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Best Shanghai Itineraries from 1 to 5 Days with Side Trips

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Mar. 4, 2024

Are you planning a trip to Shanghai but not sure how much time you need to explore the city and its surroundings? Let us help guide you with our ultimate Shanghai itineraries.

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How Long to Spend in Shanghai

Generally speaking, we recommend spending one to three days in Shanghai. For the city highlights in Shanghai, one day is enough.

Two or three days will give you a more varied and relaxed itinerary. Besides the must-see attractions, you could also have some unique experiences like food hunting or interacting with locals. Additionally, you could relax in a water town in the suburbs or have fun with kids in Disneyland.

If you have a more extended holiday (over three days), you could consider an extended trip from Shanghai. There are many options to explore, such as Hangzhou, Huangshan, Suzhou, Jingdezhen, and Hengdian.

Shanghai in 1‒3 Days

Here is a classic 3-day itinerary to experience various aspects of Shanghai, including historical buildings, skyscrapers, Disneyland, and a pleasant water town:

  • Day 1: One-day city highlights tour (the Bund, Shanghai Tower, Yu Garden, food experience, etc).
  • Day 2: Have fun in Disneyland.
  • Day 3: Zhujiajiao Water Town (bridges, gardens, and a leisurely afternoon tea time).

On the city tour, you could walk around the Bund and embark on a Huangpu River Cruise to take a time travel trip from seeing the old buildings to the skyscrapers. It is like fast-forward from the 1920s Shanghai to the present Shanghai.

Walk through the alleys to hunt for Shanghai's most typical snack with a glimpse of the daily life of the local people.

Wander around the former French Concession where you could learn about the history of Shanghai's colonial past.

If you have a big interest in Shanghai's history, we recommend a visit to Shanghai's Former Jewish Settlement. Discover the memories of elderly Jews by visiting a Jewish ghetto and other old buildings.

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We can tailor-make your itinerary according to your interests. Check out some of our other popular Shanghai itineraries for inspiration:

Side Trip Itineraries from Shanghai

There are many worthwhile destinations around Shanghai that are easily accessible by high-speed trains. The tours range from 2 days to 1 week.

1. 5-Day Shanghai, Huangzhou, and Suzhou Itinerary

Hangzhou and Suzhou are the most classical choices for a trip from Shanghai. They are three of the most important cities in the Yangtze Delta region. They feature exquisite Chinese gardens, water towns, and tea experiences.

A trip combining Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou will take about 4 to 5 days: two days in Shanghai, one day in Hangzhou, and one day in Suzhou.

  • Days 1‒2: Shanghai city exploration.
  • Day 3: Hangzhou (West Lake and tea experience).
  • Day 4: Suzhou (visiting gardens and a water town).
  • Day 5: Back to Shanghai.

Don't miss West Lake in Hangzhou. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride and immerse yourself in its beauty. Visit a tea village and learn about the process of tea making while tasting China's most-adored tea.

In Suzhou, visit Lingering Garden, take a rickshaw through Suzhou's old town, and walk around Tongli Water Town to admire its ancient architecture.

2. A Trip to Huangshan from Shanghai

Huangshan is also a popular destination located about three hours from Shanghai by high-speed rail, especially if you are looking for a place to relax and get away from the busy city.

Spending three or four days in Huangshan is suitable:

  • Day 1: Visit Bishan village.
  • Day 2: Go up to the Yellow Mountain and stay a night.
  • Day 3: Go down the mountain, enjoy a hot spring, and return to Shanghai.

Bishan village is a quiet and quaint village where you could enjoy a cup of coffee while taking in the unspoiled natural beauty. Take a stroll through the village to see the Hui-style architecture and cycle around the field to breathe in the freshness of the air.

Go up to Yellow Mountain to see the stunning sunrise and sunset views. Experience the magnificence of the mountain amid the changing sea of clouds. Finally, enjoy a cozy hot spring to refresh yourself.

3. A Tour to Jingdezhen from Shanghai

If you are interested in China's porcelain and want to know the story behind this craft, Jingdezhen is the best choice. A journey of about 4 to 6 hours by high-speed trains will take you into the world of Chinese porcelain. You may need about three days in Jingdezhen:

  • Day 1: Visit a museum and ceramic galleries for a basic understanding.
  • Day 2: Visit the studios of reclusive artists and try to make your own ceramic.
  • Day 3: Go to Yaoli Ancient Town, where you could find the secret ingredient of porcelain.

If you are looking for lovely and delicate porcelain, you could pay a visit to a local porcelain market. An afternoon tea in a cafe converted from a 40-year-old porcelain factory will also be an interesting experience.

4. A Hengdian Tour from Shanghai

If you love watching Chinese costume TV series or movies and want to walk into the scenes, Hengdian World Studios, China's largest movie and television base, is recommended. To tour the highlights of Hengdian World Studio, you may need about 2 days:

  • Day 1: Visit 2 popular studios and enjoy a fun night at an amusement park.
  • Day 2: Visit 3 popular studios with cycling experience.

The five studios we selected are the most common scenes in movies and TV shows. You could try on different ancient costumes and take wonderful photos. If you're lucky, you could watch filming in action and meet a Chinese superstar.

Tour China with Us

All our tours can be adjusted as much as you like. We aim to create an ideal itinerary based on your interests, group size, budget, and other requirements. Feel free to contact us for personalized travel consultation.

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