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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.

A Suggested Half Day / Day in Shanghai

Leave Luggage at the Airport

Pudong Terminal Transportation Map Pudong Airport Terminal Transportation Map

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 A and near Service Counter M in the Departure Hall; and near the International Arrivals exit. The telephone number is 021-6834 0076.

We suggest you leave your luggage at your departure terminal building. The price for leaving (large) luggage is 50 yuan a day (small luggage may be cheaper).

Suggested 12½-hour Day Tour Itinerary

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

1. The first 1½ hours: It takes about 30 minutes to 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 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. Now the Shanghai Tower and other nearby towers offer other bird's eye view options.

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 along Nanjing Road (Shanghai’s No. 1 pedestrian street for shopping and eating). About 20 minutes is enough to walk the mile (1½ kilometers) of Nanjing Road.

the bund The Bund at nights

4. Visiting the Bund (about 2 hours): At the end of Nanjing Road is the Bund. The night scenes of the Bund are extremely eye-catching. There are many cafés and restaurants there.

5. Yu Yuan (at least 3 hours): Walking south along the Bund, Yu Garden is about 1 km from Nanjing Road, and about 300 m in from the river on the right. The entrance is on Anmen Street. Entry is 40 yuan. You can taste Shanghai food on adjoining Shanghai Old Street.

6. Return to the airport (about 2 hours): Four 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 for 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.

Choosing What to Visit in Shanghai

yu gardenYuyuan Garden

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.

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.

AttractionTypeCustomer RatingRecommended time for a visit (hours
— add 4 hours for transport)
Open(Entry) cost (yuan)Distance from Central Shanghai: People's Square (km)
The Bund and Huangpu RiverScenicfive stars2Day and nightfree2
XintiandiCulture and Shoppingfour stars3Day and nightfree3
Oriental Pearl TV TowerScenic & Culturefour stars28am–9:30pm35, 150, and 3056
Jinmao TowerScenic & Culturefour stars28:30am–10pm1005
City God's TempleCultural, shopping, and eatingfour stars3day and nightfree6
TianzifangCultural, shopping, and eatingfour stars3Daytime and eveningfree4
Confucian TempleCulture, shopping, and eatingfour stars3Daytime and evening1032
Nanjing RoadShopping and eatingfive stars2Day and nightfree2
Yu GardenHistorical sitefive stars3Day and night402
Jade Buddha TempleHistorical sitefour stars1.5Daytime305
Jing'an TempleHistorical sitefour stars1Daytime303
Ocean AquariumChildren'sfive stars49am–5:30pm130, 90 for children under 1.4m6
Happy ValleyChildren'sfive stars69am–6pm20037
Shanghai Science and Technology MuseumChildren'sfive stars49am–5pm60 yuan9
Disneyland (open 2016)Children'sfive stars8unknown300 (estimated)18
Wild Animal ParkChildren'sfour stars38am–5pm130 (65 for childen)44
Yuehu Sculpture ParkChildren'sfour stars49am–6pm120, 50 for a child under 1.4m34
Shanghai MuseumMuseumfive stars39am–5pmfree2
Shanghai Natural History MuseumMuseumfour stars39am–5pmfree6
Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art CenterMuseumfive stars29am–5pm204.6
Madame Tussaudas Wax MuseumMuseumfour stars310am–10pm1350.4
Shanghai Auto MuseumMuseumfour stars39:30am–4:30pm6043
Qibao Ancient TownAncient Water Townfour stars4day and nightfree18

Night Activities

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

AttractionType of AttractionTime for a visit (hours)Time of dayPricesLocation
Huangpu River CruiseScenic½ – 3½11am–10pm100, 150, and 200Huangpu River
Era Time — Intersection of TimeChinese Acrobatics7:30–9pm80, 180, 280, 380, and 580Shanghai Circus World
Acrobatics of ShanghaiChinese Acrobatics7:30–9pm100, 150, and 200Baiyulan Theatre (白玉兰剧院)
Charming ShanghaiChinese Acrobatics7:30–9pm150, 200, and 280Yunfeng Treatre (云峰剧院)
Shanghai FantasiaChinese Acrobatics7:30–9pm100, 150, and 200Malanhua Treater (马兰花剧场)
Acrobatics of Pujiang FeelingChinese Acrobatics7:30–9pm100, 150, and 200Shanghai 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 Yu 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.

Need Help with Your Day Tour — Look No Further!

If you're thinking that taking a independent trip in Shanghai is really complicated and stressful, you can choose from China Highlights’ well-arranged Shanghai day trips listed below (by duration then distance from central Shanghai).

Or have us tailor-make a day trip in Shanghai for you according to what you want to do.

Day TourStyleTour TypeAttractionsDuration (≈h)From US$
2-hour Shanghai Sidecar Experience TourPrivateSidecarHistoric buildings, Old alleys, Kee Club (customizable)2274
Charming Seat-in-coach Tour of Shanghai at NightGroupClassic SightsPeople's Square, Xintiandi, Huanghai Road, Huangpu River Cruise3110
Morning Half-Day Shanghai Seat-in-coach TourGroupClassic SightsThe Bund, Yu Garden, Xintiandi, French Concession466
Morning Shanghai History and Culture TourGroupShanghai ColonialFrench Concession, Xintiandi, The Bund477
Shanghai Classic TourPrivateShanghai AntiquityJade Buddha Temple, Yu Garden8On request
One-day Shanghai Seat-in-coach TourGroupClassic SightsJade Buddha Temple, The Bund, Xintiandi, Yu Garden8On request
One Day Shanghai History and Culture Seat-in-Coach TourGroupShanghai Colonial Xintiandi, The Bund8On request
Zhujiajiao Ancient Town & Seven Treasures Town Shanghai Day TourPrivateAncient Water TownSeven Treasures Town, Zhujiajiao Water Town8133
Zhouzhuang Relaxing Seat-in-coach Day TourGroupAncient Water TownZhouzhuang Water Town8On request
Tongli Village Tour from ShanghaiPrivateAncient Water TownTongli Ancient Town8121
Suzhou and Tongli Water Town Tour from ShanghaiPrivateSuzhou Garden and Ancient Water TownHumble Administrator’s Garden, Tongli Ancient Town8On request
One-Day Suzhou Seat-in-coach Tour from ShanghaiGroupSuzhou HighlightsLingering Garden, Grand Canal & Ancient City Wall, Silk Factory, Suzhou Museum8131
One-Day Hangzhou Seat-in-coach Tour from ShanghaiGroupHangzhou HighlightsWest Lake, Lingyin Temple8On request