Shanghai Travel Guide for Foodies
FOOD & DRINK YOU MUST TRY IN SHANGHAI
Shengjianbao (aka Potstickers)
Shengjianbao (aka Potstickers)
Scallion Oil Noodles
Red Braised Pork Belly
Scallion Oil Noodles
Red Braised Pork Belly
Another seafood item on our list, though maybe not what you typically expect when someone says “seafood”! Wheat noodles, served cold, topped with hot and fresh stir fried eel, cooked up with soy sauce, ginger, scallions and oil. The eel is cut up into long pieces – and maybe not a dish for those with a snake phobia!
Frog Noodle Soup
Bullfrogs are actually a pretty common part of Shanghai cuisine, and this dish showcases why! Tasty frog meat (which yes – does actually taste a lot like chicken!) is served in a clear somewhat sweet and peppery broth, with veggies and fresh wheat noodles. Don’t let the unfamiliar scare you off – we think this is a delicious dish worth trying out 🙂
As a bustling international hub with a ton of expats from all over the world, it should be no surprise that Shanghai has some excellent international cuisine offerings worth trying. French-style cuisine at the popular Franck, American-style foods at Chloe’s, Italian at Bella Mia, a myriad of fusion options and more – Shanghai has something delicious for everyone, no matter what mood you’re in!
OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS IN SHANGHAI
BenLai ChuanCai 本来川菜
This is our favorite Sichuanese restaurant in Shanghai – and considering the fact that our founder is from Sichuan province, that’s a high compliment! If you enjoy spicy food and the unique flavors of Sichuan Peppercorn, this is the place to go.
椒麻鱼 Sichuan Pepper fish
宜宾燃面 Chili noodle
口水鸡 Steamed Chicken with Chili Sauce
Show your taxi driver: 进贤路235号近陕西南路
LanXin CanTing 兰心餐厅
LanXin CanTing is an authentic Shanghainese restaurant that’s been run by a local family for over 30 years! It’s located on one of the most picturesque streets in the French concession. The restaurant space is limited so it’s very likely you will have to queue with locals, but the flavor is worth the wait!
What to Order:
响油鳝丝 Oily Eel
红烧肉 Braised pork belly
酒香草头 Wine Grass
Show your taxi driver: 进贤路130号 近茂名南路
Aura Lounge & Jazz Bar
Located on the 52nd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong Hotel, Aura Lounge and Jazz Bar boasts incredible views with great ambience and fantastic high-end European and pub food. The service is warm and friendly, and the bar also offers instagram-worthy afternoon high tea, with a side of one of the best views in town.
Try the afternoon tea set for the scones, the chocolate cake, and the sushi/sashimi specials.
Show your taxi driver: 陆家嘴世纪大道8号国金中心
THINGS YOU MUST DO IN SHANGHAI
Take a Lost Plate Tour!
Of course we can’t talk about visiting Shanghai without encouraging you to check out our food tours! But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at what past guests have said about our tour. We offer an Old Shanghai Breakfast Tour and a Shanghai Evening Food Tour. Both our tours offer authentic Shanghai cuisine experiences, in small local eateries, away from the crowded tourist spots. Learn about the restaurant owners, the dishes and the neighborhoods and see for yourself why guests are raving about Lost Plate tours!
Walk the French Concession
Originally established in 1849, the French Concession dominates central Shanghai with beautiful streets lined with trees, quaint cafes & restaurants, and tudor-style housing. Formerly created for the French occupying Shanghai, this area now offers a scenic walk with many spots to stop for a photo or to grab a coffee. We stroll through parts of the area during our Shanghai Evening Tour.
Get a Birds’ Eye View
The Oriental Pearl Tower is the quintessential tower of the Shanghai skyline. Opened in 1994, the Pearl is the second tallest building in Shanghai standing at 1535 feet. The tower has 15 observation levels, and for those without a fear of heights, the upper observation platform offers a walk outside on a 1.5 inch glass floor. Other spots to check out include the Shanghai Tower (the 2nd tallest buildings in the world) and the Shanghai World Financial Center. Shanghai is also home to many excellent rooftop bars including Hyatt on the Bund, Vue Bar, and Kartel. Why not grab a drink while you take in the view?!
Check out the Skyline
Shanghai is home to one of the most iconic city skylines in the world. The mix of old and new buildings is stunning, and nowhere showcases the scene better than a walk along the Bund – the famous waterside walkway where you can take in the view and snap some photos.
Stroll the Ancient Yu Garden
Completed in 1577, the Yuyuan or Yu Garden is a gorgeous classical garden commissioned by a Ming dynasty government officer. The garden is huge, around five acres or 20,000 square meters. The garden in its current iteration was renovated and restored from 1956-61. There are pagodas, waterways, rock features and bridges, lots to see as you stroll around and snap pictures.
Ride the Maglev Train
There is no better way to experience modern and sleek Shanghai than by taking the train from the airport to the city centre. This magnetic levitation (hence Maglev) train is the fastest train in the world – clocking in at 270 mph or 431 kph, and can cover 19 miles in eight (!!!) minutes.
Take a River Cruise
The Bund is the iconic walkway along the water that shouldn’t be missed for its breathtaking views of the skyline. But you can also take in the skyline from the water! Take a cruise along the Huangpu river, day or night, and enjoy the 360 views of the city. There are many river cruise options available, from 30 minutes to 3 and a half hours with snacks and drinks!
Shop Nanjing Road
Experience modern China on this 3.4 mile (5.5 km) long strip in Shanghai that boasts a myriad of shopping, restaurants and cafes, many of which are tucked away, up above the street. Western branded shops are side by side with Chinese shops where you may be able to try out your haggling skills. With lots to see and lots to eat, come with a willingness to fight your way through some crowds and an empty stomach!
Take a Day Trip to Zhujiajiao Water Town
This ancient village is only 50 km away from the Bund of downtown Shanghai but this quiet and well preserved spot makes you feel as if you’re somewhere much further away. Zhujiajiao boasts canals, original bridges, and some very well preserved traditional Chinese houses. Some buildings date back as far as 1644! Enjoy a quiet walk along the canals, stop for photos of the waterways, ancient bridges and buildings, and even take a tour via a small boat.
WHERE TO STAY IN SHANGHAI
Hyatt on the Bund
For travelers with a high-end budget, we recommend Hyatt on the Bund. Located conveniently on the northern end of the famed Bund walkway, Hyatt on the Bund is a beautiful luxury hotel situated on the banks of the Huangpu river. Nearly every room manages a great view of either the river or the historic Bund walkway. The hotel offers great dining experiences (including the aforementioned rooftop bar!), both Chinese and international, as well as a luxury spa and fitness facilities. See more details here.
Swissotel Grand Shanghai
For travelers on a mid-range budget, we recommend the Swissotel Grand Shanghai. The hotel is located in the upscale Jing’an district within walking distance of West Nanjing Road and several subway stations. The reasonably priced rooms of the hotel still come with great amenities, like access to three restaurants, exercise facilities including an indoor heated pool, and a spa. More information here.
Modena by Fraser Putuo Shanghai
This boutique hotel is also located conveniently near the subway and only four stops away from Jingan temple. Modena by Fraser includes 24-hour front desk concierge service, a gym with 24/7 access, a laundromat and a cafe, among many other great amenities. Click here for more details.
TIPS FOR SHANGHAI
Prep for your Food Tour
Plan for the basics: arrive hungry, dress for the weather, wear comfy shoes, and don’t bring any large bags to ensure a comfortable tour with less hassle. Read our full FAQ Page for more insider info and tips!
Shanghai is the largest city in China, and one of the most populous cities in the world, with over 24 million calling it home – 34 million in the Shanghai metropolitan area. It is a global financial and transportation hub, with one of the busiest ports in the world. If you think of China and imagine skyscrapers and neon cityscapes, you are thinking of Shanghai. The Shanghai area has been settled since 771 BC and is incredibly rich in culture and history, and of course as a big modern city, tons of shopping. This means that during your stay, you won’t run out of things to see. And since you’re in China, you definitely won’t run out of things to eat, either!
Climate & Weather
Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate, which means summers get incredibly hot and humid, and winters get surprisingly cold and damp. You may see a lot of rainfall in the summers, so make sure you bring an umbrella if you come to Shanghai during this season. The best times to visit are spring and fall, when weather is warm and dry, though you may still see some rainy days in the springtime.