What to Do on a Short Layover in Shanghai

What to Do on a Short Layover in Shanghai

If you’re traveling through Asia, chances are you’ll end up with a stopover in the Chinese hub of Shanghai at some point. Well, with its free transit visa, it’s absolutely worth checking out this cosmopolitan metropolis.

Even if you had just half a day, here’s where you should visit and what you should do:

 

Getting to Shanghai City Centre

After providing your fingerprints and shuffling through the efficient transit visa queue, head for the Maglev. That’s the 300 km/h magnetic levitation train that will shuttle you from Pudong airport right into the heart of the city (in under 10 minutes).

Buy the one-day Maglev & MetroPass card, it’ll only set you back around $13. It’s simple and easy to use, just tap in on the barriers.

Shoot your way into Longyang Rd and change onto Line 2, taking it North to Nanjing Road East.

Shanghai metro map
[Metro Map]

 

Nanjing Road East

Nanjing Road, Shanghai
(Nanjing Road, Shanghai Image Credit: Tej Parikh)

This is Shanghai’s main commercial street. Start by heading toward The Bund to get an early, uncrowded, view of the city’s spectacular financial skyscraper district. 

Double-back on yourself passing between its exquisite Western-style hotel buildings and head down to other end of Nanjing Road beyond the metro station and through the heaving crowds of shoppers and gigantic malls.

 

People’s Square

Peoples Square, Shanghai
(People’s Square, Shanghai Image Credit: Tej Parikh)

Soon you’ll reach People’s Square -- the heart of Shanghai. Wander through its fountain-laden gardens taking in the domineering architecture of the Grand Theatre and Concert Hall. You might even be lucky enough to see a marriage market on the weekend, where parents congregate to seek suitors for their children. 

 

Wukang Mansion

Wukang mansion, Shanghai
(Wukang Mansion, Shanghai Image Credit: Tej Parikh)

Next from People’s Square metro station take Line 8 southbound, change at Laoximen, and head westbound on Line 10. Get off at Shanghai Library. Head down Huaihai Middle Road where eventually you see the wedge-shaped Wukang Mansion building. Designed by a Hungarian-Slovak architect and completed in 1924, the oddly shaped apartment block draws notable crowds of photographers.

Grab a warm beverage at one of the many quaint coffee houses, before jetting back to Shanghai Library and taking Line 10 eastbound, getting off at Yuyuan Garden. 

 

Yuyuan Garden

Yuyan Gardens, Shanghai
(Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai Image Credit: Tej Parikh)

This is the perfect starting point to explore Shanghai’s old heart. Head for the winding green oasis of Yu Garden, navigating the city’s oldest streets, before wandering through gleaming jewelry markets and sampling some dumplings or a warming noodle soup in the neighborhoods many outlets.

 

The Bund

The Bund nighttime, Shanghai
(The Bund/Shanghai Financial District, Image Credit: Tej Parikh)

As dusk sets in, head to the Huangpu River bank and walk north toward the Bund. At night the view is a different experience. Hundreds of local and tourist congregate near Chenyi Square to marvel at the glittering skyscraper lit waterfront.

A perfect way to end the day - and not far from Nanjing Road East station which you’ll need to catch Line 2 for your return maglev at Longyang Rd (The last maglev leaves Longyang Rd around 2130, check at the station).

 

Shanghai is one of the top places to see in China and is an amazing city to explore even if for just a few hours. If you have been to Shanghai and recommend any places to visit during a short layover leave a comment below.

 

By Tej Parikh

Tej is an international affairs and travel journalist. His work is archived at The Global Prism. He tweets @tejparikh90 and @theglobalprism.