Last updated on March 5, 2024 by Jacky The Techy, Photography enthusiast spreading photography tips. Rea more Hong Kong & China

A typical 2 days in Shanghai gateway would include visits to the most popular attractions of the city, allocating a time to each of them, starting when you land in Shanghai and finishing when you leave the city. We decided this time to split the visit in two parts, popular and unusual sites, wondering around the main touristy places for one day but also trying to visit areas where the locals actually live an everyday life.

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An important fact of this city is the population number. With over 24 million people Shanghai, has more inhabitants that the all of Australia. It is no wonder that everything here is in large scale

Day 1 in Shangai – The touristy path

The Huangpu River walkway

The Huangpu River splits this huge megalopolis in two parts. On the west side there is the old central part of the city, called Puxi, on the east side the new development side, called Pudong, started in 1990 and literally covered by skyscrapers

Shanghai weekend getaway – Megalopolis of China
Shanghai weekend getaway – Megalopolis of China

We start our Shanghai weekend gateway with a visit to the riverfront walkway in Chenyi Square. We are here in the Bund, the colonial riverside of old Shanghai, with dozens of historical buildings lining along the Huangpu River. They used to host the many foreign banks and trading houses of Shangai. Now a mix of businesses are renting these premises.

A walk here is like being in the middle of the last century Chinese history, on one side the colonial area and on the other side Pudong, the financial and commercial district based on a multitude of skyscrapers.

The Huangpu River walkway

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower viewpoint

Shanghai tower

Are you looking for a great view point?

Visit the Oriental Pearl TV Tower to contemplate a different city perspective from a 260 meter height. The peculiarity of this view point is that the floor is made of see-through glass, a scary and at the same time amazing experience.

Day 2 in Shangai – The unusual path

Shanghai is a huge dynamic and cultural city. There are so many museums, historical neighborhoods and shopping streets popular with the cosmopolitan visitors of the city.

However behind the gilded painted tourist spots, crossing through the huge main roads and the city parks you can venture in areas where not even the metro stops, you can wander into authentic neighbourhoods where tourists do not usually go.

The Huangpu District

We walked our way to somewhere in the Huangpu District, a shopping area where the micro electronics and the any-kind-of-components shops are gathered. The little stores are all full to the brim with the same products. The traders seems more waiting for luck than real customers. The competition between these shops is pretty hard, considering they do not have stand out products to sell.

The Huangpu District

Even the owners look overwhelmed by the volume of their goods. We can see almost a metaphor of the Chinese condition in these shops; the owner is overwhelmed by its trade, the products hide the living.

I have built a photography series on this metaphor called Eshops. Have a look

We had finally an interesting walk in the maze of high rise buildings that host the many millions of citizens working in the city boundary. We followed the bicycle parks, we wandered through the multi level apartment blocks and we started experiencing a feeling of being in an ants’ nest, in a labyrinth made of small streets and people, people everywhere.

And when the sun comes out (which is not common in Shanghai) the laundry is hanged out between the buildings giving a colorful appearance to this otherwise grey maze.

We walked further out, to the city boundary, in the suburban neighborhoods where this transformation is stronger and larger in size; here we find ourselves facing the reality of modern urbanization.

Entire neighbourhoods are razed to the ground to make way for a new modern urban project. As surprising as it can be, there are still houses that resist to the modernity wave however they are really like a needle in a haystack and unfortunately sooner or later they will have to surrender

I have built a second series of photos, called the building series. Have a look and let me know

Where did I sleep in Shanghai

There are plenty of accommodation in Shangai and therefore plenty of options. I found this unique place on-line called The Train Inn. The owner decided to buy few train carriages, originally from Germany, and make an hotel out of it with a cafe, a restaurant and even a kid area, which works great for families. Unfortunately, being quite popular, it was already booked out.

I stayed instead at the Chi Chen Hotel. This hotel is a good value for money option. It’s quite new and with nice youngish interior, and very very clean.  The location is not central to the touristy spots, it is actually in a typical Chinese residential area with local restaurants and supermarkets. You will experience the local life. It’s next door to the metro station which makes it very handy for the city exploration. The crowd is on the young international side, which is great:D

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Travel & Photography Tips

  • Walk on the Bund riverfront and be ready for a spectacular photo of the Business District in front of you
  • Drink a tea at the panoramic restaurant of the Oriental Pearl Tower. Here you will have a spectacular 360 degrees view for some lovely panoramic photos
  • Visit the Shanghai museum, very interesting
  • Wander in the French concession and the old city
  • Try the Shanghai specialties : dumpling or the mouthful of vapor


Map of the visited areas and spots in Shanghai

Stefano Ferro - Founder and Editor

About the Author

Photography is taking me everywhere in the world. I love the technical side of it, how to create my photos minimizing the post-production side of it. More time on the field and less time on the computer. Ten years of experience and counting. Is it enough? Never! I learn new things everyday.

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