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While the exquisitely appointed, spacious interiors and altitudinal views from within the J Hotel are themselves a pleasure to behold, there are still some welcome cultural and artistic distractions to be found in and around the neighborhood below. From the ubiquitous Oriental Pearl Tower, to the Shanghai Museum and nearby tranquil greenery and fountains of the Lujiazui Central Green Space. Post-dinner explorers might enjoy an enchanting stroll along The Bund or Binjiang Avenue to wind down an enjoyable evening and bring a fine, productive day to a scenic closure.
Shutterbugs, step forward – here are Shanghai’s best attractions, iconic skyscrapers, historical gardens and pic-pretty destinations to put on your hit list. Set aside a few days to go from Pudong to Jing’An, The Bund and beyond, plus a few out-of-town heritage sites, too.
The iconic, needle-like Orient Pearl Tower is a Pudong must-see. For the best vantage point, take a seat across the way on the shores of The Bund instead, and head to the promenade at sunset to join the crowds to pose for pictures.
No. 1 Century Avenue, Pudong New District, 8am-9.30pm daily
Go on a clear day (that means weather and smog) to ogle Pudong, Puxi and beyond from atop this soaring observation deck. It's the tallest in China and hands-down the most impressive spot for unrivalled views of the city.
501 Yincheng Zhong Lu, near Lujiazui Huan Lu, Pudong New District, 8.30am-10pm daily
This super-tower soars 101 floors high and is worth a visit for the glass-encased World Financial Tower Observatory, which offers prime moon-viewing opportunities and panoramic views.
No. 100 Century Avenue, Pudong New District, +86 21 3867 2008, 11am-9pm daily, swfc-shanghai.com
Completed before the millennium, Jin Mao is a keystone of Shanghai’s iconic skyline and the second skyscraper to land in Pudong’s financial district. Known for its traditional pagoda architecture drawing on Chinese heritage and culture, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Take to the glass skywalk on the 88th floor for sweeping views above and below.
88 Century Avenue, Pudong New District, +86 21 5047 5101, 8.30am-9.30pm daily
Converted Pudong views are best seen here – from the promenade shopfronts to designer restaurants and bar haunts. Known as the humming centre of the city, the Bund strip is bustling from dusk to dawn with hordes of locals, expats and tourists alike. Spanning some 2.5 kilometres, it’s dotted with architectural wonders and history-steeped hang-outs. You won’t want to miss this.
Zhongshan East 1st Road, Wai Tan, Huangpu District
Venture deep into the heart of this world-famous shopping street stocking anything and everything under the sun. Be sure to bargain hard on local finds and global designers pushing their wares from silk, jade, knick-knacks and more. Feeling peckish? Fill up on the many food stalls dotted all along the way.
East Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, Huangpu District
Preserved from the Ming Dynasty, this private garden spans five acres of historical architecture, sculptures and rock carvings. After a walk through the garden, hit Yuyuan Bazaar for souvenirs and traditional food stores. Tip: Visit in the spring for full blooms of cherry blossoms or during Chinese New Year for lantern-filled decor.
137 Anren Street, Fuyou Lu, Huangpu District, 8.45am-4.45pm Tue-Sun
Shanghai’s poster child for urban renewal is this sprawling, bustling, car-free expanse, renovated by developers who rebuilt a swathe of traditional C.19th shikumen houses for top-notch designers and high-end entertainment. Visitors flock to these cobbled streets to eat, drink and shop.
Alley 181, Taicang Road, Huangpu District, xintiandi.com
Quiet canals, old stone alleyways, local treats and mom-and-pop shops just an hour’s drive away from the city. Taking you back in time, Zhujiajiao is a bridge into Chinese history. For the best views, take one of many family-sized boats dotted around town.
Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu District
One of Shanghai’s closest water towns, Qibao is known for its traditional street food and Song dynasty aesthetics. With plenty of temples, gardens and stone buildings, there are a few spots for quiet moments, too.
Qibao Town, Minhang District
North of the Bund is Suzhou Creek – a burgeoning urban waterfront destination in its own right – and artsy Moganshan Lu. Pop along to snap the ever-changing hoardings emblazoned with murals by local and global artists. Peepers peeled for cult Shanghainese talent Sui Tang and French graffiti master Dezio.
Moganshan Lu, Suzhou Creek, Putuo District
Shanghai's emerging contemporary arts district, stretching 8km along the Huangpu, is perfect for a weekend wander with a host of museums and galleries transforming this wide pedestrian riverside promenade. Also good for walking, running, biking and bringing tots to the curbside skateboard park for a quick scramble up the climbing walls.
West Bund, Southwest of Shanghai's Xuhui District
This arts and crafts enclave is surrounded by boutique design studios, galleries, old-stone houses and cafes. Naturally, it’s heaving with hipsters packing cameras for sun-soaked walk-abouts in the narrow lanes of the old quarters.
Lane 210, Taikang Road, Huangpu District
From the West Bund to the Shanghai Exhibition Centre and along the Huangpu River, Shanghai is teeming with world-class events worth travelling for. We’ve rounded up the best picks for locals and travellers alike – whether you’re a sports lover, design diva or fashionista, there’s something for everyone.
Held simultaneously, West Bund Art & Design Fair welcomes more than 100 international and local galleries including Arario Gallery, ShanghART and WhiteCube, plus a slew of events and popups taking place around the city.
West Bund Art Center, 2555 Long Teng Avenue, Xuhui District, westbundshanghai.com
Now monikered ART021, the annual Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair graces the Shanghai Exhibition Centre for a top-notch edit of modern works by some of the world's leading galleries. A program of educational talks and projects accompany the show.
Shanghai Exhibition Center, No. 1000, Middle Yan An Road, Jing'an District +86 21 6433 8609, art021.org
Any style queen worth her Shanghai Tang knows that fashion week is the city’s top social affair, when thousands of international exhibitors, design buffs and buyers descend to the Pearl of the Orient.
Interior design and lifestyle steal the spotlight at China’s leading annual paean to form and function: Design Shanghai More than 500 local and global leading design talents congregate to showcase works that are contemporary, classic and collectable.
1099 Guozhan Road, Pudong New District, designshanghai.com
Shanghai's longest-serving festival is a celebration of music and dance featuring a diverse range of performances by world-greats. Indulge in an atmosphere of thriving new talent and classic Chinese culture in venues across the city.
+86 21 6248 5036, ssimf.org
China’s biggest film festival to date featuring the Golden Goblet Award, SIFF brings out the glamour squad of artists, actors, socialites and fashionistas alike. Locals and out-of-towners will get the chance to screen new flicks, Chinese adaptations and classics.
+86 21 2200 9800, siff.com
Music lovers flock to this alfresco festival for a wide-ranging program of folk, country, jazz and blues. Check the schedule for airlifted international acts plus interactive activities for the kids, too.
Join the hordes of cheering supporters as thousands of runners take to the streets of Shanghai for the city’s annual international marathon. Alternatively, clock up those all-important steps by taking your pick of the best marathon route sights. Highlights include The Bund, Huangpu River, Shanghai Grand Theater, Lu Pu Bridge and Fu Xing Park.
+86 40 0777 8056, shmarathon.com
F1 and its entourage zooms into town for the Shanghai leg of the race. Designed by German-stalwart Hermann Tilke, the track fronts one of the hardest circuit turns in the world. Action on the grid is always more than matched by a cracking roster of live performances and after-parties. It’s an intoxicating mix of speed, glamour and celebrity.
2000 Yining Road, Jiading District, +86 400 011 2797, 021f1.com
For the more biz-savvy, hit the Trade Center for the city’s annual fair of new tech, services and enterprises the world over. The crowd attracts a mix of international and local movers to their 16 exhibition halls spanning over 500,000 square metres. Join in on their program of events, seminars and exclusive product releases.
No. 333, Songza Boulevard, Qingpu District, +86-21-67008870, ciie.org
Shanghai’s own version of Comic-Con, ChinaJoy welcomes gamers, animators, voice actors, e-sport players and digital developers to an interactive expo for the ages. Future-goggles on for this one.
2345 Longyang Road, Shi Ji Gong Yuan, Pudong New District, chinajoy.net
Shanghai is China’s undisputed home for fashion and the arts, so it’s time to discover the city's best designer haunts – ranging from contemporary art and heritage teahouses to bamboo-shrouded gardens and more. This is the ultimate culture vulture’s guide to Shanghai.
Designed by renowned French architect and the Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Jean Nouvel, opened to the public in July 2021. It will focus on introducing the world-class artists and exhibitions as well as rooming domestic artists, educating and enriching the international communication.
No.2777 Binjiang Avenue, Pudong New District, +400 820 8771, 10am-6pm, Sun, Mon, Wed and Thurs, 10am-9pm, Fri, Sat and Public Holidays, www.museumofartpd.org.cn
Shanghai Museum houses a stunning and vast collection of ancient Chinese bronzes, ceramics, coins, jade, paintings, furnishings and calligraphy spread over 11 permanent gallery spaces, plus a few rotating exhibits.
No. 201, Renmin Da Dao, Huangpu District, +86 21 6372 3500, 9am-5pm, Tue-Sun, shanghaimuseum.net
From new creators to legends, MAM is perfectly situated in Pudong’s cultural corridor, reviving Shanghai’s public art scene in an imaginative industrial-chic building that floats on the skyline. A must-visit for international and local artists, if not for the designer destination. Grab a bike after your gallery visit for sunset rides along the Riverside promenade.
No. 4777, Binjiang Avenue, Pudong New District, +86 21 6878 1390, 10am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm Sat-Sun, mamsh.org
This wowzer bronze-hued bamboo-shrouded arts centre conceived by British architect duo Norman Foster and Thomas Heatherwick is worth visiting for the building alone. But, go beyond the triple-layered edifice to find an expansive contemporary art exhibition hall and world-class music venue.
No.600, Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, Huangpu District, +86 21 6305 5118, 10am-6pm Tue-Sun, fosunfoundation.com
Home to the Shanghai Biennale, the Power Station of Art (PSA) had a former life as the Nanshi Power Plant and Pavilion of Future during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. Located next to the Huangpu River, it now hosts groundbreaking contemporary art exhibitions within its 15,000 sqm space and peppers up Shanghai’s skyline with its standout 165m tall chimney.
200 Hua Yuan Gang Lu, Huangpu District, +86 21 3110 8550, 11am-7pm Tues-Sun, powerstationofart.com
See red at this private museum featuring a collection of over 6,000 Mao-era propaganda posters, from cartoons to industrial-size prints and militaristic motifs. Don't miss the hundreds of Shanghai Lady Calendar prints dating from the early 20th century.
Rm K, 7/F East Tower, Hua Min Han Zhen International, 726 Yan An Xi Road, Changning District, +86 21 6211 1845, 10am-5pm Tue-Sun, shanghaipropagandaart.com
For the history buffs, this hidden-gem inside Pudong’s Shanghai Tower is a private museum with a porcelain hall, sculptural works and East-West artefacts. Deep dive into traditional Chinese culture and history by the millennium.
37/F, No. 501, Yingcheng Zhong Lu, Pudong New District, +86 21 6108 9988, 10am-5pm Mon, 10am-6pm, Tue-Sun
Start your engines at this sprawling museum housing 100 classic cars from nearly 50 brands from China and abroad, and three different pavilions that take you through a century of automobile history, collection and exploration. The ideal spot for motorheads to spend an afternoon or more.
No.7565, Boyuan Road, Jiading District, +86 21 6955 0055, 9.30am-4.30pm Tue-Sun, en.shautomuseum.com
Like it says on the tin, the garden park cuts right through Pudong’s skyline. Come here for a spot of lunchtime respite or peaceful walks with the dog. Nothing more, nothing less.
No.160, Lujiazui East Road, Pudong New District, +86 21 5887 5487, 8am-6pm daily
Run, walk or bike through this lush oasis spanning 140 hectares on the city’s East side. Best known for its vast lakes and cherry-blossom lined trees, the park also houses an aviary and bird reserve, golf course, flower garden and concert stage. Family day out, sorted.
Jinxiu Road, Pudong New District, +86 21 3876 0588, 7am-5pm daily
A zen escape inside the sci-fi district of the Pudong New Area. The well-manicured grounds are fitted with wetlands, a lotus pond and bamboo-shrouded walkways. Situated inside the park, make a stop at The China Art Museum with the world's largest cache of mod Chinese art and international works.
World EXPO Park, Pudong New District
Come here for landscaped walkways, heritage teahouses, food stalls, plus Buddhist and Taoist temples. At a massive 1,050 acres, you'd barely notice the tourists. After a lakeside picnic in lush cherry blossom surrounds, take refuge at Duoyun Bookstore, which is housed in a reno’d Ming-era Huizhou-style courtyard house.
Lane 3260, Guangfulin Road, Songjiang District, +86 21 5780 0000, 9am-5pm daily
This faux-traditional building conceals a bonanza of over 150 stalls selling every variety of tea and accessory imaginable, where the shop owners are happy to provide samples with no pressure to purchase. The few who speak English can impart a wealth of knowledge about tea types and brewing techniques. Don't forget to bargain!
No.520, Zhongshan Xi Lu, Changning District, +86 21 5253 1246, 9.30am-8pm daily
Four-storey, 300-stall mecca for textile shoppers and English-speaking tailor seekers. The experienced seamstresses here will whip up simple items in a day or two and deliver directly to your hotel. Bargain hard!
168 Dongmen Road, Huangpu District
A treasure trove of gems and jewels in the city where you can find fresh- and saltwater pearls, crystals, jades, semi-precious stones and antiques. Look out for bargain buckets and beware of fakes – take a break from all the haggling with all the restaurants, bars and cafes nearby.
3721 Hongmei Road, Changning District
Looking for a Shanghai surprise? Venture past The Bund’s allure to these tried-and-tested family-friendly destinations. For an all-day adventure, head to Disney, Ocean Aquarium or a safari escape in the metropolis. Alternatively, expand your mind with some sci-tech learning and finish off at one of the city’s famed designer gardens or concert halls.
The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is one of the biggest collections of Asian sea creatures in the world, complete with an underwater walkthrough. Behind the pyramid-shaped facade, marvel at the swarms of sharks, pink-hued jelly fish and whopper alligators. Fun for all ages, be sure to check the schedule for feedings and educational events.
No.1388 Lujiazui Ring Road, Pudong New District, +86 21 5877 9988, 9am-6pm daily, sh-soa.com
For childhood adventures, nostalgia-filled surprises and Disney princess dreams, the Shanghai Disney is a must. Go on weekdays to avoid the long queues, and finish off the day with fireworks at 8pm.
No.1009 West Shendi Rd., Pudong New District, +86 21 3158 0000, open daily, shanghaidisneyresort.com
Say hello to over 200 kinds of animals at Shanghai Wild Animal Park, from elephants, rhinos and monkeys to a variety of beautiful feathered creatures. Of course, there’s a giant panda pen too. For the adventurous, hop into the glass-encased bus that gets you up-close-and-personal with the big cats, including tigers, lions and cheetahs.
No. 178, Nanliu Road, Pudong New District, +86 21 5803 6000, open daily, shwzoo.com
Deep dive into the history of the earth and learn all about space travel, robots and our most recent scientific discoveries at the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum. The four-storey museum houses a Space Theatre, IMAX Dome and interactive edu-tainment of all sorts that’s sure to please curious minds, both small and tall.
No.2000, Century Avenue, Pudong New District, +86 21 6854 2000, 9am-5.15pm Tue-Sun, en.sstm.org.cn
Get to know Shanghai through its urban planners, where you can witness a fascinating scale model of the sprawling city up on the fourth floor. In the next room, a video presentation offers a 360-degree glimpse into the future, while history buffs can dive right into the interactive lower-floor exhibits.
No.100 Renmin Main Street, Huangpu District, +86 21 6318 4477, 9am-5pm Tue-Sun
For an action-packed afternoon with lofty views, this amusement park is not for the faint of heart. Packing four roller coasters, a 108-metre-high ferris wheel and man-made white water rafting, it’s a thrill-seeker’s paradise.
No.201 Hongmei Road, Minhang District, +86 21 5420 4956, open daily
German landscape architects Valentien + Valentien are to credit for the city’s largest park, clocking in at two million sqm with over 9,000 plant species – definitely worth the trek to Songjiang. This botanical bowery is a haven of roses, green expanses, sapphire lakes and cascading waterfalls. Coming with the kids? Go for a climb up Chenshan Hill and stop at the playground (trampoline and all).
No.3888, Chenhua Road, Songjiang District, +86 21 3779 2288, en.csnbgsh.cn
Don’t let the name confuse you – this clam-shelled arena hosts mainstream international imports from rock ‘n roll icons to the latest pop divas and sporting events. Psst… The lingerie-clad Victoria’s Secret show was once hosted here too. Ask your personal butler for the latest lineup of events.
No.1200, Expo Avenue, Pudong New District, +86 400 181 6688
Pamper your fur babies at this pup-ular pet lifestyle haven in Shanghai replete with eats, treats, toys, supplies and more. Fun for the whole fam – there's even a high-end grooming salon with luxury fruit spa treatments and expert trimmers, snip snip! Multiple locations across town so you, Fido and Milo can easily stop by on your next dog/cat walk.
16D-E, 4/F, 1111 Zhaojiabang Road, Metro City, Xuhui District, +86 21 6481 1881, 10-10pm daily