What to see in Shanghai: the essentials of an unfathomable city

If there’s a city full of striking contrasts and magical corners, that’s Shanghai. An ultra-modern and overpopulated city, but which retains much of its traditions and retains colonial spaces with a special charm, such as the famous Bund area or the French (ex)concession. If you travel to China, here’s what to see in Shanghai to make the most of your stay. Take note because there is much to see and do.

📍 Essential visits to the city

The first thing I’ll tell you is obvious: the city is immense and many of the attractions I’ll recommend here are quite a distance from each other, but the subway will take you wherever you want to go, so don’t worry. At the end of this article I’ll tell you how to get around Shanghai by public transport (it’s easier than you think, it’s more, I dare to say that it’s easier than understanding the New York subway).


If you have to choose only one temple to visit in the city (for example because you have little time), my recommendation is that it be this one, whose name in Spanish means “peace and tranquility”. It is a Buddhist temple surrounded by tall buildings and shopping malls, which has a great impact because of the contrast it generates. The temple is large and is organized around an open-air inner courtyard that in the center has a fountain and they say that, if you flip a coin while making a wish, it is granted.

Photo: Sumeth anu via Shutterstock

In the temple you can see a statue of Buddha sitting almost 4 meters high. Another of the attractions of Jing’An is a copper bell more than 6 meters high and about 5 tons in weight that belonged to the Ming dynasty.

It is said that this temple was originally built during the 3rd century in the Suzhou Creek area and in 1216 the Song dynasty moved it to where it is today.

My recommendation is that you visit it during the day (open from 7am to 5pm) and also pass it during the night, because from the outside it lights up the whole thing and it is beautiful. The entrance fee is 50 RMB (about 6,70€). The exact address is 1686 Nanjing West Rd. The nearest metro station is “Jing’An Temple” which belongs to lines 2 and 7.


Since you’re in Nanjing Rd. (where the Jing’An temple is), I recommend you walk this emblematic street in the direction of “People’s Square”.

This street is one of the most commercial in the world and, in its 6 kilometers long -of which only 1.5 km are pedestrianized in the area of Nanjing Road EAST-, is full of high buildings, hotels, shops, bars and restaurants and, especially in the evening, is full of people (there is a report that says that almost 1 million people travel the day). The most commercial, frenetic and pedestrianised part is the one from People’s Square to the Bund.

It’s worth going through part of it for the show, for the lights and for the people, but if you’re on a tight budget I don’t recommend buying things here because it’s expensive (I’ll tell you more about good priced shopping areas below).


If there is a famous and crowded square in Shanghai, it is the “People’s square” which has more than 140,000 square meters, with green areas and built-up areas. It is surrounded by many of the city’s most important buildings and museums such as the City Hall, the Shanghai Museum, the Art Museum, the Grand Theatre or shopping malls.

But this weekend park is also a “bachelor market”. The mothers and fathers of young single men and women gather there to find him a partner. Here I leave you Click on the map of the subway to enlarge it

✏️ I’ll just tell you that Shanghai Metro peak hours are between 7am and 9am and between 5pm and 7pm. If you can avoid those hours, so much the better.

As in every big city there are also buses of urban lines, but the traffic is terrible and any journey will take hours and hours (of frustration, patience and waiting). Therefore, I always recommend using the subway.

💤 Where to sleep in Shanghai

✈️ How to get from Pudong Airport to Shanghai City Centre

Shanghai-Pudong International Airport is located 30km from the city centre. There are several ways to get from the airport to the centre: metro, bus, taxi or take the Maglev… the fastest in the world! It reaches 430 kilometres per hour!

** Tren Maglev (the fastest train in the world)

It takes you from the airport to Longyang Road subway station in less than 8 minutes (yes, yes… that goes 430 kilometers per hour). From there you can combine with the metro or bus to get to your destination. There are trains approximately every 15 minutes and they run between 6.45am and 9.40pm.

The train costs RMB 50 (€6.60) per journey or RMB 40 (€5.30) if you show when buying your flight boarding pass. A tip, if you are going to use the metro that same day, you can buy the combined Maglev + 24 hours mertro ticket for 55 RMB (7,30€).

** Subway

Pudong International Airport is connected to the city centre by metro line 2 (it’s green), so it’s perfect for getting to your final destination – making the necessary combinations. The price of the ticket is between 3 RMB and 9RMB, depending on your final destination.

** Aiport Shuttle Bus

There are 9 routes that take you from the airport to different parts of the city, for example line 2 takes you to Jingan Temple in 70 minutes and costs about 22 RMB (2.90€) and runs from 6.30am to 11pm.

The rest of the lines work more or less the same, have buses that leave every 15 or 20 minutes, take between 60 and 95 minutes to reach their final destination, operate between 6.30am and 22h or 23h and prices range between 15 RMB (2€) and 30 RMB (4€).

** Taxi

This was the choice I made and, honestly, I don’t recommend it. I had to go all the way applauding and shouting so that the taxi driver did not fall asleep (they do 16 or 18 hour workdays and even sleep and eat inside the taxi).

But well, if you want to take a taxi, you can do it but try to negotiate the price BEFORE getting in. The price is more or less between 150 RMB and 200 RMB (although it depends a lot on your final destination and the time of day, as at night they include a surcharge).

** Private transport

The quickest, safest and most effective way to get from Shanghai (Pudong) airport to the city centre is to book a private transport with a driver waiting for you at the terminal (with a sign in your name) and take you directly to your hotel, without queuing for a taxi. The price is 57,50€. If you want more information about the private transport service, click here.

💡Do you make a long stop at Shanghai airport before you go any further? Instead of being locked up in the airport, I recommend you sign up for a SPANISH tour specially designed for those who stop in the city. There are tours thought for 8 hours, 12 hours, 16 hours and more. You have all the information here. Did you find the guide useful? Score it! What to see in Shanghai: the essentials of an unmanageable city5 (100%) 2 votes

Did you find the travel guide useful? I hope so! Do not hesitate to share it with your acquaintances or recommend it to those who will travel to China.

* Many of the photos in this article are from Shutterstock’s image bank.

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