An Inside Guide to Shanghai’s Must-Do Activities

by Charlotte Walker, Apr 6, 2014 | Destinations: China / Shanghai
Huaihai Park

Huaihai Park

Huaihai Park
Jin Jiang Amusement Park

Chat with any group of Shanghai experts, and you'll likely hear several different versions of a perfect itinerary. After all, the beauty of this vibrant city is in the eyes of the beholder, and it can be tough to decide how to find your own way. Want my two cents? Give this collection of must-do experiences a whirl.

The Grass Is Always Greener

Park spaces in Shanghai go beyond the tried and true. Here, it's all about experiencing cultural moments while you get a respite from the city's iconichustle and bustle. Head to Huaihai Park for the slowest pace; this cobbled square is a favorite among Chinese elders, and it's a fantastic place to catch your breath morning, noon and night. Venture out early to see locals strolling with their caged birds, or visit during lunch for a quiet slice of life.

Still, this is Shanghai, so slowing down isn't the raison d'etre of every green area. Though you'll find plenty of picnic spots and tree-lined nooks in the popular Fuxing Park, this destination offers a quirky claim to fame: a little game called bubble romping. The activity is exactly what it sounds like;patrons climb into inflatable bubbles and hamster-wheel walk their way around the park. It's exactly the type of silly fun that every harrowed city dweller needs.

For Your Amusement

Of course, when it comes to silly fun, nothing beats a carnival. Jin Jiang Amusement Park is the coolest place to get your kicks; this colorful spot offers a gigantic Ferris wheel, soaring swings and a spooky haunted house.Thrill seekers can amp up the adrenaline with a zero-gravity drop ride, and competitive spirits can test their skills at the strip of games. You can even create a staycation memory by snapping a picture near the Eiffel Tower replica.

If Jin Jiang doesn't quite quench your thirst for high-speed amusement, however, there's always Disc Kart Indoor Karting. This after-dark activity is a Shanghai favorite; you'll be able to race around a controlled track faster than lightning, and the upstairs bar offers a sweet selection of post-race cocktails. Skip the expensive clubs, and use your American Express credit cards here instead.

The Essence of Escapism

After all that adventure, it's probably time for a touch of tranquility. Explore Shanghai's escapist retreats to recharge your batteries. The multi-outpost Dragonfly offers a world of rejuvenating spa treatments and beautifying facials, and the Double Rainbow Massage House provides some of the city's most no-nonsense muscle relaxation. Cool your jets at either spot, andthen stop by the French Concession's Song Fang Maison de The for a restorative cup of tea.

Want to make a day of all this relaxation? Shanghai-style serenity extends well beyond spas and massage parlors, and you'll find one of the greatest examples at Wenmiao Temple. Tucked away near the Laoximen metro, this Confucian space all but overflows with a sense of spirituality. Start with the quiet prayer halls, and then make your way through the Chinese gardens and hushed koi pond. It's a perfect way to center yourself after an action-packed getaway.

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