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1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget

1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget

By DAN FORTEZA

Shanghai is a renowned international metropolis drawing more and more attention from all over the world. When I visited  Shanghai last November 2017, I found the perfect blend of cultures – the modern and the traditional; and the western and the oriental. Western customs and Chinese traditions intertwined and formed the city’s culture making my 1-day Shanghai itinerary even more memorable. So without further ado, whether you’re staying for a day or two, here is my do-it-yourself Shanghai itinerary which includes the city’s top attractions.

Hi there! First of all, I am Daniel from the Philippines. If you don’t know my story yet, feel free to read this article where I talked about myself becoming a digital nomad. This article was also featured on TripZilla Philippines.

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
Some classical architecture near The Bund in Shanghai | Dantravels.org

WHERE IS SHANGHAI?

The city of Shanghai, whose name literally means “on the sea”, is situated on the east China coast just to the south of the mouth of the Yangtze river. From its great location, it serves as the most influential economic, financial, international trade, and cultural center in East China. It is about 3-½ hour flight away from Manila or about 5-½ flight away from Singapore.

Language: Mandarin Chinese
Currency: Chinese Yuan (RMB)
Airport: PVG, SHA
Preferred mode of transportation: Metro / Walking / Bikes
Time Zone: GMT +8

HOW I GOT THERE:

Coming from Manila, I scored a really cheap (like really cheap!) flight ticket to Shanghai via Cebu Pacific Air.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

HOW TO GET AROUND?

  • Metro / Subways are the best way to get around Shanghai. While the metro can get very crowded during rush hour traffic, you’ll avoid the inevitable street traffic this way. With base fare just 0.45 USD, all signs, maps, and station announcements in both Chinese and English, this is the preferred way to get around Shanghai for international travelers.
  • Walking is a great way to get around central neighborhoods in Puxi or in the old city area of Yuyuan. Despite the huge size of Shanghai, you’ll be amazed at how navigable the city really is! It’s worth taking a stroll along the Huangpu River, where on either side you have access to breathtaking views of the city skyline at the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, or at Shanghai World Financial Observatory. And as I mentioned in my budget travel tips blog – “walk as much as you can!”
  • Even though cars are found everywhere, bikes have seen a revival in recent years. There are dedicated cycle lanes on the roads and drivers are fairly cautious around cyclists. So if you’re up for an adventure,  biking is a fun and memorable way to get around the city and experience Shanghai like a local. There are a few bike-sharing apps that you can download to your smartphone to reserve bicycles for as low as 1.00 USD/half hour, such as Mobike and Ofo. Bikes can be picked up where ever you find one available on the app and dropped off conveniently at your destination.
Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
Bikes for rent parked in the streets of Shanghai | Dantravels.org

WHERE DID I STAY?

I actually did not stay in any hostel or hotel in Shanghai. Arriving from Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) at midnight, I took some rest at the airport’s arrival area and stayed there for a few hours until dawn. Before hitting the metro train to take me to downtown Shanghai, I looked for the ATM to withdraw some Yuan cash and then bought myself a sim card with internet to help me navigate the city.

    • Sim Card with 10GB internet data – 200 RMB (~28.00 USD)

TIP: Unfortunately Google, Facebook, Instagram and other American-based social media are blocked in mainland China. If you’re like me who likes to access Instagram and Facebook on-the-go, you can use a VPN app. When I was in China, I used “Betternet” which has free trial for the first 7 days. I just canceled it before my 7-day trial ended haha! Go and check it out!

From PVG airport, taking a metro train is the most convenient way to get myself to downtown Shanghai.

    • Pudong PVG airport to Nanjing East station – 7 RMB (~1.00 USD)

After a day in Shanghai, I took an overnight train going to Zhangjiajie in Hunan province.

But if you’re looking for a good room accommodation in Shanghai, you can book a room at any hotel through Agoda or Booking.com. I usually book my room accommodations through booking.com. Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

If Shanghai hostel isn’t to your liking, try AirBnb. Airbnbs are immersed in neighborhoods, condos, and townhomes. There is a feeling you get when you stay in an Airbnb that makes you feel like you belong in that city or town. Since it is someone’s home, there is a certain amount of pride you feel while staying there. I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to 42 USD free travel credit by signing up via this link.

MY 1-DAY SHANGHAI ITINERARY

DAY 1:

1st Stop: The Bund

The Bund is undoubtedly on the top of the list of things to see in Shanghai. Thus, I made it my first stop of the day. Although this place is typically crowded, it is perfect to unwind a little to its marvelous architecture and views of the futuristic Lujiazui skyline! 

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
The Bund and the impressive skyline of Shanghai | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2 hours
    • Nearest metro station: Nanjing East station

2nd Stop: Nanjing Road

Without any specific shopping in mind, I went down to Nanjing road from “The Bund”. Along the Nanjing road has the most popular shopping area of Shanghai, but be warned it is packed with people. To me, experiencing and observing the energy of the people as well as the classical architecture of Shanghai are just priceless.

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
Somewhere in Nanjing road | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2 hours
    • Nearest metro station: Nanjing East station; People’s Square station

3rd Stop: Yuyuan Old Street

Yuyuan’s Old Street is a great place to see what old Shanghai looked like. The fact that you can walk this street and then look up and see the new Shanghai is an incredible juxtaposition. Shanghai has been mindful of keeping the past close by but also developing a future. Keeping streets like this accessible to everyone allows that to happen. This is certainly a must-see in the city, it’s very close to a lot of the other central attractions so no excuse!

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
Old Chinese houses in Yuyuan | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • Nearest metro station: Yuyuan station

4th Stop: Yuyuan Garden

In the middle of a bustling city of Shanghai, I was surprised at how serene this garden could be, even with many tourists sharing the space. It is big enough to wander for an hour or so, getting a little lost, pausing to admire the views, appreciating the tranquility. The water gardens were special to me.

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
Water garden in Yuyuan | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • Nearest metro station: Yuyuan station

5th Stop: Century Park

Century Park is in the middle of Shanghai Pudong area. Great space to stroll and relax. It’s nice to have such a large space in the city to chill but entrance fee costs 10 RMB. If you opt not to get in, you can instead just rent a bike and circle around the free area like I did haha! Thanks to my Chinese friend, Peng for helping me rent a bike!

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
Getting my bike ready near Century Park | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2 hour
    • Nearest metro station: Century Park station; Yingchun Road station; Shanghai Science station

6th Stop: Shanghai Tower

Located at financial district of Lujiazui, Shanghai Tower is second tallest building in the world after Burj Khalifa in Dubai and one of Shanghai’s most iconic buildings. I personally went to Lujiazui to get a closer look of this tower. There is an elevated ring road where you can admire the view of the tower and stroll in the shadow of some of the world’s tallest buildings. If you want to get to the observation deck of the building, you have to buy tickets. You can buy it here.

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
Shanghai Tower behind me | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • Nearest metro station: Dongchang Road station; South Pudong Road station

7th Stop: Oriental Pearl Tower

This building may look like an alien base (haha!) but it is also one of the iconic buildings in Lujiazui district together with the Shanghai Tower. It is exceptionally beautiful when lit in glowing colors at night. You can buy ticket here in advance to get you to the observation deck and be amazed by the beauty of the city. But I prefer to gaze and view the magnificent light show on the Oriental Pearl Tower from the ground.

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
Oriental Pearl Tower behind me | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • Nearest metro station: Dongchang Road station; South Pudong Road station

What do you think of this 1-DAY Shanghai itinerary?

Dan Travels 1-Day Shanghai Itinerary: Best Places To See In Shanghai On A Budget
My good friend Peng from Shanghai | Dantravels.org

I probably could have not made my 1-day Shanghai tour more enjoyable and memorable without the help of  my Chinese friend Peng. He is very kind and accommodating all through out the day. By the way, he was the one who translated my “I Quit My Job to Travel Blog” into Chinese haha!

All in all, I hope that you find this 1-DAY SHANGHAI ITINERARY useful!

If you have more days to spend in Shanghai, you can include these cool places in your Shanghai itinerary:

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

BOOKING ESSENTIALS

  • Hotel / Hostel
    • Booking.com. I usually book my hostel accommodation at booking.com. Thus, I recommend you guys trying it as well for your Shanghai Itinerary.  Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

    • Airbnb. Try Airbnb in finding comfy and cozy rooms for your Shanghai itinerary! I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to 42 USD (2,200 Php) off your first stay. Click this link to get that discount.

  • Flights
    • KAYAK. All of my flight bookings are all from KAYAK. Kayak is one of the world’s leading travel search engines and searches hundreds of travel sites.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

  • Shanghai Package tours
    • Viator. Viator is the world’s leading resource for researching, finding and booking the best travel experiences worldwide.

Click here to find the best Viator deals in Shanghai!

  • Travel Insurance
    • World Nomads. If you don’t have travel insurance when times get tough, basically you are screwed. Traveling always comes with inherent risks attached. Whether you are trekking in the Tibetan mountains or wandering the snowy streets of Shanghai, unforeseen events can suddenly upend your world. Generally speaking, travel insurance covers you for the following: Medical Costs – hospital visits, emergencies, evacuations; Property Loss – luggage and their contents; Travel Issues – accommodation and transportation expenses. Thus, I highly recommend you guys getting a travel insurance. I bought one from the World Nomads (available in 130+ countries) where most travelers get their travel insurances.

Go to this link to get to your World Nomads travel insurance.

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Peng
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Peng

Thank you. Dan. You are so nice. The time you visit Shanghai is one of my unforgettable memories. 🤗🤗🤗

Niko
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Niko

This is a good list. I think Shanghai has also affordable hotels if hostels or Airbnb are not suitable.

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