One Day in Shanghai

Shanghai, on China’s central coast, is the country’s biggest city and a global financial hub. Its heart is the Bund, a famed waterfront promenade lined with colonial-era buildings. While one day in Shanghai is not enough to see the city, you can do a lot in this short amount of time!

Shanghai 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 skyscrapers and views are incredible.

We took a plane from Beijing to Shanghai to spent one day there in the middle of our trip between Beijing and Suzhou during an 8 day trip to China. I spent an entire month in China while teaching there. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I hope you get the chance to experience China someday, too.

One day in Shanghai Costs

Airbnb — $68

Flight from Beijing — $92

High-speed train back to Beijing — $77



French Concession

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 Concession (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.


Big Bus Tour — $30

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.

Note: 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!


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). It would be helpful if the info online matched what we were told in person. It would have saved us a couple of hours of time trying to figure out where to go, how to pick up our tickets, etc.


Jing’an Temple


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.


Jin Mao Tower

This was included in our Big Bus Tour ticket, and we were so glad we got to look at Shanghai from above. The Bund is an awesome spot to look at from the tower, but be prepared for a lot of smog and pollution in your view.

Pro-trip: China, in general, feels very disorganized to a Westerner, but it’s not. Sticking to a schedule is hard. Even our gestures for numbers and other things are different from locals, so communication can be difficult.


That night we had tickets to an acrobatic show that was really great. It was fun to experience this cultural part of China and the performers were really good. We bought our tickets online through China Travel Guide. I used this site quite a bit to book different things because they have great customer service, which is something that can be hard to come by. We went back to our Airbnb and crashed.

Make the most of one day in Shanghai. Visit the iconic Bund, explore the bustling streets, and enjoy the city's unique blend of old and new.
Make the most of one day in Shanghai. Visit the iconic Bund, explore the bustling streets, and enjoy the city’s unique blend of old and new.

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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