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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Shanghai is one of the world’s most exciting cities. Keeping up with the city’s fast pace is part of the fun! Megalopolis Shanghai comes with a pretty hefty price tag and can seem out of reach for the budget traveller. Good thing there is plenty to see and do that is completely free!

Exploring Shanghai’s neighbourhoods

Old Chinese City – There is something mysterious about this part of Shanghai. The narrow winding streets are worth exploring, you might even happen upon a wet market. Many houses here still don’t have indoor plumbing and you might chance upon the rare sighting of seeing a night soil worker making his rounds.

The French Concession – Of all of Shanghai’s colonial districts, the French Concession is one of the most unique with its gorgeous villas, mansions and houses from the 1920s and 1930s. Art Deco fans will not be disappointed by a visit to this part of the city.

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The Bund – This is the beating heart of Shanghai and taking a stroll down the promenade will give you a good introduction to the city. The avenue is lined with art deco buildings from the 1920s and 1930s, when The Bund was Shanghai’s Wall Street. The Peace Hotel, one of Shanghai’s most famous buildings, is at the Bund’s north end.

Wukang Road – Wukand Road was built just over a hundred years ago but it is said that this road has 100 years of modern Shanghai history packed into it. There are no less than 14 architectural styles represented here are 37 historic sights.

Fengjing Ancient Town – This is one of China’s best-preserved ancient water towns and is home to some remarkable homes that are hundreds of years old.

Free Museums in Shanghai

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Shanghai Museum – This is one of mainland China’s best collections of ancient Chinese artefacts. More than 120,000 historic relics are on display from jade pieces, calligraphy works and swords. Address: 201 Renmin Road, Shanghai 

Shanghai Natural History Museum – It’s everything you’d expect from a natural history museum but has an interesting display on animals and plants native to China. Explore the history of ancient animals, human history, mummies, fossils and more. Address: 260 Yan’an East Road, Hunagpu District

Shanghai Art Palace – Located in the China Pavilion from the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, this free museum is a must if you’re interesting in Chinese art, paintings, printmaking and sculpture. Address: 161 Shangnan Road, Pudong New District

Jing’an Sculpture Park – Take a break from the concrete high rises in this 15 acre park with its monumental works in stone, steel and other materials. Artists like Jime Dine from the USA, Wim Delvoye from Belgium and Ram Katzir from Israel have pieces installed here. Address: Beijing West Road

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Mao Zedong’s Former Residence – China has a complicated history but the former residence of Mao Zedong will help you understand China in the 1920s when the future leader of China’s revolution was living as a communist activist in Shanghai at this address. It’s a must-see. Address: 120 Maoming North Road, near Nanjing West Road Station

Must-have Shanghai experiences

Doing your morning exercises in the park is the perfect way to start the day while on holidays in Shanghai. Thousands of Shanghai residents spend the mornings doing tai chi in the parks and on the Bund.

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People watching is without a doubt one of the best things to do in this city and you can do it just about anywhere. Discover your inner anthropologist as you sit and watch the newly minted business workers rush past, the flocks of uniformed school children, China’s fashionistas… The best places to just sit and watch the world go by are Peopel’s Square, the Bend Promenade or Xintriandi.

Like to travel for free? We’ve created 30+ free city guides on the Traveller’s Blog from Venice to Vancouver, Paris to Hong Kong, Washington DC to New York and beyond.

Imgs: mikebehnken, lynn lin, johnson0714, Tauno Tohk, kris krug / Flickr cc.

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