Top 5 Attractions To See On Your Shanghai Tour

As the largest city in China and most populous city on Earth, Shanghai never has a shortage of things to tantalize the senses. This phenomenal city not only has a rich history spanning centuries but also is a global financial center today. Considered a showpiece for China’s flourishing economy, Shanghai is renowned for its numerous attractions, which include world-class museums, cultural sites, and modern architectural marvels just to name a few. Regarded as a cultural melting pot, Shanghai has drawn visitors for centuries with its must-see attractions. Here are the top 5 attractions to see on your Shanghai tour.

The Bund

Located on the banks on the Huangpu River, is an iconic symbol of stunning Shanghai, is the Bund. The Bund is a famous waterfront area, which contains dozens of buildings with various architectural styles. It stretches for about 1,500 meters and is considered one of the most romantic spots in all Shanghai.

In 1846, Shanghai became a British settlement, and thereafter, the Bund began to take shape. The city was deemed an important trading hub, and commercial buildings were constructed along the waterfront. By the turn of the 20th century, Shanghai and specifically, the Bund enjoyed a construction boom, with numerous prominent companies and businesses building there. The Bund became an important hub for not only business, but also culture and politics. By the 1940s, the district housed the headquarters of all the major financial institutions operating in China.

In 2008, the district was closed for the construction of a new traffic infrastructure, which took nearly a year and a half to complete. In 2010, the area was reopened to the public with smaller roadways and underground tunnels, which afforded more pedestrian traffic. The Bund is one of the most famous attractions in all of Shanghai.

Yu Garden

Located beside City God Temple, in the northeastern section of the Old City of Shanghai is the stunningly beautiful Yu Garden. This jewel of the city has a rich history spanning 400 years.

Occupying about 5 acres, Yu Garden is divided into six sections laid out in the classical Suzhou style of garden design. The sections include Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall, and Inner Garden.

Each area features numerous pavilions, halls, ponds, and rockeries, with the garden’s centerpiece being the famous Exquisite Jade Rock. The rock formation is 3.3 m, weighing in at 5 tons, and is rumored to have been in the area for nearly a thousand years.

Yu garden is a must-see attraction that cannot be missed when visiting on your Shanghai tour.

City God Temple

With a rich history spanning over 600 years, the City God Temple is a major attraction in Shanghai. It is also known by several other names including “Temple of the City Gods” and “Old City God Temple”. Officially, it is the “City Temple of Shanghai”. Exhibiting magnificent architecture, the site is a main Taoist temple honoring the city gods of Shanghai. Part of the walled old city, the temple is adjacent to the renowned Yu Garden and the bustling Yuyuan Tourist Mart.

The site of the City God Temple originated as a temple honoring Jinshan, an island off of Shanghai. During the Ming Dynasty in 1403, Emperor Yongle converted it into a temple venerating the gods of the city. He erected a statue of the famous Han Dynasty chancellor, Huo Guang, in the front hall. In the back hall, Emperor Yongle enshrined a statue of Qin Yubo, the god of the city. Qin Yubo was a scholar and government official who worked under the Yuan and early Ming Dynasties. Upon his death in 1373, the Hongwu Emperor appointed him the City God of Shanghai.

City God Temple occupies over 2000 square meters, consists of nine halls, including the Grand Hall (Huoguang Hall), Yuanchen Hall (Jiazi Hall), and Fumu Hall. Damaged by fire in 1924, the Grand Hall was rebuilt in 1926 in the ancient Chinese architectural tradition. Today, the temple serves the Zhengyi Dao sect of Taoism. City God Temple is a main attraction and cannot be missed while on your Shanghai tour.

Shanghai Museum

When on your Shanghai tour, a visit to the magnificent Shanghai Museum is a must. This world-renowned institution is considered one of the finest museums in China. Founded in 1952, the Shanghai Museum is a beloved jewel of the city. The museum houses over 120,000 artifacts, including several relics which are regarded as a national treasure, including one of only three surviving Han dynasty bronze mirrors.

Shanghai Museum is comprised of four levels with eleven galleries. The most important gallery houses the bronze artifacts in the museum’s possession. Located on the first level, this gallery contains more than 400 bronze artifacts, including the aforementioned Han dynasty bronze mirror. This gallery explores the growth of bronze and its significance with China’s history. Some of the components explored include the advancement of engineering techniques throughout the centuries. Other artifacts on display in various galleries include paintings, coins, furniture, ceramics, furniture, jade, and calligraphy. A trip to the Shanghai Museum is a must when you tour Shanghai.

Oriental Pearl Tower

No Shanghai tour is complete without a visit to one of the city’s most iconic attractions, the spectacular Oriental Pearl Tower. Located opposite the Bund, this wholly unique tower is the third largest structure at 468 meters in Shanghai. Initially, Oriental Pearl Tower was designed as a broadcasting tower, but over the years its purpose has become multifaceted. In addition to four separate observation decks, which offer amazing panoramic views of the skyline, there is also a restaurant, shopping center, and movie theater.

Construction commenced on the tower in 1991 and was completed in 1994 when it was opened to the public. The intention was to provide Shanghai with a high-quality broadcast tower, which would also serve as a tourist attraction. Between 1994 and 2007, Oriental Pearl Tower held the distinction of being the tallest structure in China. Yet, that honor passed to the Shanghai World Financial Center upon its completion in 2007. Considered one of the main attractions, a visit to the Oriental Pearl Tower is a must when touring extraordinary Shanghai.

Recommended Shanghai Tours

See The Best Of Shanghai In 1 Day w/Private Tour Guide

The best of Shanghai tour highlights including historical buildings along the Bund.

Our Classic Best of Shanghai Group Tour, 1 Day of Inspiration

Explore the exquisitely designed private garden, Yu Garden. Bustling and interesting Shanghai Old Town.

1 Day Shanghai Art Tour, Explore City Creativity, Design Galleries & More

This tour takes you to visit Fudan University, Jade Buddha Temple and the large art warehouse complex on Moganshan Road.

Want to see more tours? View our Shanghai Tours page.

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Sarah Bauder

Sarah has been extensive experience as a scribe, from travel writer to screenwriter, to a writer short stories. When she’s not doing one of those three things, she enjoys traveling, cooking, adventuring, reading, and anything involved being in (or under) water.
Sarah Bauder