Shanghai (population 23.9 million),…. wait what?!? Yes, you read that right. Famous as one of the most populated cities on the planet, Shanghai has a population density of 700 people per sq. mile. Only when you get over that mind-numbing fact and apparent lack of privacy, you realize that the city has much more to offer.
Exotic Glamor or Mystic History
Shanghai looks like a city from the future with those gleaming skyscrapers and glitzy architecture, but it is not all about razzmatazz. It also presents a treasure trove of architectural styles and its mix of Buddhist temples, Jewish synagogues and Jesuit cathedrals are literally unparalleled. The Bund is the city’s most notable attraction, but places like the People’s Square, Zhujiajiao (an ancient water town), Yu Garden and the Pearl Tower Roller Coaster also tend to leave you mesmerized. Shopping is another must-do while in Shanghai. There are no half measures in terms of shopping in the city and the locals love to splurge. They aren’t called Little Capitalists by the rest of the country for nothing!
When to Go
The best time to visit Shanghai is during fall, between the months of October and November. The temperatures are comfortable and the city lacks the crowds of the peak summer season, making explorations enjoyable.
Getting Around Shanghai
The best way to explore Shanghai is to use the metro. The city presents an efficient metro system and a vast metro route that covers most major tourist attractions. Other options include buses and taxis.
Shanghai is an ultra-modern city on the east coast of China which bristles with buildings, roads, bridges and other feats of technological progress. As the largest and the fastest growing city in China, Shanghai has come to become one of the most important business hubs in the world.
Top 3 attractions in Shanghai:
- Visit the Bund or Waitan, a popular waterfront that sits on the colonial-era embankment along the Huangpu River. The Bund is surrounded by dozens of buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Renaissance and the ultra-modern styles of the 21st century.
- Ride the fastest ground transportation on earth - The Shanghai Magnetic-Levitation Train which runs from Shanghai International Airport to the city at speeds of 430 km per hour.
- Witness a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city from the top-floor observatory of Shanghai World Financial Centre. At 492 meters tall and a distinctive trapezium-shaped opening at the top, the building is unique among the skyscrapers of Shanghai.
Other things to do and see in Shanghai:
- Explore street-food carts and sample some of the flavors and dishes of Shanghai. Popular delicacies include xiao long bao or soup dumplings, eel noodles, pan-fried dumplings, rice meal balls, scallion pancakes and soy milk custard.
- Visit Nanjing Road East which is a vibrant shopping area with activity all hours of the day. No cars are allowed on this street and you can choose from a wide varieties of shopping options - from locally made souvenirs to international brands.
- Dance the night away at some of Shanghai’s exceptional clubs and pubs. Shanghai has had a decadent nightlife scene since the 1930s and now the city is seen as a modern, edgy, and dynamic party destination that is sure to please even the most hardcore of clubbers.
- Spend a relaxing time away from noise, crowds and markets at one of the many parks that are littered around the city including People’s Park, Xujiahui Park, Gongqing Forest Park, Century Park and Zhongshan Park.
The Climate of Shanghai:
- Shanghai sits on the coast of the East China Sea and hence has a humid subtropical climate and four distinct seasons.
- Summers (June-September) are hot and humid with typhoons and sudden heavy rains being fairly common. The average high is 30°C and the average low is around 23°C. Temperatures can shoot up to 40°C during July and August.
- Winters (December-February) are very cold with average high of 9°C and average low of 1.5°C. Temperatures might drop below zero during late January to early February but it rarely ever snows in Shanghai.
- Springs and autumns are mild with little rain. Average temperature measure 18-22°C during the day and 10-14°C during the night.
- Shanghai does not have a dry season and is constantly moist with rainfall all year round.
- The official currency of China is Renminbi (Yuan) and most businesses will not accept foreign currencies. Those that do accept foreign currencies might give you a lower exchange-rate than banks. Hence, it is advisable that you change currency beforehand.
- China is predominantly a cash society so dealing in real money is the easiest and the most efficient way to do business. However, it is smart to carry a credit card (Visa or MasterCard) that can be used in China.
Although Shanghai is not known for “must-see” sights like those in other big cities like Paris or Rome, there are plenty of things to do and see in this humongous city. The joys of Shanghai are the sights and the sounds of this megalopolis where everyday life bathes in its bewildering variety.