A Day in Shanghai

We had lots of fun in Shanghai. It was the most western city we visited in China. We saw graffiti artists working on the streets, models walking around taking photos with people, and major corporations buildings. It is also the biggest city in China. The sky scrapers and views are incredible. We took a plane from Beijing to Shanghai. Honestly, I wish we had more time in Shanghai. While what we did was awesome, I felt like we didn't fully experience the city because we went through it so quickly. Hopefully I will be able to go back and spend more time there at some point.

We went to Shanghai in the middle of our trip between Beijing and Suzhou. See how we spent our full eight days in my itinerary post here.


Airbnb $68

Flight from Beijing $92

High speed train back to Beijing $77


Big Bus Tour $30

We flew in from Beijing at 6:00 am and were in Shanghai by 9. We went straight to our Airbnb and then on to our bus tour. Our Airbnb was located in the French Consession (near West Nanjing Road) which was a very cool area of Shanghai. We were able to walk right to a stop on the bus tour which was handy.

This bus tour was fine once we could find it. Directions to getting onto the bus were confusing, the bus schedule was confusing, and it was hard to find a worker to help us join the tour. The whole thing felt very disorganized. Plus, it was very difficult to find anyone or know how to find anyone who worked with Big Bus Tours so we could get on a bus. We just happened to see someone (thank goodness) or we may have never figured out how to join this tour.

If you only have a day, I highly recommend this type of touristy bus. We saw a lot in a short amount of time. If you are in Shanghai longer, use public transit  and spend more time in different places! I honestly don't usually like them and wouldn't normally tell you to do it, but if you only have a day and want to see a lot, it does the job!

We stopped at two temples (Jing'an Temple and another one I cannot find the name of), in gardens (wish we had made it to the botanical gardens!), and at Jin Mao Tower. If time had not held us back, we would have stopped at more places. However, the things we did do I recommend.

 Online it said that buses came every 30 minutes. We waited about 40 minutes without seeing anyone else at a stop near our Airbnb. When we found a worker (finally) they told us buses come every 45 minutes on this line. We didn't have tickets just a confirmation so they were able to help us get the actual tickets. Then we waited for another 45 minutes before a bus came because we had apparently just missed the last one. Also, online it says buses stop running at 5, but a worker told us different stops had different last times (which makes sense) but it would be helpful if the info online matched what we were told in person. It would have saved us a couple hours of time trying to figure out where to go, how to pick up our tickets, etc.

It was annoying because we lost a lot of time. Once we were on the bus and talked with someone in person, the stops are clearly marked and had a fine day. It includes tickets to Jin Mao Tower (which was AWESOME), entrance to two temples, and a river cruise. We didn’t make it on the river cruise, but loved going up in the tower.

Pro-trip: China in general feels very disorganized. Sticking to a schedule is hard. Even our gestures for numbers and things are different so communication can be difficult.

Shanghai Acrobatic Show $30

That night we had tickets to an acrobatic show that was really great. We fell asleep while watching the show because we were just so tired. We felt terrible about this because it really was very awesome! I would recommend it. We went back to our Airbnb and crashed.

Thinking about using AirBnB for an upcoming trip? I've got a code for $40 off your first one! Find it here!

If you want to know more about traveling in China, I have a whole section of my blog dedicated to it. Check it out here!

If I went to Shanghai again, I would want to spend another day here.  While we saw a lot on our bus, but another day would have been great. What was your favorite part of Shanghai? I would love to know your ideas!

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  • Jamie

    Thanks for the tip about communication limitations in China and sharing your experience.

  • Kelly Ann Duhigg

    I spent a lot of time in China but never made it to Shanghai, which made me kind of sad. The acrobatic show sounds very cool and I’m so sorry that the bus took so long to get there. What a pain. But it seems like you saw and did a lot and I love your pictures!

    • I felt so bad about the show because we were just exhausted by the time it started but it was really interesting! Thanks for reading!

  • Sounds like an amazing day! It’s so nice of you to write down the costs – I always get really frustrated when I a post doesn’t mention that 🙂

    • Same! Thank you – I try to write all my posts with a price breakdown!

  • Monica Suri

    Amazing tips with details. I will use it whenever I visit China. Thanks for sharing

  • It’s great to know that you can stay in Shanghai in an Air BnB at affordable prices. I remember that hotel rooms were very expensive in the city, so we stayed in a dark hostel which was not my favorite accomodation experience. Shanghai is an exciting place full of contradictions and you can experience a lot in one day.

    • Yes, hotels in Shanghai can get pricey! I love using AirBnB when traveling – such a variety of fun and interesting options!

  • Bonnie Bonita

    I think you covered a lot in just a day! Shangai is really beautiful through you lens. Those city tour buses are usually ideal if you are time constrained! Nice encounter of events.

    • Thank you! Agreed – have to do the most with the time you have!

  • Great stuff! I’m not usually a fan of tour buses but it sounds like it was a good one and the perfect thing to do when arriving at the crack of dawn since you were probably tired. Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you! I’m not a fan of bus tours typically either, but it worked out this time.

  • Kevin Hodgon

    Off to china very soon, this has been handy as i plan the same sort of visit, from Beijing. Great information. Thank you

    • Glad it was helpful. I have traveled a lot of China – let me know if you have any other questions, happy to help!

  • Bidisha Banik

    Wow, looks like you had a lot of fun. I can understand communication must have been a problem getting around the city but I am sure you must have loved the ambiguity as well. Keep travelling and keep sharing!

    • Thank you! Shanghai had a lot more English speakers than other cities we visited, but definitely still something to be aware of. Thanks for reading!

  • Contradiction of Sorts Travel

    Loved your mini travel diary on Shanghai! Great info and personal travel story. I don’t like traveling to places for only a short time either – but sounds like you made the most of it!
    Jin Chu-Ferrer

  • Shanghai is the city in China I want to visit the most. I have heard similar sentiments about difficulty sticking to schedule. Thank you for being transparent!

  • Christina

    We would love to visit Shanghai one day! Seems like you had a great budget friendly trip too. It sounds like the touristy bus has great perks just have to figure out the schedule system to not miss the bus and the perks that go along with it! Great helpful, information!

    • Thank you! Yes, definitely a trick to figuring it out – mostly because the schedule just didn’t match. Thanks for reading!

  • Marijana | Lady of Awesome

    I absolutely love your price breakdown! Saving for future reference 🙂 hope to see Shangai someday! 🙂

    • Thank you! Hope you are able to visit – it’s a great city!

  • powerpuff-ツバサ

    Wonderful post! I often visit my family there, but the attractions and popular tourist places you mentioned… I have got to see it on my next visit.