Ready to start planning your next trip for the June holidays? Why not head to China’s largest and most prosperous city — Shanghai? Here are 10 of the best things to do in the Pearl of Asia!
It’s been a while since the country announced that it would be relaxing COVID barriers from 8 January 2023. This means travellers will only need to present a negative ART test result and do not have to do centralised quarantine at all. Travellers will also no longer have to request a health code from Chinese embassies, which is a huge relief and a weight off many shoulders.
If you have been thinking of enjoying authentic soup dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) while marvelling at modern and ancient architecture along the extensive Lujiazui skyline, then there’s no better time to visit the Pearl of Asia than in 2023! Make the most of your experience with this extensive guide on the top 10 things to do, places to visit, and food you must enjoy while in Shanghai.
1. Ride The Maglev
Image credits: Global Times
From the moment you step foot out of the airport, the very first thing you must do in Shanghai is to ride the Maglev. Considered the fastest train in the world, travellers can experience a sheer record-breaking speed of up to 431 km/hour from Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road Station.
Covering a distance of 30 km in eight minutes, you will definitely be amazed by the Maglev’s performance. Not only is it extremely environmentally friendly, but it is also a cheaper mode of transport into the city. Passengers with a flight ticket can even purchase a one-way ticket on the same day with a 20% discount and children under the height of 130 cm can travel ticket-free.
For those who are interested in the science and history behind the Maglev, head to Longyang Road Station and visit the Maglev Museum! The museum is housed underneath the actual train tracks and allows free admission for riders.
Operating Hours: 9 AM – 5:30 PM
Address: 2100 Longyang Road, Pudong, Shanghai, China, 201204
Ticket Prices: (Single trip) 50 yuan for Ordinary, 100 yuan for VIP; (Round trip) 80 yuan for Ordinary, 160 yuan for VIP
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out more about the Maglev Museum
2. Enjoy A Bird’s Eye View From The Shanghai Tower
Image credits: Dezeen
Sitting at 128 storeys, the Shanghai Tower is the tallest building in China and the world’s third-tallest building at 632 meters tall. Take a ride on the world’s fastest elevator to the 119th floor, which houses the world’s second-highest observation deck just right after the deck of Burj Kalifa.
From this very deck, you can experience a 360-degree view of Shanghai. Standing by the windows, visitors can enjoy magnificent views of the city and the historic buildings with different architectural styles along the Bund and the Oriental Pearl Tower.
If you’re blessed to visit during fine weather, you can even see the view of the Suzhou River flowing into the Huangpu River and the estuary of the Huangpu River at the Yellow Sea. To put the height of the tower into perspective, one look through the Shanghai Tower’s viewing deck and you will be able to look down and gaze upon the Shanghai World Financial Center and Jin Mao Tower — two skyscrapers that were initially thought to be the tallest buildings in Shanghai before the completion of the tower.
For the sentimental writers, you can visit the sky post office on the 118th floor and send yourself or friends and family a postcard from the Shanghai Tower! The floor also contains a souvenir store for you to commemorate your visit, with artworks and products based on the architecture of the building.
Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 10 PM
Address: 501 Yincheng Middle Road, Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai, China 200120
Entry Fee: 180 yuan
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out more about the Shanghai Tower
3. Warm Yourself Up With Some Authentic XLBs
Image credits: China Dragon Tours
We all know a trip to Shanghai isn’t complete without tasting some delicious XLBs (or Xiao Long Bao) but do you know where the best ones are at? Known as soup dumplings, Xiao Long Bao are thinly wrapped Shanghainese parcels of minced meat and hot soup delivered in a wooden basket.
Traditionally eaten with vinegar and ginger, the best soup dumplings in town have got to be at Guyi Garden Restaurant. Known to be the place where xiao long bao originated, the store specialises in handmade made-to-order dumplings with several different fillings including pure minced pork and crab roe with minced pork.
Located in Nanxiang, Guyi Garden Restaurant is for purists and unlike the modern Xiao Long Bao with its thin skin, the dumplings from this restaurant are thick, doughy, and chewy. For those who aren’t full after their meal, check out the myriad of vendors peddling the streets nearby for more variations of the dumpling!
Opening Hours: 10 AM – 9:30 PM
Address: 218 Huyi Hwy, Jiading District, Shanghai, China 201802
Price: 35 yuan for 20 pork dumplings, 25 yuan for 10 crab dumplings
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out more about Guyi Garden Restaurant
4. Travel Back To The Ming Dynasty In Yu Garden
Image credits: Viator
Believed to have been built in the Ming Dynasty more than 400 years ago, Yu Garden stands tall in the centre of Shanghai’s Old City. Once a private garden to the Pan family, Yu Garden is composed of 6 scenic areas — Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall, and the Inner Garden.
You can take a nice long stroll across all six areas and enjoy classical Chinese architecture, exquisite sculptures, and carvings. And for the shoppers — the Yuyuan bazaar is always open to customers. With a great number of small streets and lanes, you can enjoy local delicacies such as Yangchun noodles, steamed stuffed buns, crispy fried cakes, and chop rice cakes.
Enjoy your travel back in time and embrace the beauty of old Chinese architecture at the Yu Garden. Don’t forget to walk across the Jiu Qu Bridge (the Nine-Turn Bridge), a spot that’s believed to bring people good luck as they cross from one side to another!
Opening Hours: 8:45 AM – 4:45 PM (Closed on Mondays)
Address: 279 Yu Yuan Lao Jie, Huang Pu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China 200000
Entrance Fee: 40 yuan (April – June, September); 30 yuan (July – August, December)
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out more about Yu Garden
5. Treat Yourself To Steamed Hairy Crabs At Wang Bao He
Image credits: Culture Trip
When autumn hits Shanghai in late September and early October, the entire city will be in a daze with the arrival of this scarce delicacy from nearby Yangcheng Lake. Although hairy crabs might be an acquired taste for some, no one can disagree that the roe of these crustaceans is simply out of this world.
Unlike your typical crabs, the hairy crab does not have much meat but instead boasts a large amount of delicious buttery roe — enough to make any crab connoisseur an addict. At Wang Bao He, the crabs are poached in water rather than steamed. This is to prevent the roe from overflowing out of the crab during the process.
Don’t fancy a hairy steamed crab by itself? Wang Bao He offers multiple dishes incorporating this lovely crustacean from mung noodles with crab to crab sesame buns!
Opening Hours: 11 AM – 1:30 PM, 5 PM – 9 PM
Address: Wang Bao He Central Hotel, 555 Jiujiang Road, Shanghai
Price: 172 yuan per crab
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out more about Wang Bao He
6. Take In The City At Night With The Huangpu River Cruise
Image credits: Klook
A must-try attraction for any tourist, the Huangpu River cruise packs 45 minutes of mesmerising views of the city’s famous skyline featuring the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai Tower, and The Bund.
Huangpu River is the largest river passing through the city of Shanghai and is honoured as the Mother River of Shanghai. Stretching across 113 km with a depth of 9 m, the river divides the city into two sections — Pudong in the east and Puxi in the west. As the cruise travels up and down the river, stop and take a few scenic photographs and selfies with your loved ones together with the glimmering lights of Shanghai.
You can pick your cruise options from 30 minutes to three-and-a-half hours with varying boat sizes, including a trendy cruise with a modern-style bar. There are also dinner options as well, but do note that those have to be booked in advance prior to your visit.
Opening Hours: 11 AM – 9:30 PM
Address: 291 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, Shanghai, China
Entrance Fee: ~150 yuan for sightseeing cruises
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out more about the Huangpu River Cruise
7. Enjoy A Traditional Breakfast On The Streets
Image credits: Lost Plate Food Tours
When it comes to travelling, most of us prefer to stay at fancy hotels with the best breakfast buffets you can find. However, when you’re in Shanghai, trust me when I say ditch that fancy intercontinental breakfast platter and head out to the streets for the best Chinese breakfast ever.
Since you can find street food vendors in every street of the city in the morning, head down and grab yourself a few local delicacies. The first dish you must try is the Jianbing or Chinese crepes. These savoury pancakes are made from wheat and mung bean flour and filled with eggs, coriander, scallions, pickles, chilli, and bean sauce. You can even choose to add a deep-fried dough fritter called You Tiao into it as well.
Another breakfast item you have to try is the fried dough stick and soy milk combo (Dou Jiang You Tiao). As a staple for breakfast street food, the dough stick is dipped into the warm soy milk — making it a hearty yet simple breakfast for those who can’t stomach heavy foods in the morning. Lastly, you have to try Cong You Bing or Scallion Pancakes. Possibly the most famous street food in Shanghai, the Scallion Pancakes are pan-fried with oil and scallions. They are crispy, flaky, chewy, and oily with a hint of freshness.
For those who are concerned about navigating the streets in the morning, you can try out one of the many Shanghai breakfast street food tours provided by UnTour. These three-hour public tours will take you to some of the best vendors for tastings and you can even visit the wet market afterwards!
Opening Hours: From 9 AM
Address: Near Shaanxi Road (South) Metro
Price: 525 yuan per adult, 395 yuan per child for the food tour
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out more about UnTour
8. Marvel At The Wonders Of Acrobatics In Shanghai Circus World
Image credits: Expedia
Combining martial arts, gymnastics, acrobatics, and Chinese culture, the ERA Intersection of Time Acrobatic show in Shanghai Circus World will be bound to keep you on the edge of your seats.
Known for its wild circus performances, the Time Acrobatics show showcases an enigmatic collision between the past and the future. It is truly a one-of-a-kind performance and a great night out in the city for couples, family, and friends.
Be awed by the wonders as you witness flying acrobats, performers doing backflips on stilts, and daredevils riding motorcycles in a tiny sphere. You can even unwind and relax with a glass of beer and snacks from the venue!
Opening Hours: 7:30 AM – 9 PM
Address: ERA Castle, 2801 Gong He Xin Road, Shanghai
Entrance Fee: 280 yuan to 880 yuan
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Get your tickets here
9. Skip The Boba & Get Your Sugar Cravings Satisfied With Chinese Desserts
Image credits: Smart Shanghai
Introducing Tang Wu, a beautifully retro dessert store located on Yuyuan Road that serves a unique form of traditional Chinese and Hong Kong desserts. The Shanghainese owner of the store loves mixing things up and fusing various elements of existing desserts to create something completely new.
While Tang Shui (translating to sugar water) is not a stranger to the streets of Shanghai, Tang Wu offers a few surprises. The crowd favourite lies in its big slabs of cool clear jelly from Sichuan mixed together with taro balls and peanuts in a cold sweet soup. The dish is topped with a big scoop of fermented rice to give a cool, fresh, and slightly acidic taste.
Another classic that the store offers is a sugar soup with peach tree sap (Tao Jiao). While the sap does not have any peachy flavour, it does have a soft cloud-like texture to it and is perfect for young kids and the elderly to enjoy.
Opening Hours: 10 AM – 10 PM
Address: 519 Dongchang Road, 519, Pudong, Shanghai, China, 200120
Price: ~ 39 yuan/person
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out what else is on Yu Yuan Old Street
10. End Your Trip With A Magical Night At Shanghai Disneyland
Image credits: Wikipedia
For new and veteran Disneyland goers, trust me when I say that there is no other park like Shanghai Disneyland. As the second biggest Disney park in the world, there is something for everyone in the happiest place on Earth.
Based on being a futuristic city, Shanghai Disneyland offers a maglev train across the entire park instead of a monorail. Unlike its American counterpart, the park has fewer lands as areas such as New Orleans Square and Frontierland have no context in China. For visitors who are nervous about visiting a Chinese theme park, don’t fret as all cast members converse fluently in English and Mandarin.
While most have commented that they are able to finish the park in a day, it should be noted that families with little kids should opt to split the experience into two separate days to fully enjoy all of the attractions and performances.
Opening Hours: 9 AM – 9 PM
Address: 4MV5+945, Pu Dong Xin Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 201205
Entrance Fee: 435 yuan (Regular), 545 yuan (Regular Plus), 659 yuan (Peak), 769 yuan (Peak Plus)
Best Things To Do In Shanghai, China 2023: Find out more about Shanghai Disneyland
Explore The Pearl Of Asia To Your Heart’s Content
Now that you have a list of the best things to do in Shanghai in the palm of your hands, you’re ready to explore the Pearl of Asia! But amidst the excitement of China being reopened, don’t forget to book your flight tickets and accommodations with your YouTrip card via YouTrip Perks for extra cashback and discounts!
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