City Orientation Walking Tour I, Shanghai

Unlike other ancient Chinese cities, Shanghai is more to be called the “face of modern China”. Since it was opened as a port for foreign trade, this city managed to turn into the largest and most populated metropolis in the People's Republic of China. It is a famous touristic destination for renowned historical monuments as The Bund or Longhua Temple as well as for Asia's most famous shopping area- Nanjing Lu. Here is a list of other popular attractions that you might want to check out.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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City Orientation Walking Tour I Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walking Tour I
Guide Location: China » Shanghai (See other walking tours in Shanghai)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 7 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 17.8 km
Author: emma
People's Square

1) People's Square (must see)

The Shanghai People’s Square is a large open space which was once the Shanghai Race Course. Today it is a parade ground and public square adjacent to the headquarters of the city's municipal government.

The Shanghai People’s Square is on the site of what was once the finest racecourse in Asia. The ruins of the grand race club are still visible and some buildings now house the Shanghai Art Museum. In 1949, the communist government banned racing and gambling. It was converted into a public square and spectator stands were erected for viewing parades. Part of the race track became a large open green space called the People’s Park.

The Shanghai People’s Square covers an area of 130,700 square meters. It is surrounded by many important buildings and hotels including the Shanghai City Hall, the Museum, the Grand Theatre, the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, the Park Hotel Shanghai, and the Radisson. There is an underground shopping mall with major departmental stores, a large underground garage and a 320 sq. meter water fountain at the center. The Shanghai people’s square is an important sightseeing landmark of the city and venue for important cultural, political and commercial events all year through.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful skylines all around and clean areas to walk.

The big draw here is apparently the Marriage Market, but it only happens on the weekends.
There's a big shopping mall with a great food court in the underground if you're peckish.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Urban Planning Exhibition Center

2) Urban Planning Exhibition Center (must see)

This Exhibition Center is a six-story building, with two basement levels, which displays Shanghai's urban planning and development. The focus of the exhibit is a large scale model of the entirety of urban Shanghai, showing existing buildings and approved future buildings. Other exhibits relate to Shanghai's history and planned development, including smaller scaled models focussing on particular areas of interest such as the Bund. The Exhibition Center also has space for temporary exhibitions with a wide range of subject matter.

The building was designed by architect Ling Benli of the East China Architecture Design and Research Institute. The exterior is covered with white aluminum and the roof has a modernized traditional Chinese design. The shape is that of a white magnolia, the official flower of Shanghai. The structure has received the White Magnolia Cup and the China Luban Cup which is the highest award for architectural design in China.

Why You Should Visit:
To follow Shanghai's development over the years – and it is quite amazing.
Great to see some of the sights of the old city and "then & now" pictures.
You'll also pick lots of tips/facts to share when you get back from your travels.

Take a notebook with you to take notes of the places you want to see.
The view over People's Square from the top floor is definitely not to miss.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-5pm (last admission at 4 pm)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA)

3) Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) (must see)

Located near People's Park in Shanghai, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) hosts temporary exhibitions of modern art by Chinese and international artists.

MoCA Shanghai was founded in 2005 by the Samuel Kung Foundation as the first non-profit, independent, contemporary art institution in Shanghai. The glass building that houses the exhibitions is a reworking of the former People's Park Greenhouse by Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects. The ground floor and first level of the museum have a total of 1,800 square meters (19,400 square feet) of exhibition space, with the two levels connected by a sweeping steel ramp. The 3rd floor is host to MoCA on the Park, a full restaurant equipped with rooftop patio and bar.

The museum has focused on the promotion of Chinese and international contemporary art with a set of diverse exhibitions that include both well-known and fledgling contemporary Chinese artists, as well as retrospectives for leading names of the fashion and creative world. More recently, MoCA collaborated with the Korea Foundation to present 'Nostalgia: East Asia Contemporary Art Exhibition', which included works from China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Other international exhibitions include contemporary art from Indonesia, Hungary, Italy, and India, and an exhibition on Finnish Design in collaboration with Marimekko. Furthermore, MoCA holds a biennale, 'MoCA Envisage', which focuses on Chinese contemporary art and considers its recent direction and themes.

Admission fee depends on the specific exhibition, and quality seems variable so best check online before going.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Tue: 10am-6pm; Wed: 10am-10pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
China Art Museum

4) China Art Museum (must see)

Housed in the former China Pavilion of Expo 2010, the China Art Museum, also called the China Art Palace, is one of the largest art museums in Asia, with a collection of about 14,000 artworks, mainly of Chinese modern art.

One of the permanent exhibits is aimed at chronicling the development of contemporary and modern Chinese art, starting with the Shanghai School at the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is divided into three periods (Qing, the Republic of China, and the People's Republic of China) and ten units, covering two floors with more than 6,000 works of art.

The Exhibition for Noted Painters (名家艺术陈列专馆) is a permanent exhibition that showcases works by some of the most famous modern Chinese artists. The first phase features the works of seven artists: He Tianjian, Xie Zhiliu, and Cheng Shifa from the Shanghai School; Lin Fengmian, Guan Liang, and Wu Guanzhong who pioneered the blending of Chinese and Western art styles; and Hua Tianyou, a founder of modern Chinese sculpture.

The Exhibition for Noted Painters is another permanent exhibition, this time around showcasing works by some of the most famous modern Chinese artists. The first phase features the works of seven artists: He Tianjian, Xie Zhiliu, and Cheng Shifa from the Shanghai School; Lin Fengmian, Guan Liang, and Wu Guanzhong who pioneered the blending of Chinese and Western art styles; and Hua Tianyou, a founder of modern Chinese sculpture.

The museum frequently hosts special themed exhibitions. In its first year of operation alone, it hosted more than a dozen special exhibitions including Taiwanese art, the second Shanghai Photography Exhibition, and Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet from the collection of the Musée d'Orsay of Paris.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Admissions are free except for special exhibitions, which cost 20 yuan.
The museum is closed on Mondays except for national holidays.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Shanghai Natural History Museum

5) Shanghai Natural History Museum (must see)

Located in what was once the cotton exchange, this is the largest natural history museum in China. It covers an area of 12,880 square meters and is divided into 4 sections.

The Shanghai Natural History Museum is housed in a grand British style colonial building. The stained glass windows in the lobby and mosaic flooring are the only remaining parts of the historic structure. It was converted into a museum in 1956 and the department of animals was opened in 1960. It has 240.000 exhibits consisting of plants, animals, Stone Age objects found in China and minerals. The museum seeks to educate visitors about the evolution of mankind.

One exhibition hall is devoted to objects showcasing the History of the Ancient Animals. There is a stuffed Mamenxi dinosaur placed in the atrium that is over 140 million years old with a length of 22 meters. The Hall of ancient anthropology has objects unearthed and restored to show the stages of evolution. The hall of animals has stuffed Chinese animals and rare species like the Yellow River Mammoth, a giant Salamander, a Giant Panda and an alligator from the Yangtze River. The museum also has a library with an impressive collection of documents and books on natural history.

Why You Should Visit:
Very affordable tickets (but short queue), free lockers to use, clean toilets, comfy in-house cafe with a good selection of food, and an interesting gift shop.
There is also the man-made landscape garden INSIDE the building and even an enclosed terraced garden with waterfalls that gives an awesome atmosphere.

Head to the top first and then work your way down.
Check out the Jing'an Sculpture Park outside the museum – really nice and cool!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-5:15pm
Shanghai Grand Theatre

6) Shanghai Grand Theatre (must see)

The Shanghai Grand Theatre is the venue of most major Chinese and international music performances and art shows in the City. The modern structure with a unique curved roof resembles a crystal palace when lighted at night.

The theatre has 10 floors and is located at the northern end of the People’s Square. It was designed by French architect, Jean-Marie Charpentier, and inaugurated in 1998. It has three large auditoriums, of which the largest hosts ballets, concerts and operas including traditional Chinese opera performances by the China National Peking Opera Company. The smaller auditoriums are used for chamber music performances, to stage plays and for fashion shows. The lobby has an area of 2000 sq meters with a Greece Crystal White marble floor. The theater has one of the world’s largest automatic stages with advanced lighting and stereo equipment.

The Grand Theatre has hosted performances by world famous opera singers, ballet companies and European Symphony orchestras. It is also the venue for many art festivals and events including the China Shanghai International Art Festival and the SCO Members Art Festival. The Shanghai International Film Festival takes place yearly and the theater is the venue for many international culture shows.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the popular and most photographed buildings in Shanghai.
Very near to the Shanghai Museum, so you can probably visit both.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Shanghai Museum

7) Shanghai Museum (must see)

The Shanghai Museum has the best display of Chinese art and cultural exhibits in China, boasting a collection of over 120,000 exhibits from almost all the dynasties that added to the country's vast culture and history.

The first Shanghai Museum opened in 1952 in the clubhouse of the former Shanghai Race Course. The present building located in the People’s Square was inaugurated in 1996. The museum has five floors and an area of 39,200 sq meters. It was designed by local architect, Xing Tonghe in the shape of an ancient Chinese cooking vessel called the Ding with a round top and square base.

The museum has eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. The exhibits are grouped as ancient, bronze, ancient ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, ancient sculpture, coins, seals, furniture and artifacts from minority nationalities. There are over 400 objects from Bronze Age China, a wealth of ceramics from every Chinese dynasty, paintings and calligraphy from different eras in Chinese history and Buddhist sculpture. It also has an impressive coin collection that will interest numismatists because China was one of the first countries to use coin and paper currency. A notable rare object at the museum is one of the last three existing transparent mirrors from the Han Dynasty.

Why You Should Visit:
To take a very close and comprehensive look at many of the most ancient, well preserved exquisite artifacts in the world!
All objects are beautifully displayed and you're free to take photos without flash.

Make sure you rent the audio guide – although sometimes information is not available on a specific interesting item, it makes the museum more enjoyable (unless you read Chinese).
Note that you need a passport or some kind of ID as deposit for the headsets.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (last entry at 4pm)
Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
Shikumen Open House Museum

8) Shikumen Open House Museum

The Shikumen Open House Museum is a small museum that is dedicated to life in Shanghai when it was known as the Paris of the East. It shows life of middle class Shanghai residents in Shanghai before the communist era.

The Shikumen Open House Museum is located in the Xintiandi neighbourhood of Shanghai. Although the city has become ultra modern, the neighbourhood has remained as it was in the 1900s with blue stone clad houses divided by narrow lanes. This style of house was the typical residence of middle class households in the 20s and 30s unique to the city of Shanghai. At the time there were nearly 9000 Shikumen houses and most of the elderly Shanghai residents were born in them.

The Shikumen Museum has seven well appointed rooms each featuring exhibits showcasing a typical household. There is a main room, a son’s room, family room, daughter’s room, sitting room, study, room for the elderly members of the family and a kitchen. There is also a Tingzijian room that was used as a store room or servants quarters. Later these were let to boarders and many famous Chinese writers have lived in them.

The information boards and audiovisual effects help visitors enjoy the hospitality of a Shikumen house while visiting the museum.

Opening hours: Monday - Sunday: 10: 30 am- 10:30 pm.
Site of First National Congress of Communist Party of China

9) Site of First National Congress of Communist Party of China

This small museum housed in a traditional Shanghainese Shikumen House is the birthplace of the Communist Party of China. It is the place where the first congress met in 1921 and chartered the course of what later became the People’s Republic of China.

The Building made of blue stone with arched gates is located in 76, Xingye Road that was part of the former French Concession. It became a memorial in 1952 and the museum was opened for public viewing in 1999. Exhibits at the museum are about the history of China, the history of Shanghai and the birth and evolution of the Communist Party of China.

The new memorial opened in 1999 is 12 meters high. It has two floors in front and three floors at the back. The ground floor has a well equipped lecture hall. The second floor contains the museum that covers a space of 450 square meters with photographs, objects and documents that showcase the rise of the Communist Party and its contribution to the nation. The memorial also has a wax statue hall with as realistic depiction of the 15 participants at the congress including a statue of Comrade Mao Zedong and two members of the international Communist Party.

10) Xintiandi (must see)

Xintiandi is a popular pedestrian district in Shanghai. East meets west at the location and traditional Shikumen houses and modern western style buildings exist side by side.

There are two parts to Xintiandi. The Southern block has modern buildings with a few preserved Shikumen houses. The Northern block consists solely of preserved Shikumen houses and narrow streets giving the ambiance of Shanghai in the early 20th century. The south block has 25,000 square meters of shopping and entertainment in a modern setting. The large shopping mall was opened in 2002. The preserved exteriors of the Shikumen houses in the north block hide their transformed interiors. They now house high-end boutiques and cafes serving cuisine from all over the world. The two blocks are divided by Xingye Lu, the road on which the memorial of the first congress of the communist party of China is located.

Xintiandi means New Heaven and Earth. It's a very lively zone with many trendy restaurants and bars with live music and seating that spills out into the plaza. There's a small lake behind the neighborhood ringed with trees and very exclusive residential towers. Lots and lots of westerners here enjoying the nightlife.

Why You Should Visit:
Elegant, beautiful and of great ambiance; one of the best places for a chilled out meal any time of day – European style.

Eat first and burn off the calories with a long walk around the area to explore the bars, designer boutiques, art galleries, specialty stores, etc.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Shanghai, China

Create Your Own Walk in Shanghai

Create Your Own Walk in Shanghai

Creating your own self-guided walk in Shanghai is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Places of Worship in Shanghai

Places of Worship in Shanghai

The flourishing city of Shanghai is made up of a broad mix of cultures, with a large Western influence. This metropolis features a great number of places of worship that reflect the religious dedications of many of these cultures. Most of the churches and cathedrals are located in the central areas of the city, so they are surrounded by other wonderful, cultural landmarks. With this tour, you will enjoy an architectural and spiritual experience in one of the world's largest cities.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.7 km
Children's Entertainment Tour in Shanghai

Children's Entertainment Tour in Shanghai

Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world, a destination packed with modern architecture, historic sites, museums and other attractions. It is also one of the most fun cities in China with attractions for children, including amusement parks, aquariums and one of China's best zoos. This tour guide highlights some of the fun places in Shanghai for the little travelers.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
City Orientation Walking Tour II

City Orientation Walking Tour II

If you're a collector or someone who simply appreciates a vintage item or two around the house, don't miss out on what Shanghai has to offer. It would be a pity to leave Shanghai without having explored its antiques shops and bringing home something truly authentic. We've compiled a list of shops that specialize in antiques in Shanghai, all within walking distance of the city center.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 km
Shanghai Museums Tour

Shanghai Museums Tour

With its architectural diversity, powerful economic hubs and a vibrant social life, Shanghai is highly recognized as the symbol of modern China. It is also a city boasting a rich culture and a large number of museums that show the city's devotion to its history. Get ready to explore some attractive cultural sites of Shanghai in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 5 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 14.5 km
Luwan District Walking Tour, Shanghai

Luwan District Walking Tour, Shanghai

The Luwan district is located in the core of the huge metropolitan city of Shanghai. It boasts a rich cultural life, featuring museums and historic centers. Be sure to follow this guide if you want to visit the Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party, Sun Yat Sen's former residence and many other interesting places.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Walking Tour: Old City of Shanghai

Walking Tour: Old City of Shanghai

The Huangpu district contains some of the best-preserved sites of old Shanghai. The old town of Shanghai is a large area that remained walled when this city was divided into foreign concessions. Take a walk around traditional Chinese buildings or make your way through a large open-air market and enjoy the delightful Yuyuan gardens. The next walking tour is all about the delights of Shanghai's old Chinese city.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Shanghai for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Shanghai has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Shanghai, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.