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Shanghai Travel Guide

Shanghai has a long history as a gateway to China on the Yangtze River delta. It is the largest economic and trade center in China, and one of China's cultural centers.

Shanghai retains China's last vestige of its unusual colonial past. The architecture along the Bund is a living museum of the colonial history of the 1800s. Shanghai stands in the front line of China's economic development. The Pudong area with its prosperous cosmopolitan features is guaranteed to wow visitors.

Where Shanghai Is

Shanghai, a directly-controlled municipality and the largest city in China, is sandwiched between the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang. In the middle of China's coast, on the south of the mouth of the Yangtze, it is about 2½ hours by air from Beijing or Hong Kong.

144-Hour Visa-Free Travel

Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang have had a 144-hour visa-free transit policy for international passengers since January 30, 2016.

The new policy covers travelers from 51 countries and regions, including the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Eligible passengers can enjoy a 144-hour visa-free stay in the three provincial level areas upon entry to China via Shanghai's air, sea and railway ports, Nanjing Lukou International Airport of Jiangsu, or Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport of Zhejiang.

They must later depart for a third country (or region, i.e. HK/Macau/Taiwan) from one of the above-listed ports. See How to Make the Most of Your 144-Hour Visa-Free Stay in Shanghai.

Shanghai skyline viewsShanghai's classic skyline views

Top Reasons to Visit Shanghai

  • Shanghai is China's largest and richest city: China's biggest and most prosperous city oozes an atmosphere of vitality and rival New York and Paris in terms of modernity.
  • A Blend of Eastern and Western Cultures: Shanghai's colonial legacy combined with Chinese culture has created a unique fusion of East and West.
  • Ease of Onward Trips: From Shanghai it is easy to travel to Xian to see the Terracotta Army or up to Beijing to see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China, or to Guilin to see the beautiful karst landscape.
  • Shanghai's gorgeous night scene: One of the main highlights that will linger in visitors' mind. As night descends the entire city is lit up by colorful lights.
  • More Reasons to Visit Shanghai

Shanghai has emerged as one of the most popular travel destinations worldwide. It is constantly improving its travel infrastructure and facilities to ensure tourists an exceptional and memorable experience, and many choose to return.

Top Things to Do in Shanghai

Yuyuan GardenThe typical Chinese architecture in Shanghai, Yuyuan Garden
  • Stroll down the Bund promenade or board an evening cruise boat to enjoy Shanghai's classic skyline views of colonial-era buildings and tall skyscrapers along the Huangpu River.
  • Contemplate the masterpieces of traditional Chinese art in Shanghai Museum.
  • Enjoy a bird's-eye view of the city from the World Financial Center.
  • Take a leisurely stroll around Zhujiajiao, a water town with fascinating canals, bridges, and architecture.
  • More interesting things to do in Shanghai

Although Shanghai is a very busy city with heavy traffic, the old part of the city has a lot of ancient and quiet streets, which you may walk or bike around to have a look at old Shanghai. See our Shanghai walking routes and biking guide.

The Most Popular Attractions in Shanghai

Shanghai is a world famous destination with classic gardens, colonial architecture, tall skyscrapers, tranquil water towns, museums, etc.

A water town near ShanghaiA water town near Shanghai
  • The BundSymbolic of colonial Shanghai, the Bund has dozens of buildings of various architectural styles.
  • Yuyuan ('Happiness Garden') houses a wonderful collection of classically Chinese traditional buildings and it is an oasis in the bustling city.
  • Jade Buddha Temple: A a serene place in the hustling city, with amazing jade statues, gorgeous buildings and a lovely Chinese garden.
  • Shanghai Disneyland Park: A newly-built amusement park blends the magic of Disney and unique cultural elements of China.
  • Zhujiajiao Water Town: An ancient town endowed with waterways, ancient bridges, and traditional Chinese-style residences.

The Best Times to Visit Shanghai

The best times to visit Shanghai are March–May and September–November when the weather is pleasant.

Try to avoid Labor Day holiday (May 1–3) and National Day holiday (October 1–7) when all tourist sites are crowded with Chinese people. Hot summer and cold winter are good seasons to travel in terms of cost.

Our Most Popular Shanghai Tours

The BundThe Bund

Shanghai is a perfect blend of the East and the West , the ancient and the modern. If you would like to explore the real Shanghai and experience the best of Shanghai, it will prove helpful to have a professional travel advisor to help you plan your tour.

Here are our most popular Shanghai tours for inspiration:

Are the above tours not suitable for you? We have more Shanghai tours. Our tours can be tailor-made based on your requirements and budget. Please feel free to contact us.