Shanghai is often a quick stop-over for travelers that continue their trip further into China or SE Asia. It can be overwhelming to choose what to eat and see during your short stay, so we’ve put together this 24 Hours in Shanghai guide to help you experience the most impressive sites from this metropolitan city.
Be like a local and devour Shanghai’s world-famous dish for breakfast…小笼包 (xiâo lóng bāo). For those not familiar with the Chinese name, they are also called soup dumplings, and we’re convinced this what the gods eat for breakfast every day if they could The soft, delicate dough is perfectly folded around juicy seasoned meat that melts into a delicious soup while each dumpling is steamed. The result is a soft, chewy, and a richly sensory burst of flavor when eaten. There are excellent spots to enjoy these all over the city, but one of our favorites is a little shop called 佳家汤包 (jiā jiā tāng bāo). This place is popular with both locals and visitors, but it’s for a reason and definitely worth the wait. Plus the street is full of other local snacks and shops that are worth exploring for second and third breakfast.
What To Order:
Pork soup dumplings- chún xiān ròu tāng bāo (纯鲜肉汤包)
Crab dumplings- chún xiè fěn tāng bāo (纯蟹粉汤包)
You can look at photos of the Shanghai skyline as much as you want, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. There’s just something special about this glittering skyline at high noon that causes endless stares, that captivates your lizard brain. Maybe it’s the fact that the three tallest towers dwarf everything around them (even if everything around them is still 30+ stories high), or maybe it’s the fact that a mere 20 years ago the area was nothing but a small fishing village. Head on over to the Bund and stroll along the wide riverfront to just take it all in.
Sure, you can take the subway under the river, but why do that when you can take a ferry and dodge large shipping freighters and tiny fishing boats for a few RMB. You can also consider a 50-minute cruise that takes you to all nearby attractions from Shanghai Tower to the Monument of People’s Heroes and back for 120 RMB. You can buy tickets at the Shiliupu Wharf ticket office at Wai Ma Lu 80.
A short walk from the ferry terminal on the other side of the river is the Shanghai Tower, noticeable by its spiral shape. It’s the tallest building in China and the 2nd tallest building in the world at 632 meters high. On the same block, you’ll also find the Shanghai World Financial Center, locally known as “the bottle opener,” and the Jin Mao Tower, China’s 6th and 15th tallest buildings. They are impressive enough from the bottom, but they each have observation decks on the top that offer some of the best city views in the world. We recommend going big and visiting the Shanghai World Financial Center observation deck. Those on a budget can take the free elevator up to the Grand Hyatt lobby on the 53rd floor of the Jin Mao Tower, which is one of the highest hotels in the world.
Chances are the rest of your trip in Asia will be full of, well, a much more historied version of Asia. So take advantage of being in one of the most modern and stunning cities in the world and walk through the wide avenues of Pudong as you weave your way to a subway station to get you back across the river.
In the Pudong area next to the financial centers are two of the biggest malls in Shanghai; IFC Mall (IFC 商城）and Super Brand Mall (正大广场). The IFC Mall is one of the high-end shopping centers in Shanghai with over 100 international brands and Shanghai’s flagship Apple store, while the Super Brand Mall has 3 floors filled with some of the most prestigious restaurants in Shanghai.
How to Get There:
IFC Mall 8 Century Avenue, Lujiazui, Pudong New District
Super Brand Mall 168 Lujiazui Xi Rd, Pudong New District
If you’re in the area and hungry for an afternoon snack, try the Shanghai dòu shā xiâo wán zi (豆沙小丸子 ) or red bean paste base with glutinous rice balls sold on the streets or inside the malls.
After a long afternoon of walking and gawking, you’ve earned yet another view with a drink in hand. So what’s the best view in town? We like the Hyatt on the Bund from their outdoor rooftop bar, The Vue, and complete with hot tub and lounge beds, on the 33rd floor. From here you have expansive views of the Bund and Pudong, all outlined by the perfect curve of the Huangpu River. We don’t blame you if you decide to stay for more than one brew. We usually do.
Local Tip: If you have some extra time and energy, alight at Tiantong Road Subway Station (lines 10 and 12) and walk to the Hyatt from there. You’ll walk along the smaller Wusong River with some of the most beautiful bridges and views in the city. The Garden Bridge of Shanghai is usually packed with people in the setting sun, but the bridge just one block behind is pretty much void of tourists.
The Vue Bar and Restaurant is located on the 32-33 level of the west tower of the Hyatt, it opens from 17:30-18:00 to 23:00-1:30 on weekdays, and from 3 pm to after midnight during weekends. The entrance ticket is 110 RMB which includes a voucher for one drink. Make sure to get there early to get the best table! The average expense here per night is 230 RMB/ person.
More information on The Vue Bar:
Hyatt on The Bund 199 Huangpu Road (within walking distance from the waterfront, impossible to miss at the intersection between Huangpu and Wuchang Rd in the mountain of skyscrapers)
Show your taxi driver: 师傅你好，请带我去，黄浦路199号上海外滩茂悦大酒店西楼，非常时髦酒吧，谢谢！
+86 21 6393 1234 ext. 6348 (for reservations)
The French Concession is a local hotspot where the buildings have a strong colonial influence and there’s a mix of cosmopolitan vibes and historic Chinese charm. For nearly 100 years, this part of Shanghai was occupied by the French and has now become a fun part of the city that you cannot miss. Our Lost Plate Evening Food Tour in Shanghai will take you on a stroll through this fascinating area while visiting 4 of the best, most authentic eateries in Shanghai. You’ll try over 12 different local dishes, including Shanghai’s famous soup dumplings, and end the night at a pub to sip on some local craft beer.
After a long day, relax as we take care of the work and show you the best eats in the city. You can end your stay in Shanghai with a few new friends and a great conversation with a local insider to answer all your questions and give you some tips for your next visit!
Shanghai, as one of the biggest business and financial hubs of Asia, is no doubt one of the most frequently visited cities in the Chinese mainland. It may be one of the major attractions on your China trip or you might simply be taking advantage of the convenient flights, making it a short layover stay. Either way, you will probably want to do some souvenir shopping during your time in the city and there is no shortage of places to do that. Our first recommendation is the markets- get a taste of local life and street eats at the same time too.
Sign up for our newsletter!