Shanghai is a modern city with a highly-developed business sector and convenient transportation. If you are planning a tour of Shanghai, read on to get the best from your time, and some tips on planning the itinerary.
These two periods have moderate temperatures, and are best for enjoying outdoor activities.
Mid June to early July is the rainiest period in Shanghai. Prepare rain gear if you travel during this period.
The hottest time in Shanghai is from July to August. The temperature can be up to 35°C (95°F).
Though it seldom snows, the cold and wet wind will make you feel freezing.
Chinese New Year (usually in January or February) and the week-long holidays beginning on International Labor Day (May 1) and National Day (Oct 1). Be prepared for huge crowds at the airports, tourist sights, shopping areas, restaurants, and hotels during these periods.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is the icon of Shanghai. Its height is 468 meters. There is a revolving teahouse and a sightseeing platform in the tower. You can get a panoramic view of the Bund and Huangpu River. And it's better to visit at night for the spectacular night view.
Time needed: 2–3 hours
The Bund is the most famous place in Shanghai and a good place to relax and appreciate the architecture. There are many buildings in Greek, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. A spacious walkway for sightseeing runs atop a 771-meter-long retaining wall on the Bund, paved with colorful tiles and dotted with flower beds and lighting. You can have a walk there at night for the beautiful night view.
Time needed: 1–2 hours
Yu Garden is located in the center of Shanghai's Old City, a few blocks south of the Bund. It used to be a private garden in the late Ming Dynasty (400 years ago). It's famous for the exquisite layout, beautiful scenery and the artistic style of the garden architecture. There are lots of things to see in the garden, e.g. flower exhibitions, stone exhibitions, painting exhibitions, tea ceremonies and lantern exhibitions.
Time needed: 2–3 hours
Tianzifang is a tourist shopping and café area. It's actually an old lane, and a famous painter named it Tianzifang, pronounced the same as an ancient Chinese painter's name. There are lots of art shops where you can see beautiful paintings and photos. You can enjoy a quiet coffee there, but the price is quite high.
Time needed: 2–3 hours
If you are tired of the high buildings and cars in Shanghai, the water towns nearby are nice places to visit. There are several water towns near Shanghai and each is about 1–2 hours' drive. You can boat on the waterway, eat local snacks, and appreciate the ancient architecture.
Time needed: half a day – 2 days
If you are interested, see our guide to choosing from the water towns near Shanghai.
Day 1. Shanghai Arrival
Your private guide and driver will transport you to your hotel and help you check in.
Evening activities: You can ask your guide for recommendations on places to go in your evening free time.
Day 2. Discover Shanghai
After breakfast at your hotel, you will begin your tour by visiting the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Then go to Yu Garden to appreciate traditional Chinese landscaping and culture. At Shanghai Museum discover ancient Chinese art.
Special experience: If you don't want to travel Shanghai in a private car/van, you can try a sidecar, a fancy and cool way to discover Shanghai.
Day 3. Shanghai Departure
Your driver and tour guide will be waiting at your hotel to get you to the airport/station on time. They will help you check in and escort you to the correct security gate.
If this has sparked your interest, read a more detailed intro to this 3-Day Shanghai Tour; or get started with a Shanghai tour inquiry (our consultancy is free)…
If the above tour isn't what you're looking for, just tell us your interests and requirements and we will help tailor-make a unique Shanghai tour to suit you.
Shanghai is now 72-hour visa free. Travelers from 51 countries with an onward flight from Shanghai to a third country/region are able to benefit from this policy. To make the best of your time in Shanghai, please see our well-designed Shanghai day tour packages for inspiration.
Shanghai has two international airports: Pudong and Hongqiao.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Shanghai Pudong International Airport is the primary international airport serving Shanghai. It is in Pudong New District, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of downtown Shanghai, but the Maglev train will cover that in 8 minutes!
Hongqiao International Airport
Hongqiao International Airport is the main domestic airport serving Shanghai, with limited international flights. It is situated in the western suburbs of Shanghai, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the city center.
Shanghai is a China railway network hub. Trains run to ALL the major cities of China, e.g. Beijing, Xi'an, Guangzhou, and as far away as Lhasa, Urumqi, and Harbin!
There are four train stations in Shanghai. To make sure you go to the right one, see more information about Shanghai's train stations.
Shanghai's underground will get you within a block of most places, and is easier to understand and use than the hundreds of bus numbers, with their thick web of routes. Taxis are plentiful (except in rush hour and when it rains) and some drivers even speak some English.
China Highlights offers private chauffeured transport as a more comfortable and convenient alternative to public transportation. Our private tours come with a private vehicle and driver suited to your group size, and an English-speaking tour guide for all your communication needs.
The largest city in China, Shanghai is one of the top economic, finance, trade, and shopping centers in the world. There are numerous accommodation options in Shanghai, but the price is generally higher than elsewhere in mainland China.
First choose where you want to stay, and then compare the hotels and prices there. China Highlights offers a hotel booking service. Below are some recommended hotels in Shanghai.
Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund Ranked #2 on Trip Advisor
The Puli Hotel and Spa Shanghai Ranked #3 on Trip Advisor
The Langham Xintiandi Shanghai Ranked #4 on Trip Advisor
Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai Ranked #5 on Trip Advisor
The Peninsula Shanghai Ranked #6 on Trip Advisor
Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund Ranked #9 on Trip Advisor
Les Suites Orient, Bund Shanghai Ranked #13 on Trip Advisor
Andaz Xintiandi, Shanghai Ranked #14 on Trip Advisor
Grand Central Hotel Shanghai Ranked #25 on Trip Advisor
The Yangtze Boutique Shanghai Ranked 26 on Trip Advisor
URBN Hotel Ranked #61 on Trip Advisor
More on Shanghai Accommodation Guide
Shanghai's home stay option, in the well-developed Caoyang Village area, offers you the opportunity to interact with local people. There will be a welcome party organized by the local people at the Neighborhood Community Services Center. Then your host will show you to their house, where you will stay in a twin-bed bedroom.
You will have the opportunity to learn how to make dumplings and enjoy dinner with the family. On the second day, you can have Chinese breakfast with this family and join in local people's morning exercises. You can also visit a local food market with the host and get to know how the host prepares for lunch.
China Highlights offers the home stay if you book a China tour with us.
Shanghai has a wide range of restaurants, which not only serve local cuisine, but also dishes from all over China and all over the world. So you can easily find a restaurant in Shanghai to fit your tastes. Our Shanghai Restaurants recommendations include Western restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, and Muslim restaurants.
Shanghai, hailed as a "Shopping paradise", is one of the most prosperous cities in the world. There are many shopping centers, malls, department stores, markets, and shopping streets. Shopping in Shanghai is very convenient. You can purchase anything you want there. Read our Shanghai Shopping page to find places to buy souvenirs, qipaos, silk, etc.
Shanghai has mainland China's most colorful nightlife, with a wide variety of bars, clubs, cinemas, theaters, restaurants, cafes, and so on.
If you stay in Shanghai, one thing you cannot miss is the nighttime beauty of the Bund. When the lights on the Bund go on for the evening, the city's partiers emerge to begin the night. Many clubs and bars usually stay open until 4am and later. Read Shanghai Nightlife to find a club or bar to experience Shanghai's nightlife.
Transportation in Shanghai is very convenient, and you can travel like most locals do by taking the subway, buses, taxis, biking, walking, etc., but you may encounter many unforeseen troubles, like the language barrier and getting lost.
If you want no hassles, we recommend you travel with a professional travel company, who will take care of getting you where you want to go. Then you can enjoy a comfortable and relaxing tour.
China Highlights has been specializing in tailor-making China tours since 1998. Contact us, and our travel experts will be glad to help you arrange your tour based on your requirements.
It is a good idea to take a large quantity of business cards with you, and if possible have the text translated into Chinese on the reverse. When you are introduced to a local, take out your card, bow slightly, and present it with both hands. They will probably reciprocate in a similar manner, most likely holding their card English version uppermost. It is at this point considered good manners to pass a polite comment on the appearance of the other's card, whilst tucking it carefully within the confines of your wallet.
Don't get flustered if, when meeting a group of people, they start clapping when you arrive. This is simply a form of greeting and you may respond by clapping also.
When in Shanghai, it’s quite helpful and practical to learn some usful Chinese phrases, since English is not widely spoken. More on learning Chinese.
Chinese government stipulates a five-day workweek, from Monday to Friday, with no more than 8 hours a day. The normal business hours are generally from 8am to 6pm, with a break from 12pm to 2pm.
Restaurants: 11am–2pm, 6–9pm, in general
Tipping used to be very rare in China, but now, no doubt through Western influence, the idea is catching on. In restaurants a 3% tip is standard, bellboys and room service staff expect roughly $1 or $2. You can tip in U.S. dollars.
Toilets in China are normally of the squatting type. Now airports and hotels all have Western toilets, and many public toilets have both Western style and squat style. Always carry tissues with you, just in case you need to go to the toilet (because most public toilets don't provide toilet paper).
More on How to Use a Squat Toilet in China.
Electricity in China is 240 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second.A transformer may be necessary if you bring electric devices. It can be bought in China. As the shape of a socket varies between countries, a portable plug adaptor may also be necessary.Some hotels can provide adaptors for guests, but we suggest visitors bring one. Adaptors can also be purchased from electronics stores in China.
Internet: Most hotel rooms in China offer internet cables and Wi-Fi for laptops. Some public areas like airports, Starbucks, SPR, and a number of cafes and restaurants also provide free Wi-Fi. China Highlights offers Portable Wi-fi Rental so that you can surf the internet anytime and anywhere while traveling in China.
Telephone: China's country code is 86 and Shanghai's code is 021.
First you must dial "00" (international prefix), then dial the country code, then the area code and local number. E.g. if you want to call 434-5678 in California (area code 760) in the USA (country code 1), you need to dial 00-1-760-434-5678.
Landline: first dial the area code, and then dial the local phone number. E.g., if you call the number 123-4567 in Guilin (area code is 0773), you need to dial 0773-123-4567
Cell call: First dial 0 (national prefix), then the cell phone number. China Highlights offers Cell Phone Rental to help you keep in touch (and save money on local offers).
In Shanghai there are a number of International hospitals and clinics with modern medical facilities and English speaking staff. They can offer medical services to foreigners.
24 Hour Emergency Service
Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, Bioscor now has 20 branches in 12 countries. Bioscor Shanghai Clinic has Australian, American, and Chinese doctors specializing in plastic/cosmetic surgery, medical skin treatment and cosmetic dentistry.
Currency exchange service is available at most hotels, and all large banks. Credit card is widely acceptable as a means of payment in hotels, department stores, and boutiques. The credit cards commonly accepted in China are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.