Shanghai Travel Guide & Tips: Must visit place & What to eat

Massive skyscrapers standing alongside surviving colonial buildings is what people typically describe Shanghai. Known as the “Oriental Paris”, Shanghai is not only a business hub but also a popular travel destination of China. This blog will talk about Shanghai travel guide and recommend some Shanghai must visit place


1. Best time to visit Shanghai 

Shanghai experiences subtropical maritime monsoon climate, with four distinct seasons. The best time to visit Shanghai is from October to November since comfortable weather and low precipitation. 

Moreover, it will be less crowded from the middle of October as the peak season for domestic travel is over. 


  • Avoid National Holiday in China: Lunar New Year, Labour Day Holiday (1/5), Chinese National Day (1/10). 


shanghai travel guide
Shanghai Travel Guide


2. Where to stay in Shanghai 

Home to more than 23 million people, choosing an accommodation to stay in Shanghai may be challenging, especially if you don’t know Chinese. As most of the receptionists in Shanghai speak merely English

My recommendations are to stay near The Bund and People’s Square, Former French Concession and Shanghai Old City. 

These 4 areas are super central, which is just a few minutes away from Shanghai’s famous attractions. And more importantly, receptionists in aforementioned areas speak English better than other areas in Shanghai.

3. Shanghai Transportation

3.1. How to roam around the city 

As a major financial and business center of China and of the world, Shanghai has developed an extensive public transport system. Among all public transports, Metro is more foreign-friendly, convenient and budget-friendly than others

The Shanghai metro system has a total of 17 lines, which extends to every core urban district as well as neighbouring suburban districts. And it only takes 3 – 10¥ for a ride.


  • Security check was needed before entering every metro station. 
  • Don’t forget to bring your passport with you as you can be checked every time by the police (the electric version is acceptable).


The old iconic tram of Nanjing Road
The old iconic tram of Nanjing Road

3.2. How to travel from airport to city center

There are 2 airports in Shanghai namely Pudong Airport (international airport) and Hongqiao Airport (flights operated from Macau, Hongkong and Taiwan). 

As I took direct flight from Vietnam, I landed in Pudong Airport. And here is some way to get to Shanghai city center:

a. Maglev: Make sure to try the 430km/hour Maglev train. However, the train stopped at Longyang Road which is quite far and you will have to take another ride (metro or taxi) to the city center.

b. Taxi: It takes about one hour to get from the airport to the city center (vice versa) and costs about 200 – 250 yuan each way. If you have luggages, take a taxi instead of Maglev. 

c. Metro: Line 2. Not recommended if you take long-haul flights or have big luggages. 


shanghai must visit place
Modern Shanghai view from the 2nd highest tower in the world Shanghai Tower


4. Shanghai must visit places

4.1. The Bund – Shanghai must visit place

For timeless charm and cultural values, The Bund is inarguably Shanghai must visit place. More than that, it has become an endless source of inspiration for film markers.   

There is also an all-time-favorite drama portraying a story of  love and hatred in old Shanghai, namely “The Bund”. Until the phenomenal success of that film, The Bund became such a famous place that every Vietnamese knows. And this is also the reason I want to see how The Bund looks in real life. 

Taking a stroll along the waterfront promenade and watching the glittering light over the Pudong river are literally the best experience in Shanghai


  • The waterfront walkway area is incredibly crowded in the evening, from 6:30 to 8 pm. My recommendation is to go after 9 pm
  • And be sure that the light from buildings turns off from 10 pm. So take your time. 


the bund
The Bund – Shanghai must visit place

4.2. Oriental Pearl TV Tower – Iconic Landmark of Shanghai 

Located opposite the Bund, Oriental Pearl TV Tower is the distinct landmark of Shanghai. Every trip to Shanghai wouldn’t be completed without seeing this building. 

The 468-meter high tower is the 2nd highest tower in China and the 6th highest tower in the world. The tower consists of 3 spheres which serves as an observation deck. 

At first, I thought this building looks weird since its out-of-this-world design. But there is a story behind the concept of Oriental Pearl TV Tower. This building takes the idea from an ancient Chinese poem: large and small pearls dropping on a jade plate (大珠小珠落玉盘). When the night comes, the sphere shines bright like a pearl among floodlighting illuminates from skyscrapers. 


4.3. Nanjing Road – Shanghai’s main shopping street

Nanjing Road is the main shopping street of Shanghai, which starts from the Bund and towards Jing’an Temple. The six-kilometre long street is divided into 2 parts East Nanjing Road and West Nanjing Road, with Shanghai’s centre point People’s Square in the middle. 

Experiencing a history of over 150 years, Nanjing Road has become a witness of Shanghai’s development. And you can see many old colonial architects standing alongside large commercial buildings and upscale hotels.


4.4. Xin Tian Di – Most popular lifestyle complexes

Xintiandi is a former old city area of Shanghai and now becomes a bustling pedestrian street. This area differs from any others of the megacity since it infuses contemporary design into the well preserved old-style shikumen lane houses. 

Moreover, for its central location, Xintiandi is Shanghai’s most popular lifestyle complexes with a variety of restaurants, bars and boutique inhabiting the repurposed lane houses. 


4.5. Shanghai Tower – 2nd highest building in the world

Rising high above Lujiazui financial district is the spiral Chinese dragon shaped Shanghai Tower. The 128th storey building claims the title of the world’s second highest building and world’s fastest elevator.

Obtaining a 360-degree view from the observation deck located on the 119th floor, you can admire the contrast of high-rise buildings and historical places in Shanghai.

  • Add: 501 Yincheng Middle Rd, Lu Jia Zui, Lujiazui Residential District, Pudong Xinqu
  • Opening hour: 8:30 – 21:30
  • Ticket price: 180 ¥ – Book ticket in advanced here here
  • How to get there: Metro Line 2 – Lujiazai – Exit 6


4.6. Shanghai Film Park – Best way to back to old Shanghai 

If you wish to explore the old Shanghai during 1930 – 1940s, make sure to visit Shanghai Film Park. Starting out as a film set for Chen Kaige’s film Temptress Moon, the 40-square-kilometer complex becomes one of the ten great film making bases in China with more than 100 films and TV series produced every year. 

The film studio recreates iconic famous landmarks of Shanghai such as Nanjing Road, Xintiandi, Shanghai Grand Theater, etc., based on their original size. However, this place is far from Shanghai’s city centre and it may take around an hour and a half to get there 

  • Add: 4915 Beisong Hwy, Chedunzhen, Songjiang Qu.
  • Opening hour: 08:30 – 16:30
  • Ticket price: 80 ¥ – Book ticket in advanced here
  • Web:


film park
Travel back in time in Shanghai Film Park


5. What to eat in Shanghai 

Being the most modern city in China, Shanghai offers a variety of restaurants showcasing international cuisines. However the traditional Ben Bang cai remains, easily seen in the mouth-watering street food.  

It will be difficult to decide what to eat in Shanghai since there are tons of must-eat food. My list for things to eat in Shanghai are: Xiaolongbao, Steamed hairy crab, Jianping, Baozi, Shengjianbao, Yang rou chuan, Malatang, etc.

In this Shanghai Travel Guide blog, I will not review any food or restaurant. So if you want to know details about my recommendation for What to eat in Shanghai, see the below post

SEE MORE: What to eat in Shanghai: The ultimate Shanghai food guide


6. Shanghai Travel Itinerary

6.1. Shanghai Travel Itinerary 

As a megacity, Shanghai is home to quaint historic districts, record-breaking architecture and contemporary art museums. My recommendation is spending at least 5 days in Shanghai as there are countless incredible sights and experience just waiting to be discovered (my China trip lasts for 10 days).

Besides Shanghai, I also visited Suzhou and Beijing. You can find my Shanghai 5 days itinerary below (and please note that this itinerary is for reference only)


Day 1:

10:15 – 14:15: Flight Hanoi Noibai Airport – Shanghai Pudong Airport 

15:00 – 17:00: Take Maglev and metro to hotel

18:30: Dinner 

19:45: The Bund 


(After day 1, my friend drove me to Suzhou ) 

Day 2:

9:00 – 10:30: Nanjing Pedestrian Road

11:30 – 14:00: Xintiandi

14:30 – 17:00: Kikyo Space (a pop-up museum) 

18:00: Dinner 

19:30 – 20:30: Shopping 


(After day 2, I travelled to Beijing for 3 days) 

Day 3:

09:00 – 15:00: Shanghai Film Park

16:00 – 19:00: Shanghai Tower

19:30 – 21:00: Yuyuan Old Street


Day 4:

10:00 – 14:30: Bao Long Museum

15:30 – 18:00: Light Museum (a pop-up museum) 

19:00 – 21:00: Flair Rooftop Bar

22:30: Dinner at Haidilao 


Day 5:

11:30: Taxi to Pudong Airport 

15:25 – 18:00: Flight Shanghai Pudong Airport – Hanoi Noibai Airport 


Shanghai travel itinerary
Night stroll to capture the dramatic beauty Shanghai

6.2. Shanghai Travel Map

I created my Shanghai Travel Map below, please note that some places are not available in Google Maps (as Google Maps do not work properly in China)



7. Shanghai Travel Budget 

Although Shanghai tops the most expensive city in the world chart, the affordable travel budget surprises me. It only takes 842 USD for a 5-day trip in Shanghai (incl flight ticket)

I spend most of my budget on Flight tickets, even though I’ve grabbed the deal from Vietnam Airlines. As there are not any budget airlines operating flights between Hanoi – Shanghai. So make sure to book your ticket in advance. 

You can see my Shanghai Travel Budget Table below (and please note that this table is for reference only).


1. Flight Ticket  2,265 ¥ * Depend on the journey being made
2. Maglev Train 50 ¥  
3. 5-day Transport 219 ¥ * Incl metro & taxi 
4. Taxi to Pudong Airport 220 ¥  
5. 2-night stay at Holland Hotel 426 ¥  
6. 3-night stay at Baron Business Hotel 1041 ¥  
7. Shanghai Film Park 80¥ *Buy ticket onsite or book in advanced here 
8. Kikyo Space 99¥  
9. Light Museum 79¥  
10. Long Museum 50¥  
11. Shanghai Tower Observation 180¥ * Buy ticket onsite or book in advanced here 
12. Souvenir  30¥  
13. Travel Sim Card 200¥ * Depend on carrier and plan
14. 5-day eating cost 500¥  
TOTAL  5439 ¥

≈ 841,47 USD


shanghai travel tips


8. Shanghai Travel Guide & Tips

8.1. Shanghai Travel Tips

– Don’t forget to bring your passport with you as you can be checked every time by the police (the electric version is acceptable –  I saved a photocopy of the first page of my passport and Chinese visa on my phone). 

Install necessary apps such as WeChat, VPN Proxy, Dianping,… Believe me those will help you a lot when traveling to China. 

Learn some basic Chinese words and phrases. If those Chinese characters are difficult to memorize, use translation apps instead (except Google) 


8.2. Summary Shanghai Travel Guide

Shanghai is one of my favorite destinations in China and I am eager to come back to Shanghai. Since a 5-day trip is not enough for me to explore the city.

This is my Shanghai Travel Guide, if you need any information about Shanghai, please find other posts below:



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