How Shanghai is one of the most popular cities in Asia today is easy to see. Its vibrant landscape has been fueled by a booming creative and hyper-modern gourmet scene, cementing its reputation as the Pearl of the Orient. There are ancient gardens among its towering skyscrapers that still stand as a reminder of its imperial past. Grandiose British-built mansions along the Bund riverfront and the leafy avenues of the former French Concession reveal its diverse history, including a past that was under European influence. In this eclectic mix of past and future, there is plenty to discover. From what’s arguably the happiest place on earth to an 88-storey high spine-tingling walk, here is our guide to the best attractions in Shanghai.

the bund
The Bund, one of the best attractions in Shanghai
Shanghai’s The Bund

Without a trip to The Bund, you can’t say you’ve been in Shanghai. The famous sight along the river Huangpu is best known for its magnificent Neoclassical, Art Deco, and Baroque houses. They once housed British trading houses and international banks, but have now morphed into a host of elegant restaurants, clubs and boutiques.

This beautiful old colonial region is the perfect place to go for a stroll, whether in the daylight or after dark. The landscape becomes a gleaming sight at night as the glassy waters reflect the bright lights from the river-wide towers.

During the winter season, the light show takes place from 6pm each evening and often fills the riverbank ahead of time, so choose a river cruise for a stress-free ride.

Directions: Take Shanghai Metro Line 2 or Line 10 and get off at EastNanjing Road Station. Walk along Nanjing Road for about 10 minutes.

Address: Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai, China

Shanghai Disneyland Park
Shanghai Disneyland Park
Shanghai Disneyland Park

Next on the list of best attractions in Shanghai is Disney’s newest theme park. This Disneyland is planned to be unlike any of its parks, as it has been defined by Disney CEO Bob Iger as being “authentically Disney and uniquely Chinese.” Take an adventurous spin on their new signature attraction, the Pirates of the Caribbean’s Battle for the Sunken Treasure, or brace yourself for some wild twists and turns at the fantasy sci-fi world of Tron.
Directions: Take metro line 11 and get off at Disneyland Park Station. Go out via Exit 1, and then walk for about 5 minutes to the park.
Address: Pudong New District, Shanghai, China
Opening hours: 8.30 am to 10pm daily
Admission fee: ¥399 per pass for off-peak days, ¥575 per pass for peak days

Yu Garden
Yu Garden, one of the best attractions in Shanghai
Shanghai’s Yu Garden

Yu Garden has a history dating as far back as the Ming Dynasty 400 years ago. This classic Chinese garden is full of pavilions, halls and quiet ponds that will take you back in time instantly. Take your time to enjoy the ancient Chinese buildings, beautiful sculptures, and manicured gardens. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the city’s bustle, but a welcomed respite.

While you’re in Yu Garden, pop over to the Yuyuan Bazaar next to it. There are many restaurants, tea houses and shops in the collection of small streets and lanes that offer delicious local snacks and handcrafted souvenirs.

Directions: Take metro line 10 (transfer from metro line 2 at East Nanjing Road Station) and get off at Yuyuan Station.. Exit from Exit No.01.

Address: 218 Anren Street, Huangpu District, Shanghai, China

Opening hours: 8.30 am to 5.30 pm daily, from March to October; 8.30 am to 5pm daily, from November to February

Admission fee: ¥40 per pax from April to June and September to November, ¥30 per pax from July to August and December to March

Jin Mao Tower and Skywalk
Jin Mao Tower, one of the best attractions in Shanghai
Shanghai’s Jin Mao Tower

The iconic skyscraper is one of the tallest buildings in the world at 88 stories high and offers a heart-stopping 200-foot-long skywalk of glass. It’s definitely the most exciting way to get a bird’s eye view of the city – and it’s handrail-free no less. If you’ve always claimed to live life on the edge, it doesn’t get more literal than this.

Directions: Take Metro Line 2 and get off at Lujiazui Station. Get out from Exit 6 and walk to the south for 5 minutes to Jin Mao Tower.

Address: 88 Century Avenue, Lu Jia Zui, Pudong New District, Shanghai China

Opening hours: 8.30 am to 9.30 pm daily

Admission fee: ¥50 for adults and ¥25 for children for passes up to the observation deck. To take the Skywalk, there is an additional ¥358 charge per person.

Oriental Pearl Tower
The Oriental Pearl Tower, one of the best attractions in Shanghai
Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower

No roundup of the best attractions in Shanghai is complete without the Oriental Pearl Tower, one of the city’s most recognisable icons. Built in the Pudong New District, with its shimmering circles reminiscent of pearls, the futuristic-looking building rises impressively over the Bund at 468 metres. Here, you’ll have access to a myriad of experiences – from a 360-degree view of the city at the 259-metre high transparent observatory, to the Shanghai History Museum at its basement.

Directions: Take the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel across the Huangpu River, and get off at the Pudong side. By Metro: Take Metro Line 2 and get off at Lujiazui Station. Get out from Exit 1 and you’ll see the Oriental Pearl Tower.

Address: 1 Century Avenue, Lu Jia Zui, Pudong New District, Shanghai, China

Opening hours: 8 am to 9.30 pm daily

Admission fee: ¥35 to ¥260, depending on which package you select.

Zhu Jia Jiao
Shanghai's Zhu Jia Jiao
Shanghai’s Zhu Jia Jiao

Dubbed the “Shanghai Venice,” Zhu Jia Jiao rounds up the list of the best attractions in Shanghai. It is a picturesque water city just an hour from the heart of the city, and is lined with canals and flanked by ancient Chinese buildings.

Zhu Jia Jiao provides visitors with a serene insight into its past. Take a cruise and explore the city from the water or cross its 36 bridges for a glimpse into this charming destination’s different facets. An afternoon in Bei Daijie is a must, as the street is the oldest in Zhu Jia Jiao, which dates back to the Qing Dynasty, and has plenty of modern food and entertainment. Make a pitstop in Kezhi Yuan on Xijing Street, an old Chinese-style garden home to a pavilion that is the highest building in Zhu Jia Jiao, for a quick break from all the walking.

Address: Qingpu District, Shanghai, China

Opening hours: 8.30 am to 4.30pm

Admission fee: ¥30 to ¥80

This article was first published in Lifestyle Asia.

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