The best list of things to do in Shanghai beyond just the popular tourist attractions — from soaking in the city skyline to amusement rides at a national park!

First published: 21 Oct 2019

Known as the “Paris of the East”, Shanghai is famous for its seamless blend of the old and new, and the East and the West. And we can easily see why! With traditional Chinese temples alongside towering skyscrapers and modern shopping malls neighbouring small family-owned eateries, Shanghai truly does have it all.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town (Buildings) - Shanghai Guide

After five days in the city, it’s safe to say that my impression of Shanghai has drastically changed for the better, after visiting for the first time as a kid. The city didn’t leave much of an impression then, but now it’s a sprawling metropolis with so many things to do!

Most Shanghai guides for first-timers only cover the most popular tourist attractions, but that isn’t enough for us travellers hungry for unique local experiences. We want to go beyond that and see what else the city has to offer. 

Shanghai Disneyland (Parade) - Shanghai Disneyland

Besides standard tourist must-sees like The Bund and Shanghai Disneyland, there are many gems within the city you probably don’t know about. Gongqing National Park, for example, is home to activities like rock climbing, horse riding, roller coaster rides and even a zipline!  

Whether you’re an art lover, a thrill-seeker, a shopaholic, a foodie or something in between, there’s something on this all-in-one list of things to do in Shanghai for everyone.

Shanghai Itinerary Map

All 25 things to do on this Shanghai Guide have been pinned out on the google maps below for your convenience. Blue pins indicate must-sees, pink indicates hidden gems, while yellow refers to recommended accommodations!

Read more: Where to Stay in Shanghai — Centrally-located Hostels, Hotels and Apartments Under S$53/pax

Things to Do in Shanghai for First-Timers

1) The Bund

Shanghai The Bund City Skyline - China Guide

A trip to Shanghai isn’t complete without seeing the city’s most famous boardwalk. With 26 western colonial buildings alongside modern architecture, the bund is the embodiment of East meets West and Old meets New. Check it out especially at night — from 6PM to 10PM, the lights truly bring the skyline to life!

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 24 hours
How to get there: Take Shanghai Metro Line 2 until Nanjang Road (E.) Station, then walk 6min (Google Maps)

2) Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower (Viewing Platform) - Things to do in Shanghai

At 632m high, Shanghai Tower is the second tallest tower in the world. Viewing platforms on the 118th and 119th floors give a city view that’s second to none. The elevators are speedy too — it takes slightly over a minute to reach the top!

Entrance fee: ~S$33/pax 
Opening hours: 8:30AM – 9:30PM (Last entry 8:30PM)
How to get there: 8min walk from Jin Mao Tower (Google Maps)

*Pro-tip: Use code <THETRAVELINTERN> on Klook to get 5% off all activities* with a min. spend of S$50 (discount cap at S$15). Apply the promo code when you checkout. One-time use only! (* – see list of excluded activities)

3) Huangpu River Cruise

Huangpu River Cruise (Boat) - China Guide

End your day with a cruise along the Huangpu River — for 45 minutes, you’ll be treated to mesmerising views of the city’s famous skyline featuring the Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai Tower and The Bund. A cool alternative to watching the city skyline!

Entrance fee: ~S$20/pax via Klook
Opening hours: 11AM – 9:30PM (last redemption for night cruise: 8PM)
How to get there: Varies depending on departure point (check meet-up information before booking)

*Pro-tip: Arrive early and collect your tickets first to secure your preferred slot!

4) ERA Intersection of Time Acrobatic Show

ERA Intersection of Time Acrobatic Show (Bicycle Act) - Things to do in Shanghai

The acrobatics show by Shanghai Circus World was a truly memorable experience. It combined martial arts, gymnastics, acrobatics and Chinese culture, and the show kept us on the edge of our seats throughout! The performers were doing backflips on stilts and riding motorcycles (there were eight of them!) in a tiny sphere.

ERA Intersection of Time Acrobatic Show Motorcycle Act - Shanghai Guide

Shanghai is famous for its circuses so do check one out when you’re in town!


Cost: From ~S$62/pax via Klook (Area C) 
Opening hours: 7:30PM – 9PM 
How to get there: 2min walk from Pengpu Park (Google Maps)

*Pro-tip: Get at least Area C seats for a better view. The theatre forms a semicircle and Area D seats back-face a few of the performances.

5) Shanghai Disneyland

TRON Lightcycle Power Run (Inside) - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Of course, the happiest place on Earth. Shanghai Disneyland boasts seven different themed zones and is home to the only TRON Lightcycle Rollercoaster in the world (that is until another one recently opened at Florida’s Magic Kingdom in 2023)! It’s one of the fastest Disney coasters, with riders sitting on motorcycles instead of seats. As if you need another reason to visit.

Cost: From ~S$75/pax
Opening hours: 8:30AM – 9:30PM, Check the Shanghai Disney Park Calendar as opening hours vary.
How to get there: Take Metro Line 11 and get off at Disney Resort Station (Google Maps)

Read also: Ultimate Shanghai Disneyland Guide — 11 Strategies To Beat the Crowd

6) Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street

Nanjing Pedestrian Street - China Guide

Stretching 5.5km from Jing’an Temple to the Bund, Nanjing Road is Shanghai’s version of New York’s Times Square. Modern shopping malls line the street with brands like Sephora and Tiffany & Co. The world’s largest Starbucks is also here, featuring a 27m-long bar!

How to get there: Take Metro Line 2 or 10 until East Nanjing Road Station (Google Maps), or Line 2, 12 and 13 until West Nanjing Road Station (Google Maps)

7) Huanghe Road Food Market

Huanghe Road Food Street - Shanghai Guide

Huanghe Road is a popular food street amongst locals, especially for breakfast. Authentic local restaurants serve up Shanghai favourites like xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), jianbing (a savoury crepe) and noodles at reasonable prices. This street is famous for its dumplings and must-tries include No. 90 Jiajiatangbao and No. 97 Yang’s Dumplings.

Jia Jia Tang Bao - Things to do in Shanghai

Happy bellies at Jiajiatangbao!

Opening hours: 6:30AM – 7:30PM
How to get there: Take Metro Line 1, 2 or 8 until People’s Square Station then walk to Huanghe Rd (Google Maps)

*Pro-tip: Go before 9AM to avoid the morning breakfast crowd.

8) Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town (Boat Ride) - Shanghai Guide

With over 1,700 years of history, Zhujiajiao is one of the most famous ancient towns in China. Known as the Venice of Shanghai, the town features several bridges and waterways.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town Boat Ride - Things to do in Shanghai

Fangsheng Bridge, the town’s crown jewel, is a 70m-long bridge with five arches and provides a picturesque backdrop for photos. End your day trip here by trying some of the local delicacies at one of the waterside restaurants!

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town (Local Delicacies) - Things to eat in China

Opening hours: 8:30AM – 4:30PM
How to get there: Take Metro Line 17 and exit at Zhujiajiao Station (private car charter from Shanghai available)

*Pro-tip: Entrance is free and we recommend starting at the North Gate. Getting to Zhujiajiao via cab from central Shanghai costs ~200RMB and takes an hour. A cheaper alternative is to take the Huzhu Gaosu Kuaixian bus line from the Pu’an Road bus station near People’s Square (also about an hour).

9) Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Oriental Pearl TV Tower - Things to do in Shanghai

Arguably the most iconic structure in Shanghai’s skyline, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower sports a 360° clear bottom walkway from 259m high, which gives stunning views of the city.

Entrance fee: From ~S$64/pax (buffet included)
Opening hours: 9AM – 9PM (last entry at 8:30PM)
How to get there: Ride Metro Line 2 and alight at Lujiazui Station. Take Exit A, then walk 8mins (Google Maps)

10) Yuyuan Garden & Market, Shanghai Old Street and Chenghuangmiao Temple

Yuyuan Market (Zig Zag Bridge) - Shanghai Guide

These three attractions form the heart of Old Shanghai and is an area you cannot miss when you visit. It’s an extremely lively area with traditional Chinese buildings and food streets selling local snacks. One of the most popular photo spots is the Huxingting Tea House and its accompanying zig-zag bridge (pictured above)!

Yuyuan Market (Lanterns) - China Guide

Entrance fee: 40RMB (~S$7) for Yuyuan Garden, 10RMB (~S$2) for Chenghuangmiao Temple
Opening hours: 9AM – 4:30PM, last admission at 4PM (Yuyuan Garden), 8:30AM – 4:30PM (Chenghuangmiao Temple)
How to get there: Take Metro Line 10 and exit at Yuyuan Garden Station (Google Maps)

11) Tianzifang Art District

Tianzifang (Alleys) - Things to do in Shanghai

Tianzifang is easily one of my favourite spots in Shanghai. It’s a trendy, bustling area featuring tons of alley-style shopping streets catered to the younger crowd. Enter by Exit No.3 (Lane 274) to head straight to the main shopping lane! There are also food stalls if you get peckish.

Tianzifang (Street Shopping) - Shanghai Guide

Check out Lane 210 if you’re interested in art — many artists have studios in that area!

Note: This street is a hotspot for pickpockets, so keep watch of your belongings when you visit.

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 24 hours, but most shops close by 10PM
How to get there: Take Metro Line 9 and exit at Dapuqiao Station (Google Maps)

12) Xintiandi Pedestrian Road

Xintiandi - Shanghai Guide

For more old Shanghai vibes, the Xintiandi pedestrian street features shikumen (traditional Shanghainese architectural style) buildings reminiscent of the period. While the original exteriors remain, modern shops and restaurants now fill the buildings and breathe new life to the district.

How to get there: Take Metro Line 10 or 13 to Xintiandi Station (Google Maps)

13) Wukang Lu French Concession

Wukang Lu - China Guide

Photo credit: ChinaDaily

Previously known as Ferguson Lane, Wukang Lu lies in Shanghai’s former French concession. The district is one of Shanghai’s most historic and well-known neighbourhoods and has an upscale feel to it! With mostly cafes and restaurants around, you could make this a mid-day stop.

How to get there: 12min walk from Jiaotong University (Google Maps)

14) Jing’an Temple

Jing'an Temple - Things to do in Shanghai

Jing’an Temple is one of Shanghai’s oldest Buddhist temples, and amongst the most well-known in the city — the bright gold rooftops easily stand out amongst the surrounding urban architecture from afar. It’s said that if you throw a coin into the cauldron in the centre of the temple, you’ll be blessed with good luck!

Entrance fee: 50RMB (~S$9)
Opening hours: 7:30AM – 5PM
How to get there: Take Metro Line 2 or 7, and exit at Jing’an Temple Station (Google Maps)

15) AP Plaza Fake Market

AP Plaza Fake Market - Shanghai Guide

Photo credit: Smart Shanghai

Located under Shanghai’s Science and Technology Museum is the city’s largest “fake” market, AP Plaza. If you’re not too hard-up about original goods, you can find anything and everything from knock-off designer bags and shoes to toys and electronics! Be prepared to bargain hard and leave with some pretty good deals.

Opening hours: 10AM – 8:30PM
How to get there:
Take Metro Line 2 then exit at Shanghai Science & Technology Museum Station, 2000 Shiji Da Dao, near Yingchun Lu (Google Maps)

Hidden gems in Shanghai most tourists overlook

16) People’s Park Marriage Market

People's Park Marriage Market (Main Street) - Shanghai Guide

A 5-minute walk from Huangheroad Food Street lies People’s Park Marriage Market. The name itself is pretty self-explanatory — parents flock here to find partners for their children. Posters of singles mostly in their 30s are displayed on umbrellas lining the streets — we’re not joking!

Age, education, employment status and details of what they seek in a partner fill up the majority of the descriptions. You’ll find many locals browsing and making note of potential partners for their children. It’s a prime example of how old traditions and customs are still practised to this day!

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 12PM – 5PM, weekends only
How to get there: Take Metro Line 1, 2 or 8 and exit at People’s Square Station, then walk 7mins (Google Maps)

17) Happy Valley Theme Park

Bei Jing Happy Valley Theme Park - Shanghai Guide

Happy Valley in Beijing

This amusement park is a real hidden gem. While we didn’t visit Happy Valley Shanghai, we spent an entire day at the Beijing branch and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The Shanghai park is also one and a half times the size of its Beijing counterpart! With seven themed areas boasting over 100 attractions, you can easily spend an entire day there.

Entrance fee: From ~S$55/pax via Klook
Opening hours: 10AM – 4:30PM (Mon – Fri), 10AM – 6:30PM (Sat – Sun)
How to get there: Take Subway Line 7 to Beijing Happy Valley Station, then walk 13mins (Google Maps)

18) Disc Go-karting Club

Disc Go-Karting Club - China Guide

Drinking and driving is illegal but at Disc Go-karting Club, it’s encouraged. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is the bar overlooking the racecourse.

One race consists of eight laps and features sharp twists and turns that’ll make you feel like the star of a Fast and Furious movie! If you’re looking for an alternative to the usual bars and clubs for a night out, give this a try.

Cost: From 100RMB (~S$19)
Opening hours: 1PM – 1AM 
How to get there: 8min walk from Changfeng Park (Google Maps)

19) Jump360 Trampoline Park

Disc Go-Karting Club - Things to do in Shanghai

Jump360 owns some of the largest trampoline parks in China. There are two branches in Shanghai and we visited the smaller branch closer to the city centre. But at 5,550 square metres, even the smaller one ain’t too shabby (we spent a good 2 hours)!

Jump360 Trampoline Park (Obstacle Course) - Shanghai Guide

The super fun ninja warrior obstacle course, volleyball trampoline court and zip-line all brought out the inner child in us, and it’s one heck of a workout too. The best part? We went on a Monday afternoon and had the entire park to ourselves. Score!

Cost: From 118RMB/hour (~S$22)
Opening hours: 10AM – 9PM 
How to get there: 17min walk from NGS Shopping Mall (Google Maps)

*Pro-tip: Grip socks are compulsory and are sold at 10RMB. Bring your own if you have a pair to save money.

20) RIINK Rollerskating Rink

RIINK Rollerskating Rink - China Guide

Photo credit: Brandon Mcghee via SmartShanghai

Old souls who dig all things old school will love the RIINK Rollerstaking Rink. With neon lights and retro 80s vibes, this place transports you to the era of Earth, Wind & Fire and The Bee Gees. Cocktails go for ~50RMB and the music here is bangin’. Need I say more?

Cost: 158RMB for skate rental, drink and snack (~S$29)
Opening hours:
5PM – 1AM
How to get there:
Take Metro Line 4 or 12 to Damuqiao Road Station, then walk 19mins (Google Maps)

21) 1933 Old Millfun

1933 Old Millfun (Upper Floor) - Things to do in Shanghai

Formerly a cattle slaughterhouse, 1933 Old Millfun is now a trendy arts complex housing art galleries, cafes and offices. This unique labyrinth-like building is the last of its design, making it a famous Instagram spot!

1933 Old Millfun Stairs - Shanghai Guide

Explore the building’s unique bridges and umbrella-like columns, or simply grab a cuppa and recharge.

*Pro-tip: Take the best photos from the third floor! The vantage point really showcases the angular structures (and wear bright colours to stand out from the concrete too).

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: 9AM – 10PM 
How to get there: Take Metro Line 4 to Hailun Station, then walk 9mins (Google Maps)

22) Moganshan Art District

50 Moganshan Road - China Guide

Photo credit: @partyismyhome via Instagram

50 Moganshan Road (M50 for short) is Shanghai’s version of Beijing’s 798 Art District. Formerly a textile mill, M50 is now home to over 130 art galleries, craft workshops, graphic design studios and other businesses. It’s a great place to soak in the city’s street art and creative atmosphere!

Entrance fee: Free
Opening hours: Most galleries open 10AM – 7PM, and close on Mon
How to get there: Take Subway Line 1, 3 or 4 to Shanghai Railway Station, then walk 20mins (Google Maps)

23) West Bund & Xuhui Riverside Park

West Bund (Jogging Path) - China Guide

The Bund is well-known as a viewing space for the city skyline, but few know of the public recreation and art space further down the Huangpu River. West Bund offers free outdoor facilities including a running track, climbing wall and skate park! People of all ages come to enjoy the scenery and engage in sports like skateboarding and jogging.

West Bund (Long Museum) - China Guide

West Bund’s Long Museum

Art and culture institutions have popped up in recent years to form the largest art zone in Asia. Part of the city’s plan is to further develop West Bund into a high-quality downtown public space comparable to London’s South Bank, so expect more upgrades over the next few years.

Entrance fee: Free (except for some museums)
Opening hours: 24 hours
How to get there: Take Metro Line 11 to Yunjin Road Station (Google Maps)

24) Gongqing National Forest Park

Gongqing National Forest Park (Main Street) - Shanghai Guide

Trust me when I say Gongqing Park trumps all other parks. Amusement rides, rock climbing, go-karting, horseback riding and air-gun shooting are just some of the activities you can actually do here!

Gongqing Forest National Park (Swing Ride) - China Guide

But if you’re looking to just relax, the park offers plenty of open spaces perfect for picnicking and flying kites. The main entrance is located at the west gate; head right to get to the main activities area (10 – 40RMB per activity).

Entrance fee: 15RMB (~S$3)
Opening hours: 6AM – 4:30PM 
How to get there: Take Metro Line 8 and exit at Shiguang Lu Station. Then, take a cab or walk ~30mins (Google Maps)

25) Propaganda Poster Art Centre

Propaganda Poster Art Centre - Shanghai Guide

Photo credit: AirFrance

The one-of-a-kind Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre hosts a massive collection of original posters from the Mao Zedong period! It showcases changes in China’s propaganda over the years and is a cool, visual way of learning the country’s history.

Entrance fee: 25RMB (~S$5)
Opening hours: 10AM – 5PM
How to get there: Take Metro Line 1 or 7 to Changshu Road Station then walk 18min (Google Maps)

Pre-trip Essentials

Shanghai Disneyland - China Guide

Here’s some extra information to help plan your Shanghai trip:

Best time to visit: Avoid national holidays. Not only does it get extra crowded, some attractions close for the holidays too. Key holidays include Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day Golden Week. Check exact dates here as they vary every year.

Connectivity: Book a 4G eSIM online (from ~S$11) with different validity periods and package options. To access sites like Google and Instagram, you’ll have to download a VPN app like VPN Proxy Master.

Read also: 10 Essential Apps You Must Have for Travelling in China

Flights: Secure your flights early at the best prices! Check for your date of travel using this nifty widget:

If you can’t see the widget above, click here to check flights from Singapore to Shanghai instead!

Getting around Shanghai

Metro in China - China Guide

Walking: Because of the location of our hostel, we could walk to many places. Google Maps was pretty accurate and helped a lot.

Metro: Shanghai’s metro system is cheap, efficient and easy to navigate. Download the free Shanghai Metro App to plan your routes. It’s in English and shows which lines to take and the estimated journey time. Tickets can be purchased easily at metro kiosks using cash. Note: only small change is accepted.

Cab: Didi is China’s version of Uber. It’s a convenient way of getting around and the auto-translation feature makes it easy for foreigners to communicate with drivers. Both card and cash payment options are available.

Where to Stay in Shanghai

Shanghai The Pheonix Hostel (Reception) - China Guide

Our hostel, The Pheonix Hostel Shanghai was within walking distance from The Bund, Yuyuan Gardens and Xintiandi. It’s also a short walk from Dashijie Metro Station (Line 8) and People’s Square Metro Station (Lines 2 and 8)!

While it may not be the cheapest around, its prime location in the heart of the city makes it an excellent base for exploring Shanghai. Several restaurants and convenience stores are also located right at your doorstep.

Cost: From 417RMB/night (~S$79 for 1 pax)
How to get there: 11min walk from People’s Square (Google Maps)

Pre-book Shanghai activities

Drone Shot of The Bund - Things to do in Shanghai

Shanghai is a lively city with an endless amount of things to do. Give me a week there and I’ll easily pack each day to the brim. One thing that kept our itinerary organised and fuss-free was pre-booking our tickets whenever we could!

We purchased tickets for attractions like the Huangpu River Cruise, Shanghai Tower and ERA Intersection of Time Acrobatic Show conveniently on Klook, which made everything scan-and-go with QR codes.

This makes getting around so much easier, especially if you aren’t fluent in Mandarin (myself included). Some attractions do need you to collect physical tickets at the counter, but similarly, you just have to show them your booking receipt and there shouldn’t be any problems!

*Pro-tip: Use code <THETRAVELINTERN> on Klook to get 5% off all activities* with a min. spend of S$50 (discount cap at S$15). Apply the promo code when you checkout. One-time use only! (* – see list of excluded activities)

How many in this list of things to do in Shanghai do you want to try? Let us know in the comments!

This post was brought to you by Klook.

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