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Downtown Shanghai (上海市区), also called Puxi (浦|西) or the city center (市中心) includes both the old Chinese city and the area of the former International Settlement. Historically this area has been the core of the city; most of the tourist attractions and many hotels are here. However, since about 1990 there has been extensive development across the river in Pudong and that area is now very much part of the urban core as well.
From the early 1840s to the late 1930s parts of Shanghai were concessions, areas administered by foreign powers. Eight nations—Britain, France, the US, Germany, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Japan—had concessions in Shanghai, areas that they controlled and where Chinese law did not apply. Most of these were jointly administered as the "International Settlement", but the French ran theirs separately. In all of them, the population was mainly Chinese but there were also many foreigners, and the government and legal system were foreign. The police included many Sikhs and some French gendarmes.
Many important Chinese lived in the concession areas. Chairman Mao's Shanghai house is now a museum in Jing'an District, while both the houses of several other leaders and the site of the first national meeting of the Communist Party are now museums in the French Concession.
Today all the former concession areas are parts of downtown Shanghai.
Many visitors—whether from abroad, other parts of China, or even the Shanghai suburbs—spend all their time in just a few of the most central districts, the old Chinese walled city and the former concessions north and west of it. Those are:
- Huangpu, the traditional center of Shanghai, with People's Square, the Bund, the East Nanjing Road pedestrian mall and many other attractions. (Approximately "Central District" on the old map)
- Jing'an, with many large buildings and high-end malls. West Nanjing Road extends from the center of Jing'an to People's Square and is one of the city's busiest shopping streets, with the emphasis on upmarket goods. ("Western District")
- The Central and Western districts were both British.
- The French Concession, with a fine cathedral and other religious buildings, now with many up-market highrise residential and office buildings. Huaihai Road rivals Nanjing Road for high-end shopping. Other parts of the old concession have many bars and restaurants and a lot of art shops and boutiques run by local designers. ("French Settlement" on the map corresponds roughly to Luwan District; the Concession later expanded westward to include Xuhui District, and our article covers both)
- The old Chinese city, the area that was the walled city of Shanghai for hundreds of years before the modern city came into being. The wall is long gone but that area still has quite a few traditional Chinese-style buildings and Yuyuan Gardens. This is a major draw for both Chinese and foreign tourists, less so for Shanghai residents. ("Chinese City")
"Northern District" and "Eastern District" on the map were once the American Concession; today they are parts of Zhabei and Hongkou respectively. They do not get as many visitors as the districts listed above, but they do have some attractions and the Shanghai Railway Station is in Zhabei. Both districts are included in this article.
Of course some visitors will venture outside the areas covered here; Pudong just across the river is important for business and has some tourist attractions, and the rest of Shanghai is far from devoid of interest.
This article is somewhat broader than just those very central areas. Wikivoyage uses nine districts for the area, listed below; most but not all of these are also official districts in Shanghai's administrative system. All are near the center and highly developed:
|Huangpu (黄浦区 Huángpǔqū) |
The traditional center of Shanghai, with People's Square, the Bund, the East Nanjing Road pedestrian mall and many other attractions.
The green area on the map shows what our Huangpu article covers, excluding two areas that are administered as part of Huangpu but are covered in other articles here. The Old City has its own article and we cover Luwan as part of the French Concession.
|Old City |
The area that was the walled city of Shanghai for about a thousand years before the modern city came into being. It is now a major tourist area.
|Changning (长宁区 Chángníngqū) |
Hongqiao Airport, Hongqiao Railway Station and the Shanghai Zoo are in this area. Changning is a very large, primarily residential district but in recent years has seen more commercial and entertainment hubs develop, especially in the area around Zhongshan Park.
|Hongkou (虹口区 Hóngkǒuqū) |
Home of Lu Xun Park and a football stadium, had many of Shanghai's substantial Jewish population in the first half of the 20th century. Mostly residential.
|Jing'an (静安区 Jìngānqū) |
Named for the historic Jing'an Temple, this area is now full of skyscrapers though some older buildings remain. The commercial district of West Nanjing Road extends from the center of Jing'an to People's Square.
|Putuo (普陀区 Pǔtuóqū) |
Mainly a residential district. For travellers, it has some decent youth hostels near the metro.
|French Concession |
With a fine cathedral and other religious buildings, now a major shopping area with many up-market highrise residential and office buildings. Much of the city's nightlife is here as well.
Our French Concession article covers Xuhui (徐汇区 Xúhuìqū), which contains most of the French Concession and extends much to the South, and Luwan, which is no longer an official district and is now administered as part of Huangpu.
|Yangpu (杨浦区 Yángpǔqū) |
Where Fudan University and Tongji University are located. It is has many moderately-priced bars and restaurants catering to the student market. For shoppers, it has the huge Wujiaochang (五角场) mall.
|Zhabei (闸北区 Zháběiqū) |
Zhabei is an older district with the Shanghai Railway Station and the Shanghai Circus. In 2017 it was merged into Jing'an district for administrative purposes.
Suzhou Creek (Wusong River) is more a small river than a creek, a tributary which flows into the Huangpu at the north end of the Bund. It starts near Suzhou and is the outlet for Lake Tai. Within Shanghai parts of it form the boundary between Huangpu and Jing'an districts to the south and Hongkou and Zhabei to the north.
This area has quite a few parks scattered about—see #Parks below and the individual district articles for details—but other than that it is all heavily built up and densely populated. Even the surviving 19th-century buildings are nearly all at least two floors and fairly densely packed, and new buildings of 20 floors or more are widespread.
Shanghai has sometimes had groups of refugees arrive from other parts of the world. One group were White Russians fleeing the 1917 revolution; in the 1920s the French Concession had more Russians than French (and of course more Chinese than both of those together). Another group were Jews leaving Germany in the 1930s; they mainly settled in Hongkou, a district that already had many Jews.
Two of the city's three main railway stations are within the area covered by this article. Hongqiao Station and Hongqiao Airport are on the edge of the area, parts of a complex that extends across the border between Changning District and Minhang to the west.
- 1 Shanghai Railway Station (上海站) (on metro lines , and ). Shanghai's oldest station, in Zhabei District. Practically all trains used to terminate here, including trains to Hong Kong. However, southern services are being shifted out to the South Station and high-speed services to the new Hongqiao Station.
- 2 Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station (上海虹桥站) (lines and ). A huge new station in the same building complex as Hongqiao Airport. Most high-speed trains bound north or west depart here. Fast trains bound south along the coast—to Hangzhou, Xiamen, Shenzhen and points between—also use this station.
- 3 Shanghai South Railway Station (上海南站) (lines and ). in Xuhui District. Provides service towards the south, except for high-speed trains on the Shanghai–Hangzhou high-speed line which now use the new Hongqiao station, and services to Hong Kong (due to lack of immigration and customs facilities).
Hongqiao Airport is part of the same complex as Hongqiao Railway Station, one metro stop or about a 1-km indoor walk away. It can be reached via metro lines or . It has mainly domestic flights plus a few to nearby countries.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which handles most international flights, is outside this area at the opposite (eastern) end of line .
Shanghai#Get around includes information which applies to getting around within this area.
Shanghai has an excellent metro system, taxis are cheap by international standards, and getting around on foot is often practical; those will be the main means of transport for most travellers. The city is huge (24 million), though, and all transport methods sometimes have problems with congestion.
Many Metro lines (, , , , , , , , , , ) run through downtown.
- 1 Line 1. The main north-south line through downtown. Parts of it run through the French Concession, under Huaihai Road and Hengshan Road, then north to People's Park and Shanghai Railway station. Beyond there it goes north to Baoshan and an extension to Chongming Island is in the planning stage, as of 2018. Its south end goes into Minhang and connects to Line for journeys further south.
- Line 2. The most important east-west line of the city. Downtown it runs under Nanjing Road. Its western end goes to Hongqiao Airport and beyond. To the east, it runs through downtown Pudong and terminates at Pudong Airport.
- Lines People's Square in Huangpu District, and Line also goes there. This is one of the busiest metro stations on Earth and is often considered the center of Shanghai. and meet at
- Line 3. Runs in an arc around the west side of downtown, next to Line 4 for much of the route. In the south it ends at Shanghai South Railway Station; in the north it goes to Shanghai Railway Station and beyond, through Hongkou and into Baoshan.
- Line 4. Runs on a circular route around central Shanghai, mostly on the Puxi side but it also goes into Pudong. For approximately the western third of the route it runs next to Line 3.
- Line 7. Runs from Jiading in the north, goes to Jing'An Temple and through the French Concession, then east into Pudong.
- Line 8. Runs from Yangpu in the north through part of Hongkou, to People's Square Station in Huangpu, east into Pudong, and finally into the part of Minhang that lies east of the river.
- Line 9. Comes from Pudong across southern parts of downtown, to Xujiahui, then west out to Songjiang.
- Line 10. From Hongqiao Railway Station in the west, through the French Concession, to Yuyuan Gardens in the Old City, intersecting Line 2 at Nanjing Road East in Huangpu, to the huge Qipu Road clothing market, and north into Hongkou and Yangpu.
- Line 11. Starts at the Disney resort in Nanhui on the Pudong side, crosses the river and goes across southern parts of the French Concession to Xujiahui, then swings north into Changning, Putuo and Jiading. At or north of Xujiahui it intersects most of the major lines downtown, It continues northwest out of Shanghai Municipality; as of mid-2017 it reaches to Kunshan, and plans call for it to eventually connect to the metro systems of Suzhou and Wuxi.
- Line 12. Starts in Minhang south of downtown, runs through the French Concession and Jing'an with stops including South Shaanxi Road Station on Huaihai Road and West Nanjing Road, through Hongkou and Yangpu, and across the river to the northern part of Pudong.
- Line 13. Starts in Jiading, crosses Putuo, makes several stops downtown including West Nanjing Road and Xintiandi, then crosses the river into southern Pudong. As of late 2017 there is only one stop on the Pudong side, but an extension is planned.
Important metro stations include:
- 2 People's Square (People's Park). Interchange for lines , and . One of the world's busiest metro stops at around 700,000 passengers a day. Has a large shopping area attached, mostly clothing and tourist goods.
- 3 Shanghai Railway Station. Lines , and . There are actually two metro stops here, one for Line 1 and another for Lines 3 and 4, and it is a long walk between them.
- 4 Zhongshan Park. Lines , and . Has the huge Cloud Nine mall attached. The park that the station is named after is nearby.
- 5 Xujiahui. A major interchange with Lines , and . There are several huge malls nearby; see French Concession for details.
Many of Shanghai's main tourist sights are in Huangpu District:
- The Old City (老城厢; Lao Chengxiang, also known as 南市, Nanshi) is the original Chinese city going back about 1000 years, now a major tourist area. The center of that area is Yuyuan Gardens.
- The International Settlement was built North and West of the Old City, starting in the 1840s. In colonial-period Western books, "Shanghai" means that settlement.
- The Bund (外滩 Wàitān), the riverside avenue that was the center of 19th century Shanghai and is now a major tourist attraction.
- People's Square (Renmin Gongyuan). What was once the horse racing track on the edge of the British district is now a large and busy downtown park. The old track's clubhouse now houses a museum and a fine restaurant. Under the square at the edge of the park is a metro station that is one of the hubs of the Shanghai system and one of the busiest subway stations on Earth; lines , and meet there. Nearby are several large high-end malls and department stores.
Nanjing Road was the main street of the old British Concession; today it is a major upmarket shopping street. Line People's Square, Nanjing Road East, Nanjing Road West and jing'an Temple. The road extends across two districts.runs under it for some distance and has four stations along it; listed east-west they are
- Nanjing Road East in Huangpu District extends from the Bund to People's Park, and most of it is a very busy pedestrians-only strip.
- Nanjing Road West is the continuation into Jing'an District. Part of it runs along the north side of People's Park. A landmark beyond the park is Jing'an Temple, a beautiful ancient building with a metro station named after it.
For a taste of 1920s Shanghai, with much classic Western-style architecture, head for the stately old buildings of the Bund and nearby parts of Huangpu; this is still a major shopping area as well. If your taste runs more to very modern architecture, remarkably tall buildings and enormous shopping malls, the prime districts for skyscrapers are Pudong and Jing'an. See the linked articles for details.
Other major sights are in the former French Concession. This has always been a fashionable area—even in the colonial period, many famous Chinese lived there—and it remains so today with much of Shanghai's best entertainment and shopping. We treat it as a single district and give it its own article. Within it are:
- Xujiahui, the center of Xuhui District, with a metro interchange (lines , and ), major roads, huge malls including many electronics stores, and high-end residential and office buildings.
- Huaihai Road, an upmarket shopping street which many Shanghai people prefer over Nanjing Road.
- Hengshan Road, which runs from Huaihai Road to Xujiahui, has Shanghai's largest cluster of restaurants and bars.
- Xintiandi, an area of old shikumen ("stone gate", a unique Shanghai style) houses, redeveloped with shopping malls, trendy bars and restaurants, and a lot of tourism.
- Tianzifang, another area of shikumen housing that has been redeveloped. It is newer than Xintiandi and emphasizes arts, crafts and boutique shopping where Xintiandi stresses brand-name goods and entertainment.
Overall, the French Concession is Shanghai's best area for boutique shopping, small galleries and craft shops, and interesting restaurants.
The Shanghai Railway Museum is near Shanghai Railway Station in Zhabei.
The Chinese Martial Arts Museum is on the campus of Shanghai Institute of Physical Education; see the Yangpu District article for details
There is a Yuan-Dynasty Water Sluice Museum in Putuo District, an interesting example of medieval engineering.
The Shanghai Municipal History Museum is across the river, below the Pearl Tower in Pudong.
The gallery areas are rather scattered, many of them away from the center and in former industrial buildings that have been renovated and re-purposed.
- M50 art district is Shanghai's main center for contemporary Chinese art, with dozens of studios and galleries. It is in a former factory in Putuo District.
- 1933 Shanghai is in a former abattoir; it has a theatre, shops and cafes as well as studios. See Hongkou for details.
- The Power Station of Art is on the Huangpu River, in an old power plant converted first to a pavilion for Expo 2010, and then the first state-run contemporary art museum in China. It is in Huangpu.
- The Shanghai Propaganda Poster and Art Centre is on the west side of the French Concession. A fine collection of Mao-era posters and other memorabilia, a bit hard to find but worth the effort.
- The Shanghai Gallery of Art is a commercial gallery in a shopping center called 3 on the Bund.
- The Tianzifang area in the French Concession has many galleries and studios.
Shanghai has a large number of temples, churches, mosques and synagogues.
- Jing'an Temple is a large Buddhist temple in Jing'an District, next to the metro stop (Lines 2 and 7) named after it.
- Longhua Temple is a Zen Buddhist temple down on the southern edge of the French Concession.
- The old town has both the Taoist Temple of the Town God (Chenghung Miao) and the Shanghai Confucian Temple (Wen Miao).
- St. Ignatius Cathedral is a major Catholic church built by the French near Xujiahui.
- Holy Trinity Church is an Anglican cathedral on the east side of People's Square in the old British district.
- Jade Buddha Temple is in Putuo, a small Buddhist temple with some fine statues.
- Xiaotaoyuan Mosque is Shanghai's largest mosque, with a separate women's mosque next door. It is in Huangpu.
Of course there are many smaller religious buildings—Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Muslim and Christian—scattered around the city.
If you like shopping or window shopping, a walk along either of Shanghai's major commercial streets takes an hour or two (or up to several days if you look in lots of stores and explore side streets) and can be quite interesting:
- Nanjing Road, starting from the Bund (Nanjing Road East metro station, Line 2 or 10) and heading west toward People's Park, Jing'an Temple and perhaps beyond
- Huaihai Road in the French Concession, starting at South Huangpi Road metro station on Line 1 and heading west. At the cross street just past the Changshu Road station, turn left (past the Starbucks) to reach a whole district of bars and restaurants along Hengshan Road to end your journey in comfort.
See #Buy below for more on these streets and nearby areas.
Almost every district in Shanghai has some parks. See the district articles for details. Some of the major ones are:
- People's Park, very central and with a major metro interchange below it
- Jing'an Park, across the street from the temple and metro station
- Fuxing Park in the French Concession
- Lu Xun Park in Hongkou is named for a famous writer. It has kids' rides and a lake with boats for rent.
- Gongqing Forest Park in Yangpu also has rides and boats.
- Zhongshan Park in Changning
- Daning-Lingshi Park, north of the railway station in Zhabei
- Shanghai Expo Park is in two parts, the larger in Pudong and the smaller in Puxi, toward the south of Huangpu. The Power Station of Art (listed under #Art galleries) is in the Puxi part of the park.
- Jinjiang Action Park, an amusement park in the southern part of the French Concession. Has a large ferris wheel with a good view over much of the city. Metro Line 1 to Jinjiang Park Station.
If you play the game called wei qi in Chinese, or "go" in English, you are likely to find locals playing it in Fuxing Park or Jing'an Park.
There are also schools for various Chinese arts or crafts including cooking, martial arts and painting. Many are in the French Concession, though other districts have some.
There are also schools offering training in the Chinese language. Several of the universities provide such courses and there are other possibilities:
- Mandarin House (美和汉语). Established 2004; the Shanghai campus is in People's Square.
- LTL Mandarin School Shanghai, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. In the French Concession.
- 4 Meizhi Mandarin (two locations: Xujiahui next to Jiaotong University, and Hongqiao-Gubei), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 9AM-9PM. Courses in written and spoken Mandarin Chinese, including business and conversational courses, and test preparation. There are short-term intensive classes (group or individual) and longer-term programs, and customized courses can be provided. The school is an official test centre for the HSK Chinese proficiency test and for TCSL (Teaching Chinese as a Second Language).
- Hutong School Shanghai, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. offers a range of Chinese courses including intensive, HSK preparation courses, business Chinese and Chinese classes for children. Group and private classes are available with experienced native teachers.
Many clothing shops are downtown, but others are scattered all around the city; see Shanghai#Clothing for details. There are also many shopping opportunities in the big malls of Pudong, and all the suburban areas have malls as well.
With those exceptions, most of the shopping is downtown and is covered here. Two of the largest malls are:
- 1 Cloud Nine shopping center (Zhongshan Park Station, lines and , Exit 1). In Changning. Nine flours above ground (hence the name) and two below. Metro line 2 has an exit on one of the underground floors.
- Wanda Plaza (Wujiaochang) (line 10, Wujiaochang). In Yangpu
Nanjing Road is certainly Shanghai's best-known shopping street, and probably China's. At around a million shoppers a day, it is also one of the world's busiest. It is a long street, and has two distinct parts.
Nanjing Road East is a 1-km long pedestrian boulevard running inland from the Bund lined with busy shops. The wide boulevard is often packed with people on weekends and holidays. The shops are often targeted to domestic tourists, so the prices are surprisingly reasonable. The Nanjing Road East station (lines and ) is near the center of that pedestrian area. The People's Park station (lines , and ) is at the inland end, furthest from the Bund.
For high end international brands, go to Nanjing Road West (南京西路) near Jing'an Temple station (line or ). Several large shopping malls (Plaza 66 aka Henglong Plaza, Citic Plaza, Meilongzhen Plaza, and others being built) house boutiques bearing the most famous names in fashion.
The French Concession is another major shopping area. Huaihai Road is a busy boulevard with upscale stores; well-off locals tend to shop there in preference to the more touristy Nanjing Road. For boutique shopping, head to the smaller streets just off it — Xinle Lu (新乐路), Changle Lu (长乐路) and Anfu Lu (安福路) — starting from east of Shaanxi Lu (陕西路); the nearest Metro station is South Shanxi Rd on Line . This area of low rise buildings and tree-lined streets bustles with small boutiques of clothing and accessories, where young Shanghainese looking for the latest fashions shop. A renovated but still picturesque older area called Tian Zi Fang also has boutique clothing, plus a lot of arts and crafts.
The Bund is mainly office buildings but does have some hotels, restaurants, and a few multi-storey high-end shopping centers. No. 3 on the Bund has, among other things, Giorgio Armani's flagship store in China. No. 18 has many stores including an art gallery.
Books, CDs and DVDsEdit
Fuzhou Road runs from the Bund on the east to People's Square on the west, and is the first major street south of Nanjing Road. In colonial times it was Shanghai's main red light district; today it is the best place to look for books and is also a good street to wander around and find stationery and art supplies, especially for Chinese calligraphy and painting. Some of the art is sold there as well.
Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore (Shanghai Book Traders) at 390 Fuzhou Rd offers a lot of books in English and other major languages, especially for learning Chinese. Just around the corner at 36 South Shanxi Rd is a small but well-stocked second-hand foreign-language bookshop. If you're searching for computer or business related books, head to the biggest store in Fuzhou Rd: Shanghai Book Town (上海书城). You'll find special editions targeted at the Chinese market. The only difference to the original version is the Chinese cover and the heavily reduced price.
Those interested in music CDs or DVDs of movies and television shows have a wide variety of options. The bookstores all carry some, people sell DVDs out of boxes on street corners, and there are local DVD shops in most neighborhoods. Costs go from about ¥6 per disk to about ¥40; you pay a bit more for DVD-9 format disks. See also discussion in the China article.
There are also some shops popular with the expatriate community; these tend to have English-speaking staff and a better selection of things that appeal to Westerners, though sometimes at slightly higher prices. One is the Ka De Club with two shops: one at 483 Zhenning Rd and the other one at 505 Da Gu Rd (a small street between Weihai and Yan'an roads). Another popular DVD shop is on Hengshan Road about halfway between two expat bars, Oscar's and the Shanghai Brewery. There are several more along Jiaozhou Road, which runs north from Jing'An Station.
Perhaps the best way to score a deal with a shop is to be a regular. If you provide them repeat business they are usually quite happy to give you discounts for your loyal patronage. It is also worth asking for a cheaper-by-the-dozen discount if you are making a large purchase.
There are a number of markets in the city selling antiques, jade and Mao-era China memorabilia:
- 2 Dongtai Road Antique Market (Metro line or to Laoximen station, then walk a long block north looking for the market on side streets to your left.). The largest antique market in the city, and the cheapest provided you bargain hard.
- Yuyuan Gardens is another good option for antiques and all manner of cheaply made and priced souvenirs (teapots, paintings, "silk" bags, etc.) Walk a few hundred meters East from Dongtai Road.
- There are more upmarket antique markets between Fuzhou Road and the pedestrian part of Nanjing Road.
As with any market in China, don't be afraid to haggle; it is usually the only way to get a fair price.
Exporting anything made before 1911 is now illegal. See the China article for discussion.
Shanghai offers the opportunity to buy electronic products, and you may be able to find exotic gadgets and phones that are only available in China. Foreign electronics are expensive with a high sales tax. It can be helpful to buy online with clear cheaper prices and with delivery often possible the same day with payment in cash on delivery. Games consoles are expensive and import restrictions extensive. Xujiahui is the place to go if you're after computer accessories and other electronics, but the mobile phone selection is a bit lacking. Try to go during the week; it gets awfully hectic on weekends.
- Bu Ye Cheng Communications Market (不夜城) (Shanghai Railway Station, exit 4 from line side, turn left and it's the large gold building). 10AM-6PM. This is the one of the best-known open-style markets for mobile phones in Shanghai. 1F/2F for new phones (two-way radios too), 3F for second hand including various collectibles. Any reputable vendor that sets up shop here will allow you to try before you buy—if they don't then leave. Best way to get a good or unusual phone at low cost. The selection is a mixed bag; you'll find Chinese off-brands mixed with reliable big-name brands as well as cutting-edge Japanese phones. If you live in North or South America be careful about buying the off-brand phones as most do not support the necessary frequencies for use there. Also, in the secondhand section of the market some of the phones are of dubious origin; CDMA phones may have their ESNs blacklisted in their home countries, but for GSM/3G phones the only issue is an ethical one.
There is a giant electronics mart at the Baoshan Road line/ station, which offers a huge range of miscellaneous electronics and mobile phones, however some are fake. Be sure to bargain hard. If you want to buy a mobile phone here, make sure you have a SIM card before you purchase, and test the SIM card in the phone by making a call, perhaps to the vendor, since some of the phones are non-functional but still turn on. It's best to negotiate as low as possible first, and then try out your SIM card.
Shanghai is rather an odd market for photo equipment. As in any major city, more-or-less everything is available somewhere, including high-end items of interest mainly to professionals and unusual things that only a collector might want. China was relatively isolated for decades, from the Japanese invasion in 1937 until the "reform and opening up" of 1978, so imported items from that period are not common. However Shanghai was a very prosperous and cosmopolitan city in the 1920s and early 30s so some collectors' items are in good supply.
As a general rule, prices on photo equipment in Shanghai are roughly comparable to US prices and a bit higher than Hong Kong, but there are various exceptions including some real bargains and some seriously overpriced items. Check prices abroad before making any major purchases.
For consumer products such as point-and-shoot cameras or low-end interchangeable lens devices, Xujiahui is a shopper's paradise. Any of the large consumer electronics stores scattered around the city, and many of the general department stores, will have these as well, but selection and price are usually better at Xujiahui.
For more specialised needs, there are two large buildings full of camera stores in Shanghai. Both have plenty of consumer products, usually at good prices. However they also have lots of products for the enthusiast and professional markets, services such as printing or camera repair, and a large selection of used equipment from cheap-and-usable to collectors' items.
- One is Huanlong Photographic Equipment City (环龙照相器材) on the 2nd through 5th floor of a building near the Shanghai train station in Zhabei District. Come out of the station into the South Square, and the building is diagonally left. Fast food on ground floor. Second floor and above is mostly camera shops. The higher you go, the more used equipment you see.
- An even larger clump of shops is Xing Guang Photographic Equipment City (星光摄影器材城) 300 Luban Lu, corner of Xietu Lu. Metro Line to Luban Road South, go out exit 1, turn left onto Luban Lu, and you are walking North. Xietu Lu is the first cross street. The camera center is on the NW corner. It has 7 floors. The top one is offices, bottom two mostly new cameras. One floor is mostly studio equipment—lights, reflectors and so on—and includes some unusual cameras such as 4x5 inch view cameras and 6x17 cm Chinese-made panoramic cameras. Another is mostly wedding studios, wedding clothes rental, etc. Used equipment anywhere from 2nd to 6th, and dominating a couple of floors. One camera repair shop, a few accessories shops—memory, bags, tripods, etc.
- There are two newer buildings next to the main one. In the main building, the bottom two floors are nearly all shops selling new cameras, with much specialisation by brand. At least one shop with nothing but Canon, some only Sony, one only Nikon & Manfrotto. Two mainly Pentax. Olympus & Panasonic fairly common, but no shops selling only those. Voigtlander visible here and there. The Leica specialists are on higher floors.
These two groups of shops are on Lineso it is easy to visit both in a day. However, Line 4 is roughly circular and they are on opposite edges (Railway Station on North, Luban Lu on South) so it is a fairly long ride between them.
Many food options in Shanghai are much as anywhere else in China. A lot of the street food is cheap and interesting; roasted sweet potatoes are a common and low-risk item. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants, especially West-of-China Muslim noodle places or spicy Sichuan places, often have good cheap food as well. The local bakeries are generally reasonably priced and the coffee houses have Western-style baked goods for not much more.
While there are some good Indian and Thai places, there are also lots of Japanese curry places in Shanghai. A popular chain is Coco Ichibanya with about a dozen locations from Pudong to Suzhou, mostly downtown. One is in the mall attached to Jing'an Temple metro station, another in Metro City mall at Xujiahui, and another on Huaihai Road.
The Wagas chain has restaurants offering coffee and a mostly western menu—mainly light stuff like sandwiches, soups and salads—at mid-range prices and "Baker & Spice" places which combine a cafe and bakery. They offer free WiFi and are a popular spot for locals and digital nomads working on laptops as they sip coffee. Downtown Shanghai has at least one Wagas location in each of the eight #Districts covered in this article, including at least two in Jing'an. The ground-level strip of restaurants behind Grand Gateway Mall at Xjiahui has a Wagas with a Baker & Spice shop next door.
There are plenty of places with various sorts of international cuisine, mostly at higher prices than those mentioned above. The largest group are in the French Concession, mostly along Hengshan Road or streets running off it, but there are also many in Jing'an, Huangpu and Pudong, and some elsewhere.
As anywhere in China, Brazilian all-you-can-eat barbeque restaurants are common; one is on Hengshan Road. There is also an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet above the Dutch department store on Huaihai Road.
Huanghe Rd (黄河路), off Nanjing Road has upmarket Chinese-style seafood.
Lots of western fast food is available: McDonald's, Starbucks and KFC are ubiquitous, while Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King are fairly common. Shanghai has a few you might not find (yet?) in smaller cities, such as a Papa John's Pizza on Hengshan Road and a Carl's Jr. burger place at Xujiahui.
Most of the places mentioned under #Eat above also serve booze, and the rest have coffee and tea.
See the district articles for hotel listings by area.
If your budget allows it, all these districts except the Old City have high-end hotels, and Pudong across the river has many others. Prices are near international levels, anywhere from around ¥700 (roughly US$115) a night to several times that. Most of the big international chains have at least one location in Shanghai, and many have hotels in both Pudong and central Puxi; Hilton has those plus a third one at Hongqiao Airport. Many of these hotels are in very convenient locations; Les Suites and Hyatt are on the Bund, Le Meridien is just off Nanjing Road, and Radisson is on People's Square; see Huangpu for listings. In Jing'an, the Shangrila is right next to the temple and metro station, and in the French Concession the Langham Xintiandi is close to Xintiandi and the old town.
Shanghai also has some grand old hotels built in the art deco style during the city's glory days 1840s-1930s. The Peace Hotel and Astor House are on the Bund and the Park Hotel is across from People's Park on Nanjing Road; all are listed in the Huangpu article. These are often somewhat cheaper than the newer luxury hotels.
Quite a few low-priced and mid-range places are in the area north of Jing'an Temple, in Jing'an, Zhabei and Putuo districts. For a more central location the Captain's Hostel is a backpacker place just off the Bund. Backpacker dorms are under ¥100 in most places, while many hostels and most of the plainer hotels can provide private rooms with private shower in the ¥250-600 range.
The Entry and Exit Bureau, where you go for a work permit or visa extension, is across the river in Pudong.
Popular getaway destinations for Shanghai residents include the water towns in the west of the city and the beaches in the southern suburbs Nanhui, Fengxian and Jinshan. The main somewhat rural getaways for city dwellers anywhere in East China are Lake Tai near Suzhou and Mount Putuo, an island near Ningbo with a national park and many Buddhist temples.
Suzhou, Hangzhou and Nanjing are nearby, and there are both fast trains and good highways to all of them. These cities were all important long before 19th century trade made Shanghai the area's greatest city; all have many historic sites including some on the UNESCO World Heritage List and are among the top destinations for domestic Chinese tourism. Today all are booming modern cities with population over 8 million.
For other possibilities beyond the city, and more detail on the above, see Shanghai#Go next.