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5 Fun and Free Things to Do in Shanghai

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Today’s guest post is by a very talented travel blogger named Jess! She’s blogging at and has been traveling to all different parts of the world. She especially loves traveling in China and has five insider tips on what to do in Shanghai for absolutely free! 

photo by Mike Behnken

photo by Mike Behnken

“Shanghai is truly a city like no other. One day you can explore the vibrant skyscrapers and famous financial district of Shanghai, and the next you can explore the old streets of the French Concession. It’s this mixture of old and new that make this city so intriguing. However, many travelers fear that Shanghai will empty their bank account. While it is easy to spend money in Shanghai, it is also easy to explore this city on a budget. Here are 5 free and fun things to do in Shanghai:

1. 50 Moganshan Road Art Gallery

Shanghai has a thriving contemporary art scene that can be found along the Suzhou Creek. If you want to see the newest and most cutting edge art you will find it at 50 Monganshan Road, or ShanghaiM50 Art Community. For free, you can experience the hip and edgy side of Shanghai, and wander through the many cutting edge art galleries.

photo by D Johnston

photo by D Johnston

2. Explore Shanghai’s Parks

Most of the parks in Shanghai are free, making them a great place to spend a budget friendly afternoon. Parks in Shanghai are not just a place to have a picnic, but a cultural center. You will find people sword dancing, practicing tai chi, or listening to music. Shanghai has many parks to choose from, and each one offers a little something different.

photo by mawique

3. Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum is one of the most popular free museums in all of Shanghai. It features an amazing collection of over 120,000 pieces and ancient Chinese artifacts including calligraphy, ancient coins, sculptures, and much more.

Photo by Kenneth Moore

4. Wander through the French Concession

The French Concession is one of the last colonial districts of Shanghai. You will be transported back in time as you wander the French Concession streets. As you walk down the streetsyou will have the chance to admire old mansions, galleries, cute boutiques, the historic Cathay Theatre, and much more. It is easy to get lost in the charm and beauty of the French Concession.

Photo by Eduardo M. C.

Photo by Eduardo M. C.

5. People Watching

One can people watch for free in any city, but Shanghai may be one of the most interesting cities in the world to partake in this timeless activity. Shanghai has a great metro system that can help you get to almost any part of the city. Try using a map app like Explore Shanghai or Google Maps to help you get around the city. However, China does have very strict internet restrictions (one of many interesting facts about China). If you are not able to access the map of your choice, try using a VPN to help you get around any censorships.

Some of the more interesting people watching destinations include along the Bund, in People’s Square, or at Xintiandi. In People’s Park you can find what is now known as the “matchmaking market.” Parents come with their single adult children in hopes of finding them a partner. This is just one of the many interesting and unique sights you may come across while exploring the streets of Shanghai.

Photo by Jay

Photo by Jay

About the author:

I’m Jess. I’m never in one place for very long. My parents were travelers before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older!
Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)


Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.


  1. Eileen Huang on April 1, 2015 at 2:05 am

    Totally agree with the list and many of them are on my list of things I like about the city. 🙂

    • Linda on April 1, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      great! How have you been? 🙂

  2. Jess Signet on May 23, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Glad you liked it Eileen! I love Shanghai – one of my favorite places 🙂

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