7 days in Shanghai - The best of Shanghai

See the best of Shanghai in 7 days.
1Arrival1 day
Shopping at fabric market, Shanghai, China.

Your Air New Zealand flight arrives in Shanghai early morning, so you have the whole day ahead of you. While it's fine to take a quick nap at some point today, get your body clock onto local time as quickly as possible by exercising outdoors. An adventurous walk around the city centre is exactly what you need.

Things to see and do when you first arrive in Shanghai:

  • Feel the heartbeat of the city in People's Square, also called Renmin Square. It's an impressive collection of open spaces, green places, water features, museums and entertainment options. Call into the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre to get your head around the city's skyline
  • Enjoy a street food lunch at Yunnan Road - today could be your first encounter with xiao long bao dumplings
  • Tailoring is cheap in Shanghai, so explore the South Bund Fabric Market to choose fabrics and designs for some bespoke wardrobe additions
  • Discover first-class contemporary Chinese food at Hakkasan on the Bund. If you don't feel like dressing up, try somewhere more casual - Goodfellas or Mercato are well-reviewed options
    2Exploring the Former French Concession1 day
    Tourists cycling through Former French Concession, Shanghai, China.

    From 1849 to 1946, France had a place in Shanghai - it was called the French Concession. These days it's called the Former French Concession and it includes some of the most beautiful streets of Shanghai. When you visit this area you'll find leafy streets, beautifully preserved mansions, exquisite little shops, and wonderful places to relax with food and drink.

    Things to do in the FFC:

    • Start your FFC experience with great coffee and cake. There are lots of cafes in the area - Baker & Spice, Café Montmartre, Boom Boom Bagels and Kommune Café are a few to consider
    • Renew your wardrobe with boutique shopping on Anfu Lu, Changle Lu, Fumin Lu and Dongpipng Lu
    • Visit the art deco Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence - it's a museum that will whisk you back in time to the pre-revolutionary days of Shanghai
    • Admire the French Renaissance-style apartment buildings on your way to Wukang Lu, where you'll find European-style villas from the 1920s
    • Dine at Las Tapas for European food; or Di Shui Dong, Xibo or Sichuan Citizen if you fancy Chinese
      3Shopping in Nanjing and Huai Hai Roads1 day
      Nanjing Road at night, Shanghai, China.

      Shopping is the pastime that unites everyone in Shanghai. There's virtually nothing you can't buy in this city. In pedestrian-only Nanjing Road you can shop for traditional Chinese products, as well as great-value clothes and homewares. Huai Hai Road offers another kind of retail therapy, with six kilometres of glitzy designer stores. The area between Shan Xi Road and Xi Zang road is where most of the action happens.

      Shops to find and tips for successful shopping:

      • Not all stores take credit cards, so make sure you have cash in your wallet. Most stores are open for 12 hours a day, starting at 10am. Wear comfortable shoes!
      • Aim for East Nanjing Road If you're interested in tea sets, silk clothing, calligraphy, paintings, traditional Chinese medicine and handicrafts
      • West Nanjing Road has some great department stores, including Wingsand Jiuguang
      • Head for the middle section of Huai Hai Road, where you'll find all the big international and luxury brands
        4Day trip to Zhouzhuang Water Town1 day
        Zhujiajiao watertown, Shanghai, China.

        On an escorted tour, your guide will collect you from your hotel and drive you to Zhouzhuang Water Town. Alternatively you can be your own guide, but it's wise to hire a driver to take you to Zhouzhuang - the train journey can take more than six hours, while driving takes only 90 minutes.

        Highlights of Water Town:

        • See the twin bridges - one built in 1573 and the other in 1619. Both cross just above the confluence of the rivers Yinzi and Nanbei. Together they are called Key Bridge, because they look like an ancient key
        • Tour the Shen residence, which has more than 100 rooms surrounding seven courtyards; and the Zhang residence, a 70-room complex with a river running through it
        • Visit Quanfu Temple, which dates back to the Yuanyou Period (1086-1093) of the Song Dynasty. The temple has three main buildings in a beautiful garden and is surrounded by pavilions
        • Eat wansan, also called 'eight bowls'. Created by Shen Wansan, a legendary character purported to be richest man in the Yangtze River region, it's an eight-course meal that includes soy-stewed pork, stewed eggs, chicken and stuffing, and wheat dumpling soup
          5Shanghai Tower and the Bund1 day
          Yu Garden, Shanghai, China.

          Bring your explorations back to the city's riverside today - the Bund and the high-rise financial district just across the water. The west bank of the Huangpu River reflects Shanghai's early days as a trading centre; the east bank represents China's present and future, as a global economic power.

          Things to do today:

          • Head up the Shanghai Tower to see the city from the world's highest observation deck
          • Visit the Municipal History Museum and other attractions in the Oriental Pearl Tower
          • Stroll the Bund (Waitan), starting at the Waibaidu Bridge. Check out the Rockbund Art Museum and the historic British Consulate, where there's a restaurant and a bar
          • Collect your bespoke tailoring from the South Bund Fabric Market
          • Enjoy an evening cruise on the Huangpu River to see the city all lit up
          • Dine tonight at 'M on the Bund', one of the city's most loved international restaurants
            6Xintiandi1 day
            Skyline over Pudong, Shanghai, China.

            Romantic Xintiandi is an old area of Shanghai that has been refreshed with contemporary design principles. It's divided into two areas - the South Block is mostly modern with traditional architecture as an accent; the North Block retains the old Shikumen architecture style.

            Things to do in Xintiandi:

            • Browse the wares at Shanghai Tang, where you'll find clothing, home furnishings, accessories and novelty gifts
            • Discover local designer fashion at the Xintiandi Style concept mall
            • Xintiandi is known for funky little stores that sell beautiful handcrafted items, like embroidered tablecloths, bags, scarves and slippers
              7Yuyuan and Fuxing Park1 day
              Xintiandi Laneway, Shanghai, China.

              Today's combination of destinations will win you over with classical Chinese gardens, contemporised heritage areas and a park where people's hobbies provide the entertainment. If you're staying near the Bund, your journey flows westward - walk, taxi or catch the metro. At the end of the afternoon, celebrate your last day in Shanghai at Lost Heaven in the Former French Concession.

              Things to do in Yuyuan, Xintiandi and Fuxing Park:

              • Yuyuan Garden (also called Yu Garden) has existed for more than 400 years. Involving pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters, it has six main areas that cover about five acres. A special highlight is the Exquisite Jade Rock, which is 3.3 metres high and pierced with 72 holes. Burn an incense stick just below it and the smoke magically floats out the holes
              • Discover shopping areas in the Old Town. At Yuyuan Market you'll find everything from mahogany furniture and mirrors to silk robes and ceramics
              • Fuxing Park is where Shanghai's retired population goes for exercise and fun. You'll see them dancing, flying kites, singing opera, playing cards and mah-jong, doing tai chi, performing tricks and exercising

                Keep exploring Shanghai