3 Days in Shanghai – A Pocket Guide

72 Hours in Shanghai – Things to do in Shanghai

3 days in Shanghai? The sheer size of Shanghai is huge, where do I even begin?

Shanghai and London - World's Apart
Shanghai and London – World’s Apart

There are endless mind-blowing facts regarding China’s biggest city, so where do you even begin when you first arrive?

If you are here for weeks or even better, months, then great. Time is on your side and you can take it at a slower pace.

We aren’t all that lucky though. A large percentage of travellers will be limited to 3 days in Shanghai.

Thankfully, we’ve prepared for such instances with a handy list which has something for everyone.

We won’t fill you in on the obvious. Every man and his dog will have read about the Bund or the Pearl Tower when researching coming to Shanghai.

This list, alongside some of the things you may have heard about, aims to give an eclectic mix of touristy and non touristy things to do in Shanghai.

So without further ado…

Visit the Propaganda Poster Art Centre

Eat a Crepe at La Creperie

Visit Jing’an Temple

Eat Xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung

Head to Qibao

Eat 锅盔 at Yuyuan

Visit Shanghai Circus World (Don’t Miss)

Local Food at Huanghe Road 黄河路

Drinks at Sober Bar

BONUS – Visit Guyi Garden

3 Days in Shanghai – Visit the Propaganda Poster Art Centre

Some people see the word Museum and instantly switch off, BUT WAIT!

This place is a fascinating visit for more reasons than one and is an attraction not widely spoken of when coming to Shanghai.

First and foremost it is NOT EASY to find (unless you know how).

You don’t just stumble across the Propaganda Poster Art Centre by accident, as the museum is based at basement level of a typical block of apartments, tucked away!

Unsurprisingly, no photos were allowed inside but we got two to help you out, both entrances to give you an idea of how to get there, the rest we’ll let your imagination run wild.

The posters and art themselves are a fascinating insight into Chinese history.

NOTE – The Propaganda Poster Art Centre is located between a number of Subway Stops. We highly recommend getting off at Changshu Road 常熟路站 Metro Stop EXIT 8 and walking down Anfu Road 安福路 on the way. There are a lot of delightful places to grab some food, a coffee or do some light shopping in what is a typical kind of street in Shanghai and what the city has become famed for.

3 Days in Shanghai – Eat a Crepe at La Creperie

La Creperie Shanghai - Great for a quick fire Pancake and a Coffee
La Creperie Shanghai – Great for a quick fire Pancake and a Coffee

On the face of it, Shanghai provides more worldwide eateries than any other city in China.

This is hardly surprising given the diverse nature of the population in Shanghai. That said, the size of Shanghai means that time gets eaten up quickly and if you only have 72 hours, you need to be fast in choosing where to go.

La Creperie is a fantastic spot to grab a classic French style Pancake and the choice of toppings are endless.

Sweet or savoury, they’ve got it. Ice Cream or Whipped Cream, they’ve got it. Fruit or Chocolate (or both), they’ve got it.

The mouth waters at the thought of them. The setting is relaxed and the locations are two-fold in Shanghai. The one we visited was here:

Address: 1 Taojiang Rd, Xuhui Qu

3 Days in Shanghai – Visit Jing’an Temple

Jing'an Temple - 3 Days in Shanghai
Jing’an Temple – 72 Hours in Shanghai

Certainly filed in the more obvious category of things to do in Shanghai but that’s because it absolutely should be. Jing’an Temple is unique and it’s well worth your time.

Located right in the heart of the city and surrounded by skyscrapers whenever you look up, this is a place to escape the fast-paced Shanghai life-style.

DID YOU KNOW – Jing’an Temple has a history dating back over 750 years.

Everywhere you look, gold. It’s a thing of beauty inside a giant metropolis.

In 1972 Jing’an Temple sadly was left in tatters, it wasn’t until 1990 that the temple’s reconstruction was complete and it stands high and proud today.

Entry Fee – 50CNY or 100CNY (from the 1st to 15th days in the first lunar month). If you wish to buy incense, this costs  an additional 2CNY

Opening Hours – Jing’an Temple opens as early as 7.30am and closes to the public at 5pm

3 Days in Shanghai – Eat Xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Feng Shanghai - Eat Xiaolongbao in Shanghai
Din Tai Fung Shanghai – Eat Xiaolongbao in Shanghai

Shanghai is known for its dumplings, a huge variety of them at that.

If there is one snack that is synonymous with Shanghainese cuisine it’s Xiao long bao 小笼包.

Going to Shanghai and eating 小笼包 is like going to New York and strolling through Central Park, or going to Rome and visiting the Colosseum, you just have to do it!

Din Tai Fung is one of the more famous restaurants in Shanghai and the pricing is still relatively reasonable given the fact the city is at the higher end of the scale in China.

There is a huge variety of different Xiao Long Baos to get stuck into. Meat, Veggie, Fish, Spicy, Truffle… it’s all there, served in true Chinese style.

TIP – When eating the Xiao Long Bao be sure to hold the Xiaolongbao in a spoon. That way you don’t waste all the delicious soup inside the dumpling.

3 Days in Shanghai – Head to Qibao

Based 18km from the centre of Shanghai, yet still on this Shanghai Metro, Qibao is well worth spending an afternoon of your time in.

Qibao is tidy way to spend a relaxing afternoon, but what you probably didn’t know is that inside the water town is a “Wangfujing” like snack street with all kinds of bizarre looking foods to try.

Visit the Qibao Temple for a more tranquil escape, and then hit snack street with what is certainly a more eye opening experience whether it be relating to the large crowds (yes, avoid weekends if you can), or the food on offer!

LOCATION – Leave Exit 2 on LINE 9 of the Metro and take a short walk before reaching the entrance gate for Qibao Water Town.

3 Days in Shanghai – Eat 锅盔 at Yuyuan

锅盔 - A great Shanghai Snack
锅盔 – A great Shanghai Snack

A must try snack in Shanghai

So Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai isn’t exactly a secret. In fact it’s one of the most popular and busy tourist areas you’ll visit in the city, but tucked inside this attraction is a snack you absolutely must get your hands on.

锅盔 is Guo Kuai which is a kind of Chinese pancake, but personally I think a flat bread is a better way of describing the treat myself.

Inside the snack is a thin layer of meat which produces a fantastic flavour.

Vegetarians do not fear, there are two options and the second is meat free so everyone can enjoy this great snack located down one of the small alleyways inside of Yuyuan.

After munching on this snack you can head inside the calm, peaceful Garden which, despite being inside such a busy and touristy destination, is as tranquil as the name suggests and costs just a few USD to enter.

3 Days in Shanghai – Visit Shanghai Circus World (Don’t Miss)

This is hugely underrated – honestly, it’s hard to emphasise how good this show was.

This isn’t your standard circus act, this is China’s most flexible and talented acrobats doing things with their body and various objects that you don’t quite think is possible with a thrilling finale.

Shanghai Circus World
Shanghai Circus World

Prepare to watch through your fingers as the wonderful team push themselves to the limit.

It’s a truly remarkable 90 minutes split into 2 x 45 minute shows.

Without wanting to give too much away the variety of acts is mixed from slight Chinese girls bending into all kinds of positions, to men on motorbikes and trampolines.

Just go, you really won’t regret it.

TIP – The circus has its own metro stop on Line 1 of the Shanghai Metro which is about a 5 minute walk from the station.

TICKETS – they range from 180CNY and go up in 100CNY increments depending on how central you wish to be. We went for the 280CNY tickets and honestly, I see no need to splash out the full price (580CNY) for a central seat because you see everything you need to from the corner.

To purchase the tickets you can either do this online (you’ll need some Chinese handy to help you) or just go to the ticket office. The show is frequent and about 50% capacity when we went so there should be no problem for seats unless you choose a particularly busy day.

3 Days in Shanghai – Local Food at Huanghe Road 黄河路

Shanghai dumplings - Sheng Jian Bao
Shanghai dumplings – Sheng Jian Bao

Huanghe Road links People’s Square 人民广场 and Xinzha Road 新闸路 Metro stations so access to Huanghe Road 黄河路 is nice and easy from a couple of different routes.

Famed for it’s local street food you can try a number of great street snacks down here,  including pancakes and dumplings of all different varieties.

We particularly enjoyed a visit to Yang’s Dumplings where they do some exquisite 生煎包 (as pictured). The soup inside is just divine!

There are also a number of other great options which include the famous 煎饼 (Jian Bing) amongst many other firm favourites.

Either eat on the street or go inside and grab a seat, whatever pleases.

Either way, you are going to be sampling some of the finest street food in all of Shanghai here.

Want to know about Street Food in Taiwan also? Great…

3 Days in Shanghai – Drinks at Sober Bar

There are so many nice spots for a drink and a bite to eat in Shanghai it doesn’t seem fair to just mention one.

That said, you’ll probably come across the same names more often than not. One name you probably won’t hear much though, is the rather ironically named sober bar.

Slightly more upscale with proper “capital city” prices, but with quality to show for it. The cafe downstairs opens doors early and then the restaurant and bar upstairs prepare for the influx of 下班-er’s (people who just finished work)!

IMPORTANT – Opening Times 

Cafe – 10am

Restaurant – 5pm

Upstairs Bar – 7pm

3 Days in Shanghai – BONUS: Visit Guyi Garden

OK, so we might be pushing it for the 3 days in Shanghai, but the city is so big, what do you expect!

Guyi Garden is located in the town of Nanxiang in the suburban Jiading District so takes a bit of time to get to.

GETTING THERE – We advise taking the Metro. Take LINE 11 and get off at Nanxiang Station. Head to Exit 1 and walk west for around 1 kilometre.

Rather than feed you more text, we’ll let our friend Tina take you on a guided tour of these beautifully tranquil and relaxed gardens.

Conclusion – 3 Days in Shanghai

Yuyuan Garden Shanghai
Yuyuan Garden Shanghai

So you have three days or 72 hours in Shanghai, here’s how you should play it:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Got more time? Head to Guyi Garden.

Want to see more of Shanghai at night? Check out these suggestions.

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    Johan Brandal, Student Advisor

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