Your ultimate guide to Shanghai

Explore China’s largest and most fascinating city

Tick Shanghai off your bucket-list

Dubbed as one of the greatest cities in the world, Shanghai is a must-visit for just about everyone. Where modernity meets the past, this unique city boasts everything from towering, futuristic skyscrapers, to the tranquil, leafy grounds of the traditional Chinese gardens. And as a new route from Manchester Airport to Shanghai has just launched with Juneyao Air, what better time to go?

Planning a trip to a city of this size can be daunting – it can be hard to know where to even start! Our travel experts have put together an all-you-need-to-know guide, so preparing for your trip of a lifetime to The Pearl of Asia will be a breeze.

Where to stay

As China's biggest city, it’s important to stay in a location that suits your travel plans when visiting Shanghai. First-time visitors will most likely enjoy staying in the heart of the city - People’s Square and Nanjing Road are close to many attractions, and have fantastic transport links.

For electric nightlife, The Bund may be the area for you - packed with amazing bars and clubs open until the early hours. Or for a more chilled and cultured experience, Old Shanghai can offer a glimpse into the city's rich history, with many of the old buildings still intact. There are lots of accommodation options to suit all budgets, so take your time and consider the different areas before you go.


Pick your travel dates wisely, as Shanghai has a subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. Depending on what you want to do, it’s worth noting that summers tend to be scorching hot with high rainfall, and winters are freezing cold.

The most popular seasons to visit are:

  • Spring (March—May): The city is blossoming and the temperature is just right. It’ll still be warm during these months, but more of a comfortable temperature to explore in.

  • Autumn (September—November): Cool and refreshing, the golden leaves falling from the trees will create the perfect autumnal scene.

Top tip: If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, visit during autumn when there’s fewer tourists. Hotels also tend to be cheaper, so you’ll get more bang for your buck!

Getting around

As Shanghai is such a big city, there can be large distances between where you want to go. Some top attractions like The Bund and Nanjing Road are easy to cover on foot, but if you want to explore further afield, there are lots of transport options to choose from.

Quick, cheap and highly convenient, the metro is by far the easiest way to travel around the city. Ticket prices are based upon the distance covered, and can be bought at self service-machines. If you’ve not brushed up on your mandarin then don’t worry - most machines and signs are translated into English! Buses and taxis are also available, but you’ll end up paying more for these.


From authentic street food stalls to luxurious restaurants, the city offers one of the most distinctive cuisines in China. Its unique blend of dishes from Shanghai and neighboring provinces means there’s so many delicious delicacies to try. Here’s just a few:

Soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao)

A must whilst you’re in Shanghai - these paper-thin dumplings are stuffed with delicious meat and soup. Served in iconic bamboo baskets, dip this delicacy into vinegar or julienned ginger for the ultimate experience.

Chinese crab (Da Zha Xie)

The highlight of autumn - this seafood favorite sends the whole city into a frenzy as it arrives from the nearby Yangcheng Lake. Tied in rope, placed in a bamboo container, and steamed to perfection. But be warned - this delicacy is not a budget friendly option!

Braised pork belly (Hong Shao Rou)

Found in just about every restaurant in the city, these Shanghai-style tender pork belly cubes are simmered in a sweet and sticky sauce. There are many twists and variations on the original, but this version reflects the city’s love of mixing savory and sour delights.

5 top things to do

You’ll never be short of things to do in this fascinating city, but we’ve rounded up some of the most popular attractions, so you don’t have to!

1. Stroll down the iconic Bund

Sitting on the Huangpu River, The Bund is a mile-long promenade lined with an impressive collection of buildings, all with different architectural styles. A feast for the eyes for design-lovers, gothic, baroque and renaissance spectacles reflect the city's Chinese and Western blend. You can even hop on a night cruise along the river to see the buildings glisten in the dark sky.

Top tip: To get those Insta-worthy pictures of The Bund, check out these top three locations - Pudong Binjiang Avenue, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, or the Jin Mao Tower.

2. Shop til you drop on Nanjing Road

The equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue, you’ll find everything from your classic souvenirs to luxury goods on this bustling shopping street. With large shopping malls, department stores and even restaurants and cinemas, you could easily spend an entire day here.

3. Reach new heights at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Located in Pudong-Park, this futuristic tower is constructed out of 11 linked spheres, with the Space Module being the highest. On this level at 350 meters you’ll find a glass-floored observation deck to take in the stunning views of the city. If this view isn’t breathtaking enough, visit the tower's very own revolving restaurant for a truly unique experience.

4. Enjoy the greenery in the Yuyuan Garden

If you need a respite from the towering skyline, not far from The Bund is Shanghai’s only surviving Ming Dynasty garden. A haven of green, the beautifully decorated bridges, classic Chinese architecture, and intricate sculptures are a sight to behold.

Top tip: Visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds and see the garden in all its glory.

5. Take an enchanted trip to Disney

One of the most iconic attractions in the world – escape to the magical world of Disneyland and travel through the lands surrounding the Storybook Castle. Enjoy the thrill of the exhilarating rides and meet your favorite Disney characters as they put on show-stopping parades throughout the day.

So what are you waiting for – the largest city in China is waiting to be explored so book your trip today! And don’t forget to make your airport experience as seamless as possible. Secure your airport parking, FastTrack passes and lounge access for an even smoother trip.

Useful links

Pre-book FastTrack

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Save time and use the express lane at Security and Passport Control

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Airport parking

Accessible parking, close to every terminal


Everything you need to know about going through Security

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