Asia China Travel

What To Do During Your Short Stay in Shanghai

Long weekends are meant for quick trips. I always look forward to having an extra day (or two) added on to my already too-short weekend. Thursday May 5 marked Children’s Day – a national holiday in Korea to celebrate… kids! So when I found out that I would also be getting the Friday off, I was jumping for joy and looking up flights on Skyscanner. Yessss… a 4-day long weekend! Time to check out China!

My bags were packed, ready to go! I headed to Gimhae International Airport for my 1 hour & 25 minute flight from Busan to Shanghai PVG Airport.

Unfortunately, my flight was delayed 3 HOURS (grr, Shanghai Airlines). So I didn’t arrive into downtown Shanghai at my friend’s house until close to midnight! I was pretty cranky, considering that I was supposed to arrive at 6:30pm. This cut into my night time plans of exploring the city and grabbing a bite to eat.

Before you know it, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m boarding my plane back to Busan (which I scored an emergency exit seat, woo hoo!)

So… what can you do on such short time in Shanghai?

Keep calm and head to Yuyuan Gardens (and Shanghai City God Temple, too!)

These two places were on my Shanghai hit list and I am happy I was able to visit on this trip. Yuyuan Gardens is absolutely stunning, with traditional Chinese architecture, a beautiful river with huge koi fish, and winding paths that lead you to majestic corners of the garden. Given it was a Friday, the crowds weren’t so bad. To get to the Gardens you can walk through Yuyuan Old Street – a marketplace filled with lots of restaurants, shops and boutiques. Then you can make your way over a beautiful bridge (don’t forget to stop and take photos!) where you pay 40RMB to enter the Gardens.

Yuyuan Gardens

Posing on the bridge in Yuyuan Gardens

Another must-see while wandering Yuyuan Old Street is the City God Temple – a Taoist temple built during the Ming Dynasty. I love learning about the history and culture of where I’m visiting and City God Temple provided just that. Admission is 10RMB. It’s cool that the old-style Yuyuan area is in the middle of this booming metropolis.

Check out the Bund

Okay, this is quite obvious as the Bund is one of the most populated tourist areas in Shanghai. The Bund provides a beautiful city landscape, featuring the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, along the Huangpu River. I didn’t get to walk along the boardwalk because the weather was horrible on the weekend. But I went to a get-together and the hosts had an amazing view of the city including the Bund. After the rain let up, I was able to enjoy the views from the rooftop.

See the Propaganda Poster Art Centre

The Propaganda Poster Art Centre is a must-see art museum in Shanghai. It’s a little tricky to find and once you do, you think you’re heading into an apartment complex. But that’s exactly what you’re doing! It’s located in the basement of a basic-looking building near Jiangshu Road Station. The museum is quite fascinating and gives you a glimpse into the changes of modern China from 1910-1990. It has a collection of over 6000 Chinese propaganda posters – some of which are very interesting, amusing, and even sombre.  This place is really one of a kind! Admission is 25RMB.

Explore Tianzifang

Tianzifang is a modern arts and crafts area near the French Concession of Shanghai. There are tons of shops, cafes galleries, bars, and restaurants that you can check out. I must have been really focused on my surroundings because I barely took photos! It’s so unlike me… but sometimes you just need to put down the camera and see the beauty through your own eyes!

Ride the Metro

The Shanghai Metro System is the easiest and most efficient way to get around the city. With 12 lines and counting, the metro can get quite crowded – especially on the busy lines near East Nanjing Road. But it beats sitting in traffic in the hot heat!

I purchased a 3-day metro pass which was perfect for the amount of time I was visiting. The card costs 90RMB and you can ride the subway for as many times as you’d like.

Transit Tip

Tip: wear your backpack on the front of you to avoid pickpockets!

Hit up a hot pot restaurant

When my friend heard that Hai Di Lao Huo Guo was one of the best places in the city, he just had to take me there for my first hot pot foodie experience. Similar to Korean BBQ, you cook the raw meat and vegetables at the table, dip it in ‘make-it-yourself’ sauce, wrap it in lettuce and chow down! I liked that you can make your own concoction of sauce for the meat, with soy sauce, oils, garlic, onions, pepper paste and more. I can’t wait to eat some hot pot again!

Have a shot of Baijiu…if you dare!

20160507_191756Or if you’re like me, only take a sip of it. Baijiu (sounds like “bye joe”) is a nasty strong alcoholic beverage made from grain. I’m not sure how the Chinese can drink it regularly because once I took a whiff, I couldn’t stomach the thought of taking a full shot. It’s like fire down your throat. No way, no thank you! So I stuck with Chinese beer (Tsingtao) when we went to the bars. If you’ve tried Baijiu before and you LIKE the taste, a) you’re crazy; b) let me know your thoughts!

By the way the nightlife is great in Shanghai. We went to a few popular foreigner locales, including one that played tons of retro hits and old school jams!

 

Don't forget to get some yummy street food!

Don’t forget to get some yummy street food!

 

Although the weather was crappy and I had limited time, my weekend was fun-filled and never a dull moment, especially the nightlife! I still have lots to see and do on my next long trip to China, which will include Shanghai, in the summertime.

What are some of your memories of China? Comment below and leave some suggestions as to what I should do next time I’m in Shanghai (and China in general).

China, I'll be back!

China, I’ll be back!

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48 Comments

  • Reply
    Arnav @ETLR
    January 31, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Baijiu definitely looks like a must have to get the local experience. Being a foodie, would love to visit the hot pot restaurants for sure. I feel the best way to get the experience of the local culture is through food.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      January 31, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      I agree! And all the places I’ve been have had amazing local foods! I have not been disappointed yet!

  • Reply
    Bethanny Sudibyo
    September 12, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    You seem like to have had a great time in Shanghai. I went to Hong Kong for 12 hours and it turned to be a really fun trip as well! I was in Taiwan for a few years and we also had Baijiu. Did not like it…
    Anyways, thanks for sharing! Love your blog.. will be following!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 12, 2016 at 11:28 pm

      Thank you! I also went to Hong Kong this past trip and I had a great time. 3 days. I’ll be writing a post about it soon! Baijiu is disgusting! Point blank. lol Thanks for stopping by my page. I hope my old and upcoming posts will be useful for you!

  • Reply
    Jo
    September 12, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Oh girl, seems like u had a fun time in Shanghai. I have never been to China but its on my list – hopefully I can share my escapades with you soon 🙂
    3 hr delay in flight – now that sounds like IST (Indian standard time) hehe. I face that with local airlines sometimes but kinda learnt to always call before a local flight or check delays before heading to airport (sometimes they announce it late, which sucks though)

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 12, 2016 at 11:27 pm

      Thank you! You’ll have a great time in China. Lots of people but…if you get up early enough and on off-seasons, you can avoid big crowds.

  • Reply
    Livi Bee
    September 12, 2016 at 3:03 am

    I can’t wait to visit Shanghai!! I’m sorry your flight was delayed! It seems like you were still able to make the best of your trip even though you encountered a hiccup. Riding the metro is right up my alley. I always get acquainted with the city’s transit system wherever I go. I’ve never heard of a hot pot restaurant until now. I’m def adding it to my list!!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 12, 2016 at 4:57 am

      Thanks. Delays do really suck but what can ya do. I didn’t let it bring me down! I try to take public transit whenever I can when I go to different countries. Go get yourself some hot pot when you come!!!! lol

  • Reply
    The Roaming Renegades.com
    September 11, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    We are travelling through China in November and will be going to Shanghai, thanks for the tips, all of these look like amazing things to do and you definitely crammed a lot into your short stay!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 12, 2016 at 4:56 am

      You’re going to have a great time in China. It won’t be sweltering hot, either! I hope you enjoy your time!!!

  • Reply
    Dang Travelers
    September 11, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    All of these sound great, but the hot pot meal stood out for me. Cannot wait to get to that side of the world! Glad your delay didn’t get you down and you made the most of your trip!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 12, 2016 at 4:56 am

      Thanks. Delays SUCK but it’s out of our control. The hot pot meal is yummy!

  • Reply
    kidsandcompass
    September 11, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Shanghai looks great. Shame about your delay though – really frustrating when you’ve only got a couple of days! Looks as though you made the most of it. The gardens look lovely.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 11, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Unexpected things like that suck but I tried to make the most of it! The gardens was one of my favourite parts!

  • Reply
    lisa440440
    September 11, 2016 at 12:06 am

    A short trip is still better than no trip. It still looks like you had a great adventure and got to see quite a bit. Gardens & temple look like cool places to explore. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      I agree! It was a great short trip. Thanks for stopping by and reading 🙂

  • Reply
    Sher
    September 10, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    HA i love that you included bai jiu. i lived in shanghai for a little bit and loved all the street food! definitely can’t miss out on the eats 🙂

    Sher
    http://www.shershegoes.com

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      Haha, I had to add it in. Man, that stuff is naaasty. But all part of the experience! The street food was yummy!

  • Reply
    danik the explorer
    September 10, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Shanghai is on my list to visit in China and love reading this post. Lots of ideas. 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      Awesome! I’m happy I could be a reference for ya!

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    September 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Looks like you had a great time despite the delay in travel. I would love to see the gardens and temple. A hot pot restaurant sounds great. I think I would pass on the Baijiu, though.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      September 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      Thank you. I had a lovely time!

  • Reply
    Natasha
    May 18, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Great post! I’ve been dying to go to China! Looks like you had a blast, and I love skyscanner you can get really cheap tickets on there.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 19, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you! China really is a fascinating place with SO much history! I just explored a tidbit of it…I can’t wait to see some more in the summer. And I’ll be checking on Skyscanner for my flights!

  • Reply
    Tom
    May 18, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Looks like there is more to Shanghai then just skyscrapers. I’ll certainly have to visit one day!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 19, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      It’s really cool how the old buildings and temples are mixed within the new city architecture.

  • Reply
    Bernard Tan
    May 17, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    OMG! did you try the nanxiang xiao long pau in Shanghai? I miss it so much.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 18, 2016 at 3:55 am

      What is that exactly? haha, Maybe I didn’t try it… but don’t worry I’ll be back to see, do and eat so many more things!

  • Reply
    Sabine Krestel
    May 17, 2016 at 4:24 am

    Currently living in China…I love Shanghai it just is home for me…you picked some great places to see and to my shame I have to confess I haven’t been to the Propaganda Museum yet.

    If you go again you might want to check out Qibao, which is the old style city of Shanghai or Yonkang Lu for a great Bar Scene…otherwise I would have visited the same places 😉

    And Hot Pot is simply the best 😛

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Thanks for sharing some places to check out! I’ll be heading back in August (it’s going to be hella hot, isn’t it?!) Cheers!

  • Reply
    Akid Zolkifli
    May 16, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    Awh this is really cute! It looks like you’ve had an AMAZING time! I’m actually half-chinese and ashamed to say that I have never been…Did you find the language barrier particularly hard there?

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Thanks! I did have a great time! The language barrier wasn’t too bad. English signage is everywhere. My friend had all of the addresses in Chinese to give to the taxi driver. I think I will do that for my next visit. I live in Korea so I have mastered the body language technique to ask for something or to figure something out, haha. And when in doubt..Google Translate!

  • Reply
    Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy
    May 16, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Short stays aren’t my favorite but there is something exciting about fitting in as much as possible in such a short period of time – something we’ve gotten quite good at now that we own a business at home. It’s almost a game to see, do and eat as much as we can in 24, 48 or however many hours. Sounds like a great list of things to do in Shanghai – can’t wait to visit one day myself!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Yes it’s such a rush to try and accomplish your list of things to do in a short amount of time. It was a great weekend, filled with lots to see and do! Hope you can enjoy Shanghai soon!

  • Reply
    crizkis
    May 16, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Wow, so many places you were able to see in such a short time! Delayed trips can do great adventures sometimes. 😉

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Delayed trips are the worst! But you’re right…it is an adventure. I have to find creative things to do while waiting in the airport. I think someone needs to write a blog post about that!

  • Reply
    Christine Maguire (@thetraveloguer)
    May 16, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Shanghai looks so cool! I would love to see the propaganda poster museum!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Make sure you see it when you’re there! Don’t look for a typical museum though…because it’s located in an apartment building (which makes it even cooler!)

  • Reply
    The Roaming Renegades.com
    May 16, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    China is somewhere we have wanted to visit for so long! We will be heading there later this year and I’m sure we’ll enjoy every minute!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Awesome, you’ll have the best time!!

  • Reply
    crystalegan
    May 16, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Looks like a great trip. Glad you had fun! I cannot wait to visit China, you got me soooo excited! 😀

    Crystal recently posted… Budget Guide: Japan

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:20 am

      Yay I’m glad I am able to fuel your wanderlust! I can’t wait to go back to China, too!!

  • Reply
    Beerandcroissants
    May 15, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    I guess we can’t help airline delays but it’s always tough when you are only going somewhere for a short time !!! Seems like you made up for it though as you got around quite a bit. I would love the hot pot restaurant and also the poster art museum.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:22 am

      I know, it’s the worst when it’s a short trip! I don’t mind (as much) if it’s a longer trip and there’s a delay… or if it’s bad weather conditions and it’s a delay (better safe than sorry!)

  • Reply
    aisha
    May 15, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Now I want to visit that temple. If i ever make it there, I will trust your taste and stay away from that shot you could only take a sip of 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:23 am

      There are many more temples I will check out when I go back in August. And I’d say try the baijiu at your own risk! lol

  • Reply
    Toronto Seoulcialite
    May 12, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    That last photo is where I became a pinwheel! There are a bunch of Chinese tourists who have pictures of me horizontal on that circle LOL. Sounds like we had a really similar experience in Shanghai! I had the best time (and really loved the propaganda museum – something different!) so I hope you had a rad time too 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 17, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Oh now I remember you posting that photo! I loved that place! And I did have a great time. Can’t wait to explore more of Shanghai!

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