Each encompasses attractions, cool hotels and hip restaurants.
It goes without saying that Shanghai 上海 is a massive city. Technically, it houses 14 districts and 4 counties. As a traveler though, you’re not going to hit up every single one. And you shouldn’t. This list breaks down seven areas that you’ll need to know and definitely check out. Each encompasses attractions, cool bars and hip restaurants. Have fun!
Reputation: The East Bank. This is where you’ll most likely fly into.
The 411: Situated across the Huangpu River from the Bund (or Waitan,) Pudong is the most famous district in Shanghai due to a plethora of modern skyscrapers. Back in the 1990s, this area were solely farmlands, but Chinese President Deng Xiaoping used Pudong as the heart of Shanghai’s new economic boost. Today’s Pudong boasts high-rise towers, financial centers and our favorite 5-star hotels.
Don’t miss: Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Shanghai Tower.
Reputation: Center of Shanghai is also its urban core.
The 411: In essence, Huangpu is downtown Shanghai. During the 19th to early 20th century, this area blossomed as the commercial district of Shanghai due to International Settlement that was based out of here. Today’s Huangpu is considered as one of the most populated urban areas in the entire world. If you love art, here’s where you’ll visit lots of museums.
Don’t miss: Shanghai Museum, People’s Square, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Shanghai Art Museum, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, and the Shanghai Natural History Museum.
The Bund/Waitan 外灘
Reputation: The Waterfront, the most famous tourist destination.
The 411: The Bund feels like London not by mistake. Historically, it was home of the British settlement, and the buildings you see were trading houses and banks from the U.K., Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and USA. The Bund stretches one mile along the bank of the Huangpu River. Today, the Bund hubs the city’s hottest night clubs, restaurants with amazing views and outstanding hotels (including jazz club at the Peace Hotel.)
Don’t miss: People’s Heroes Memorial, jazz club at the Peace Hotel, night clubs and bars.
Reputation: This so-called “Southern City” is also the old, walled Shanghai.
The 411: Walking through Nanshi is a touristic throwback to what Shanghai used to be and its contrast to modern buildings. When Shanghai was established during the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, a city wall was constructed.
Don’t miss: Old City God Temple, Old Town Bazaar, Yu Yuan Garden and the Confucian Temple.
Reputation: The French Concession.
The 411: As one of the most prestigious areas in Shanghai throughout history, Luwan was where many prominent figures resided. The architecture in the area were left by French colonials when they lived in Shanghai prior to 1949. Today, you’ll find many high-end restaurants and boutiques.
Don’t miss: Fuxing Park, Jin Jiang Hotel, shopping on Huaihai Zhong Lu. Former residences of: Mao Zedong, Sun Yat Sen and Zhou En Lai.
Reputation: “New Heaven and Earth” – an affluent shopping and dining area where you’ll find lots of expats.
The 411: The car-free entertainment area is now a romantic setting on any daytime stroll to cocktails on the terrace. The reconstruction upon shikumen (stone gate houses) transformed old-school residences to modern lifestyle hotspots. You’ll find luxury boutiques here and international restaurants.
Don’t miss: Museum of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Shikumen Open House Museum, and lots of shopping boutiques.
Reputation: Zigzag alleys, labyrinth of arts and crafts.
The 411: One of the most touristic areas in Shanghai is Tianzifang, which has been renovated upon traditional residential areas in the French Concession district. The shikumen-style houses became a hub for artists and their studios. The neighborhood first grew from word of mouth, then media reports along with Taiwanese entrepreneurs began investing in the area around mid-2000’s. Today, it’s the ultimate must-see.
Don’t miss: Shopping, eating & drinking on Taikang Road.