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How to Plan a Day Trip in Shanghai

pudong Shanghai Pudong Area

This article is created to guide you how to plan a layover or a day trip in Shanghai. If you use Shanghai as a gateway city for China visits you could discover Shanghai in a series of mini trips.

One of China's "layover cities": Shanghai has one of China’s most important airports, Pudong International Airport, making Shanghai one of the main arrival/departure cities for China. Travelers flying from Shanghai may need to wait half a day to a day before boarding an onward flight.

Time Needed

A journey between the airport and the Shanghai urban area takes about one hour, which means that you need at least a 6-hour layover to get out of the airport, see a central Shanghai attraction and get back with time to check in for your flight. See Pudong International Airport Transportation.

Half Day to One Day in Shanghai

Leave Luggage at the Airport

There are 6 luggage deposit offices in the airport:

In Terminal Building 1: between Gate 4 and Gate 5 and between Gate 10 and Gate 11 in the Departure Hall, and between Gate 6 and Gate 7 in the Arrival Hall. The telephone number is 021-6834 6324.

In Terminal Building 2: near Service Counter and near Service Counter M, in the Departure Hall; and near the International Arrivals exit. The telephone number is 021-6834 0076.

China Highlights suggest you leave the luggage at your departure terminal building. The price for leaving luggage is 50 yuan a day (for a large-size one, the small one could be cheaper).

Also Read: Christmas Shopping in Shanghai

Reference Route

Pudong Airport – the Oriental Pearl – Nanjing Road – the Bund – Yuyuan Garden – Pudong Airport. Covering four attractions might be too much. Select attractions according to your own interest and available time.

1. The first 1½ hours: It takes about 30 minutes to deal process through Arrivals. Then maybe a further 30 minutes is needed to pick up and deposit your large luggage and walk from the airport to Pudong Airport subway station (浦东机场). Take subway line 2 to Lujiazui (陆家嘴, about 25 minutes). Lujiazui Subway Station is about 400 meters from the Oriental Pearl. Subway is the best transportation because it avoids traffic jams.

2. Visiting the Oriental Pearl Tower (about 2 hours): If you want to want to have a bird’s eye view of Shanghai and a meal on the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, you need about 3 hours. There is a revolving restaurant in the tower.

3.Shopping and Eating in Nanjing Road (at least 2 hours): Return to Lujiazui subway station, take subway line 2 to People’s Square (人民广场), and walk east into Nanjing Road (Shanghai’s No. 1 pedestrian street for shopping and eating).

the bund The Bund at nights

4. Visiting the Bund (about 2 hours): Keep walking east to the Bund (only about 1km; 20 minutes is enough to walk Nanjing Road). The night scenes of the Bund are extremely eye-catching. There are many cafés and restaurants there.

5. Yuyuan Garden (at least 3 hours): Walking Yu Garden is about 1.3 km from the Nanjing Road intersection along the bund, then via Xinyong’an, Linshui, and Fuyou roads, and Panjia Street. You can taste Shanghai food there. Entry is 40 yuan.

6. Return to the airport (about 2 hours): When there are 4 hours before your boarding time, it is time to return the airport. Take subway line 10 at Yuyuan Subway Station (豫园), get off at Nanjing East Road (南京东路), and transfer to line 2 to Pudong International Airport.

The Maglev: To shorten your journey (and for the experience of the world’s fastest train) you should ride the Maglev from Longyang Lu on Line 2 to the airport.

If you have a child, Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is enjoyable and convenient (140 yuan pp.). It is quite near the Oriental Pearl Tower, and the recommended stay is half a day. Check out more top things to do in Shanghai with kids.

More on Planing a Day Trip in Shanghai

yu gardenYuyuan Garden

Knid reminder: If you think that taking a independent trip in Shanghai is really complicated, you can choose China Highlights’ well-arranged Shanghai day trips or have us tailor-make a trip in Shanghai for you, which should be much more efficient and practicable.

Attractions: First select which you want to visit from Shanghai’s numerous attractions. Usually three or four activities a day is about right. For attractions far from central Shanghai (like the ancient water towns), one attraction a day is about right. The following is a list of top Shanghai attractions for your selection.

Attraction Type Customer Rating Recommended time for a visit (hours) Time of day (Entry) cost (yuan) Distance from Central Shanghai: People's Square (km)
The Bund and Huangpu River Scenic 2 Day and night free 2
Xin Tian Di Culture and Shopping 3 Day and night free 3
Oriental Pearl TV Tower Scenic & Culture 2 8am–9:30pm 35, 150, and 305 6
Jinmao Tower Scenic & Culture 2 8:30–10pm 100 5
City God's Temple Cultural, shopping, and eating 3 day and night free 6
Tianzifang Cultural, shopping, and eating 3 Daytime and evening free 4
Confucian Temple Culture, shopping, and eating 3 Daytime and evening 10 32
Nanjing Road Shopping and eating 2 Day and night free 2
Yuyuan Garden Historical site 3 Day and night 40 2
Jade Buddha Temple Historical site 1.5 Daytime 30 5
Jing'an Temple Historical site 1 Daytime 30 3
Ocean Aquarium Children's 4 9am–5:30 130, 90 for children under 1.4m 6
Dongping National Forest Park (东平国家森林公园) Children's 8 8am–4:30 70 94
Happy Valley Children's 6 9am–6pm 200 37
Shanghai Science and Technology Museum Children's 4 9am–5pm 60 yuan 9
Disneyland (under construction) Children's 8 unknown 300 (estimated) 18
Wild Animal Park Children's 3 8am–5pm 130 (65 for childen) 44
Yuehu Sculpture Park Children's 4 9am–6pm 120, 50 for a child under 1.4m 34
Shanghai Museum Museum 3 9am–5pm free 2
Shanghai Natural History Museum Museum 3 9am–5pm free 6
Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center Museum 2 9am–5pm 20 4.6
Madame Tussaudas Wax Museum Museum 3 10am–10pm 135 350 meters
Shanghai Auto Museum Museum 3 9:30am–4:30 60 43
Qibao Ancient Town Ancient Water Town 4 day and night free 18

There are several ancient water towns near Shanghai. All of them have graceful water scenery and ancient-style architecture. The recommended time for a visit to these ancient water towns is always one or two days. However, if you like, you also can finish the visit and go back to Shanghai within a day. You may be puzzled about which ancient water town to go to. Check out our special report on Top 9 Ancient Towns around Shanghai — Which Should I Go To?

Shanghai has more than 72 museums, China Highlights has listed the best seven on our Top 7 Museums in Shanghai page.

Night Activities

There are many night activities in Shanghai. We have selected the most popular six.

Attraction Type of Attraction Recommended time for a visit (hours) Time of day (Entry) cost (yuan) Location
Huangpu River Cruise Scenic ½ – 3½ 11am-10pm 100, 150, and 200 Huangpu River
Era Time - Intersection of Time Chinese Acrobatics 7:30pm-9pm 80, 180, 280, 380, and 580 Shanghai Circus World
Acrobatics of Shanghai Chinese Acrobatics 7:30pm-9pm 100, 150, and 200 Baiyulan Theatre (白玉兰剧院)
Charming Shanghai Chinese Acrobatics 7:30pm-9pm 150, 200, and 280 Yunfeng Treatre (云峰剧院)
Shanghai Fantasia Chinese Acrobatics 7:30pm-9pm 100, 150, and 200 Malanhua Treater (马兰花剧场)
Acrobatics of Pujiang Feeling Chinese Acrobatics 7:30pm-9pm 100, 150, and 200 Shanghai Lyceum Theatre (兰心大戏院) and Shanghai Center Theatre (上海商城剧院)

Meals and Shopping

Shanghai has lots of local food. You can taste them in Town God’s Temple and Yuyuan Garden. Our guides to Shanghai food and Shanghai restaurants (consisting of traditional Chinese restaurants, Muslim Restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, best restaurants for kids, Western restaurants, and buffet restaurants) can offer you some suggestions on choosing where and what to eat.

Our Shanghai shopping guide has listed the main shopping places in Shanghai, and what you can buy in these shopping places (including silk, antiques, clothes, shoes, fabric, books, silverware, and qipaos).

Accommodation and Hotel Reservation

It is easy to find a hotel anywhere in Shanghai. Hotels in business areas and near attractions are more expensive. Huangpu, Jing’an, Nanshi, and Hongkou districts are Shanghai’s traditional business areas. Pudong, Changning, and Xuhui districts are the newly-born business areas. Staying in these areas can make your trip smoother.

China Highlights has selected more than 5,000 Shanghai hotels to cater to your personal demands. Their prices range from tens of yuan to hundreds of yuan. Check out our Shanghai Accommodation Guide and Shanghai hotel booking service.

Best-selling Shanghai tour: Three-Day Essence of Shanghai Tour

Let us help you plan a personalized Shanghai tour for you or tailor make the travel arrangements for you.