How To Spend a Day in Shanghai

Shanghai, China is a great city and one that requires some time to see and some planning if you’re trying to see and do a lot in a short period of time. Shanghai is fast-paced, exciting, frenetic and visually stunning day or night. You can step back 1000 years in time or experience the ultra-modern. That’s what Shanghai is to me, an exciting city of contrasts that needs to be experienced to be believed!

Start your day on The Bund for incredible views of Shanghai new and old. Gaze down The Bund for views of what Shanghai looked like 80 years ago and then look across the river to Pudong for one of the greatest skylines on Earth. Make sure to come back at night to experience the Shanghai skyline as it’s meant to be seen-lit up!

Then head over to the Yu Garden for a real example of the contrasts of Shanghai. Here you have an ancient garden of temples and koi ponds surrounded by a modern market complete with McDonalds and Starbucks. This is modern day China to a tee!

I highly recommend doing a tea ceremony high above the Yu Garden. You will taste and learn more about tea than you ever knew existed. Even if you don’t drink tea regularly, you’ll be entertained and blown away by the history of tea and the knowledge of the tea master.

Be sure to head over to the Jade Buddha Temple to see the best temples in Shanghai. The Buddha’s are very interesting and great for photography. The only one you cannot photograph is the Jade Buddha itself but it’s an experience in and of itself watching the locals praying and interacting with the Buddhas. 

The Confucius Temple is also worth a visit to see where the Chinese heroine is worshipped in Shanghai. The temple itself is very clean, well kept and beautiful - as you’d expect from anything Confucian. You’re also allowed to take photos here. This is in contrast to many Asian Buddhist countries, where you’re not allowed to photograph in many temples.

Check out the French Concession to see where modern Shanghai is going and has come from. There is an old and new part of the French Concession. The new area is something like you’d find in Europe or America and it had become a popular nightspot for young Chinese with popular restaurants and shops.

The old part of the French Concession is much more authentic and old school-so to speak! People still hang their clothes outside their apartments to dry and it's got some grime to it, but at the same time it has a lot of character and is worth a walk through.

Of course, you’re in Shanghai so don’t forget to eat amazing food. If you like dumplings, the best in town are at Nanxiang. It’s actually a chain in Shanghai but is very popular. The crab and pork steamed dumplings are to die for!

Some other good restaurants on the fancier side are Cathay Room and Dragon Phoenix in the Fairmont Peace Hotel on The Bund. Also, if you’re lucky enough to spend the night in Shanghai, check out the Old Jazz Bar in the Peace Hotel to watch 80+ year old Chinese men playing jazz to a full house, as they’ve been doing for over fifty years! It’s a real experience and very Shanghai!

You can spend two days in Shangahi with Azamara Club Cruises in March 2016, on this 16 Night Asian Cities and Waterways Voyage.

Lee Abbamonte

Lee Abbamonte is the youngest American to visit every country in the world (a total of 318) and a monthly guest blogger. Lee is a fan of Azamara's Destination Immersion, and has cruised with us through the Norwegian Fjords, Asia, the Mediterranean, and more.

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