where to stay in Shanghai

Where to stay in Shanghai: tips from an expert traveler

I consider Shanghai to be one of Asia’s liveliest cities. It’s a bustling business center, boldly modern yet proudly displaying its history. They filled the city with glamour and authenticity. It boasts an elegant and global atmosphere that sets it apart from other mainland cities. Discover why Shanghai is on my list of the most affordable destinations worldwide. And of course, I will tell you where to stay in Shanghai during your trip. You can travel cheap like a local and enjoy the city.

Where to stay in Shanghai: hotels and neighborhoods

So, where should I set up my base? With the world’s largest subway network, getting around town is a breeze. But picking the perfect starting area ensures a smoother stay. No matter what type of trip I have in mind. Here’s my personal guide to the best places to stay in Shanghai, according to an expert.

where to stay in Shanghai

Ideal for exploring: People’s Square

Right in the city center, People’s Square grants easy access to most attractions on foot. Countless dining and shopping options surround the area, and a couple of museums are just steps away. Architecturally diverse, reflecting the vibrant spirit of Shanghai. When in need of respite, People’s Park provides a delightful retreat.

Affordable gem: Mingtown Etour

The ultimate budget-friendly hostel in the city. It boasts decent rooms (shared bathrooms). It has a lively bar with a charming courtyard. And it counts on a superb tucked-away location behind Tomorrow Square.

Immerse in the heart of Shanghai: Jin Jiang Pacific Hotel

Residing in a historic neoclassical building, Jin Jiang Pacific Hotel offers sophisticated rooms. Their view is along the bustling Nanjing Pedestrian Street. Conveniently situated right across from People’s Square Metro Station.

Perfect for stylish accommodations: Jing’an

Jing’an represents the modern heart of the city. It offers a bustling and vibrant atmosphere with an abundance of dining, drinking, and (mostly) shopping options. While many places to stay fall into the category of ordinary business hotels, there are a few hidden gems. If you search for something unique, stay here. In the neighborhood, you can find good options where to stay in Shanghai.

Fashion within budget: CACHET Boutique Shanghai

This hotel, once an old apartment block, exudes style, intimacy, and a prime location. Request a room on the higher floors. And consider paying a bit extra for a balcony—it’s worth it.

Sleek and sophisticated: The Puli Hotel

The accommodation has elegance and allure. They completed the place with a spa and pool. You find The Puli Hotel away from the main road. It ensures a peaceful environment. Opt for a high-level room overlooking Jing’an Park for a truly picturesque view.

Embracing tradition: Old City

Shanghai’s Old City was once a maze of narrow streets. The history tells the it was home to the Chinese population. Sadly, not much of its history remains. As rapid demolition and reconstruction take place.

However, you can find the area’s traditional charm. Where? In the bustling bazaar near the Yuyuan gardens. I recommend transportation by taxi. That’s why this particular area lacks convenient subway access.

Boutique elegance: Indigo

This luxurious modern hotel is located right by the river. It offers splendid views from its finest rooms.

Superb value near Yuyuan gardens: Riverview Hotel on the Bund

Appearing as a corporate giant from the outside. This reasonably priced gem stands out with its touches of Chinese decor inside. It perfectly complements its prime location near the picturesque Yuyuan gardens.

Indulge in luxury: The Bund

The area is located on the west bank of the Huangpu River. The Bund was once the center of European trading and banking. They erected magnificent structures in a competition for grandeur. Today, this stretch of Western-style buildings, facing the dazzling skyscrapers of Pudong across the river. It is China’s version of Champs Élysées. If you’re in the mood for splurging, you’ll find the city’s most lavish hotels. But you’ll see also upscale shops and a multitude of exquisite dining and upscale nightlife venues.

Immersed in heritage: Waldorf Astoria

Transformed from the city’s oldest gentlemen’s club. This elegantly renovated heritage hotel emanates Neoclassical splendor. It offers a feast for the senses.

A glimpse of history: Fairmont Peace Hotel

Shanghai’s most renowned hotel. It is an Art-Deco marvel. The place immerses guests in a rich history that includes a legendary jazz bar.

Captivating colonial allure: French Concession

The old French Concession showcases Shanghai’s most tranquil and refined side. Free from towering skyscrapers. And the bustling commercial frenzy that defines the rest of the city. Hidden among the tree-lined streets. They transformed many mansions into trendy restaurants, stylish boutiques, or charming hotels. This area beckons visitors to take leisurely walks. Promising delightful discoveries along the way.

Intimate and historic: Shanghai Hengshan Moller Villa Hotel

An extraordinary Norwegian-style building with over 70 years of history. It has a great location in the Former French Concession of Shanghai. The place exudes an intimate and timeless charm.

Vintage retreat: Shanghai Donghu Hotel

Embodying the essence of old Shanghai. This hotel captures the vibrant spirit of Donghu Street. It boasts delicate gardens and a picturesque fountain at its heart.

Unparalleled panoramas: Lujiazui

It’s hard to fathom that just three decades ago. Pudong, with its shimmering futuristic skyline, was predominantly rice fields. Along the river in Lujiazui, you’ll find a cluster of dazzling skyscrapers. Many of which house luxurious hotels on their upper floors. The key focus here is the breathtaking views. So aim for a high floor and a corner room. However, let me tell you one more thing. That accommodations in this area come with a hefty price tag.

Spectacular vistas: Grand Hyatt

Perched atop the elegant Jinamo Tower. The rooms here boast floor-to-ceiling windows. Offering breathtaking views. Additionally, the highest floor houses one of the world’s most elevated cocktail bars.

Business-class comfort: The Eton Hotel

Corporate yet cozy. This hotel features spacious rooms. Albeit slightly removed from the city center. However, its proximity to the metro ensures convenient transportation options.

Where to stay in Shanghai: an answer for any doubt

Let me give you more hints about the main questions asked by travelers. Yes, I collect always some notes on what friends and other people want to know talking with me. So, I am going to list the main requests giving an answer.

What is the best neighborhood to stay in Shanghai?

Shanghai is a vibrant and diverse city with many great neighborhoods to choose from. Of course, it depends on your preferences and needs. Here are some popular neighborhoods. Locals and travelers often recommended for visitors to stay in Shanghai.

1. The Bund

Located along the Huangpu River. The Bund offers stunning views of Shanghai’s iconic skyline and historic buildings. It’s a great area for luxury hotels and upscale shopping. With a mix of modern and traditional attractions.

2. Huangpu

Situated in the heart of Shanghai. Huangpu is a bustling district with a mix of commercial and residential areas. It’s a great choice if you want to be centrally located and have easy access to popular attractions, shopping malls, and cultural sites.

3. French Concession

Known for its charming tree-lined streets. French Concession is a popular neighborhood with a unique blend of Chinese and European influences. It’s a great area for boutique shops, trendy restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.

4. Jing’an

Located west of the city center. Jing’an is a modern and upscale neighborhood. It offers a mix of high-end shopping, luxury hotels, and excellent dining options. The Jing’an Temple, a famous Buddhist temple, is also situated in this area.

5. Xintiandi

Situated in the Luwan District. Xintiandi is a trendy neighborhood. People know it for its restored shikumen (stone-gate) houses. That now house stylish restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s a popular area for entertainment and nightlife, with a vibrant atmosphere.

6. Pudong

Located across the Huangpu River from the Bund. Pudong is known for its modern skyscrapers and futuristic skyline. It’s a great choice if you prefer a more contemporary and business-oriented area. With easy access to places like the Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai Tower.

The best neighborhood for you to stay in Shanghai depends on your personal preferences. But also on budget and the purpose of your visit. Consider factors such as proximity to attractions, convenience, and the type of atmosphere you desire when making your decision.

How long should I stay in Shanghai?

The duration of your stay in Shanghai depends on various factors. They include your travel objectives, interests, and available time. Shanghai is a large and dynamic city. With a plethora of attractions and activities to offer. Here are some considerations to help you decide how long to stay.

1. Sightseeing

Do you want to explore the major attractions of Shanghai? Such as The Bund, Yu Garden, Oriental Pearl Tower, and Shanghai Museum. Along with some of the city’s renowned districts like French Concession and Xintiandi. A stay of three to four days would provide you with ample time to visit the highlights.

2. Business or Conferences

This in case you visit Shanghai for business purposes or attending conferences. The duration of your stay may be determined by the length of your professional engagements. However, if you can spare some extra time. Consider extending your stay to explore the city beyond your work commitments.

3. Cultural Experiences

Shanghai also offers a vibrant cultural scene. It has theaters, art galleries, and traditional performances. Do you want to immerse yourself in Shanghai’s cultural offerings? You might want to allocate additional time to attend shows. Maybe visit art exhibitions. Or explore the city’s art districts like M50 or Tianzifang.

4. Day Trips

Shanghai’s proximity to nearby destinations makes it convenient for day trips. You could consider visiting water towns like Zhujiajiao or Tongli. Or perhaps take a trip to Suzhou or Hangzhou. All know them for their picturesque gardens and scenic beauty. It depends on the number of day trips you wish to take. You might want to allocate additional days for these excursions.

Considering the above factors, a recommended duration for a visit to Shanghai would be around five to seven days. This timeframe allows you to experience the city’s major attractions. Immerse yourself in the local culture. And even embark on a day trip or two. However, if you have limited time, even a shorter stay can still provide you with a taste of what Shanghai has to offer.

What are the best areas to stay in China?

Shanghai offers amazing opportunities as a traveler. But you can see even more going around the country. China is a vast country with diverse landscapes, cultures, and attractions. The best areas to stay in China largely depend on your interests. But also on travel objectives, and the specific regions you plan to visit. Here are some popular areas that offer unique experiences.

1. Beijing

As the capital city of China, Beijing is a must-visit destination. It offers a blend of history and modernity. With iconic attractions like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven. The city has a wide range of accommodations. And it is a great base for exploring the nearby areas.

2. Shanghai

Known for its futuristic skyline, bustling streets, and vibrant atmosphere. Shanghai is a global metropolis. The city offers a mix of modern and traditional attractions, including The Bund, Yu Garden, Nanjing Road, and the French Concession. It’s an excellent choice for shopping, dining, and experiencing the dynamic energy of a cosmopolitan city.

3. Xi’an

This answer to history passionates. Great, if you like ancient civilizations. Xi’an is a must-visit. It’s home to the world-famous Terracotta Army, an archaeological wonder. Additionally, Xi’an has a well-preserved city wall. You can see the Muslim Quarter, and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Making it a captivating destination for history enthusiasts.

4. Guilin and Yangshuo

Located in southern China. Guilin and Yangshuo are renowned for their breathtaking natural landscapes. The karst mountains, the Li River, and the picturesque countryside make it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Many visitors choose to stay in Yangshuo. Why? To enjoy its laid-back atmosphere and take part in activities like cycling, bamboo rafting, and exploring the stunning scenery.

5. Chengdu

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is famous for its pandas and delicious spicy cuisine. Visitors can explore the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. To see these adorable creatures up close. Additionally, Chengdu offers a glimpse into traditional Chinese culture with its teahouses. You can see historic neighborhoods, and nearby attractions like the Leshan Giant Buddha and Mount Emei.

6. Hong Kong

Although technically a Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong is often considered a separate travel destination within China. It’s a vibrant and cosmopolitan city known for its stunning skyline, bustling markets, and incredible food scene. From exploring the vibrant neighborhoods. To taking in the panoramic views from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong offers a unique blend of East and West.

These are just a few examples of the best areas to stay in China. And there are numerous other regions worth exploring, such as Chengdu, Zhangjiajie, Guilin, and Yunnan Province. The choice ultimately depends on your preferences and the specific experiences you seek during your visit to China.

Is 3 days enough in Shanghai?

While it’s possible to have a fulfilling experience in Shanghai in three days, it would be a relatively short amount of time considering the city’s vast size and the multitude of attractions it offers. Three days would allow you to get a glimpse of Shanghai’s highlights. But you may need to prioritize and plan your itinerary carefully. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a three-day visit.

1° Day

  • Start your day by exploring the iconic waterfront area. The Bund, with its colonial-era buildings and impressive skyline views.
  • Visit the Shanghai Museum. Known for its extensive collection of Chinese art and historical artifacts.
  • Take a stroll through the famous Nanjing Road. A bustling shopping street.
  • In the evening, consider watching an acrobatics show. Or enjoying a cruise along the Huangpu River. To see the city’s illuminated skyline.

2° Day

  • Spend the morning exploring the Yu Garden. A classical Chinese garden with beautiful pavilions, rockeries, and ponds.
  • Visit the nearby City God Temple. And explore the bustling Yuyuan Bazaar.
  • Head to the Oriental Pearl Tower. Or Shanghai World Financial Center for panoramic views of the city.
  • In the evening, explore the vibrant Xintiandi area. People know it for its lively dining and entertainment scene.

3° Day

  • Take a day trip to one of Shanghai’s nearby water towns. Such as Zhujiajiao or Tongli. To experience traditional Chinese architecture and canals.
  • Return to Shanghai in the afternoon. And explore the trendy French Concession area. All know it for its tree-lined streets, boutiques, and cafes.
  • End your visit with a visit to Tianzifang. A labyrinth of narrow alleyways filled with art galleries, boutiques, and craft shops.

While this itinerary covers some of the major attractions in Shanghai, keep in mind that the city has much more to offer. If possible, extending your stay to four or five days would allow for a more relaxed pace. And the opportunity to explore additional areas or take day trips to nearby destinations.

Remember to consider travel times, especially during peak hours, and factor in any specific interests or attractions you’d like to include in your visit.


Now, you know where to stay in Shanghai. Take advantage of my tips. Explore neighborhoods. Check all the hotel options. And then, pick the solutions you prefer to plan your trip. You will go back home happy from the destination. People find always something great and amazing in the city. I tried it! Enjoy!

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