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How to make the most of your 24 hours in Shanghai

Great news for people who have a long layover in China!

Chinese Government is allowing passengers who have a layover for less than one day to enjoy 24-hour transit without a visa. Sounds fantastic, right? 

Most countries are eligible to apply for this visa, and it is available in most ports of entry in China. The 24 hours will start from the scheduled arrival time, and it will end on your departure time [1]. 

And, yes! That includes Shanghai. China’s biggest and most modern city with a little touch of history.


How do I enjoy 24-hour time Shanghai?


Easy! We have listed down all the things you can do to make your 24 hours in Shanghai worth it. 

Reach Shanghai City Center in less than 25 minutes with Maglev Train. Source: Pixabay

Reach Shanghai City Center in less than 25 minutes with Maglev Train. Source: Pixabay

1. Take the fast train to Shanghai City Center

If Japan has Shinkansen, Shanghai has its very own Maglev Train. Operating from 07:02 am – 11.42 pm, this train will take you to Shanghai City from Pudong Airport in less than 25 minutes. 

Maglev Train will stop at Longyang Road Metro Station, and from there, you can take another metro to go to Shanghai City Center. 

The ticket price is surprisingly low! For only CNY 50 ($7.24) per trip or CNY 80 ($11.58) for a round trip, you can experience this fast train.


Stunning view from The Bund Shanghai. Source: Pixabay

Stunning view from The Bund Shanghai. Source: Pixabay

2. The Bund for the best view of Shanghai’s skyline

It is a must to see Shanghai’s most renowned skyline, the first thing you reach the city! The Bund is famous for its beautiful scenery of Pudong Skyline. Located on the west bank of Huangpu River, The Bund offers a view of modern and colonial-era Shanghai at the same glance. 

This area is a symbol of Shanghai, and it’s not a surprise to see the scenery of Pudong Skyline on a postcard or even your friends’ pictures when they travel to Shanghai. You can take a morning stroll and enjoy the morning breeze and the locals’ activities. 


Nanjing Road at its finest. Source: Flickr

Nanjing Road at its finest. Source: Flickr

3. Nanjing Road Stroll

Nanjing Road is the heart of Shanghai, and it was the busiest center during the colonial era. Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street stretches from The Bund all the way to the People’s Square, the hub of Central Shanghai. 

Nanjing Road has a lot to offer, from a large department store to premiere boutique stores to small, locally-owned shops to museums. Taking pictures is a must here! Especially in the Pedestrian Street (you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car or a bus, because this part of Nanjing Road is 100% for pedestrians only). 

Keep in mind that this is one of the busiest streets in Shanghai and take care of your belongings!


Xiao Long Bao is one of Shanghai's finest cuisines. Source: Flickr

Xiao Long Bao is one of Shanghai’s finest cuisines. Source: Flickr

4. Street Food Feast at Huanghe Road

Now that you have taken a lot of pictures at The Bund and stroll around Nanjing Street, it’s time for breakfast or lunch or even brunch! What is Shanghai without Dimsum? Experience a brunch like locals in Jia Jia Tang Bao, Huanghe Road. 

Jia Jia Tang Bao offers you an authentic taste of Shanghai’s signature dish, Xiao Long Bao. Xiao Long Bao is a Chinese steamed soup dumpling that you should get a taste of. This restaurant opens at 6:30 in the morning, and their closing times are arbitrary, so you should get there early because there’s going to be a very long line!

Other than Jia Jia Tang Bao, Huanghe Road is famous for its selection of street food. You can opt for other street food, like Pork Buns, Jianbing (Savory Egg Crepe), and many more!


The end of Nanjing Road is the infamous People's Square. Source: Flickr

The end of Nanjing Road is the infamous People’s Square. Source: Flickr

5. People’s Square

Brunch is done, tummy is no longer empty, and now it’s time for People’s Square. It is the center of culture and activity of Shanghai. People’s Square is packed with museums, parks, and local foods (yes, more food). 

Make sure to visit the Shanghai Museum and quench your thirst for Chinese history. It has eleven galleries and three exhibition halls of various antique Chinese arts. Done with ancient Chinese history? You can visit Shanghai’s Urban Planning Exhibition Center to learn more about Shanghai’s evolution in becoming one of the world’s developed and most-modern cities. Maybe, you can catch a glimpse of what Shanghai will be like in the future by going to this museum.


Experience Shanghai's Past French Colonial era in French Concession. Source: Flickr

Experience Shanghai’s Past French Colonial era in French Concession. Source: Flickr

6. A glimpse of French Colonialism in Shanghai: French Concession

Escape Shanghai’s busy crowds for a few hours and experience a distinct ambiance in French Concession. This area offers you a different side of Shanghai. Traditional shikumen (Shanghainese architecture with a fusion of Western architectural style) is in plain sight, trees are covering the area. 

French Concession has beautiful streets with numerous options of cafes, bars, boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. If you’re looking forward to shopping at this beautiful and unique area of Shanghai, head to Xintiandi and Tianzifang areas. An alternative to those of you who are looking to step away from the shopping centers, visitors can opt for a walking tour in Fuxing Park. This is a French-designed laid out garden with beautiful flower beds, paths, and pavilions.


Remarkable scenery in Shanghai's Old City. Source: Flickr

Remarkable scenery in Shanghai’s Old City. Source: Flickr

7. Old City Shanghai

Every city has its old town area, and Shanghai is no exception. After the French-fusion area, you should pay a visit to Shanghai’s past before it becomes a vibrant and dynamic city. Get a taste of history by going to Old City Shanghai. This area has a lot in store for tourists who are looking forward to experiencing this side of Shanghai. 

Yuyuan Garden is the diamond of the Old City area. This garden that was designed during the Ming Dynasty stretches out for 5 acres in the middle of the city. After walking around Yuyuan Garden, you can take a walk in the Old Street, which is located around Yuyuan Garden. Old Street has everything you want to find in Shanghai, starting from food to small boutique shops. City God Temple is one of the essential places for you to visit in this area. It is the most remarkable temple in Shanghai, and you only have to pay CNY 10 ($1.45) to enter.

Grab a drink, enjoy Shanghai's night skyline at The Bund. Source: Pexels

Grab a drink, enjoy Shanghai’s night skyline at The Bund. Source: Pexels

8. Night Skyline at The Bund

A day tour is complete, and now it’s time to relax before you call it a day. The Bund is always the perfect idea to end the day in Shanghai with its phenomenal night skyline and the city lights. After a long day of walking and eating, you need to wind up for a bit with a glass of your favourite drink in your hand. 

The Bund is the perfect area for you to drink cocktails at a local bar or pub. Pop up to the rooftop bars around The Bund and end your day in the right way. You have a lot of bar options, from the cheap ones to high-end bars. It’s up to you and your budget. 

If you’re still not tired and pretty hungry, make a quick trip to the Tian Zi Fang area for its colorful night market and load your stomach with more street foods until 11:00pm!


That’s how you spend your 24 hours in Shanghai during your transit! 


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1.  “China 24 Hour Transit Visa 2019/2020: Cities and Requirements.” 19 Sep. 2019, https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/visa-application/24-hour-visa-free.htm. Accessed 13 Jan. 2020.

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