10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Shanghai

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The fish-village-turned-metropolitan Shanghai has much more to offer than the hot tourist attractions such as the Bund, Pudong Skyline, Yuyuan Gardens & Bazaar and Shanghai Museum.

I have rounded up 10 of the best non-mainstream attractions to help you get the real feel of Shanghai just like a local and plan your own Shanghai tour.  These non-tourist hot spots could be a road, a museum, a park, an old house, a beautiful community, and an old town.

1. Xinchang Ancient Town
If you want to know how Shanghai used to be before it has been transformed into a metropolitan city with its old buildings replaced by skyscrapers, go to the old town known as Xinchang Ancient Town.

Xinchang is still a relatively laid back water-town despite the fact that it is located on Line 16 of the Shanghai Metro. The stellar standout is the 500 years old teahouse set by the canal. The wooden buildings along the canal and the stone bridges offer great photogenic opportunities. Many China’s water towns have been overdeveloped. The houses here still look authentic.

Xinchang Ancient Town

Xinchang Ancient Town

One good reason to come here is to have a bite of the local food from the little riverside restaurants, typical Chinese, very tasty and cheap. A must-try is the chou (smelly) tofu. Admission to the town is free. The museum (18 RMB) and temple (free) are worth visiting.

Tel: 128 Haiquan St, Xinchangzhen, Pudong, Shanghai 浦东新场镇
Tel: 86 21 5817 0205,  021-58170652
How to get there: Take metro line 16 and get off at the station of Xinchang and walk to the old town.

2. Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre
It is a hidden gem museum in Shanghai. It is located in the basement of an apartment block, easy to miss without a good map.

The owner Yang Peiming has a vast collection of over 5,000 propaganda posters ranging from the early days of the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949 to the end of 1970s – the Cultural Revolution.

propaganda posters

propaganda posters

Many of the propaganda posters were rescued from trash bins and cycling markets. It is worth a look particularly if you have an interest in history and the culture of China. The gift shop sells the original and replica posters as well as the stuffs in the old days.

Open Hours:  10am – 5pm daily. Admission 20RMB.
Add: 868 Huashan Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai 徐汇区华山路868号B号楼
Tel: 86 21 6211 1845

3. Liuli China Museum 
Liuli China Museum is founded and designed by the renowned glass artists Loretta Yang and Chang Yi. “Liuli” literally refers to the ancient Chinese glass. The exotic name indicates Loretta Yang and Chang Yi’s desire to revive and develop artistic Chinese glassware.

This creative art museum has two exhibition floors – The first floor is designed for showcasing ancient Chinese glassware series, glass artwork from the world art glass masters and the new glass artworks from the 10 contemporary international glass artists; the second floor for displaying the representative masterpieces done by the glass artist – Loretta Yang.

Story of the Golden Hand of Buddha by Loretta Yang Shanghai

Story of the Golden Hand of Buddha by Loretta Yang Shanghai

Entrance Fee: 20 yuan
Opening hours:
Museum:  Tuesday – Sunday  10:00-17:00
Museum Store:  Monday – Sunday  10:00-22:00
XiaoSanTang (LIULI CAFÉ ):  Monday – Sunday  11:00-23:00

Add: No.25, Taikang Rd, Shanghai (Just opposite to Tianzifang )
Tel: 0086-21-64672268
How to get there
Take metro line 9 and get off at the station of Dapulu and Exit 1 (打浦路站)

4. Holy Trinity Church, Shanghai 
Holy Trinity Church is the most beautiful protestant church in Shanghai. The church was originally built in 1847 and  designed in a gothic revival style by British architect Sir George Gilbert Scott.

The church is constructed interiorly and exteriorly of red bricks,  hence the nickname of “Red Church”. It was the first and the most beautiful remaining protestant church in Shanghai. Now the church has recently been renovated and serves as the main church and headquarters of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Shanghai.

Holy Trinity Church, Shanghai

Holy Trinity Church, Shanghai

Add: 219, Jiujiang Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai  九江路219号
How to get there
Take metro line 2 and get off at the station of East Nanjing Road and exit from Exit 3, then walk to the church.

Fumin Road –  Shanghai’s New Local Fashion Street 
Fumin Road isn’t long, just about 600 meters and runs between Julu Road and Changle Road. Its original name is Route Courbet in memory of the French General Route Courbet.

The well- preserved old residences can be spotted everywhere on the street, allowing you to get a feel of far away from urban hustles and bustles.

Helen Lee’s first store on Fumin Road

Helen Lee’s first store on Fumin Road

Once a quiet and quaint street in the old French Concession, it has been gradually transformed into a fashion street, a hotbed of activity for young local designers. Many local fashion designers settle and open their shops here. Fumin Road sits between Julu Road and Changle Road. 上海富民路.

6. Antique Garden Shanghai – the Most beautiful Café 
Antique Garden Shanghai  is a great place to cool down and relax after milling around in the Old French Concession. As its name suggests, the two-storey coffee shop is peppered with antique furniture and old stuffs.

Antique Garden Shanghai - the Most Beaitiful Café

Antique Garden Shanghai – the Most beautiful Café

They make good tea,  Chinese red tea and green tea, and aromatic coffee with delectable snacks. You may choose to sit inside or outside in the garden. The place has wifi, a perfect place to read, write, talk and blog.

Add: No.44 Sinan Road, Shanghai 上海思南路44号
Open Hours: 11:00am – 11:30pm
Tel: 021-53821055 021-53828646

7. New Star Bathhouse
If  you feel a bit tired after a long day or two of sight-seeing or shopping, it is a good idea to relax at the Korean style bathhouse.  New Star bathhouse has a large wet area with a good selection of different temperature water baths, dry sauna and steam room.

New Star Spa

New Star Spa

Pay your entrance fee for bathing ( around 60 yuan ) and leave your shoes and go to your gendered section. You will be given a key to your locker room to store your clothes. Go naked in the wet area for bathing and sauna, message ( about 80 yuan ) and or body scrub ( 35 yuan ).

You dry off and slip into pants and shirt and go to the dry area for the resting place – eating or drinking,  spending half of your day.

Opening Hours: Daily 24 hours

Three Locations:
1) No.01, Lane 258, Jinhui South Road, near Hongquan Road, Minhang district, Shanghai 闵行区金汇南路258弄1号
Tel: (021)62597771
2) 1900 Tianshan Lu, Yanan Xi Lu, Changning district, Shanghai  长宁区天山路1900号
Tel: (021)34320777
3) Dongxie Road 288, 东绣路288号(近梅花路)
Tel: (021)58387771

8. Shanghai Postal Museum
Shanghai Postal Museum, as its name suggests, tells the history and stories relative to Shanghai’s postal service with quite detailed exhibits and stamp collections. No entry fee. You need to spend one hour in the museum and it is quite interesting.

Shanghai Postal Museum

Shanghai Postal Museum

The museum is not far from the Bund, just 10 minutes walk from the Waibaidu Bridge at the North of The Bund. Last admission at 4pm. You can purchase stamps and stamp related books in the post office itself.

The building of the museum itself is worth having a look. It has a gorgeous Romanesque clock tower  and its rooftop garden offers a fantastic view of the cityscape of Shanghai. |

Add: 276 Bei Suzhou Road,  Hongkuo District 虹口区北苏州路250号

9. Zhongshan Park
In China, many big cities have a park known as Zhongshan Park in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen,  a Chinese revolutionary, first president and founding father of the Republic of China. Shanghai is no exception and Shanghai Zhongshan Park is the biggest in the downtown Shanghai.

Zhongshan Park

Zhongshan Park

It is a great place to see how the local people to do their daily life. If you get there in the morning,  you will see people playing Taiji, doing morning exercises, singing and dancing and more. It is interesting to mix with the locals.

Admission: free
Opening Hours: 05:00~19:00(Summer); 06:00~18:00(non-summer)
Add: 780 Changning Road, Changning District 长宁区长宁路780号

10. Shanghai Maritime University (Nanhui )
If you like university tours, looking at their infrastructures, at their gardens and visiting their libraries, you may go to visit Shanghai Maritime University, the most beautiful university in Shanghai.

Shanghai Maritime University

Shanghai Maritime University

Located only 2 km away from the sea, it has a lighthouse, and even a landing pad for helicopter. There are the beautiful lake named Zhihui Lake, Lover’s Slope. Going to class, you have to hike across a high mound and walk across a river. It has an incredibly beautiful campus.

Add: 155 Hucheng Ring Road, Xinchengzhen, Nanhui, Pudong, Shanghai 浦东新区 南汇新城镇沪城环路155号
Tel: (021)58855200

Add-on:
Top 10 Attractions in Shanghai
Top 10 Iconic Buildings in Shanghai

Any questions, just drop a line.

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