Recently Michael and I made a spur of the moment decision to get a flight with a one-day layover in Shanghai. I know to most people this would sound crazy and stressful, but when you’re already on your way to the other side of the world you may as well make the most of it, right? While we were there we got to explore a little of what Shanghai has to offer, and I wanted to let you know what I think you shouldn’t miss if you ever have one day to spend in Shanghai.
The night we arrived Michael and I decided to go exploring for food and wow did we explore. We went on a two mile walk throughout Old Shanghai on Fangbang Middle Road on a quest for a Tesco supermarket that I’m not sure ever existed.
Regardless of the lack of Tesco, the walk through the old town at night was really beautiful as all the buildings were lit with string lights and the crowds died away. Although it was getting late the streets still felt safe to explore and I’m glad we got the chance to see it at night.
It is however, just as lovely during the day, and I would say the best time to go to avoid crowds is right around 8:30am. This is when all the shops are opening and there aren’t quite as many tourist groups roaming the grounds. Pick up a small jade Buddha or some postcards while you’re walking around.
Yu Yuan Garden
My favorite place we visited while in Shanghai was the Yu Yuan Garden, it is full of serene views of old temples and has plenty of paths for you to explore.
Every time I turned around I felt like there was another little corner to go look at and it seemed like visitors had a lot of access to the grounds of the garden. We went on a gloomy Tuesday morning and it was relatively tourist free, although it did start to pick up later in the day.
We spent a good two hours walking around the gardens taking it all in, and I think that it was time well spent. Be advised – the garden is cash only and can be a little tricky to find right away.
The Bund Walkway
One of the last things we did in shanghai was take a walk along The Bund viewing platform/walkway.
Which is beautiful at night and during the day. You get a great view of the entire skyline of Shanghai as well as the Huangpu River.
I think that this a great place to start to get the feel of Shanghai and really take in all that it has to offer with its incredible fusion of east and west.
Oriental Pearl Tower
The Oriental Pearl Tower is the one that got away from me. We originally planned on visiting the night of our arrival and I am eternally kicking myself for not crossing the river to go see it, as the next morning the pearls were heavily clouded in mist from the morning rain and visibility was terrible.
The Oriental Pearl Tower has three main spheres that you can visit, the lower, middle and upper. The middle has a rotating restaurant as well as a glass viewing platform, and the upper sphere gives you an even higher vantage point on the city.
If you have the chance to visit, go!
Shanghai Tower’s viewing platforms were not open when we visited the city, however I have read that they might be open as soon as June 2016.
Shanghai Tower is 632 m high and its lift which goes up 128 stories can travel at 18m per second. It is the tallest building in China and the 2nd tallest in the world and will definitely have some of the best views you can get while in Shanghai.
This is a cheeky bonus, as it is not really something to visit or do but is a mode of transportation. I had no idea about this train when we were planning our trip to China, but now I wish I had.
The Maglev Train is a levitating magnetic train that can take you from the airport to practically the center of town in 6 minutes. Let me repeat that again, 6 minutes. It usually takes 45 to get to the center of town by car.It operates at an average speed of 224 km/h and honestly seems like one of the easiest ways to get from the airport to the city, as our experience with Uber in China was not the best.
So that about wraps up my top tips for visiting Shanghai for a day, I hope that this helps any of you out there who may have a similar plan as we did or it will inspire you to take a trip to Shanghai. I really enjoyed and am itching to go back to do some of the things I missed. Never say never!