Travel to Shanghai: 7 places to visit and many things to do!

Story by: Ani Vardanyan     Date: 11 November 2020    Image by: Ani Vardanyan

5 minutes reading time China

This city of multiculturism, international trade, education, art was just a fishing village less than 200 years ago. Shanghai managed to become a cosmopolitan metropolis in a short time. The city had its ups and downs, but nowadays it is a major touristic destination. And in this article, you will find the 7 best places to visit in Shanghai. But first, let’s dig into the history.

Historical perspective

Before the middle of the 19th century, Shanghai was a small fishing village. But its status has changed after the First Opium War. Why was there a war, you might ask?

Today it’s common knowledge that drugs can be dangerous for people. Though, at that time, countries like The British Empire were trying to export and sell them in other countries like China. The latter banned the opium trade because of its destructive abilities.
Throughout history, due to the active trade of Chinese goods like silk, jade, and ceramics, most of the silver (which was exchanged in China to get Chinese currency for buying their products) of Europe ended up in China.
Unfortunately, when the British were selling opium to the Chinese in silver, large amounts of it was going back to foreign merchants, hence leaving China. As a result, the value of silver increased in China, causing taxpaying problems for the citizens since those payments had to be made in silver.

As an outcome, there was the Opium war, where the British won. Consequently, foreign trades became possible in Shanghai as a part of the treaty. This meant that foreign ships could unload their wares in the city’s port. Therefore, not only the British were attracted to run their business in Shanghai, but also the French and American merchants. They established their own territories like Britain. And each “colony” brought its culture to the city. For this reason, it started developing rapidly. Thereby, we are presenting the top 7 places in Shanghai impacted by its short but rich history.

The Bund

The Bund is a historical district of Shanghai. It contains many architectural buildings of various styles. In the past, it was the center for trading houses and the port for foreign ships. Nowadays, you can find many international banks here and touristic attractions.

Things to do:

  • have a walk in the district and enjoy the views and architecture,
  • take a Huangpu River cruise at night,
  • check out the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel,
  • visit the oldest park in Shanghai: Huangpu Park.

Nanjing Road

Nanjing Road is the world’s longest shopping district. It has been destroyed during WW2 and renovated after. Here is a perfect place for some shopping and trying local food. Things to do:

  • explore traditional department stores,
  • take the Dangdang sightseeing tram,
  • try some authentic Chinese food,
  • visit bars or music clubs in Shanghai.

Shanghai Disneyland Park

Shanghai Disneyland Park is the first in mainland China. It is known for having the tallest castle and the first pirate-themed garden among all the Disney Parks. This park has 7 themed zones, including Mickey Avenue, Gardens of Imagination, Fantasyland, and others. Moreover, last year the company announced that new themed land is coming: The City of Zootopia!

Things to experience:

  • Treasure Cove,
  • Gardens of Imagination,
  • Fantasia carousel.

All of them are the pioneers of their kind among all the Disney Parks.

Yu Garden

You can find one of the most satisfying garden-sceneries here. No wonder that the name itself (“Yu”) means pleasing and satisfying. 400 years ago, a Chinese government official built this beautiful garden for his parents. Yu Garden has 6 general areas showcasing classical Chinese architecture.

Areas to visit:

  • Sansui Hall,
  • Wanhua Chamber,
  • Dianchun Hall,
  • Inner Garden.

You should also visit the Yuyuan Bazaar nearby for shopping and try Shanghai’s famous Nanxiang Steamed Buns.

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum is the best choice for people who don’t like museums. It is the most extraordinary, entertaining, and educational hub for both locals and tourists. This is a museum of ancient Chinese art presented in 11 galleries and 7 exhibition halls. You can see ancient Chinese coins, sculptures, paintings, furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as traditional garments from various ethnic groups of China.

Things to do:

  • visit the museum’s cinema and watch a 7-minute mesmerizing film about Shanghai,
  • watch the exhibition with the maquette of the city changing its background from the sunrise to the sunset,
  • discover different traditional garments projected on the mannequins,
  • walk through the exhibition hall full of real-size sculptures of Shanghai people showcasing various aspects of their lives,
  • dress in traditional Chinese garments of the ’20s and ’30s and take professional photos as a Shanghai inhabitant.


This is a district in the heart of Shanghai City, which is full of book stores, bars, restaurants, and boutiques for wealthy leisure. Xintiandi means “New Heaven and Earth.” This former French Quarter of Shanghai is known for its combination of building designs of the ’20s and contemporary style. A perfect example of modern urban development!

Things to do:

  • enjoying coffee in themed cafes,
  • exploring the nightlife by visiting bars,
  • shopping,
  • eating traditional Chinese food in restaurants,
  • wandering around and admiring the modern architecture.

Old City God Temple

One of the most important cultural and religious places in Shanghai is the Old City God Temple. It was built during the Ming dynasty more than 600 years ago. From its early years up to now, this Taoist temple has been popular among many people. They come here to pray for peace, wealth, well-being, and luck. The temple has 9 halls and is full of statues of immortals, which, supposedly, are in control of various aspects of human life.

Things to do:

  • be a witness of Chinese religious ceremonies (at holidays only),
  • burn incenses and make a wish for luck,
  • visit the snack square around the temple and try various street food (here you can find many kinds of steamed buns, flower cakes, rice cakes),
  • check Shanghai Old Street nearby to the City God Temple.

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