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Shanghai: A backpacker's guide


Shanghai is the most populated city in China. It’s also the most developed and is almost unrecognisable as the city it was 10 years ago.

Shanghai at night

Go backpacking in Shanghai and you can expect to see huge skyscrapers, long roads filled with high-street chains and huge market plazas offering the best in local goods.


Whether you’re looking for short or long-term accommodation in Shanghai, a hostel is always a great solution. Shanghai hostels are sociable places where you can meet like-minded travellers and save money.

If you do want some privacy you can always opt for a hotel or a private apartment instead. 

To stay in touch with friends and family back home, look out for hostels that provide free wi-fi access – ideal if you are travelling with a laptop or smartphone – or internet kiosks with a free or cheap hourly rate.


In Shanghai you can just wander around and take in the sights. You can enjoy the towering skyscrapers from the outside and it won’t cost you a penny.

The Nan Jing Rd is the longest shopping district in China, and perhaps the world, and starts with huge colonial architectural buildings.

As you walk to the west you’ll come to the new modern department stores and shopping malls if you do want to spend a yuan or two.

Wander around and get lost in the unique boutique shops for a while. The amount of markets and funky little stores has increased in the last few years and now you can choose between antique markets, bird and bug markets, clothes and fabric markets and also brand-name markets to get some top bargains.

Must sees

The Shanghai World Financial Centre, completed in 2008, is the second tallest building in the world at 492metres (1,614ft). Take a trip up to the observation deck at 474m (1,555ft) to snap some great skyline shots.

The Shanghai Xintiandi is one of the trendiest areas in the city. The retail, entertainment and culture complex was built in 2001 in the city centre and sprawls across 30,000 square metres. You’ll find every cuisine imaginable, cinemas, fitness centres, classy boutiques and accessory shops too.

You should also go and check out the restoration of The Bund. The main target was the Waibaidu Bridge at the northern end. It’s the world’s first all-steel bridge and is regarded as one of the city’s most important landmarks.

The road leading up to it has also been altered in the last few years to create a double-levelled roadway for more green space to add to the modern beauty of the area.

Getting around

Shanghai is well known around the world for its crazy amount of traffic: so if you’ve got time on your side the best way to see the city is definitely by foot.

Take it slow and don’t try to cover too much ground in a day and your time in Shanghai will really be something to remember.

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