In May this year we spent 6 nights in Shanghai (and surrounding towns) exploring everything China’s biggest city had to offer. It wasn’t my first time in Shanghai, actually. My parents are originally from Shanghai but migrated to Australia in the late 80s and so I had visited a couple of times before in the past, mainly to see relatives. However it was my first time playing tourist in Shanghai and I hadn’t been back for more than a decade so it was crazy to see how much the city has changed.
Shanghai is China’s biggest city and possibly the most populated city in the world, with more than 24 million residents calling it home. One thing I’ve noticed about Shanghai is that it’s super high-tech and makes Melbourne seem like a small country town living 10 years in the past!
WHERE TO STAY:
Since Shanghai is such a big city, I think you could stay anywhere remotely central and there’d be plenty to do and as long as you’re near a metro station, you can get around to just about everywhere. If you want to check where we stayed, then you can check out my Bellagio Shanghai and Amara Signature Hotel Shanghai hotel tours to find out more!
Here’s a few things we got up to, that I recommend you check out too!
Teamlab TANK Shanghai
Did you know Japan’s Teamlab has an exhibition in Shanghai as well? We went to Teamlab TANK Shanghai and was surprised to see how empty it was here. TANK Shanghai houses 2 exhibitions, the first one being the flower room, which is housed in an old tank (?) with the bottom floor being a waves exhibition. Compared to the same flower room exhibition in Teamlab Borderless in Tokyo which was ridiculously overcrowded, TANK Shanghai was actually rather peaceful and so I super recommend visiting, especially if you like the flower room installation.
It’s open 10am-8pm every day until Aug 24 2019, just take the metro to Yunjin station then use exit no 2 followed by a 10 minute walk.
Yayoi Kusama: All About Love Speaks Forever Exhibition (sadly now over!)
We came across the Yahoo Exhibition by chance, after seeing a billboard ad for it whilst leaving the metro – I had no idea Yayoi had an exhibition in Shanghai at the time! This exhibition was at Fosun Art Foundation near The Bund, and I was super surprised to see this one also so empty. There are about 4 rooms total, including the famous Yayoi infinity room and when we visited at about 3pm, we had the room to ourselves numerous times.
Sadly this exhibition ended in June however if you ever catch Yayoi Kusama in China, definitely check it out!
Did you know that Shanghai also has a newly opened Disneyland? It’s only a couple of years old and the perfect place to fulfil all your Disney dreams. This beautiful Disneyland is super crowded (of course!) but we booked our tickets beforehand on Klook and had them sent straight to our email so that we could skip the queue on the day and go straight to the entry – best choice ever as there were just so many people here.
There’s a metro line (line 11) that goes all the way to Disneyland and even the Disney station there is all decorated cute!
Just 40 minutes on the bullet train gets you to this beautiful canal city of Suzhou. Here, you can visit various famous gardens including Lingering Garden and Humble Administrator’s Garden. There are also a couple of canal lined shopping streets: Shantang Street which is the larger one with arched bridges, temples and food, as well as a more narrower one Pingjiang Road which is smaller with more boutique kind of stores and just as beautiful. You can visit Suzhou as a day trip but we stayed in Suzhou for 2 nights because we wanted to visit an even more picturesque town nearby called Tongli!
Tongli is a little harder to get to as it’s another 50 minutes out from Suzhou however this picturesque canal lined water town was just so beautiful. Tongli town is 1100 years old and was formerly active fishing village. These days, it’s dubbed the Venice of the East with many restaurants, shops and activities for visiting tourists.
Tongli (the water town) is an enclosed area within Tongli town itself so there’s an entry ticket you have to buy in order to enter. It’s sooo beautiful here and so worth visiting. Definitely take a gondola ride through the canals – it’s much cheaper here compared to doing it in Venice!
To get to Tongli, you can take the metro. Once you get to Tongli station, you’ll then need to catch a cab to the water town which from memory should only set you back 20-30RMB (4-5AUD – PS cabs are cheap in China! You’ll need a good portion of the day to spend here, including travel to and from Suzhou.
This beautiful garden in Shanghai is such a bustling and lovely area! Yu Garden is quite a small garden but there are so many paths to wander down that you’ll probably spend a couple of hours here at least. The garden is picturesque with lots of beautiful moon gates and temples.
Outside Yu Garden there are numerous shopping streets in traditional Chinese buildings housing all sorts of souvenirs, knick knacks, boutique brands and more. It’s the perfect place to wander until you get lost!
Jia Jia Tang Bao + Yang’s Sheng Jian Bao
There are two baozi places that are next to each other and super highly rated that you should definitely check out! Jia Jia Tang Bao near Nanjing Road does some great xiaolongbao (though I reckon I’ve had better!) and right across the road from it is Yang Sheng Jian Bao which does some great jian bao which is kind of like a fried xiaolongbao or a xiaolongbao cross pot sticker. It’s one of the best I’ve had.
With Jia Jia Tang Bao, I’d recommend going early on in the day. We went around 11am and a couple of their most popular menu items were already sold out. There is a line at this place too as there aren’t many tables to eat at, so do go at an odd hour if you don’t want to wait. Yang Sheng Jian Bao on the other hand has both downstairs and upstairs seating and food is ready almost instantly so no lines for this one!
Ahh Tianzifang, I freaking love it here! This beautiful place is a touristy arts and crafts area, made up of a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with boutique stores, food stalls and more.
You can easily spend hours wandering around and getting lost, exploring it all. Super recommend a visit! There’s little character bun shops, souvenir shops, bubble tea shops, fruit shops and so much more.
And that’s it for now! There’s just so much to do in Shanghai, the city is SO huge I could easily go back and spend a month there exploring it all. Hopefully one day again soon, return flights to Shanghai are surprisingly affordable from Australia, so maybe there will be a next time soon!