Things to Know Before You Go to Shanghai, China

Got your bags packed for a trip to “Asia’s Magic City”? Make sure you’re all set as your suitcase with this guide on all the fundamental things to know before you go to Shanghai.

The Yu Garden in Shanghai, China
The Yu Garden in Shanghai, China

As the third-largest city in the world, Shanghai is a metropolis that promises to surprise and delight every visitor with its dynamic and continuously evolving cityscape and lifestyle. If you haven’t finalized your itinerary yet, don’t worry. We can guarantee that by the end of this blog, you’ll be armed with all the important things to know before you go to Shanghai. 

From understanding the city’s longest metro network to making your way to the iconic Shanghai Tower, ThisCityKnows is here to help you navigate this bustling metropolis with ease. 

When To Go & How To Get Around Shanghai

Shanghai is a city that’s captivating at any time of the year, each season offering its unique charm and challenges. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are widely regarded as the best times to visit, featuring mild weather and clear skies that are perfect for exploring the city. 

However, these months also coincide with peak tourist seasons, so expect more crowds at major attractions.

On the other hand, summer in Shanghai (June to August) can be a bit hot and humid. Nonetheless, the city comes alive with festivals and outdoor activities during these months. And if you can bear the mild heat, you can perhaps go and enjoy a livelier urban atmosphere. 

Conversely, winter (December to February) shrouds the city in cool, crisp air, with fewer crowds.

Meanwhile, getting around Shanghai is pretty straightforward, thanks to its reliable and extensive public transportation system. The city boasts the longest metro system in the world, which is often the quickest way to navigate the vast cityscape. 

Additionally, buses and taxis are plentiful, and apps like Didi (the Chinese equivalent of Uber) make hiring a car just a tap away. For a more scenic route, consider renting a bicycle to explore the city’s charming streets and waterfront areas. 

You might also like: Your Ultimate Guide To Exploring The Heart of Asia

People walking along the Nanjing Road in Shanghai at night
People walking along the Nanjing Road in Shanghai at night

Know Before You Go: Things To Do in Shanghai for First-Timers

With pretty much everything you’d want from any global city, it’s totally easy to fall in love with Shanghai. 

And of course, we want to make sure you’re not overwhelmed, so you can make the most of your visit. That’s why we’ve included a list of must-see places in this guide on things to know before you go to Shanghai:

  • Feel the tranquility of Yu Garden, a lush oasis in the heart of Old Shanghai. Here, dragon-lined walls and centuries-old pavilions offer a serene escape from the city’s modern frenzy.
  • Find peace (and maybe a bit of enlightenment) at the Jade Buddha Temple, where the gleaming white Buddha carved from a single piece of jade is a site to respect and behold.
  • Stroll along The Bund, where Art Deco meets Neoclassical right across from the futuristic skyline of Pudong. It’s the perfect spot for that “I’m in Shanghai!” selfie.
  • A treasure trove in a very literal pot-shaped building, the Shanghai Museum houses tons of artifacts that history buffs won’t know where to start.
  • Iconic and surreal, the Oriental Pearl Tower pierces the skyline with its futuristic design and multicolored spheres. Head to its observation deck for dizzying views, or dine with a twist in its revolving restaurant.
  • Zip up to the Shanghai Tower’s observation deck through one of the fastest elevators on earth, and let the city sprawl beneath you take your breath away.
  • Feel the bustle of Nanjing Road, a shopping paradise where you can practice the fine art of retail therapy. From high fashion to kitschy souvenirs, it’s all here, lit by neon and packed with energy.
  • Foodies shouldn’t miss the Wujiang Road Food Street. From spicy Szechuan to sweet local treats, eating your way through here is a must!

Where To Stay in Shanghai

Whether you’re looking for luxury, convenience, or a touch of local charm, these neighborhoods in Shanghai boast their unique beauty and advantages:

NANJING ROAD

As Shanghai’s premier shopping district, Nanjing Road is best for those who want to be in the heart of the action. The area is bustling day and night, offering easy access to shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Consider Hotel Massenet for a luxurious stay, or the Jinjiang Inn for a more budget-friendly choice.

PEOPLE’S SQUARE

Situated in the city center, People’s Square is the ideal spot for culture enthusiasts. For an authentic experience, consider renting an apartment that’s close to the city’s major attractions.

THE BUND

If you’re looking to soak up Shanghai’s famous skyline, The Bund is the place to be. Colonial-era buildings line this iconic waterfront area, offering spectacular views of modern skyscrapers across the Huangpu River.

XUJIAHUI

For shopaholics, Xujiahui is your best bet. Known for its large shopping malls and the Shanghai Stadium, you’ll never be far from the action. Best of all, Xujiahui caters to every budget, from luxury hotels to affordable yet charming apartments

A woman in a colorful costume performing a traditional dance in Shanghai, China
A woman in a colorful costume performing a traditional dance in Shanghai, China

Have The Best Time in Shanghai with ThisCityKnows

As one of the world’s most exhilarating cities, Shanghai promises an unforgettable experience with its blend of modern dynamism and deep-rooted cultural heritage. From exploring the historic streets to indulging in the high life at the city’s towering skyscrapers, there’s never a dull moment in this vibrant metropolis. 

And remember, ThisCityKnows is here to guide you through every step, ensuring you’re well-equipped with all the essential things to know before you go to Shanghai and other stunning cities around the globe.

As you set off on this exciting adventure, don’t forget to share your own stories, tips, and experiences with us. Whether it’s a hidden gem you discovered in Xujiahui or a memorable evening along The Bund, your insights will surely ignite the wanderlust of our fellow travelers. 

So, step out, explore confidently, and let Shanghai leave its mark on your heart— your story awaits, and we can’t wait to hear it!

Katie
Author: Katie

Katie is all about hitting the road solo, always on the lookout for spots the internet hasn't fully discovered yet. She’s the one turning left when the map says right, hunting for those genuine, "you had to be there" moments. With a style that's as engaging as a late-night chat by the hostel fire, her stories aren't just about places, but the raw, unfiltered joy of exploring them on your own terms.

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