For travelers visiting China,
Shanghai is the perfect introduction to the country. The city is divided into two parts: in Pudong, you get to see the modern side of the city with its stunning high-rise buildings and towers. In Puxi, you experience a much older part of the city. This is also where you can shop, and visit museums. Between both sides, Shanghai has something for everyone. Here are a few top picks for things to do in Shanghai including accommodations, places to eat, nightlife, and more!
Shanghai Hotels: Luxury Accommodations
Shanghai hotels offer a wide range of accommodation options. If you want to live it up, below are two five-star luxury accommodations in two different parts of the city.
The hotel is located on the Puxi side of the Huangpu River in the Jing An Business District – one of Shanghai’s most prestigious and fashionable business and commercial districts. The hotel occupies the top 29 floors of the 60-story tower, boasting incredible views of the city.
To really live life and enjoy your stay, you should book a room with access to the Horizon Club Lounge. The Lounge is located on the 55th floor with spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the city. There is complimentary breakfast, evening cocktails and canapés, and snacks throughout the day.
Fairmont Peace Hotel has been a Shanghai landmark for over eight decades, enjoying a premier location on the Bund. The hotel faces the Pudong area over the Huangpu River, where you will find all the impressive high-rise buildings and towers. The hotel’s art-deco design fits in beautifully with all the historic buildings on the older historic side of the city.
Where to Eat in Shanghai
‘Blessed are those born in Shanghai as they have the most chances to taste delicious food’. Stop anyone born and raised in Shanghai and they will quote this oft used, local phrase.
And it is safe to say that you can experience all types of cuisine in Shanghai, enjoying both local and international takes on chef-created food, at every budget level.
- Yong Yi Ting at the Mandarin Oriental – A one Michelin star restaurant featuring Chef Tony Lu and his unique vision, combining the diverse gastronomic influences of Shanghai and its neighbouring provinces. Call ahead and ask about the signature 8-course set menu!
- 1515 West at the Jing An Shangri-La – The 1515 West, Chophouse & Bar combines the aesthetics of an old Shanghai movie set with the décor of a classic American bar and grill.
- Din Tai Fung – Chain of restaurants that made Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) famous, so it’s only logical that they serve some of the best in the world.
- Yang’s Dumpling – With multiple locations throughout the city, they serve their famous pan-fried soup-filled buns.
- Shanghai Grandmother (by the Bund) – Shanghainese restaurant with many classic local dishes.
Gay Nightlife in Shanghai
There are not many gay bars around, but here are a few to get your party started. I recommend checking hours and confirming the location as gay bars tend to come and go pretty quickly in Shanghai.
- Happiness 42– Modern and chic, with sexy red lighting throughout the bar. It’s a good place to start off the night.
- Paw & Six– This place attracts more of a bear crowd. Paw & Six is located in the same building as Lucca – one of Shanghai’s best-known gay bar and club in the French Concession area.
- Snap!– This is a pop-up party where people gather for a night of dressing up and dancing. Each party generally has a unique theme, and the location may change so you should check on WeChat (Chinese social app) or Instagram (@snapshanghai) for details.
Top Shanghai Experiences
If this is your first time to the city, here are a few must-sees:
- Enjoy the view from the Bund
- Shop and people watch on Nanjing Road
- View the city from one of the many observation decks: Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, or the Jin Mao Tower
- Explore the European inspired French Concession and Xintiandi
- Relax in Yuyuan Garden
Tip: Most visitors require a visa to enter China, but certain countries, including Canada and US, qualify for 72-144 hour Transit Visa Exemption. Look up the requirements to save time and money if you do not plan to visit for more than 3-6 days.
Barry Hoy, AKA 'asianmapleleaf' is an ambassador of all things travel – he was born and raised in Toronto and currently lives in New York City. Follow his adventures on asianmapleleaf.com or on Instagram @asianmapleleaf