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Six Of The Coolest Neighbourhoods In Shanghai

By Natasha Cohen15/04/2024 Tourism, Visit China

From sweeping skyscrapers to ancient temples, and being the third most populous city in the whole world, there’s something in Shanghai for everyone.

With so much to see in this huge, modern city, deciding on what to do first can be a tough call. To help get you started, here are six of the hottest areas to hang out in Shanghai, where to find both new and old architecture, and a couple of tourist traps to avoid too.

1. 浦东 Pǔdōng – Pudong

Considered Shanghai’s financial centre, Pudong captures Shanghai’s signature skyline of iconic skyscrapers, including the Shanghai Tower and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

A huge area, it’s home to Shanghai Disneyland. And, for the adults, the highest rooftop bar in Shanghai (Flair at The Ritz-Carlton) is here, too.

2. 外滩 Wàitān – The Bund

A famous waterfront area on the west bank of Huangpu River, The Bund is the perfect spot for a selfie with Shanghai’s Pearl Tower behind you.

It’s the perfect place to take a stroll, watch locals exercise in the morning, watch the sunset, and even take a night cruise along the river.

3. 静安区 Jìng’ān Qū – Jing’an District

Of the many things to see in this district, one must-visit spot is 张园  Zhāng Yuán. Zhang Yuan is over 100 years old, and the largest and best-preserved shikumen (a building with both Chinese and Western design elements) complex in Shanghai. Where it was once a private complex, part of it is now open to the public so they can enjoy the neoclassical buildings.

Go here, not there: Many people visit 城隍庙 Chénghuángmiào, Chenghuang Temple, near Shanghai Old Street, but it’s often crowded and the prices of shops and restaurants nearby tend to be over-inflated because it’s a tourist area. Locals prefer to visit the equally famous and historic 静安寺 Jìng’ān Sì, Jing’an Temple, in Jing’an District instead.

4. Cité Bourgogne – Don’t worry, you haven’t accidentally opened a page about France. 

步高里 ‘Bùgāolǐ is the Chinese name for this area. Also known as ‘Bugaoli Lane’ in English, it was built in 1930 by French businessmen in the original French Concession area, hence the name.

The well-preserved shikumen houses still stand to this day, and walking along it gives insight into both what life was like for locals in the past and the present.

Go here, not there: Not far from Bugaoli is 田子坊 Tiánzi Fāng (‘Tianzi Fang’). It’s an artsy and trendy area but also overcrowded and expensive – locals prefer heading to 武康路 Wǔkāng Lù (Wukang Road, originally called Route Ferguson) to see colonial architecture instead.

5. 淮海坊 Huáihǎi Fāng – Joffre Terrace

Originally called Xiafei Fang, Huaihai Fang is a classic brick-walled Shanghai lane house (lane complex), which was built in 1924 by the Catholic church, and was another part of the French Concession.

Joffre Terrace was built along a road that was once considered the ‘Champs-Élysées’ of Shanghai called ‘Avenue Joffre’ (now 淮海路 Huáihǎi Lù, Huahai Road).

6. 人民广场 Rénmín Guǎngchǎng – People’s Square

A large public square, the People’s Square encompasses the People’s Park, and is a treasure trove of inexpensive restaurants and delicious street food.

Go here, not there: 南京路 Nánjīng Lù, Nanjing Lu, is a popular shopping road near the People’s Square, but overcrowded and overly expensive – a bit like Oxford Street in London. Locals tend to go to 新天地 Xīntiāndì (‘Xintiandi’) instead – a car-free entertainment, eating and shopping area.

Did you know that Lingoinn has a homestay learning programme in Shanghai? Check out the professional homestay teachers in Shanghai to help you learn Mandarin and explore the city.

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