Long Layover: 6 Hours in Shanghai

Long Layover: 6 Hours in Shanghai

My bus pulled into the Shanghai South Long Distance Coach Terminal at 9 am.  Since my flight wasn’t scheduled to depart from Dupong International Airport until 7:20, I wanted to make as much as I could of my six hours in Shanghai. I did a little research and opted for a circular route beginning and ending at People’s Square and encompassing several of Shanghai’s most popular attractions.  Here is what I did with 6 hours in Shanghai, China.


1. Window shopping on East Nanjing Road

How to spend 6 hours in Shanghai
East Nanjing Road holds a blend of eastern and western shopping flavors
East Nanjing Road in Shanghai, China
East Nanjing Road is Shanghai’s most iconic shopping street.

I  began my day with a leisurely stroll down East Nanjing Road – Shanghai’s famous pedestrian street. At 10:00, The tourist trains stood empty. The large shopping centers on both sides of the road were just beginning to unlock their doors. Nevertheless, the street was already teeming with tourists beginning their day.

the increasingly ubiquitous international brands of M&M’s, Starbucks, and Madam Tussaud’s lined the The uppermost part of  East Nanjing Road.  As I walked past an H&M and The Gap, I found it difficult to shake the feeling that I’d been transported to the United states or Europe.

That feeling  disappeared as soon as I stepped into a food market to find a restroom.  Suddenly, I was back at my local supermarket with the isles of dried fish and cases filled with mysterious and colorful gelatinous cubes.

While most of the street level shops in East Nanjing road are souvenir shops selling everything from high-end silks to calligraphy to tiny plastic knick-knacks, the interiors of the large block buildings are an experience all to themselves. These are “department stores” where a collection of vendors operate with a single cashier system.  Often slightly chaotic, each block competes with the others in noise and bling in the ongoing battle for foot traffic from East Nanjing Road.

2. The view from the Bund

The Bund in Shanghai, China
The Bund stretches for nearly a mile along the Huangpu River and offers some of the city’s best views of the Shanghai skylines

From the end of East Nanjing Road, I walked another two blocks to The Bund – a two kilometer stretch of Riverfront walkway that gives the most impressive views of the towers of Shanghai’s Financial District.

Shanghai, China
Pollution in China’s northern cities can reach dangerous levels, especially in the winter and spring.

With only 6 hours in Shanghai, a view of the skyline seemed to offer the most city for the least time.  It was nearly 11 when I caught my first glimpse of the river. The buildings hung like shadows beyond a thick veil of pollution and haze. I pulled out my 3M mask and put it on.  I’ve had enough experience with China’s pollution to know that if the buildings are hiding, it is better to put on some protection.

I walked first to one end of the Bund, and then to the other. I paused from time to time to people-watch, read information placards, and take photographs of the ever-changing cityscape.

6 hours in Shanghai
The air eventually cleared to reveal a beautiful blue sky.

3. Yuyuan Garden

Yuyuan Garden lies near the southernmost point of The Bund.  This formal Garden was first finished in 1577 by Pat Yunduan.  The garden was designed as a peaceful place for his parents to enjoy their old age.  The garden occupies a space of about 5 acres – small by Chinese standards. It takes a little more than an hour to visit.

Disclaimer – I didn’t actually visit the Yuyuen Garden, I got side-tracked in the adjacent park. Moreover, having just come from Suzhou when I arrived at the gates to the Garden I found I didn’t have the interest in another Ming era garden, so I decided to have a little stroll in busy side streets around the garden instead.

4. Fuyou Road

Fuyou Road in Shanghai, China
Fuyou Road in Shanghai

From Yuyan Garden I walked west along Fuyou road .  I passed shops selling traditional Chinese musical instruments, several gold and silver markets, shops selling pearl and jade jewelry, as well as the occasional souvenir shop. These buildings were much older than the shiny towers of East Nanjing Road.  Chaotic and colorful, I thoroughly enjoyed people watching and window shopping as I made toward my final stop of the the day, the Shanghai Museum.


5. The Shanghai Museum

Antique Vase in the Shanghai Museum, China
Vase with Fencai Design of Eight immortals 1736-1795
Shanghai Museum atrium
The Shanghai Museum holds some of the best collections of ancient Chinese arts in the world

The Shanghai Museum is one of the best museums in China. The museum holds a remarkable collection of artifacts from a wide variety of Chinese Arts. The museum’s collections of ancient Bronzes, historic money, Qing era furniture, and Chinese calligraphy and painting are among the best in the world.  The displays tend toward traditional, but the artifacts manage to hold the viewer’s attention.

It takes three or four hours to see the entirety of the museum’s collection. Since I had a flight to catch, I only spent two and a half hours in the museum. I chose to spend the bulk of that time on the ancient bronzes and in the Calligraphy and painting sections.

Price: Admission is free, but an ID may be required so bring your passport along.

Hours: 9am – 5pm last entry at 4:00pm.  The museum only accepts 8000 visitors per day. If you plan to visit on a Chinese Holiday you should go to the museum in the morning.

Location: 201 Renmin Avenue – near the People’s Square.


Got a minute? Check out my other Long-Layover Posts:

Long Layover – 5 hours in Istanbul

Long Layover – One Day in Nanning, China

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