What you need to do when you’re in Shanghai

Shanghai is such a multifaceted city with so much to offer. Usually portrayed as a metropolis with high buildings, congested traffic and pollution, it is actually everything but. True, it does offer the best parts of any major city such as well-developed transportation network and great shopping, but on top of those, it also has an aura of peace and tranquility and a multitude of things and places to experience. Shanghai definitely stole our hearts during our week-long visit and we could’ve easily stayed a lot longer. Find out our picks for the 5 must-do things in Shanghai.

1. Witness the sunset views of the skyline over The Bund of Shanghai

Buildings in Shanghai during sunset in China.
What’s a better place to watch the sunset than in this immense city? Photo by Yiran Ding / CC BY

Shanghai undoubtedly has one of the most spectacular skylines in the world and The Bund is the best place to witness it from. The Bund runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River and is the place where the tourist masses gather. To escape the hustle and bustle without losing any of the vibes, we recommend finding your way to Captain Hostel’s rooftop bar for sunset. Grab yourself an imported beer to wait until the sun goes down and the skyline lights up in magnificent array of colors.

2. Visit traditional Chinese houses

A colorful rooftop with a lot of detail of a temple in Shanghai.
Watch these fine details of Chinese buildings up close when you’re in Shanghai! Photo by Free-Photos / CC BY

You might think that the whole central area of Shanghai is all about tall buildings and fancy hotels and shopping malls, but we can assure you that’s not the case. Just three to four blocks from The Bund you can get a glimpse of the old Shanghai. You can still find plenty of traditional Chinese houses here and what’s best, you can even pop in for a visit in some of them. Most Chinese families here leave their doors open and you are free to walk into their homes. Remember to be polite and don’t disturb them going about their lives, just climb the stairs to the rooftop to take some awesome photos.

3. Enjoy a Chinese breakfast

A person is holding chopsticks and baking Chinese bread on a food market in Shanghai.
Don’t worry if you don’t like a traditional Chinese breakfast. They also sell bread on the food markets! Photo by Mensor / CC BY

Most of us Westerners are used to very simple and mild-flavored breakfast options: porridge, cheese and ham on toast, croissants etc. The Chinese like theirs with plenty of flavors from sweet and sour to salty and spicy.  You cannot visit Shanghai without trying out the sweet dough-filled sticky rice and the crispy-egg pancakes which spicy tang will steal your tongue. Both are sold in the small street stalls during the mornings. As all the signs are in Chinese, you just need to check what’s on offer and show the vendor what you wish to be included in your dish. Some great stalls can be found in front of the market close to the South Gate of Shanghai University’s Yanchang campus.

4. Get lost in Tianzifang’s cute alleyways

People are walking in a shopping street with Chinese buildings in Shanghai.
The’re so many nice places in Shanghai, but Tianzifang is deffinately an area you must visit. Photo by Hanny Naibaho / CC BY

Tianzifang, located in the French Concession area, is a touristic arts and crafts center developed from a traditional residential area. It is a bit hidden from the neighboring streets and best accessed from Taikang Road. Its small alleyways, that still have an old-school vibe, are full of modern boutiques, trendy art studios, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. What better way to spend your morning than by getting lost wandering around the labyrinthine alleys and stopping to have a bite of some Chinese nougat or enjoying some churros with delicious ice cream.

You might also be interested in: 5 Things To Do in Shanghai

5. Educate yourself at the CCP (China Communist Party) Museum

A dark room with Chinese art in a museum in Shanghai.
Shanghai is famous for its nice museums filled with extraordinary art. Photo by Calvingwang6808020 / CC BY

The CCP museum is worth a visit for everyone interested in learning more about China’s communist roots. It is located on Zingye Road in Xintiandi, in the historical shikumen buildings in which the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China took place during the month of July in 1921. The museum has exhibits about the history of China and the city of Shanghai and the events surrounding the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party.

Do you want to find our more about this beautiful city and spend a whole semester here? Well, good news Asia Exchange offers exactly what your are looking for, for an affordable price.

Find out more about studying abroad in Shanghai

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

This blog was written by our International Coordinator Reetta and our former intern Valentin.

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