This, the largest city in China, is truly an international city. Anyone who visited it just twenty years ago would be unlikely to recognize it now. It is a mixture of all that the modern world has to offer, combined with hundreds of years of history.
The city is serviced by two airports but for international travelers, the likelihood is that you will arrive at Pudong International Airport which lies 19 miles east of Shanghai. It is a major hub for East Asian destinations and so the likelihood of having to do at least a short Shanghai Airport layover is quite high. Instead of seeing this as a disadvantage, you should see this as an opportunity to explore a new city.
Whether on a short or long layover, you will get the most out of your visit if your drop your suitcases at a Shanghai luggage storage service and travel light. Nineteen miles to Shanghai might seem a long journey for such a short stopover, but the connection on the Shanghai Maglev Train travels at up to 267 miles per hour, so you can be there in eight minutes.
6 hour Shanghai layover
If you have a short layover the first thing you are going to do is to store your bags at a convenient Shanghai luggage storage service so that you are free to enjoy your visit to the utmost. By the time you collect your bags and pass through customs you aren't going to have long to play with so, you will need to carefully target your visit.
One option would be to take a walk through the Bund waterfront district. This popular promenade will take you back in time to the colonial era and that architecture which dominates the region. Known as Waitan by the Chinese, the walk along the Huangpu River is popular with both locals and tourists.
In the early morning, this is a popular place for the Chinese to practice their exercise routines and in the evening, you can get great sunset views of the Waibaidu Bridge. Two popular activities here are a ride on the Bund sightseeing train and cruises along the river.
The sightseeing train only takes a few minutes and cruises run from thirty minutes to three and a half hours, so you could squeeze in both with a little careful planning.
- Your short connection means you won’t be able to do everything. Be selective and realistic.
- Even with only a few hours to spare, your layover can become an interesting adventure.
- The Bund district is small enough to cover during a short Shanghai layover.
10 hour layover in Shanghai
With ten hours on your hands, your Shanghai layover suddenly becomes less hurried and you will be able to think about including another adventure or two. The Shanghai Museum is one that you shouldn't miss. Located on the People's Square, this gigantic circular building standing on a square plinth is easy to spot so you will have no trouble finding it. With over a million items on exhibit, there is going to be plenty to keep you occupied. You could easily spend two to three hours here.
After a visit to the museum, chances are good that you are going to want to find an activity that doesn’t involve being on your feet. Why not opt for a slap-up meal? You won't need to go far because there are a number of fabulous restaurants on People's Square catering to just about every budget.
If you think you know Chinese food because you have dined in Chinese restaurants abroad, you might be in for a few surprises. The Shanghainese are known for their passion for sugar and this influence soon becomes apparent in many of their dishes. Beggars chicken, smoked fish slices and soup dumplings are some of the dishes you should consider.
- If you have a sensitive stomach, you may want your meal to be a light one bearing in mind the up-and-coming flight.
- The museum highlights are in both English and Chinese so you will have no trouble understanding what you are seeing.
12 hour layover in Shanghai
With twelve hours to explore you can be a little more daring about how much you visit. This city is filled with tempting options so you will still need to be selective, but at least now you can consider two or three sites and perhaps a restaurant.
Covering five acres, the Yuyuan Gardens are one of the most cherished outdoor spaces in Shanghai. Originally intended to be the private gardens of a Ming-dynasty official, these gardens took more than twenty years to construct and are a dazzling testimony to both Chinese design and their horticultural skills. They contain thirty handcrafted pavilions and numerous water features.
The Longhua Temple dates back to the 10th century and at seven stories high will be easy to spot. Its five halls are cram-packed with statues and in the bell and drum tower, there is a 14 000-pound bell to marvel at. If you are lucky enough to visit in the spring you will also be treated to a fabulous display of peach blossom.
- 12 hours means you can take in a few more sites.
- If you are even vaguely keen on gardening then the Yuyuan Garden is a must.
- If visiting Longhua Temple, there are fewer crowds during the week.
24 hour layover in Shanghai
With an overnight layover, a new range of possibilities becomes available. Be careful to choose your hotel on a long layover to allow easy access to both the sites you wish to visit and the airport.
Zhujiajiao Water Town is included among the top 100 places to visit in China. Built 1700 years ago, this town is dissected by numerous rivers and contains 36 stone bridges. Situated 29 miles from downtown Shanghai, it can be reached on foot from Zhujiajiao Station on Line 17 of the Shanghai Metro system. The best way to explore it, however, is on a boat tour.
Boat tours are readily available and can last from half a day to a full day. You will find fascinating narrow streets, spice and rice shops and hidden cafes. While in the town, consider stopping for a meal as the local cuisine is quite distinct and includes green soybeans and lotus roots.
- Choose your accommodation according to the sites you are visiting and your return to the airport.
- You could cram in a couple more sites on this longer visit or take your time over just one or two.
- Allow for the fact that local tourism increases dramatically if you visit near Chinese New Year.