Our 2 days Shanghai Itinerary
Shanghai, the city above the sea. Established 1300 years ago, the city has become one of the best known Chinese city. Because of the huge size of Shanghai (or any of the chinese cities actually), it is quite difficult to know what to visit in a short time. However, we wouldn’t recommend staying a long time in Shanghai. Our 2 days Shanghai itinerary felt enough, although one more day could have been welcomed. If you are going to visit Shanghai and you have a limited amount of time, check out our itinerary to help your planning!
- 1 First day Shanghai Itinerary
- 1.1 Zhongshan Park
- 1.2 Lunch: Spicy Fish JiangBian Chengwai Grill Fish
- 1.3 People’s Square – Renmin Guangchang
- 1.4 Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center
- 1.5 Snacking: Pan Fried Soup Dumpling Sheng Jian Bao
- 1.6 Shopping: Nanjing Pedestrian Road
- 1.7 The Bund
- 1.8 Dinner: Shanghai Fried Noodle
- 2 Second day Shanghai Itinerary
- 3 End of our itinerary
First day Shanghai Itinerary
Here is a map of the things we did on the first day. We started on Zhongshan Park, because it was near our Hotel (The Penta Hotel Shanghai). Then we lunched near the park, and took the subway to get to the People’s square. After that we walked for the whole itinerary (for the first day)!
Zhongshan Park is a park that was established in 1914 by the city. It’s a big park, with a large number of trees that make it very enjoyable to walk around. The park is located near the Zhongshan park station on line 2! It’s very nice to start the day with a relaxed walk around a park after a light breakfast. But of course, you can skip this part as we went there due to its proximity to our hotel.
Lunch: Spicy Fish JiangBian Chengwai Grill Fish
Think twice before skipping Zhongshan park if you love spicy food! The main reason we stuck around Zhongshan Park is to have lunch at JiangBian Chengwai Grill Fish. The restaurant is on the 6th floor of a shopping mall, the Cloud Nine Shopping Mall. You can refer to the map above for the exact location.
The restaurant is very popular with locals, so prepare to wait around 30 minutes to get a table. The menu is in Chinese, but honestly, you can just pick the ones with the recommended symbol (and the spiciness of the sauce is also indicated!). The fish we took was absolutely delicious. Be careful as it was VERY spicy, but well worth it! But of course, as spicy food lovers we took the spiciest one. If you are not comfortable with spicy food, they had some sauce without any spices. The service was genuinely good, we were surprised as we heard a lot of things about chinese service. Highly recommended if you want to try local food! We have paid around 280 yuan for 2 people.
People’s Square – Renmin Guangchang
After the lunch, head to the subway station, which is just outside the shopping mall. Take the line 2 to People’s Plaza, it will cost you 4 yuan.
The people’s square is a place and a park that took the place of the number one horse racing field of Asia in 1949. That is because the government banned horse racing (and gambling in general actually). It’s a historic site of Shanghai, with two important museum: The Shanghai Museum in the center of it, and the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center.
We experience a peculiar event in People’s square: a matchmaking event. From what we gathered, every week-end, parents of unmarried adults come to the square, with their cherished children’s profile printed out. And then starts the matchmaking event, which is a kind of a”marriage market”. People come and stroll around the park, looking at profiles, talk to the parents. We even saw some parents accompanied with their children going around to find a suitor!
The number of the people out there is incredible. We first didn’t understand what was going on, and couldn’t believe it when we understood! You can see how much marriage is important in the Chinese culture, and how far parents are willing to go to find the perfect match for their children.
One thing you might not know about Shanghai: the strong will of the city administrator to take full control of the city’s development. Shanghai is kind of an urban experiment stage for a carefully controlled planning. And you can experience that in the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, located right next to the People’s Square. The entrance fee is 30 Yuan, and the center closes at 5 pm (with the last entry at 4 pm).
The center shows in detail the development of Shanghai through history and the plan for the future. The best part of this center has to be the detailed paper models of the city: you will find it everywhere in the center, for all kinds of history period. The highlight is the 3rd floor, with the gigantic model of the city.
Snacking: Pan Fried Soup Dumpling Sheng Jian Bao
Once you have finished admiring the future of Shanghai, head north towards Nanjing Pedestrian Street. But before going into the street, there is something you need to try: the Sheng Jian Bao, or the pan fried soup dumplings. This delicious snack can be found at every corner, but we recommend you to try Yang’s Fried Dumplings on Huanghe Road.
Sheng Jian Bao is a type of soup dumpling that is fried on a circular pan until the bottom of the dumpling becomes golden and crusty. It gives the dumpling a crunchy and deliciously oily taste, while the soup inside keeps the taste alive for the filling.
Be careful when you eat the dumplings, as they are full of soup! You need to carefully bite the top of the dumpling and eat out the soup first. Speaking from experience! The price is 8 yuan for 4 dumplings.
For other places to eat Sheng Jian Bao, here is a great list on the Culture Trip!
Shopping: Nanjing Pedestrian Road
After the snack, it’s time to go shopping! Or at least, live the experience of Nanjing Pedestrian Road. It’s the perfect place to feel the grandeur of Shanghai. A hugely wide street, constantly packed with people: this street has a hypnotic effect. It’s a different feeling than the well organized and covered Japanese shopping street like Dotonbori in Osaka. Walk through the street and follow the people. The objective is to arrive at the Bund, but make sure to enjoy the way!
As the road is very crowded, don’t be surprised to see a lot of police officers regulating the traffic (you will see more and more as you get closer to the Bund). They don’t hesitate to yell at people and push (quite violently), so be careful!
Called the museum of international architecture, the bund is the symbol of Shanghai. Started as a British settlement in 1840, it quickly became the hub and entry point to european businessmen, banks and government consulates, which is why all kind of western architecture can be seen there. Admiring all the european style buildings in Shanghai surely feels a little bit surreal.
Another thing to do on the Bund is to go admire the other side of the river. You will have a magnificent night view of Pudong and its incredible skyscrappers.
After you finished walking around and looking at buildings, you can head to take a drink in one of the incredible bars near the Bund. We went to the Nest, and we really enjoyed the atmosphere there. The outside terrace is really enjoyable so don’t miss it!
If you want more choices, Virgin Atlantic has a great list of bars on the Bund.
Dinner: Shanghai Fried Noodle
The Bund is a very famous place for fine dining, but we didn’t feel like eating western in China. We live in Hong Kong, so we didn’t think it was necesary for us to try fine dining in Shanghai. But if you want to try the Shanghai fine dining scene, we’ve heard great things about the M on the Bund and Mr&Mrs Bund.
What we could’nt miss however, is to try Shanghai style fried noodle in Shanghai! Honestly we felt exausted after all the walking so we went back near our hotel, and just found the nearest small local restaurant. But hey, the noodles were great! There’s no need to look for famous restaurant for this kind of meal. Nothing can beat a good simple local dish :).
Second day Shanghai Itinerary
Below is a map of the activities we did on the second day. We took a cab from the hotel to the Shanghai Old Street where we stayed until the early afternoon. But you can also get there with the Subway, line 10 Yu garden Station.
Shanghai Old Street
Shanghai Old Street is the traditional (and touristic) part of Shanghai. Unlike other district you have been, here you will see typical Chinese architecture, and a traditional garden, the famous Yu garden. The Old Street is actually not just one street but a big area. You will see a huge number of shops, where you can buy your souvenirs.
You will also find beautiful tea houses around the old street. But be advised, it takes really a LONG time to get a place in any of them. The area is PACKED with people and getting around can be quite frustrating. But the scenery is worth it so be brave!
Snacks: Street foods
Shanghai old street is PACKED with street food. There are so many choices you cannot even choose! We are sure there are so many delicious things that we couldn’t try. We tried 4 of them but don’t limit yourself! Take your time to look around and eat everything you can :).
The dumpling with the straw was a little bit disappointing, but we might have taken it at the wrong place. The skewers were good! And the fried bread was good but very big and oily, we ended up throwing away almost half of it.
Lunch: Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) at Nanxiang steamed bun restaurant
Nanxiang steamed bun restaurant is a restaurant that has been around for more than 100 years in Shanghai. Its specialty is the famous Xiao Long Bao, the steamed soup dumplings. You understood from the name, the dumpling contains soup inside, so be extra careful when you eat it (especially if it’s hot!). There are really a lot of people queuing up, and there are 3 kind of “part” of the restaurant (by price actually, cheap, medium and expensive). We went to the cheapest one where you can only order soup dumplings, and it was enough!
The dumplings are really excellent, they might be the best we’ve had for a while. We ordered all the types of soup dumplings they had, so no more xiao long baos for at least a year! Highly recommended restaurant! But be aware, the service is not very good, and the staff speaks limited english. The price was around 200 yuan for 2 people.
Yu garden is a very famous traditional chinese garden near the old street. If you love Japanese gardens like the ones you see in Kyoto or Nara, you will love Yu garden. The garden is beautifully preserved and there are significantly less people than in the old street. It might have something to do with cost: 40 yuan per person (which might be a non negligible sum for visitors from chinese countrysides).
The garden is very pleasant to visit and very relaxing. It was really interesting to see typical chinese architecture after seeing european ones in the bund.
Cruise on the River
After your visit of chinese traditional streets, it’s time for sightseeing! Head back to the Bund, you will have a cruise stop. There are a lot of different choice with different budgets. Take one not too long (40-50 minutes is perfect!) You will have a very nice view while feeling the breeze on the boat.
Pudong: Shanghai World Finance Tower Observatory
If you want to have a fantastic view of Shanghai, head to the Shanghai World Finance Tower Observatory. You will find it in Pudong, and you can get there with the subway line 2, Luijiazui stop. The observatory closes at 9 pm so don’t be too late!
Dinner: Crab Fest at Cheng Long Hang
And while you are in the area, don’t miss one of Shanghai’s most famous dishes, crab! The famous hairy crab of Shanghai is in season around October to December, although you can eat it year round in some restaurants. We chose to go to the famous Cheng Long Hang Wang Fu restaurant. The crabs of this restaurant is very well known to be fresh and high quality so we recommend you to try it!
You will have the choice between dozens of dishes using crab as the main ingredient. We tried dumplings, rice, tofu, and of course whole crabs! This was the most expensive restaurant we have been in Shanghai, we paid 1000 yuan for 2 people. But we let ourselves go and ordered a LOT of food, we couldn’t move properly after we finished. The service is excellent, the staff is very nice and they have an english menu. A must try in Shanghai!
End of our itinerary
That’s it! We hope that you enjoyed our itinerary and that we helped you plan your short trip to Shanghai. If you have more days, we recommend you to do a day trip to Hangzhou instead of staying too long in Shanghai. As usual, do not hesitate to give us your comments and feedbacks! Have a nice day 🙂
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