How to Plan A Perfect Shanghai Itinerary for 1 to 4 Days 2023/2024
Shanghai, located in China’s east coast, stands out across China as the most developed and populous city. It is wildly recognized as the most outward-looking and fashion-conscious city in China. Flourishing economy has created amazing modern skyline and loads of iconic advanced attractions in Shanghai that photographers always love to capture. But, the biggest and most world-known charm is the perfect blend of the West and East in this “Paris of the East”. Western-style historical architectures face modern skyscrapers across the Huangpu River; Chinese traditional lifestyle meets chic coffee culture; local snacks and haute Michelin-starred restaurants coexists. Shanghai makes miracles every day and awaits all friends to discover its diversity, superior vigor and uncommon leisure.
For years, Shanghai has been a major gateway city to China and the starting point for a longer China holiday. How to make a well-organized itinerary in Shanghai and from Shanghai? What’s the best transport to get to Shanghai and around? How many days for Shanghai? What’s the must-visit? When is the best time for a visit? Travelling indeed involves lots of details to settle down. China Discovery here specially listed the most useful Shanghai Trip Planner to help you make a wonderful China Shanghai tour 2023/2024 efficiently !
Shanghai Weather & Best Time to Go
Shanghai enjoys a subtropical monsoon climate with four distinct seasons, rich sunshine and rainfall. The annual average temperature in Shanghai is around 15 ~ 17℃. You can visit Shanghai all year round, and the warm spring and cool autumn are the two best times for they have comfort temperatures, more sunny days and pleasant natural sights.
Spring (March to May): Weather is changeable in early spring. But temperature rises significantly from March, soon gets to a very pleasantly warm level. City parks then starts beautiful flower blossom and large areas of green shoots. This period is a peak travel season for Shanghai.
Summer (June to September): During summer, Shanghai is hot, moist and slightly affected typhoon. July is the hottest month of the year when the daytime temperature goes above 30℃. There are lots of rains between June and August, more than 60% of the city’s total annual amount. Most are thundershowers. Indoor attractions can be visited as normal, but outdoor activities during the day is unfavorable. Better prepare sunscreen, umbrella and other protective items.
Autumn (October to November): The cool autumn is another golden season to visit Shanghai, because the temperature is moderate and refreshing, golden trees and fallen leaves decorate the city unusually picturesque. The air is quite dry, so please drink lots of water and do enough moisturizing work. Better avoid the pressing crowds during China’s National Day (from October first and last one week usually).
Winter (December to February): From December, Shanghai’s temperature drops sharply to a few degrees only. It’s cold, but not severe cold as the cities in northern China, dim and humid with little rainfall. Sometimes it snows in the coldest months, January and February. Please wear your hat, scarf, gloves and thick clothes to keep warm.
▶ Check more about Shanghai Weather & Climate, recommended dressing and things to do.
How to Get to Shanghai
Based on your location, personal preference and travel schedule, you can get to Shanghai by flight, train and cruise easily. Hardly any tourists choose to get to Shanghai by bus.
Flights to Shanghai
There are two airports serving tourists to Shanghai: Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, 20 km of the city center and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), 45 km away from the downtown, Pudong Airport handles more international flights while Hongqiao International Airport operates great many domestic flights. Travelers abroad can fly to Shanghai from cities in Asia (Singapore, Bankok, Seoul, New Delhi, Dubai...), Oceania (Sydney, Melbourne...), Europe (London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam...), America (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago...) and other connected countries or regions. In China, you can take a flight to Shanghai within several hours from Beijing, Xian, Guangzhou, Guilin, Chengdu, Kunming, Lijiang, Qingdao, Sanya and major Chinese cities.
Check more available air lines and useful airport transfer guide of Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.
(High Speed Bullet) Trains to Shanghai
Shanghai is a busy national rail transportation hub, extend its excellent railway network with all major destinations in China, especially in the Yangtze River Delta region. It receives and departs around 1,000 trains daily. The north-south Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway, east-west Shanghai-Kunming High Speed Railway and other high speed rails offer great convenience for arriving in Shanghai and get around. If you take a high speed bullet train to Shanghai from Beijing, it takes about 4.5 ~ 6 hours, around 6 ~ 9 hours from Xian, 7 ~ 8.5 hours from Guangzhou, 5.5 ~ 6.5 hours from Xiamen, 6.5 ~ 8 hours from Yichang, and only 30 minutes from Suzhou, 1 hour from Hangzhou, 2.5 ~ 3.5 hours from Huangshan, etc. Some cities have normal trains, overnight trains if at long distance to Shanghai, but are less chosen.
Among the 4 train stations in Shanghai, Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station about 20 km of the city runs the vast majority high speed bullet trains and Shanghai Railway Station which lies merely 5 km of the Bund is the terminal for all normal trains and part of the high speed trains.
▶ High Speed Bullet Trains to/off Shanghai
▶ Shanghai Train Stations - Location, Transportation & Major Train Routes
Cruises to Shanghai
Shanghai, located at the confluence of the Yangtze River, Grand Canal and East China Sea, can also be reached by international cruise from Japan, South Korea and other coastal countries, and by Yangtze River Cruise from upstream cities like Chongqing, Wuhan.
Read Shanghai Cruise Terminal Transportation to transfer from the port to Shanghai city.
How to Get Around Shanghai
Shanghai has built a very complete and convenient public transit system for moving around.
●By Maglev Train: Shanghai Maglev Train, with a top speed of 431 km/h, is the word’s first commercial Maglev Train and the fastest one that you can only experience in Shanghai. It runs between Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road in the southeast suburb, cuts down the 30-km journey to 8 minutes.
●By Metro: There are 20 metro lines in operation. It’s fast and convenient without worrying about the traffic jam. Taking the Shanghai Metro, you can get to Shanghai’s airports, railway stations and major attractions. The most frequently used Metro Line 2 goes to Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, Hongqiao International Airport, People’s Square, Lujiazui, Longyang Road Subway Station. Line 1 can take you to People’s Square, Shanghai Railway Station, Shanghai Circus World. Metro Line 10 goes to Yu Garden, Xintiandi, Hongqiao Airport & Hongqiao Railway Station, and Line 11 has stops in Shanghai Disney Resort, Line 17 gets to Zhujiajiao Water Town directly.
●By Taxi: Getting around Shanghai by a taxi is convenient, especially when you carry lots of baggage. You can call a taxi on the street or use online car-hailing service.
●By Bus: The city bus is the main transportation vehicle for the locals. It connects all districts of Shanghai. Time-consuming and the huge crowds make it inconvenient for travelers.
Recommended Shanghai City Tours:
☛ 2 Days Classic Shanghai City Tour
Top Attractions & Things to To in Shanghai
You will never feel bored when visiting the great metropolis of Shanghai, for the city displays various fascination through different kinds of tourist attractions and featured activities. In Shanghai, you can view modern skyscrapers, classical Chinese garden, ancient temples, Western-style architecture, local traditional residences, interesting themed museums, enjoy family-friendly sites, and spend wonderful nightlife to explore the old & new, the West & East styles of Shanghai.
1.Lujiazui Skyscrapers - Marvel at Amazing Modern Skyline
The rising edifices, particularly the four iconic skyscrapers, Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center and Jinmao Tower in Lujiazui are the most highlighting and eye-catching sights in Shanghai. The skyline is a proud showcase of Shanghai’s booming economy, high technology and persistent endeavor. Surely, all travelers will be amazed by these structures of super height and take many photos to memorize the stunning modern trip. Except watching from the Bund, you can get up to the supertall building, enjoy a panoramic view of Shanghai city from large window glass and walkway, and even try a thrilling skywalk in the air.
2.The Bund & Former French Concession - Explore Perfect Blend of the West and East
The wonderful mixture of the Western and Oriental features of Shanghai is another charm appealing to numerous visitors. The Bund, stretching along the west bank of the Huangpu River, is the top 1 place to visit on Shanghai bucket list. 52 well-preserved European-style historical buildings line the waterfront, bringing you back to the early 20th century of Shanghai. You can enjoy a less-crowded morning walking, see local play exercises or have a daytime, night stroll here. Former French Concession is another popular site to feel the cultural fusion. Delicate foreign mansions, departments, villas have been kept in original characters. Roaming around the tree-lined avenues, you can see many lovely cafés, restaurants and shops.
3.Yu Garden - Appreciate Chinese Classic Garden and Beauty
Yu Garden, or called Yuyuan, located next to the City God Temple in Shanghai old town, is one of the most popular historical site in Shanghai. The garden is over 400-year-old and wildly deemed as a miniature of Suzhou classical gardens. Visiting Yu Garden, you can see a large scale of ancient style architectures laid harmoniously, the halls, towers, pavilions, corridors, bridges, ponds, rockeries, delicate carvings all have been lightened up by each other. The Yuyuan Bazaar is a busy market for local snacks and interesting souvenirs. Don’t miss the gorgeous Lantern Show held during Chinese New Year.
4.Shanghai Museum - Admire Splendid Chinese Culture & History
Shanghai Museum situated at the People’s Square is one of China’s best museums, which mainly focus on the ancient Chinese art. It owns a rich collection of about 100,000 cultural relics. You can trace back to old China, closely feel the remarkable ancient Chinese wisdom, skills and aesthetic while seeing various time-honored artifacts. The bronzes, ceramics, calligraphy and paintings are most terrific exhibitions in Shanghai Museum. And Da Ke Ding, a food bronze vessel with a long history of nearly 3,000 is the treasure you should visit and know more. You can see ancient seals, coins, jades, sculptures, furniture as well. No admission is charged as long as you make reservation ahead and present valid identification.
5.Tianzifang & Xintiandi - Spend a Leisure Time among Traditional Houses
Tianzifang and Xintiandi are popular tourist attractions to shop, eat and relax. They are both remoulded local traditional blocks developing modern commercial vitality on the traditional Shikumen residences. Tianzifang is filled with lots of small bars and shops of gifts and snacks. In the narrow lanes. It’s a great fun to wander through the maze-like area to find lovely handicrafts. Some locals still live here. Xintiandi is the first and most successful open-air mall of it kind in China. You can walk along boulevards, spend a leisure outdoor drinking and dining, see many upscale shops and restaurants in the featured renovated Shikumen buildings.
6.Shanghai Disney Resort - Enjoy Happy Fairyland Adventure
As the largest Disney park in Asia, Shanghai Disney Resort is a wonderful place to create happy travel memories for family travelers. It has more than classic Disney entertainments but also exclusive Chinese characters. People often make a Disneyland day tour to adventure the main highlights. In the 7 theme lands, you can meet famous & hospitable Disney figures in reality, take photos with your favorite one, take thrilling rides, break into Disney fairyland, watch live dream-like Disney performance, beautiful castle and firework shows, etc.
7.Ancient Towns & Temples, Maglev Train, Huangpu River Cruise - Discover the Diversity of Shanghai
The Old Shanghai can be founded in the downtown area too. Ancient Temples, like Jade Buddha Temple, Jing’an Temple, Longhua Temple are top sites to view attractive temple buildings, flying eaves, intricately decorated roof and ceilings and away from the city clamor. Zhuajiajiao Water Town in the west outskirt is rated as the “Venice of Shanghai”. With a long history of over 1,700 years, it preserves original residential buildings, waterway transport and s a slower lifestyle. Don’t miss the interesting boat trip. Want to encounter the modern and shinning faces of Shanghai? You can take the Shanghai Maglev Train, feel the highest train speed (431 km/h) in the world, and embark on a Huangpu River Cruise at night, watching fancy high-rise and striking contrast on the banks.
How to Plan the Best Shanghai Itinerary for 1 to 4 Days
You can plan a Shanghai tour in 1 to 4 days depending on your holiday time and personal interests. Usually, travelers spend 2 days on discovering the top landmarks and must-visits of Shanghai. A day tour with main highlights is doable for transit travelers with limited time. If time allows, you can also extend city sightseeing to the suburb area. Lots of tourists like to make day trip or weekend trips from Shanghai to Suzhou, Hangzhouand other destinations in the Yangtze River Delta. Check the following top recommended Shanghai itineraries from 1 to 4 days to get inspired for your Shanghai trip planner.
Shanghai 1 Day Itinerary
|Travel Plan||Features||Itinerary||Recommended Tour|
|Plan A||City Highlights||The Bund + Yu Garden + Shanghai Tower||Contact Us to Customize|
|Plan B||City Contrast||The Bund+ Former French Concession+Tianzifang,+Nanjing|
|Plan C||Disneyland Family Tour||Shanghai Disney Resort|
(Note: The above recommended itinerary does not include the day for arrival and departure. You can read Shanghai Day Trip Ideas to find more itinerary planning advice.)
Shanghai 2 Days Itinerary
|Classic Sights & Most Time-Efficient||Day 1: Yu Garden + Nanjing Road + The Bund + Shanghai World Financial Center
Day 2: Shanghai Museum + Tianzifang + Former French Concession
|2 Days Classic Shanghai City Tour|
(Note: The above recommended itinerary does not include the day for arrival and departure. Please contact us to help you plan your Shanghai itinerary.)
Shanghai 3 Days Itinerary
|Travel Plan||Features||Itinerary||Recommended Tour|
|Plan A||Best Essence + Leisure Pace||Day 1: Shanghai Arrival
Day 2: Shanghai Museum + Yu Garden + Shanghai World Financial Center + Nanjing Road+The Bund
Day 3: Jade Buhha Temple + Tianzifang
|3 Days Shanghai Past and Present Contrast Tour|
|Plan B||Shanghai Highlights + Water Town||Day 1: Shanghai Arrival
Day 2: Shanghai Museum + Tianzifang + Shanghai World Financial Center + Najing Road + The Bund
Day 3: Zhujiajiao Water Town
|3 Days Shanghai Highlights Tour Water Town Visit|
|Plan C||Top Landmarks &Family-friendly Activities||Day 1: Shanghai Arrival
Day 2: Shanghai Biking + Oriental Pearl Tower + Nanjing Road+The Bund
Day 3: Yu Garden + Shanghai Zotter Chocolate Factory
|3 Days Best Shanghai Family Holiday Tour|
|Plan D||Downtown Sightseeing + Customized Shanghai Biking||Day 1: Shanghai Arrival
Day 2: Shanghai Museum + Tianzifang + Shanghai World Financial Center+Nanjing Road + The Bund
Day 3: Half-day Biking in Xintiandi, Tianzifang, Former French Concession (can be customized)
|3 Days Best Shanghai Tour with Half-day Biking|
(Note: The above recommended itineraries include the day for arrival and departure. Please contact us to help you plan your Shanghai itinerary.)
Shanghai 4 Days Itinerary
|Travel Plan||Features||Itinerary||Recommended Tour|
|Plan A||Popular Sites + Disney Day Adventure||Day 1: Shanghai Arrival
Day 2: Shanghai Museum + Tianzifang + Shanghai World Financial Center + Nanjing Road + The Bund
Day 3: Shanghai Disney Day Tour (Private Transfer)
Day 4: Zhujiajiao Water Town
|4 Days Shanghai Magic Tour with Disneyland Park|
|Plan B||Shanghai City Tour + Suzhou Day Trip||Day 1: Shanghai Arrival
Day 2: Shanghai Museum + Tianzifang + Shanghai World Financial Center + Nanjing Road+The Bund
Day 3: Zhouzhuang Water Town + Lingerging Garden + Suzhou No.1 Silk Factory
Day 4: Former French Concession + Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center
|4 Days Shanghai In-depth Tour with Sidetrip to Suzhou|
(Note: The above recommended itineraries include the day for arrival and departure. Please contact us to work out a Shanghai itinerary.)
Travel beyond Shanghai
To Suzhou, Hangzhou, Huangshan Mountain & Other Cities Nearby
Shanghai nearby lies many great places for you to get far away from the city crowds, appreciate pretty nature and terrific ancient Chinese legacies. Suzhou, Hangzhou and Huangshan Mountain are the most recommended destinations all with unparalleled World Heritage sites. Taking 1 to 2 days, you can visit the most poetic, elegant classical gardens in Suzhou together with a tranquil water town and interesting Chinese silk-making in a Silk factory. For a Hangzhou tour, you need at least 2 days to cover the best natural and cultural highlights, including the scenic West Lake, historical Lingyin Temple, Hefang Ancient Street and visits of a local tea plantation, Grand Canal, etc. Covering the essence of Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou in 5 days in quiet classic. Making a Huangshan Mountain hiking trip requires 2 days and more to see the magnificent peaks and breathtaking natural wonders in the Back and Front Mountain. With another 1 to 2 days, you can visit Hongcun, or Xidi Ancient Villages, or other peaceful ancient villages down the mountain. Meanwhile, you can conveniently travel from Shanghai to Nanjing, Wuxi, Ningbo, Mount Jiuhua, Wuyuan, Mount Putuo and other destinations in adjacent provinces.
Recommended Tour Packages:
☛ 5 Days Shanghai Hangzhou Suzhou Highlights Tour
☛ 5 Days Shanghai Huangshan Tour by High Speed Train
☛ 9 Days East China & Huangshan Mountain Tour by High Speed Train
To Other Top Destinations in China
Beyond destinations of neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang in the Yangtze River Delta, you have many more excellent options to extend travel from Shanghai, as long as time permits. We highly suggest you travel Shanghai with Beijing where you can hike a Great Wall, visit Forbidden City, Beijing Hutongs and many imperial sites, and Xian - the home to Terracotta Warriors, where you can visit Ancient City Wall, taste local flavors in Muslim Quarter, view massive ancient cultural treasures and feel the prosperous Han and Tang Dynasty. 8 days is enough to pack the three “Golden Triangle Cities”. Besides, you can visit Guilin to take a Li River Cruise, capture unusual Karst landscape and idyllic countryside scenery, break into wizardly Avatar world in Zhangjiajie, meet the cute Giant Pandas in Chengdu, enjoy a relaxing Yangtze River Cruise tour, go farther to Yunnan, Silk Road, etc.
Recommended Tour Packages:
☛ 8 Days Best Shanghai Xian & Beijing Tour
☛ 10 Days Classic China Tour from Shanghai (Shanghai/Guilin/Yangshuo/Xian/Beijing)
Where to Stay in Shanghai
As China’s most populous city and a hot international destination, Shanghai has a large range of accommodation choices, from luxury brands, stylish boutiques to medium-price, cheap hotels. You can book a hotel of different stars, or different areas based on your budget and hobby. Note that Shanghai’s hotel rates are higher than other cities in China. The best place to stay in Shanghai is in the downtown, especially the hotels near the Bund, People’s Square. They have good locations and convenient to major attractions, dining and shopping area. Lodging in the Former French Concession, you can find cool hotels and upmarket nightlife. Meanwhile, you can accommodate in the old town of Shanghai, such as hotels near Yu Garden. Staying in Pudong, you can see iconic skyscrapers. For short layover or transfer convenience, you can easily find hotels near the airport and train stations.
Helpdul Link: Best Places to Stay in Shanghai & Top Recommended Shanghai Hotels
Shanghai 144 hour Visa-Free Transit
Shanghai has implemented the 144 Hours Visa-Free Transit Policy from January 2016. Qualified foreign visitors thus can enjoy Chinese Transit Visa Exemption and make layover tour in Shanghai and Jiangsu, Zhejiang for 144 hours at most. If you hold a valid passport (wit h a validity of at least 3 months) from appointed 53 countries and a flight/cruise/train ticket to a third country (or region) with confirmed seat and departure date within 144 hours, then you’re allowed to apply for the Visa-Free Transit at the port of entry in Shanghai. After enter through Shanghai Pudong International Airport, or Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal or other permitted ports, you can visit Shanghai, and Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing and any other cities in Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces.
Click Shanghai 144 Hour Visa-Free Transit to know more requirements, application guide, tour itinerary planning suggestions for Shanghai layover tour.
Travel Shanghai with China Discovery
China Discovery is an experienced, professional and reliable travel companion devoted to offering high-quality and the best tour services for all travelers to China. In order to have a hassle-free travel and focus on the trip itself, it’s highly recommended to travel with China Discovery. So, you can enjoy convenient airport pick-up and drop-off service and transportation to all scenic spots in a safe, clean, comfortable, air-conditioned and non-smoking vehicle. Also, we will arrange knowledgeable local English-speaking tour guide, excellent accommodation and dining arrangements to ensure you rest well and get better understanding of highlights in Shanghai and other destinations. The tour can be tailor-made according to your interests, time, group size, budget and every special need. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us to customize your China Shanghai tour!
Get Inspired by Real Travel Stories of Our Customers
Since 2012, we China Discovery have helped numerous customers to visit Shanghai and the surroundings. With our fully-inclusive private tour packages, all of our customers enjoyed their trips to the Bund, Yu Garden, Former French Concession, etc. Some of them kindly shared their precious travel photos and stories about their Shanghai journey, just get inspired now.
"Shanghai visit included two days at the Disney resort. Magic experience with my wife and 19 year old son…" - shared on Tripadvisor by our family travelers.
"Amazing China Tour to Xiamen, Dong Ethnic area, Yangshuo, Guilin, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Shanghai tour…" - shared by Lawson family from UK (Read their entire travel story: Returning Hometown Trip of Adoptive Family for Regainning Confidence of Their Ethnic Dong Girl.)
Besides the wonderful travel stories, many customers who visited Shanghai with China Discovery also sent us their first-hand feedbacks about their trip, feel free to read the Shanghai Reviews and learn what they say about their travel experience. If you want to start your Shanghai tour now, don't hesitate to contact us.
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Shanghai Travel Guide
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Recommended Shanghai Tours
Top 3 Shanghai tours chosen by most customers to explore Shanghai in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once inquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.Customize a Trip
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