Formerly a tiny fishing village, Shanghai is one of China’s most well-known cities. One of Asia’s major financial centers it is also known as the world’s
busiest container port. Located on China’s eastern coast, summers are hot and humid while winters are chilly and damp. Some of the best times to visit
are in spring and fall.
What to Do in Shanghai
Ever wondered what the Chinese government’s taste in art was like? You can find out at the Power Station of Art, China’s first state-run contemporary art museum. Located on the banks of the Huangpu River, the museum used to be a former power plant and was once the Pavilion of Future during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
Shaped like an ancient Chinese cooking pot, the Shanghai Museum is hard to miss. With a collection of 140,000 pieces, this is the country's premier museum of ancient Chinese art. With eleven galleries, the museum has an art piece for everyone and is a great way to spend a day or half-day.
The Bund (meaning an embanked thoroughfare along a river or the sea, commonly used in Aisa to refer to boardwalks) used to be a towpath for daring barges of rice. Now one of Shanghai’s best riverside strolls offers a great way to see the passage of time through the city, showing both the city’s past and future with art deco buildings built in the early 20th century and the more modern Pudong skyline. If you go just after dawn, you can find people doing various forms of physical activity such as tai chi and ballroom dancing.What to Eat
Xiaolongbao, also known as soup dumplings, are a local specialty. These delicate dumplings are filled with pork, vegetable, shrimp or crab and a hot broth. Served in the bamboo baskets that they were steamed in, the buns are usually dipped in vinegar. Before eating, wait for the dumplings to cool as they are filled with broth that will burn your mouth when eaten too soon. Then, after the dumplings are cool, use the provided spoon to place them in your mouth and chew.
Shengjian bao, a pan-fried cousin of Xiao Long Bao, is another one of Shanghai’s best dishes. Made with semi-fermented dough and fried in a wok, water is sprayed on it several times during cooking. This bun is best eaten hot and is typically stuffed with pork and sesame or scallion.
- The restaurant industry in Shanghai churns incessantly. Always call ahead to make sure the restaurant you want to go to is open that night. Also, make sure to get a reservation. This saves your spot at popular restaurants.
- If possible, use cash or set up WeChat pay or Alipay, two of the most popular mobile payment systems as many places may not take international credit cards.
- Long lines outside of a place doesn’t mean that the food is the best you’ll find. There may be a promotion happening or the place may be perfect for an Instagram pick. Long lines also mean longer wait times.
- People eat early. Many places may not be open at 9 pm or later. Call ahead to check.
Want to taste some of Shanghai’s best food for yourself? Start planning your visit by first checking out China’s tourist visa requirements here.