1 - Nanjing Road
China’s most famous shopping street is a five-kilometre stretch of retail heaven with hundreds of outlets to peruse. Start near the iconic Fairmont Peace Hotel that sits on the Bund (Ok, we said “beyond the Bund”, but really it would be madness to visit Shanghai without drinking in the sights at least once!), and from there work your way west. You’ll find fashionable local boutiques, high-end brands from Tiffany to Mont Blanc, as well as plenty of cafés, restaurants and bars. The section from the Bund to People’s Park can get extremely crowded – sometimes it feels like the whole city is on one street.
2 - People's Park
After giving your wallet a work out, leave Nanjing Road and enter People’s Park. This green oasis is a favourite with locals and a great place to observe charming scenes of everyday life, from local card tournaments to practising t’ai chi. Hidden in the woods you’ll see the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, which hosts rotating modern art and design exhibitions throughout the year. Current exhibition “Apple+” features the lifework of Japanese designer Ken Miki, specifically summarising his “Learning to Design, Designing to Learn” theory on design education, through the simplistic form of an apple. Entry to the museum costs RMB80 (US$12); open 10am-6pm daily; mocashanghai.org
3 - Xintiandi
If you haven’t managed to get your fill of shopping on Nanjing Road, then the slightly more upscale offerings just south of Huaihai Road in the city’s trendy Xintiandi district are a safe bet. Beginning just south of People’s Square, head down Madang Road past The Langham and Andaz hotels to explore the European-cum-Chinese Xintiandi entertainment district. Small shops, art galleries and restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating are dotted throughout the area, and its thin alleyways comprising old brickwork buildings can be a joy to explore on foot.
4 - Tianzifang
From Xintiandi, head southwest farther into the French Concession – a historic area with picturesque buildings and large, leafy avenues. There’s plenty to explore, but a highlight is Tianzifang, an arts and crafts enclave that has been repurposed from a traditional residential area. The entrance is subtle, but enter and you’ll find a maze of narrow alleys, populated with small dwellings housing modern coffee shops, cafés, galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars. Address: Lane 210, Taikang Road.
5 - Jing'An Temple
Compared with heritage-laden Beijing, Shanghai is certainly lighter on historical sightseeing opportunities, but Jing’an Temple proves the city is not devoid of offerings. A 15-minute taxi ride from Tianzifang will get you back to West Nanjing Road where it is located. Tracing its origins back to the third century AD during China’s Three Kingdoms period, the Buddhist temple has been relocated, refreshed and rebuilt a few times, but is nonetheless unmistakable for its red walls, golden roofs and towering spire. Comprising multiple buildings that enclose a central courtyard, this is a good place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Jing’an business district. Open 7.30am-5pm daily, entrance fee RMB50 (US$8).