The engine of China’s future, Shànghǎi dazzles, beckoning millions with promises of reinvention and glamour.
Pǔdōng wasn’t built in a day, but it sure didn’t take much longer than that. And while Shànghǎi may be renowned for its record-setting skyscrapers – there was nothing but farmland on the other side of the river in the early 1990s – it’s the sheer diversity of building styles that makes the city unique. By no means should you skip out on a night in one of the world’s highest hotels, but don’t forget to do some exploration at ground level too: from Jesuit cathedrals, Jewish synagogues and Buddhist temples to streamlined art-deco apartment blocks and the home-grown lòngtáng laneway housing, Shànghǎi’s architectural heritage is like nowhere else.
Shànghǎi is most alive at the end of the day, when workers pour out of the offices, the neon lights flicker on and the restaurants begin to fill up. As in the rest of China, food is at the centre of social life. It’s over a meal that people catch up with friends, celebrate and clinch business deals, and – newsflash – Shànghǎi has the most exciting culinary scene in the Middle Kingdom. So whatever it is you’re hungry for, make sure you do as the Shanghainese do and dig in with those chopsticks.
As modern China’s ground zero, the city exudes a style that’s unlike anywhere else in the country. Often portrayed as a blend of East and West, Shànghǎi, with its voracious appetite for new styles and trends, is above all cosmopolitan and cutting edge. Pop-up boutiques, bustling markets and new brands created by the aspiring young designers flocking to the city – these are only some of the pleasures of shopping in China’s fashion capital. There’s no doubt you could create an entire itinerary devoted solely to the art of retail therapy: the question is, what are you waiting for?
Entertainment & the Arts
Běijīng often takes all the credit as China’s cultural nexus, but for what is essentially a town of wheelers and dealers, Shànghǎi is surprisingly creative. Many art galleries are first-rate, offering a window into the contemporary Chinese art scene, while nightlife offerings have expanded exponentially in the past decade. Massage is always a favourite with visitors, as is the inevitable acrobatics show. Even Shànghǎi’s music and club scene has made great strides: from unpretentious jazz and indie venues to all-night hip-hop and electro dance parties, the city swings with the best of them.
Why I Love Shanghai
By Christopher Pitts, Author
My favourite thing to do in Shànghǎi is to roll out of bed, grab my notebook and maps and head straight for the nearest hand-pulled noodle stall. Like all megacities, Shànghǎi can be overwhelming at times, but it’s while watching the crowds hurry by as I plan my day that I feel most connected to the place and the people in it. It’s that rare moment of early morning tranquillity, when the day feels ripe with promise, and you think: anything could happen today. And then I finish my noodles, scribble a few more notes, take one last look at the map and dive in.
Best places to stay in Shànghǎi
Shanghai city guide
The engine of China’s future, Shànghǎi dazzles. A blend of East and West with a voracious appetite for new styles and trends, the city is above all cosmopolitan and cutting edge.
10 delicious kid-friendly foods of the world
Parents remain ever hopeful as we strive to introduce different foods into our children's diets. Whether your family is travelling the world, or just looking for a little variety in your home kitchen, international cuisine can be a source of inspiration and nutrition.
Positively electric, Shanghai is where China’s aspirations come to life. A symbol of the country’s emerging status, a byword for opportunity and sophistication, the city is all that and more. Whether you’re after food, fashion or futuristic skylines, Shanghai’s buzzing confidence and nonstop action make for a veritable roller-coaster ride: hang on and have fun.
Chūn Jié: a guide to celebrating Spring Festival/Chinese New Year
This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals. Location: Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong Dates: Lunar New Year (between 19 January and 20 February) Level of participation: 3 – there’s a host of activities relating to Chinese New Year, and your level of involvement is up to you. 'Fans and Fanfare' by storyvillegirl.
Shanghai - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Shànghǎi starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on gastronomic highlights and the best shopping spots.
Encounter the essence of China in all its wonderful diversity—climb the Great Wall and stare down the Terracotta Warriors before heading down south on this 3-week tour of China's cultural and natural highlights.
China on a Shoestring—Beijing to Hong Kong
For ambitious travellers on a tight budget who are after an experience full of the very best this country has to offer, this tour showcases the scenic wonders without missing its most famous cities and sites. Walk back in time along the Great Wall then see the future in Shanghai. Our CEOs will help you dig deeper into the very best of China.
What's in a place name?
Some of my favourite words started life as names of places. Take, for example, 'Bohemian', which connotes a cavalier disregard for rules and conventions. You may be aware that the name comes from Bohemia, a region in the Czech Republic. But that doesn't mean that Bohemia is populated entirely by beret-clad artists.
Shanghai - Old Town (Chapter)
The original city core and the only part of Shànghǎi to predate the 1850s, the Old Town is a favourite with visitors hoping to get a glimpse of ‘traditional’ China.