Travel guide: Shanghai

Shanghai's best neighbourhoods, shopping, restaurants and more

The clichés are true: Shanghai's a vibrant city that offers a mix of traditional Chinese and ultra-modern lifestyles. If you're thinking about visiting, but don't know where to start, we've got the answer to your prayers.

We asked the team at Time Out Shanghai to share the best of their 'hood. Read on for the hottest neighbourhoods, the best shops, bars and restaurants, what to see and where to explore and much more.

Hottest neighbourhoods


Much of northern Xuhui is dominated by the kind of pleasant, tree-lined streets and european-style villa houses that the words ‘Former French concession’ bring to mind, not to mention many of the best bars and restaurants in the city.

Xuhui Riverside

As the name suggests, this area is also technically part of Xuhui, but it’s a fair way south of the Former French concession streets and it feels it. The area is dominated by former industrial architecture converted into some of the best art museums in town – the Long Museum, the Shanghai centre of Photography and the aircraft hangar-housed

Yuz Museum are all here and worth a visit, as are the pleasant waterside walkways.


Dong Liang Studio


With a focus on showcasing emerging design talents from across china, this boutique is beautifully presented in an old lane house.

184 Fumin Lu, Jingan district (+86 21 3469 6926).

Lolo Love Vintage


Surrounded by a pleasant courtyard, this little cubbyhole is a brilliantly quirky space dedicated to all things vintage, with items ranging from antique chandeliers to womenswear.

2 Yongfu Lu, Xuhui district (+86 21 6433 1789).


Jia Jia Tangbao


Shanghainese will argue bitterly over who serves the best xiaolongbao and tangbao (traditional soup-filled dumplings) in town, but you can’t go wrong at Jia Jia Tangbao – as evidenced by lengthy queues out the door. If you’re willing to splash out for dumplings, try their legendary crab meat and roe ones that sell for 99RMB for a dozen. 90 Huanghe Lu, Huangpu district (+86 21 6327 6878).

Friday Uighur Market

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If you can’t make it to Kashgar for the Xinjiang capital’s renowned Sunday bazaar, this mini version is well worth a look. Taking place around Friday prayers beside one of the city’s largest mosques, this market sees a series of stalls set up in the street with seasonal fruits, tasty fresh breads and, of course, lots of roast lamb.

1328 Changde Lu, Putuo district.




Bund-side newcomer Shen boasts the same spectacular views of Shanghai’s skyscrapers as many of its neighbours, but stands out for its relatively reasonable pricing, creative cocktails and chilled atmosphere.

Seventh Floor, 7 Yanan Dong Lu, Huangpu district (+86 21 6316 9119).



Hidden down a traditional lane, Starling offers some creative, largely savoury cocktails in an interior that features nods to Singapore’s Raffles, but with a laidback vibe.

Zhong Plaza, 99 Taixing Lu, Jingan district (+86 21 6217 0189).

See and explore

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Lujiazui’s skyscrapers

A trip to the top of one of Lujiazui’s enormous skyscrapers is worth it for the views. If you want to skip the observatory entrance fees, head to the bars at the top of Jin Mao or SWFC instead.

Disappearing old Shanghai

In the past 20 years, the destruction of Shanghai’s old lanehouses has been relentless, but there are still some beautiful ones that have been spared the bulldozers, for now. You’ll find a clutch near People’s Square that are

worth exploring.

Hidden gems

Speak low


The small Fuxing Lu speakeasy has quality cocktails, hidden rooms within hidden rooms and a buzzing atmosphere – if you can find your way in...

579 Fuxing Zhong Lu, Huangpu district (+86 21 6416 0133)

Propaganda Poster Art Centre

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In the basement of a residential tower block, owner Yang Peiming draws together a fascinating collection of over 5,000 propaganda posters, many rescued from recycland rubbish bins and spanning from the early days of the People’s Republic to the end of the cultural Revolution.

B/1, Bldg B, 868 Huashan Lu, Xuhui district (+86 21 6211 1845).

Don’t miss

Getting up early. Perhaps still woozy from a night at the KTV, Shanghai’s hyper-modernity doesn’t get going first thing in the morning, allowing the city’s more traditional side to shine.

Local’s tip

Taxi booking apps have made hailing a cab increasingly difficult. Instead, hire a bike, take the metro, or just walk; most places are accessible by these modes of transport.

For more great ideas of where to go, check out Time Out Shanghai's website.

  • 4 out of 5 stars