Top 10 Destinations in Shanghai

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
With so much to see, it pays to plan ahead. Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Destinations in Shanghai.

For this list, we're looking at attractions, sights, neighbourhoods and areas of Shanghai that travellers absolutely must visit in this unique Chinese city.

Top 10 Destinations in Shanghai

With so much to see, it pays to plan ahead. Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Destinations in Shanghai.

For this list, we’re looking at attractions, sights, neighbourhoods and areas of Shanghai that travellers absolutely must visit in this unique Chinese city.

#10: Zhujiajiao Water Town

Undeniably one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Shanghai, if not all of China, Zhujiajiao is covered in water and steeped in history. Located on the outskirts of the city, this town was founded some 1,700 years ago, but its roots date back to thousands of years earlier. Once a central hub for the trading of goods, the area has evolved into more living testament to the past. 36 time-worn stone bridges cross the waterways, which are still navigated by locals on boats. Walk the streets and marvel at the countless historic buildings, or hire a boat for an entirely different perspective. Just be sure to try some of the delicious food on offer!

#9: Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

Fun for the whole family, but equally of interest to adults travelling solo, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in the city’s Pudong district is one of China’s most visited museums, and for good reason. Sure, not every exhibit is focused on cutting-edge tech, but it offers a wide variety of subjects to explore, ranging from animals and geology to space navigation and robotics. Even if you aren’t particularly captivated by pop science, the building’s incredible, eye-catching architecture is reason enough to visit, especially when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

#8: Shanghai Maglev Train

In many cities, public transportation is a purely utilitarian consideration, particularly for travelers who are simply trying to get from one sight to the next. Shanghai’s Maglev train however, is an attraction in its own right. A magnetic levitation train (hence the name), it cost a whopping $1.2 billion to build, but - as a feat of futuristic engineering - appears to be worth every penny. It tops out at 236 mph, and takes you from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road Station, a distance of roughly 19 miles, in just 8 minutes. If you’re flying into Shanghai you don’t even need to go out of your way to ride it, it’s a logical step on your journey to the city center.

#7: Shanghai Museum

As with the Science and Technology Museum, visitors will be quickly drawn to the Shanghai Museum thanks to the unique design of the building. Once inside however, you’ll soon forget the outside world as you become engrossed in the rich history of China. There are entire sections dedicated to the likes of calligraphy, ceramics, jades and coins from the Silk Road. With over 120,000 pieces on display, the Shanghai Museum is a truly immersive journey through China’s past. Honestly, the biggest downside to the museum is that it simply offers too much to see in one visit; depending on how long you’re in town, you may want to pop in twice.

#6: Lujiazui

Shanghai is a city with a lot of history to appreciate, but the business district is where its modernity shines. If you’re into high-end eating, hotels and rooftop bars, this is the place to be come evening time. Of course, that sort of travel isn’t for everyone, but what should attract all visitors to Lujiazui is the skyline. Shanghai’s business district is famous for its iconic skyscrapers, many of which have observation decks. The trinity of main attractions includes the Oriental Pearl Tower, the World Financial Center and the Shanghai Tower, each of which have, at one time, held the title of highest building in Shanghai. Enjoy the views!

#5: Nanjing Road

Shoppers rejoice, this is the street you’ve been looking for. Mostly closed to cars so that pedestrians can move from store to store without a care in the world, Nanjing Road has earned itself a reputation as the number one shopping street in China. Along the roughly 3 and a half miles of road, visitors will find all manner of shops, ranging from historic specialty stores to the huge multi-level shopping malls. Of course, you don’t become the top place to shop in the country without the biggest high end and luxury brand boutiques in the world - and Nanjing Road certainly delivers in this regard. Shop or window shop, either way it’s an experience worth having.

#4: Propaganda Poster Art Center

Shopping is all well and good, but for an experience truly unique to Shanghai, you’ve got to head to the Propaganda Poster Art Center in the fascinating Tianzifang district. This one of a kind museum is home to an impressive collection of authentic propaganda posters dating back to communist China’s Maoist period. A museum that’s modest in size, occupying just two rooms in the basement level of an apartment building, it’s owned and operated by Mr. Yang Pei Ming, who’s made it his personal mission to preserve these historic works for future generations. Stop by and then enjoy the rest of the day exploring the artsy enclave of Tianzifang!

#3: Yuyuan Garden

Considering it’s one of the busiest cities in the world, Shanghai can be a bit overwhelming to navigate. At some point during your visit, you’re going to want a change of scenery. Next stop? The Yuyuan Garden. Also known simply as Yu Garden, this 5 acre plot of land was built during the Ming Dynasty in 1559. Over the centuries it’s gone through numerous instances of destruction and periods of decay, but today it’s a pristine national monument open to the public. Aptly named the “Garden of Happiness.,” this oasis, even when crowded, is serene slice of ancient China in a ultra- busy modern city.

#2: Jade Buddha Temple

No trip to Shanghai is complete without a visit to a temple, and if you’re going to see just one, there’s arguably no better choice than this iconic landmark in the Putuo District. Though by no means the oldest temple in the city, this active monastery draws countless visitors every year to walk amongst the monks and local worshippers. Step onto the 77-acre grounds and you’ll almost immediately be filled with a sense of awe and wonder. There are over 200 rooms and halls containing statues, scriptures, paintings and relics. In the Grand Hall you’ll find three golden buddhas, among numerous others, but the dual star attractions are the two buddhas, each carved out of solid white jade.

#1: The Bund

They say that the best way to get to know a city is to simply walk around, and nowhere is this a more enjoyable experience in Shanghai than on the promenade along the embankment known as the Bund (or also, Waitan). The city’s waterfront is a major destination for travellers, so much so that it has become fairly emblematic of the city, and a great source of local pride. Simply walk along the promenade and soak in the beauty and history on display. It’s been labelled “the museum of buildings” and it’s easy to understand why. On one side of the Huangpu river are European-styled architectural marvels from years past, and on the other loom the city’s futuristic skyscrapers. With plenty to see and do, the Bund is a must-visit day and night.