As China’s leading mega city, Shanghai is a city that’s experienced rapid growth over the past decade with no signs of slowing down. This neighbourhood guide takes you through this eclectic city, showcasing everything from traditional landmarks and cultural staples to modern and internationalized areas that will whisk you away to Europe or the US. Shanghai literally has everything to offer – exceptional food (from around the world), a roaring nightlife scene and lets not forget its world famous skyline.
TL;DR: The go-to place to be dizzied by China’s modernization in towering (skyscraper) form
Why Visit: Before 1990, this section was all farmland before its transformation into the city’s financial core two decades later. Now, its skyscrapers testify to the sweeping waves of modernity and, as if to add a touch of family-friendly options on the consumerism that beckons from this neighbourhood, the largest Disneyland in Asia recently opened in Pudong last year.
TL;DR: The all-in-one package for Shanghai’s traditional and historical sights
Why Visit: The traditional center of Shanghai offers up enough stops for every first-time traveler’s checklist. Get lost among the overwhelming crowds at The Bund, or take advantage of the shopping utopia at Nanjing West and East Road. Best of all, there’s no better place to witness the stunning contrast of modern China than in Huangpu District, where towering skyscrapers dwarf the centuries-old Chinese buildings and shikumen of the old city.
TL;DR: Where Jewish history meets authentic Shanghainese lifestyle
Why Visit: Two vastly different histories collide in Hongkou District. One features the Jewish refugees who flocked to Shanghai during World War II; the other features famed Chinese writer and a figurehead of modern Chinese literature, Lu Xun. Though close and accessible, Hongkou remains largely overlooked by tourists, making it a quieter half-day getaway.
Tip: Head to the rooftop of the Shanghai Postal Museum for sweeping views of the Bund and a beautiful rooftop garden.
Luwan/Xuhui (French Concession)
TL;DR: The art, dining, and cultural hub that’s perfect for all tastes and ages
Why Visit: Luwan and Xuhui District, synonymous with the Former French Concession (FFC), conjures images of tree-lined streets, quiet cafes, and quaint architecture. That’s all true in the neighborhood where French influence continues to linger. Don’t let the absence of bigger, prominent tourist attractions cheapen the appeal of its lanehouses or the pull of a secluded restaurant.
TL;DR: The heart of the city for young professionals and expats
Why Visit: If you want a taste of Shanghai expat life, head to the center of the city and the core of its international populace, Jingan. The neighborhood might be named for its eponymous temple, yet a closer exploration will unveil more artistic leanings like the sculpture park. Alternatively, enjoy Jingan the way its residents do: restaurant or bar-hopping across its cluster of malls and internationalized businesses.
Why Visit: Changning’s main draw is Zhongshan Park, a massive oasis amid the overwhelming urbanity of Shanghai. It is also home to many Eastern Asian residents that Hongqiao and Gubei have earned unofficial reputations as the city’s Koreatown and Little Tokyo. The absence of the global glitz or deep-seated history boasted by other districts is supplanted instead by more diverse offerings that dip into art, nature, family-friendly entertainment, and more.
TL;DR: The go-to watering hole for art lovers and aficionados
Why Visit: Though overlooked by its wealthier neighborhood Jing’an, Suzhou Creek is home to a rich history. It originally separated the British and American settlements before undergoing major industrialization that created a blend of colonial architecture and office buildings.