Shanghai In 48 Hours

Shanghai is one of China’s most popular cities. Filled with crowded streets and soaring skyscrapers, it forms a modern economical hub. With only 48 hours to spend here, it can seem like a mammoth task to explore this beautiful city so I’ve narrowed it down to a simple easy to follow guide. Ready, set, go!


Before you get there

Since time is of the essence and we don’t have much of it, do some pre-planning before you arrive. The Huangpu River divides the city into the Puxi district to the west and the Pudong district to the east. Most touristy locations are located on the western side so keep this in mind when booking your hotel. Since there’s not much time, it may be a good idea to book a hotel that is easily accessible by public transport and which is in the heart of Shanghai. This way access to popular sites is quick and easy. Jot down the address of your hotel and the places you’d like to see in a little travel notebook. This way you’re prepared and ready to go upon arrival.

Day 1

9:00 am – Touch down

Most international flights will land at Pudong International Airport. Grab a map at the airport and a few touristy pamphlets on your way out. Change your currency at the airport too, just to save you time. From here you can either catch a cab, the subway or the world’s fastest train (known as the Maglev) to your hotel.


Getting around

There is an excellent transport system running all around the city which makes getting around pretty convenient. If you’re taking the subway, you can buy individual metro tickets for each leg of your journey but having a metro card will save you both time and money. Purchase a local subway card at the metro station. This should cost around RMB 20 for the card alone so be sure to pre-load it with some cash. You can always return the metro card at any counter in the subway at the end of you’re trip and you will receive the initial RMB 20 back.

Taxis are found almost everywhere and most drivers are friendly and willing to take you anywhere. To make it easier for your driver and to save you time, have the destination written in Chinese characters beforehand.


11:00 am – Check into your hotel

Check into the hotel of your choice (we stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel Shanghai New World). Drop off your luggage. Now it’s time to begin exploring Shanghai!


12:00 pm – Get your bearings and grab some lunch

The first thing you’ll need to do is explore the area you’re staying in. Ask the hotel reception for some advice on what’s nearby: markets, parks or restaurants. Then spend an hour or two walking around and locating them. This way you can pick up some water and snacks to keep in your bag, grab some lunch and have a better idea of the area of your staying in.


4:00 pm – Spend the afternoon at The Bund

After lunch, head over to the famous waterfront promenade that Shanghai is most affectionately known for, The Bund.Here you will see Shanghai’s iconic skyline. It is located along the western side of the Huangpu River in Puxi.  The best times for a shot of the skyline would be between 6 – 10 pm when all the building lights are switched on.


7:00 pm – Head over to The Oriental Pearl Tower

The Oriental Pearl Tower is 468 m tall and is one of the best areas to get an aerial view of Shanghai. It’s also a must see for many tourists.


9:00 pm – Get a late night drink at the Vue Bar

Afterwards, get a drink at the Vue Bar which is located on the 32nd and 33rd floor of the famous Hyatt on the Bund hotel. This bar is open till 1.30 am on week nights and 2.30 am on weekends.


Day 2

7:00 am – Morning walk at People’s Park

Start your morning with a relaxing stroll through People’s Park. If you’re lucky you’ll also see some tai chi and traditional Chinese dancing being done. Join in! The locals love it when tourists join in on the dancing and some will even dance with you!

On weekends, you’ll find the Shanghai Marriage Market happening. It’s a must see since most westerners aren’t really accustomed to it. The Marriage Market has been around since 2004 and serves as a place where locals come together to find a perfect match for their children. All around the park you will see hundreds of boards containing information about the individual’s age, job and personality.


9:00 am – Grab some breakfast

Wander around and find a spot for breakfast. This is the perfect time to try some local Shanghai specialties like xiao long bao, zha hun tun and cong you bing.


11: 30 am – Yuyuan Gardens

Next head over to the Yu Yuan Gardens. This beautiful classical Chinese garden is located in the heart of bustling Shanghai and is filled with many pavilions, rock structures and hundred year old trees together with the Yuyuan Tourist Market. This market houses many little traditional Chinese shops selling souvenirs and delicious foods.


3:00 pm – Head over to Old Shanghai

After exploring Yuyuan Gardens, head over to Old Shanghai Street which is located just outside the tourist market area on Fangbang Road. This area is filled with lots of little tourist shops and street food.


5:00 pm – Fetch your luggage and head to the airport

Your time in Shanghai has come to an end!

Head back to your hotel and fetch your luggage. Give yourself enough time to head back and to the airport and bear in mind that peak hour traffic can get really heavy. Till next time Shanghai! You have been great!

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I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

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