Shanghai is a city that reveals itself slowly, so it can take a while to see all of its charms. From iconic landmarks to floating towns, museums teaching the culture and history of Shanghai, beautiful green spaces, and local hangouts, you’ll find something worth visiting around every corner of China’s biggest city. Here are some of the best destinations in Shanghai that you can’t miss.
Best Destinations in Shanghai
1. The Bund
Strolling along The Bund is simply one of the things any visitor to Shanghai must do. Located on the west side of the Huangpu River, The Bund is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Shanghai. The Bund is flanked by old buildings representing various architectural styles, including Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance. This is in contrast to the east side of the river where the skyline is filled with amazing skyscrapers that reach into the sky at dizzying heights. A good time to walk The Bund is at night when the skyscrapers are lit up like Christmas trees.
2. Yu Garden
To the northeast of the old town and laid out in 1559 is the splendid Yu Garden (Yù Yuán). Also known as the Garden of Happiness, this vast green space covers an area of more than 20,000 square meters and consists of an outer and an inner garden.
The oldest section is the Outer Garden, with further changes being made in the 18th century when Sansui Tang, the park’s main hall, was added. This impressive building is notable for its lovely roof ornaments, figurative representations in bas-reliefs, and window openings, as well as its dragon-adorned walls.
The best-known building is the Hall of Spring, where the Company of the Little Swords (Xiaodao Hui) had its headquarters between 1853 and 1855 when it ruled Shanghai. Of great historical importance are the artificial rocks in this part of the garden, the only work of the master garden designer Zhang Nanyang that has been preserved.
3. Propaganda Poster Art Centre
This is one of the best destinations in Shanghai. The Propaganda Poster Art Centre is an art museum for people who don’t care for art and a history museum for people who don’t like history. Tucked away in the basement of a nameless apartment building, the center offers an eye-opening introduction to China’s tumultuous 20th century through posters that show an ever-changing vision for a Communist paradise.
Surrounding Shanghai is eight ancient water towns, which make for a once-in-a-lifetime road trip. If you don’t have time to visit them all, Qibao is the perfect place to stop. Located within the city limits, Qibao is known for its delicious street food and its beautiful canal views. Just a few streets long, Qibao is like a mini-town. It is best enjoyed during the week, as it can get packed with tourists at the weekend. Highlights include cheap shopping and the Qibao Winery.
5. Nanjing Road
Nanjing Road is the shopping street in Shanghai. Indeed, it is one of the world’s largest and most famous attracting about a million shoppers a day. The road, created in 1845, is divided into East and West; the East section is the primary shopping area. Where once it was lined with traditional Chinese stores selling daily necessities, today Nanjing Road is lined with upscale shops, restaurants, and hotels. The eastern section is one long pedestrian mall, so shoppers don’t have to worry about being hit by cars. They should, however, be on the lookout for hawkers zooming along on lighted roller-skates.
6. Jade Buddha Temple
Located in the Anyuan Lu district of Shanghai, the beautiful Jade Buddha Temple houses two Shakyamuni statues, which the monk Huigen brought with him from Burma. The present building, erected in 1928 to replace the original temple built in 1882, is divided into three halls and two courtyards.
The most impressive structure is the splendid Hall of the Kings of Heaven(Tian Wang Dian), notable for its statues of the four heavenly kings and two Shakyamuni sculptures. Carved from white jade, one of these impressive statues stands nearly two meters high in the Wentang Main hall, where a collection of Buddhist manuscripts is also kept.
7. Shanghai Museum
Paris has its Louvre, Amsterdam the Rijksmuseum, and Shanghai has its own world-class museum in the Shanghai Museum. Located in a modern building on People’s Square, the Shanghai Museum has five floors containing the best in ancient Chinese history: old coins, priceless paintings and ceramics, intricately carved traditional lacquer furniture, and ancient bronze and jade artifacts. All told, the museum has more than 120,000 pieces divided among 11 galleries. Even the building itself is a work of art, with the round dome representing heaven and the square base, land. Best of all, the museum offers free admission to 8,000 people every day.