Home Shanghai Top Reasons to Visit

The Top 10 Reasons to Visit Shanghai

Shanghai skyline viewShanghai skyline view

Shanghai, known as the ‘Oriental Paris’, is China's biggest and richest city (on aggregate). It is one of China's greatest economic and cultural centers; therefore, it is seen as a showcase for everything considered modern in China.

The city rivals New York or Paris in terms of modernity and boasts a blended culture of the East and the West. Shanghai is a tourist destination famous for historical landmarks as well as modern, ever-expanding skylines. You will never get bored in this dynamic metropolis.

1. Shanghai Is China's Largest City and Its Modern Showcase.

Shanghai is the window of modern ChinaShanghai is a window looking out on modern China.

Due to the incomparable geographical advantages, Shanghai has grown from a little town to the world’s largest city proper in the past century or so, as well as becoming the largest center of commerce and finance in Mainland China. Many Chinese and international companies open offices there, especially along the Bund.

The record-breaking high-rise buildings form a futuristic skyline in Shanghai, while the advanced high-speed railway, metro lines, and world’s fastest maglev train also make traveling the city cutting-edge quick. It can be said that Shanghai is a window to modern China.

2. Shanghai Is a City Filled with History and Stories.

Historical buildings of the BundHistorical buildings of the Bund

Shanghai was one of the earliest open ports in China, experienced a colonial history during the two world wars, and was a shelter for Russian and Jewish refugees during these times of warfare. Today, the turbulent history still leaves deep imprints and inspiring stories about the city.

History lovers and tourists like to walk around the Bund, the former French Concession, or the former Jewish settlement to admire the old buildings and try to discover the hidden stories about them.

3. Shanghai Blends Eastern and Western Cultures.

Jade Buddha TempleJade Buddha Temple

If you are in Shanghai, you can visit a Chinese-style traditional garden in the morning and walk in a street with Western-style mansions in the afternoon. You may ascend one of the highest skyscrapers to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city, then find quaint Buddhist temples scattered around. Don’t feel strange about this — due to the colonial history, multiple cultures from around the world are merged perfectly in this city.

In the eyes of a foreigner, Shanghai has a unique oriental charm, while in the eyes of a Chinese person, Shanghai certainly has a strong Western flavor. There are more of these surprising contrasts in Shanghai to be discovered.

4. It Is a Good Place to Take Leisurely Walks.

Shanghai Old StreetShanghai Old Street

Although Shanghai is a busy and fast-paced city, the lifestyle there is not always fast. On the contrary, there are lots of places to enjoy leisurely walks.

You may visit Yu Garden and enjoy a relaxing and lazy afternoon, just like the former owners of the garden did hundreds of years ago. Alternatively, you can walk in some of the small alleyways to see the authentic lifestyle of the local residents.

If you want to know what Shanghai was like a century ago, Shanghai Old Street is a good place to go. While other parts of Shanghai are growing fast, this street appears to be frozen in history. Walk around the old street at a slow pace like the people living there and find some interesting old objects, such as a manual sewing machine, or watch Chinese shadow puppetry from a small box.

5. Shanghai Is Surrounded by Water Towns.

Zhujiajiao Water TownZhujiajiao Water Town

Don’t just visit the urban area of Shanghai but also go to the water towns around it. When you visit one of the water towns near Shanghai, you will forget that you are next to a metropolis: there are no modern buildings or Western-style mansions, only traditional South China riverside scenery.

In the water town of Zhujiajiao, you can take a cruise on the river to appreciate the ancient buildings either side of it and go under some ancient bridges. You can also walk around the old streets and gardens, or try to find an old post office that was built hundreds of years ago.

6. Shanghai’s Food Is Tasty.

Shanghai pan-fried bunShanghai pan-fried buns

The thing you might be most hesitant about in Shanghai is what to eat. This is not because it is hard to find tasty food; on the contrary, there are too many choices waving at you from every corner of Shanghai.

From authentic local snacks and street food to Michelin-starred restaurants, you can enjoy tasty food from breakfast to nighttime snacks, and never eat the same dishes during your stay.

As Shanghai cuisine is based on sweet and refreshing flavors, the dishes are good for people who don’t like spicy or greasy food. Some exquisite snacks may also attract your kids.

7. Shanghai Is a Shopping Paradise.

Nanjing RoadNanjing Road

Shanghai offers a shopping experience that you will never forget. Whether or not you are a shopaholic, there are various shopping areas selling anything imaginable that you will surely find worth a look.

The main shopping streets, such as Nanjing Road and Huaihai Road, offer the latest selections of luxury goods while numerous traditional outdoor markets will give you a unique taste of old Shanghai.

8. The City Has a Colorful Nightlife.

Night scenes of ShanghaiNight scenes of Shanghai

Being a sleepless city, Shanghai's dynamic life goes on way beyond the daylight hours. It is a city with a colorful nightlife. It has a diverse cultural flavor, with cinemas showing foreign and Chinese films, and theaters featuring opera, dance, drama, acrobatics, and puppets. There are also numerous nightclubs and bars, which are open until the sun comes up.

The night view of Shanghai is brilliant. To enjoy this in the coolest way, take a Private Jeep Night Tour with us.

9. The Shanghai Region Allows 6-Day Visa-Free Stays.

You can visit Hangzhou West Lake during your Shanghai stayingYou can visit Hangzhou's West Lake easily from Shanghai.

It is now possible to get a 144-hour visa-free stay in Shanghai and the two neighboring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang. You can take advantage of the policy no matter whether you are on a business trip, a stopover, or planning a short journey.

If you have one day free in Shanghai, it is possible to visit Shanghai’s highlights and a water town. If you have two or more days, you can take a day trip to Suzhou (in Jiangsu Province) or Hangzhou (in Zhejiang Province).

10. There Is Convenient Transportation to Reach Other Destinations.

Take a highspeed train to travel around ShanghaiTake a high-speed train to travel to cities near Shanghai.

As the most metropolitan city in China, Shanghai is very accessible. Shanghai can be reached by airplane and by train. Elevated highways are everywhere in the city.

Shanghai has tourist attractions both in and around the city. Besides Suzhou and Hangzhou mentioned above, you can also visit the cities of Huangshan, Nanjing, and Wuxi, which are all within 3 hours’ ride on a high-speed train.

Shanghai vs Hong Kong

Many tourists hesitate in choosing between Shanghai and Hong Kong as the two cities share a lot in common. We hope the following information will help you to make a decision.

Similarities Between Shanghai and Hong Kong

  • Both are fantastic places to visit.
  • Both have huge international airports making them China gateway cities.
  • Both have beautiful skylines and a Disneyland.
  • Both are shopping paradises.

Differences Between Shanghai and Hong Kong

Environment: Hong Kong has a superior natural setting and is easy to get around for English speakers, while Shanghai has more spectacular architecture and the contrasts between the modern and traditional parts are much more striking.

Shopping and spending: Hong Kong is more organized and high-end than Shanghai, and shops in Hong Kong stay open later. However, Shanghai is bigger and cheaper, and you'll certainly get more for your money when you book accommodation and tours there.

Nearby cities: Shanghai has more-visitable surrounding cities within a bullet train or bus ride from the city: Hangzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan (the Yellow Mountains), Nanjing... Hong Kong has Macau nearby, but Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and the mainland Pearl River Delta in general are better for business than tourism.

Enjoy Shanghai’s Highlights with Us

Touring Shanghai with us, you can enjoy a hassle-free journey and a series of authentic experiences. You will travel with a professional local guide in a private vehicle and enjoy a unique tour.

You may check out our Shanghai tours below, and remember that everything can be customized; Or see more Shanghai tours. Our tours can be customized — just tell us your requirements and interests.

Charming Shanghai and Water Town 2-day Explore old and new Shanghai; enjoy an in-depth discovery to the Bund. View more
Start planning your tailor-made China tour by contacting ​one of our specialists... Create My Trip

Related Articles