24 hours in Shanghai

Welcome to China’s pearl and one of the world’s biggest metropolis! With a population of well over 20 million, this city alone has more inhabitants than my home country, Romania.

Shanghai is a modern city with an old soul. A place where tall skyscrapers hide the city’s heritage made up of beautiful temples, pavilions and gardens.

If you have a chance to visit this huge maze but your time is limited, here is an itinerary that will help you make the most of your time:

Note that Google Maps (together with all the other Google services) does not work in China, unless you download a VPN before getting there. As an alternative, you can use the Chinese search engine BaiDu, and its maps. However, there is no English version so far, therefore, in order to facilitate your search, I will write the Chinese names (in characters and pinyin) of the main tourist attractions, along with the English translation.

1.Start from Yuyuan (豫园, Yù Yuán) . This is a garden built over 400 years ago, during Ming dynasty. Its name translates to “the pleasing/satisfying garden” and you can be sure it will satisfy your eyes with beautiful, ponds, rockeries, pavilions and traditional architecture.

Yuyuan Garden

2.The garden is actually part of the old city of Shanghai, a historical complex that includes Dajing Ge (大境阁, Dàjìng Gé), a crowded pavilion that displays a wide variety of traditional shops, teahouses and restaurants, along with the Old City Wall and the City God Temple.

Dajing Ge Pavilion

3.A few blocks away you will come across People’s Square (人民广场 Rénmín guǎngchǎng), Shanghai’s main plaza. Enjoy the fountains you will find here and, if you have some extra time, visit Shanghai Museum, which hosts some fine collections of traditional paintings, manufacts, clothing and calligraphy. There is no entry fee.

Also, if you are into shopping, don’t miss Shanghai Times Square (大上海时代广场, Dà shànghǎi shídài guǎngchǎng), located between Dajing Ge and People’s Square, one block before the plaza.

4.From People’s square walk down Nanjing Road (南京路, Nánjīng Lù), the city’s renowned pedestrian and commercial street. This will take you to The Bund (外滩, Wàitān) a beautiful promenade along the Huangpu river, flaunting numerous Eclectic style buildings. From the Bund you can delight your sight with the famous picture-postcard view of Pudong, Shanghai’s financial district.

Pudong, view from The Bund

5.Go back to Nanjing Road, take metro line 2 (going towards Pudong Airport) and cross over to Pudong, Lujiazui station (陆家嘴, Lùjiāzuǐ), on the other side of the river. There you can visit the Oriental Pearl Tower and enjoy a magnificent panoramic view over Shanghai. For more information on entry fees, go to Oriental Pearl Tower.

If you have time, you can also go for a stroll down Century Avenue (世纪大道, Shìjì dàdào) and feel like a small ant among giants.

6.Take metro line 2 again, this time in the opposite direction (towards East Xujing and Hongqiao Airport) and get off at Jinag’an Temple Station (静安寺, Jìng’ān sì). Visit the temple, one of the most famous ones in Shanghai, and enjoy the contrasting view of Chinese traditional roofs raising against a backdrop of modern steel and glass skyscrapers.

Jing’an Temple

7.Just a few blocks away from Jing’an Temple, there is the French Concession, a charming neighborhood featuring an array of European-style villas and buildings. If you don’t have much time go straight to Ruijin 2 Road (瑞金二路, Ruìjīn èr lù). The easiest way to get there from Jing’an temple is probably by taxi. Enjoy the beautiful architecture this street offers and don’t miss Fuxing Park (复兴公园, Fùxīng gōngyuán) and Xintiandi (新天地, Xīntiāndì) a reconditioned shikumen (typical old-Shanghai neighborhood). Roam this labyrinth and enjoy a coffee or dinner at one the many restaurants and coffee shops this area offers.

Shikumen in Xintiandi, Shangha

After dark Shanghai turns into an appealing spectacle of lights. If you prefer seeing the city’s skyline by night, than you can start by visiting Jing’an Temple and the French Concession in the morning and end your tour at the Bund or at the Oriental Pearl Tower, which is open until 9:30 pm.

Enjoy your tour!

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