Shanghai Tours and Travel Guide
Shanghai Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Situated on China's central coast, and the biggest city in the country. It's a hotbed of history, city life and modern culture. Other than Beijing, this is where many China tours begin or end and it is a spectacular introduction to the many nuances of China.
Top 5 Things to Do in Shanghai
1. See the Old & the New - Get a glimpse of old China and older Shanghai in Zhujiajiao, a traditional “water town”, with life surrounding the various canals winding through the towns. Narrow bridges connect over these waterways, and lead into a tangle of charming, pedestrian back streets too narrow for cars.
Then, take a quick ride back into the city to get a look at the Shanghai World Financial Center, the 9th tallest building in the world, a symbol of modernization and modern China.
2. Yuyuan Garden - Take a moment to appreciate some of China’s beautiful endemic plant life inside the Yuyuan Garden. This garden was originally intended to serve as a private garden for Ming-dynasty official Pan Yunduan and his family, though it is now completely open to the public.
There are 6 main areas and 30 pavilions, each with their own with ornate decorated bridges and colorful pagodas, and quiet private areas. In particular, be sure to visit the dazzling Jade Magnificence Hall and the magical Lotus Pool.
3. Shanghai’s Oldest Temples - Longhua Temple and Jade Buddha Temple. Longhua Temple is the oldest and largest religious complex in Shanghai. This 10th century, multi-story pagoda is filled with treasures, as are the surrounding buildings.
In the spring, this is site is also one of the best places to see the peach blo Jade Buddha Temple is known for its legions of statues, most notably two large jade buddhas and three golden ones representing past, present, and future, this temple is also still inhabited by monks -- one of the few remaining in Shanghai.
4. Walk the Bund - This is the bridge connecting Shanghai’s mainland across the Huangpu River, and also the classic location to get a photo of Shanghai’s famous skyline. We recommend going at night -- not only is there less of a chance of smog concealing the view, but the buildings are also known for their fantastic light shows. You will feel as if you’ve been transported into the future.
5. Nanjing Road - This is Shanghai’s most famous shopping centers, Nanjing Road is lined with dozens of international and local shops. Although not the best place to find a bargain, the beautiful architecture of the area and the lively hustle and bustle make it one of the must-see sights in Shanghai. The views at night are equally spectacular as the daytime; neon signs turn their lights on and are reminiscent of Times Square.
Private Tours in Shanghai
Shanghai is a large and crowded city, so it makes sense if you want to make sure you won’t be lost in the crowds of a large tour group. One solution to this would be to book a private tour of Shanghai, a surprisingly popular option.
Although meals are not typically included in these tours, you can expect to get many more genuine and personalized suggestions for restaurants, along with everything else.
If you have a specific interest, like Chinese history, for example, having a privately guided tour ensures that all of your questions will be answered and the specific sightseeing you wanted to do will be.
Things to Know Before You Go
Best Time to Visit Shanghai
One generally touted piece of advice when traveling to Shanghai is to visit in the autumn. Temperatures are still comfortably warm between September and October (with highs on average 81F in September and a still pleasant 72F in October), and you will be avoiding the high prices and crowds of the summer.
The spring weather is also a good option, temperatures are in April around 65F, and May 74F. Shanghai tour packages at this time of year are also the best time to catch the city’s gorgeous cherry and peach blossoms.
The best time to visit certain tourist attractions can also vary. If you are a multi day tour of the city, your tour guide will likely make sure that certain attractions are experienced during the week. For example, the gorgeous and historic water town of Zhujiajiao is usually quite crowded with tourists during the weekend, so it’s recommended that you visit during the week.
What to wear in Shanghai
If you do decide to travel during Shanghai’s winter, bring a good jacket and warm clothing. Otherwise, you can feel free to dress as you might at home, though perhaps a bit more formally -- much of Shanghai dresses in Western fashions, and is very trendy.
You are expected to wear more formal clothing when eating out to dinner at night, and you may be looked down upon if you wear anything too revealing.
Also, it is important to note that Chinese clothing sizes are smaller than typical Western ones -- so if you need to replace an article of clothing, buy a couple of sizes up!
If you are a man, do not wear any green hat! In China, this is associated with being a cheat or adulterer, due to how linguistically similar the words sound in Chinese.
Is air pollution a problem in Shanghai?
Although air pollution is a more well known problem in Beijing, it is also a problem (on a lesser scale) in Shanghai. For this reason, you will still see many Chinese wearing face masks. It is not necessary for you to wear these since you are only spending a short portion of time in the city. If you are very asthmatic, it is recommended you avoid intense, outdoor exercise.
Shanghai Travel Tips
- Despite the very modern appearance of Shanghai, you will soon find that most bathroom are still squat-toilets. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
- You will have to purchase a step down converter and travel adapter plug -- most Western devices aren’t designed for the shape and voltage of Chinese plugs.
- Don’t drink the tap water, although it is safe to brush your teeth with.
- In Shanghai, taxi drivers prefer to be given coins over small bills anyday.
- If you are dining outside of tourist areas, you may have to ask for rice immediately. The Chinese consider rice a cheap way to get full at the end of your meal, so asking for mifan mashang (rice immediately) is your best way to get some.
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