3 Uniquely Shanghai Experiences

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Adorable pandas, delicious dumplings, slippery chopsticks and the magnificent Great Wall of China. These are a few of China’s most well-known experiences, but this certainly isn’t all the nation has to offer.

Last year I found myself on a whirlwind adventure to the East. Shanghai was a highlight of a journey that took me from the very south of China up to Beijing.

Here are some of my favourite Shanghai experiences and sights.

The Bund

Shanghai’s riverfront boardwalk is definitely a magnet for tourists, but for good reason.

On one side of the river there are dozens of historical buildings in Neo-Classical, Art-Deco and Renaissance styles to name but a few.

This side will make you feel, just for a moment, like you’ve been sent back in time to a bygone European era. But then you look across the water and are faced with technological innovation at its finest.

Skyscrapers, towers and office buildings stretch into the sky, an absolute vision of the future. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition. Old Shanghai and New Shanghai, with only a river keeping them apart.

Insider’s tip: Instead of catching a ferry over the other side, head underground instead! A tunnel runs below the surface that hosts an intriguing subterranean lights and laser show as you’re transported across. It’s as crazy and as awesome as it sounds.

Shanghai Experiences: The Bund, Shanghai. Photo by Jim Fischer
The Bund, Shanghai. Photo by Jim Fischer.
Shanghai Experiences: The Bund, Shanghai. Photo by Robert S. Donovan.
The Bund, Shanghai. Photo by Robert S. Donovan.
Shanghai Experiences. The Bund, Shanghai. Photo by Jundy Tiu.
The Bund, Shanghai. Photo by Jundy Tiu.

The French Concession

No need to hop on a plane to France – you can find your very own spot of Paris right in the middle of Shanghai, in the French Concession.

This gorgeous district, paved with cobblestones and lined with vibrant trees, is popular with ex-pats and there are a number of European-inspired bars and restaurants. You won’t have trouble finding a bite to eat here.

Take an afternoon stroll and check out the many high-end shops dotted throughout the district’s dapper lanes.

Come nightfall, you’re also spoilt for choice when it comes to bars and clubs.

Shanghai Experiences: French Concession, Shanghai. Photo by Samantha Caughey.
French Concession, Shanghai. Photo by Samantha Caughey.
Shanghai Experiences: French Concession, Shanghai. Photo by Samantha Caughey.
French Concession, Shanghai. Photo by Samantha Caughey.
Shanghai Experiences: French Concession, Shanghai. Photo by Samantha Caughey.
French Concession, Shanghai. Photo by Samantha Caughey.

Yuyuan Garden

Searching for a spot of solace in Shanghai? Head to Yuyuan Garden. While it won’t be void of fellow tourists it is comparatively quiet to the bustling city streets.

Reserve a couple of hours to explore the colourful rock gardens, ponds, temples, and pavilions – all surrounded by blooming flowers, flowing waters and greenery.

Just outside of the gardens there are a huge number of shops and eateries, but this neighbourhood takes lively to a new level, so be prepared to put the oasis of quiet behind you.

Shanghai Experiences: Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai. Photo by SteFou!
Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai. Photo by SteFou!
Shanghai Experiences: Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai. Photo by SteFou!
Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai. Photo by SteFou!

Honourable Mention

Nanjing Road is a must for any keen shopper. Here you’ll find all the clothing stores and malls you could ever dream of – and a few more!

Shanghai Experiences: Shopping Nanjing Road, Shanghai. Photo by Tom Thai
Shopping Nanjing Road, Shanghai. Photo by Tom Thai

Insider’s tip: If a stranger on the street invites you to tea, don’t accept! They are trying to trick you into paying a lot of money. It’s a big tourist trap.

Have you ever been to Shanghai? What did you think?

Featured image by Yuya Sekiguchi

3 Uniquely Shanghai Experiences was last modified: November 10th, 2015 by Samantha Caughey
Author: Samantha Caughey (2 posts)

Writer, editor, traveller and thinker, focused on navigating the 20-something years, seeing the world and sprinkling love wherever she goes. Samantha blogs at kateysam: thinking girls.