Things to Do
AP Plaza Fashion Market: This is one of the biggest fake markets located at the Science & Technology Museum (line 2). Come with cash and ready to bargain. As a rule of thumb, start at about 20% of what you would pay and then work your way up. Don’t be afraid to walk away! They will often come running after you to offer you the final best price.
Fuxing Park: This was one of my favorite people watching spots. If you go early in the morning you can watch people doing tai chi. It’s a beautiful park to grab a tea and go sit out and watch the locals play bad mitten, sing and enjoy the pretty weather.
South Bund Fabric Market: You can get anything custom made here with a pretty quick turnaround process. Custom coats, shirts, you name it they will make it.
Starbucks Roastery: Yes, you are in China, but this is the largest Starbucks in the world and it’s definitely worth a visit if you have time! It gets pretty crowded but the line tends to move fairly quickly.
Tianzifang: Cute alleys with TONS of vendors, restaurants & cute bars. You can bargain with the vendors at some places and it’s a great spot to find some trinkets.
The Bund: This is where old Shanghai meets new Shanghai. It’s lined with beautiful architecture, tons of restaurants and bars and has a great view of the river. The bridge gets very crowded with people trying to take pictures of the skyline, but the best way to view the skyline is to do a River Cruise which runs for about 45 minutes up and down the Huangpu River.
Towers: There are several towers you can pick from, but we recommend only picking one to go up. The view is generally the same up at all 4. Shanghai Tower is a top favorite view from the building, but Jin Mao tower offers you the ability (if brave enough) to walk outside the building attached to a green cable car. Make sure to check the pollution levels prior to going as you will want the most clear day to go up. The towers are: Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and Shanghai Tower.
YuYuan Garden & Bazaar: Can get very crowded, but the gardens are beautiful and a top site to see. Full of food, vendors & trinkets
Places to Eat
All the dumplings! Xiao long bao are the famous “Shanghai soup dumplings.” The best way to eat them is take a small bite & then dip in vinegar.
Din Tai Fung is a chain over there, but has great dumplings.
Yang’s Fried Dumplings also has amazing fried dumplings (per the name).
Some of the best dumplings you can have are ones from street vendors near popular commercialized areas. Of course, always be careful of ordering from street vendors (and always make sure you've gotten appropriate vaccinations if doing so!), but generally speaking if there is a line and it’s near a metro station/mall, you’re safe.
The other must eat meal is hot pot, a broth based meal where you cook your meat & veggies in front of you. You can do pots like:
Quimin Organic Hotpot (Hengshan Lu): For yummy individual pots.
Hai Di Lao: Get communal pots, and enjoy with friends!
Other great spots to eat at:
Lost Heaven: By the Bund, great authentic Chinese meals.
Da Dong: Great Beijing duck!
Dim Sum Garden: Small snackable bites & a must eat is the delicious scallion pancakes that you can get at most authentic restaurants or street vendors.
If you need something quick & western, Element Fresh and Wagas are chains that have salads, wraps, etc.
Places to Drink
The Shanghai bar scene is constantly changing. A street will be very popular one year and then shut down the next.
Some areas that should stay open for a while are :
Found 158: Area with great restaurants & bars that is “under street level”.
Donghu Lu: A very popular expat area. (The Parrot is a great spot). Best nights of the week are usually the weekends.
M1NT: Great for the clubbing scene.
Bar Rouge: Near the Bund, and often offers free drinks to women on Wednesdays.
Outside of the bars, KTV is a great activity to do for nightlife. KTV is Chinese karaoke where you rent out private rooms for drinks/ karaoke.
If you’re a tea drinker, Shanghai is FULL of tea shops all around the city. Milk tea and bubble tea are very common and you can generally gauge how good something is based on the line.
Places to Stay
French Concessions is where a lot of the exapts live/hangout. You can find plenty of malls, hotels, restaurants and it tends to be cheaper than staying over by the Bund.
The Bund is beautiful, but you are going to pay a price to stay over here. It’s very commercialized and can get very crowded, but there are some amazing hotels with beautiful views.
The Shanghai Metro: Easiest and best way to get around town! You can download for free in the app store (Blue app with M). It runs until 11 PM and costs on average 3-4 RMB to get anywhere. Google Maps/ Apple maps will show you what trains to take, how many stops & what exit to take.
Didi is the local “Uber.” They have an English app where there are pre-selected messages in English that you can send to the driver such as “Hello, my pickup location is accurate. See you soon” They generally don’t call you and you can track them on the app, but it can be difficult if they pass you and you don’t speak the language.
Local taxis are good to take as well, especially from the airport, but be careful of the red ones as they are known to not have the meter running and rip you off. Make sure you only take a taxi with a meter. They will sometimes tell you no, and to walk if they think the distance is too short and you are being lazy!
Shanghai is split into Pudong and Puxi. Generally speaking, the only time you will spend time in Pudong is arriving at the airport or visiting one of the towers.
China can be quite the culture shock. Social norms that would be considered extremely rude in some areas of the world, like the United States, are considered totally acceptable and the norm over there. Expect to be pushed and cut in line with no apologies. The metro stations can be quite overwhelming with the crowds and pushing, but just find a spot near by the doors and be ready to push your way out when it comes to your station.
Other things to be prepared to see/hear are massive amounts of spitting in the street, burping and farting and if you are in rural areas—you might even see children pee in the street. Just remember, you are in their country, not yours! In certain cities, white people are very fascinating and you will likely have your picture taken whether they ask or not. Overall, China is very safe. While there are lots of crowds, you generally don’t have to worry about walking alone, pick pocketing or seeing many homeless people.
Bathrooms- it is very normal for bathrooms to be a hole in the ground. Most traditional Chinese places will have these type of “squat potties” where you will need to bring your own tissues and hand sanitizer. Shanghai is very western in one part of the city and very rural in other parts. As a general rule of thumb, the malls will always have the nicest bathrooms and you can expect regular toilets here. It’s a weird experience your first time, but we have to say they are still cleaner than the traditional portapotty in the US!