happy Valley is renowned as a theme park of beautiful scenery, huge areas to explore, superb scientific and technological content with breathtaking and exciting amusements. It is located in the central area of Shanghai Sheshan National Holiday Resort, Songjiang District, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the downtown area. Covering an area of 863,500 square meters (213 acres), this Happy Valley is composed of seven major areas, each with different themed zones, such as Sunshine Harbor, Happy Times, Typhoon Bay, Gold Mine Town, Happy Ocean, Shanghai Bund and Shangri-la Woods. There are more than a hundred attractions and 12 top recreational distractions.
Shanghai Lupu Bridge starts from Luban Road, Puxi in the north, crosses the Huangpu River and ends at Jiyang Road, Pudong in the south, with a total length of 8.7 kilometers (about 5.4 miles). It was designed by Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute, and took about 3 years to built the bridge by the local government from 2000.
Suzhou Creek is named after the city Suzhou in Jiangsu Province by foreign businessmen, who always cruised to Suzhou along the river when Shanghai opened the commercial port in the middle of the 20th century. Suzhou River, a romantic film released in 2000, chose the river as the topic, and won Hivos Tiger Award of the 29th International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Best Picture of the 15th Paris Cinema International Film Festival in the same year.
Being the third tallest building only to Shanghai Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center in Shanghai, Jin Mao Tower is located in the center of Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone in Pudong. It can be conveniently accessed from either Puxi (the area west of the Hungpu River) by taking the tunnel (travel time is about two minutes) or the Hongqiao and Pudong International Airports (travel time is about 30 minutes) by car.
Since the reform and opening-up policy carried out in 1978, Shanghai has enjoyed a great economic boom, and Lujiazui is gradually becoming more widely known. However, few know the origin of the name (Lu Jia Zui in Chinese), which literally means Lu family dwelling on a mouth-shaped alluvial beach. In fact, the name is associated with Lu Shen, a noted scholar of Imperial Academy in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). After Lu retired, he lived on this land until his death. Today, you can still find Lu Shen’s calligraphy in Shanghai Museum. His former residence and family cemetery are located in this area.
Shanghai Changfeng Park is located at No. 189 Daduhe Road, Putuo District to the west of the city center. With an area of 366,000 square meters (437,732 square yards), it is a large-scale landscape park and a perfect combination of water and mountains. Open to the public since 1959, it is an ideal place for local people and tourists to relax.
Dongping National Forest Park is in the center of Chongming Island, Shanghai. Covering an area of 1.4 square miles (3.55 square kilometers), it has the largest man-made forest in east China with a forest coverage rate of 90%. Besides the thick forest, dotted lakes, and elegant gardens, there are also many recreational activities, such as grass skiing, rock climbing, forest driving range, and forest sunbath. The barbeque and camping base offer much fun for families and outdoor vacationers, making the park a popular weekend destination.
Located at No. 201 Hongmei Road in Shanghai, Jinjiang Action Park is a modern amusement park, containing about 40 land and water entertainment facilities. Most of them are large-scale recreational facilities, such as Roller Coaster, Awesome Space Traveler, Layered Merry-go-around, Shanghai Ferris Wheel and Canyon Rafting. Jinjiang Action Park was built in 1985, covering an area of 113,000 square meters (28 acres). Every year, more than one million visitors would come there enjoy the wonderful entertainment facilities.
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium consists of two pyramid-shaped buildings – a main building and an annexe. The covered area is 20,500 square meters (about 263,910 square feet). As well as the large exhibition area, there is a gift shop and a restaurant that can seat 300 persons.
The main building is divided into different exhibition zones: China Zone, South America Zone, Australia Zone, Africa Zone, Southeast Asia Zone, Cold Water Zone, Polar Zone, Sea and Shore, Deep Ocean Zone and Special Exhibitions. The exhibits include more than 300 types and 15,000 water creatures and rare fishes, such as poison dart frogs, jellyfishes, moonfish, leafy sea dragons and emperor penguins.
Chongming Island, the third largest island in China, is the backyard of Shanghai. Located in the east estuary of the Yangtze River, the island has a levee shaded under trees, looking like a giant green dragon lying on the river. The large-scale forests, lakes, and wetlands will immerse you into the natural beauty of this place. You can find many things to do: exploring a primitive forest in Dongping National Forest Park, observing birds at Pearl Lake, and enjoying the endless reed marshes in the wetland parks. Wandering on the mudflats, you will encounter numerous crabs walking sideways. Crabholes are dotted densely on the mudflat. Therefore, Chongming Island is also called Crab Island. In addition to contact with nature, there are also a lot of historical attractions and human landscapes exposing you to the cultural atmosphere, such as Chongming Academy, Danyuan Garden, Shou’an Temple, and Hanshan Temple.
One of the world’s most popular theme parks, Legoland Theme Park will open its tenth theme park in Shanghai. Construction will begin on the shores of Dianshan Lake in western Shanghai in 2020 and be completed in 2022.
Legoland’s parent company, Merlin Entertainments, announced that Shanghai Legoland Theme Park will cover an area of about 80 hectares (200 acres), about one-fifth the size of Shanghai Disneyland Park. Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments said that the Shanghai Legoland Theme Park will emphasize hands-on abilities, interaction and sharing which are all compatible with Chinese families’ ideas of integrating education into play. Merlin Entertainments also announced that Shanghai Legoland Theme Park will include some Chinese elements and unique features inaddition to the traditional elements such as “Transformers”, “Batman” and “the Hulk”.
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall was built to show the achievement of the city planning and construction. It has many functions, such as exhibition, reference, research, communication, recreation and entertainment. The main body of the building covers Shanghai’s development from ancient times to the present and beyond. The theme of this building is ‘City, People, Environment and Development’. There is a city model made to a scale of 1/500. The appearance of the old streets in the 1930s reminds people to think of the old passing days in Shanghai. The view of a future Shanghai is presented with high technology such as virtual reality and fantasy-view magic vision. The big city planning lifelike model displays for you the city’s vista of the future.
Chinese Martial Arts Museum (Wushu Museum) in Shanghai was established to present genuine Chinese Kungfu to all visitors. As the benefits of Martial Arts becoming increasingly popular, more and more Chinese and foreigners are taking an interest in learning Chinese Kungfu. They can know more about Martial Arts in the museum.
Located in the gymnasium of Shanghai University of Sports, Chinese Martial Arts Museum provides a good platform to help people better understand Chinese martial arts which are beneficial to self-protection and fitness. This is the first multifunctional museum throughout the world displaying all aspects of the history and culture of Kung Fu.
The Shanghai Memorial Hall of Fushou Garden, on Wai Qingsong Road in Qingpu District, is an exhibition hall which exhibits many facets of the city’s past, with hand writings, memoirs, artifacts and albums of the city’s own celebrities long faded from life. After eight-year’s work, the hall has developed into a theme hall, personality hall and memorial hall on line.
More than 300 celebrities from all walks of life are cited in the Memorial Hall of Fushou Garden; for example, the political personalities: Pan Hannian and Qiao Guanhua; the cultural personalities: Hu Shi and Zhang Shizhao, famous figures in art circles such as Ruan Lingyu and Yang Zhenxiong; and revolutionary martyrs such as Gao Jingting. The personality hall is further sub-divided into themes with leading figures. For example, the memorial hall of human donors from the Red Cross, the monument of the war correspondent couple Xu Xinghu and Zhu Ying and the memorial hall of drama masters. Visitors can fully appreciate the spiritual legacy of the Shanghai famous figures within these settings. Besides, the memorial hall on line has set up 239 memorials for the departed who are buried in Fushou Garden.
Probably the most famous Shanghai dish: small steamed buns, often confused for dumplings — come full of tasty (and boiling hot!) broth inside with a dab of meat to boot. The connoisseur bites a little hole into them first, sips the broth, then dips them in dark vinegar to season the meat inside.
Raw fried buns
Unlike steamed buns, these larger buns come with dough from raised flour, are pan-fried until the bottoms reach a deliciously crispy brown, and have not made their way to Chinese menus around the world (or even around China). Still popular with Shanghainese for breakfast and best accompanied by vinegar, eat these with particular care, as the broth inside will squirt out just as easily as their steamed cousins.
Shanghai hairy crab
A type of small fresh water crab famed for its taste. Best eaten in the winter months (Oct-Dec) and paired with Shaoxing wine to balance out your yin and yang. Roe and meat from this type of crab goes into the famous xiaolongbao (above) and meatballs (below)
Crab meat pork meatballs
Found in various Yangzhou- and Zhenjiang-style restaurants, such as the Yangzhou Fandian located near Nanjing Road.
Accommodation in Shanghai can be rivaled by few cities in China, in terms of both variety and services. There are establishments for all types of travelers, from backpacker options for the weary to top of the line hotels and serviced apartments for those wishing to be spoiled. Puxi has both new and old hotels with class architectural styles and charm, some of them described in stories when Shanghai may have been the only place in China known to much of the rest of the world, while modern amenities commonly found in Pudong rival many hotels in Asia and beyond.
For clean, safe, budget accommodations, three reliable options are the Jin Jiang Star (website in Chinese), Motel 168 (website in Chinese) and Motel 268 chains, all of which have multiple locations in every district of Shanghai.
For long term accommodation, be prepared to splurge as real estate prices have skyrocketed in recent years, rivalling even those of major Western cities.
If you like shopping or window shopping, a walk along either of Shanghai’s major commercial streets takes an hour or two (or up to several days if you look in lots of stores and explore side streets) and can be quite interesting:
A walk along either of Shanghai’s major commercial streets takes an hour or two (or up to several days if you look in lots of stores and explore side streets) and can be quite interesting.Share this tour
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