The city of Shanghai holds some of the best an international city can have to offer. While it is teeming with new life, modern culture, and expat communities, there is also an abundance of Chinese history, delectable traditional eats, and serene natural beauty to discover. If you are on the hunt for an ideal summer adventure, Shanghai may be the perfect place to get your fix, and may even be the perfect place to start learning Mandarin!
This summer is the perfect time to see the best of Shanghai and enjoy sweating through some incredible outdoor adventures, lazy days, and full stomachs! While there are many reasons to visit Shanghai this summer, here are our top 6.
- Scenic Views of Shanghai
Shanghai is filled with amazing skylines and iconic views, including the famous Bund – the waterfront along the west bank of the Huangpu River. You can take a casual walk along the Bund in search of views of the skyline and the Pearl Tower any time of year, but you can also beat the heat of the summer with a calm, nighttime river cruise. You can have a peaceful and cool dinner riding along the Hangpu. Make sure to take in the sites as they are lit up against the night sky, and don’t forget pictures!
The Bund may be the most famous photo-op in Shanghai, but don’t forget to check out alternative views of the skyline, and more of the most instagrammable spots in Shanghai.
2. Comforting Nature of Shanghai
Shanghai is well known for being a fast-paced city – which is true – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of escapes from chaos. After admiring the skyline, ditch the cityscape and find beauty, nature, and old architecture. Summer is a great time to explore all the nature has to offer while it’s lush and green. There are endless public parks to pick from – including Zhongshan Park, Century Park, and Fuxing Park. I always enjoy spending the day with a picnic, a nice book, and maybe a hike.
If you’re looking for a little more history with your nature, you can head to Yu Garden, which is conveniently right next to the old city. We are always enchanted by both the natural beauty and old style that makes you feel like you’re in a different world.
3. Easy Access to More of China
One reason why Shanghai is such a good destination for travel in China is how accessible nearby attractions and cities are. There is more than a summer’s worth of day trips and weekend trips to take easily by bus or train, as a fun escape from the city.
To start, you can’t visit Shanghai without exploring one of the nearby water towns. There are eight, but our top recommendation is Zhujiajiao. Only an hour from the city, it is a great way to spend the day (and night!). Roam the waterfront streets admiring the classical Chinese architecture, ancient bridges, and small local eateries.
Shenshan Sculpture park, a 45 minute trip from the city, is a family-friendly, date friendly, and all-around fun way to spend your time! It was built around a manmade lake, and there are not only large sculptures, but also cafes, restaurants, pools, and boat rentals.
If you have even more time, you can check out some neighboring cities, including Suzhou and Hangzhou! If you join Shanghai Summer School you will get a chance to explore one the above mentioned cities. A day trip to Suzhou is part of the Classic 4-week program summer school program, while trip to Hangzhou is a part of the Intensive 2-week summer school program.
4. Learn Mandarin – the language of the present
There is no better place to learn Mandarin than in China. If you’re interested in a language spoken by 1 billion people worldwide, why not spend your summer in a Chinese mecca of business, and booming international travel. Shanghai is a thriving city to learn and live in, and if you’re going to be spending the summer traveling, you might as well be learning Chinese too!
5. Embrace Modern China
Shanghai is a top expat city for a reason. An amazing way to explore China is by learning how modern Chinese people live, and how the expats live, by checking out what’s trendy in Shanghai.
If you’re an art lover, there are plenty of options. M50 Contemporary Art Road contains a big cluster of transient galleries, allowing you to always see what’s new! Eastlink Gallery, M79 Photography Gallery, and ShanghART H-Space Gallery are more must-sees to help you with your understanding of what the creatives of Shanghai care about today.
There are tons of ways to spend your summer getting to know locals and expats alike. An evening at a rooftop bar, hang out at a local pool, and find out about festivals and markets! All summer long, people in Shanghai are putting together cultural, food, and art festivals, pop-up shops, and markets. Not to mention parties, music, and even group excursions. Summer has so much going on that makes it the perfect time to find out what the people living here really do with their time! So always keep on the lookout for local events through WeChat and other social media.
6. Food! – an experience only Shanghai has to offer
Shanghainese people are known for being the sweet-tooths of China since their cuisine tends to blend more sweet in with the savory flavors of Chinese cuisine. But Shanghai has so much delicious food to offer, that spending your summer on a flavor adventure to try Shanghai’s most famous dishes is reason enough for a trip.
Xiaolongbao – or soup dumplings, are a magical dumpling with a thin skin, cooked so that there is soup broth inside the dumpling, along with a savory meat filling, commonly pork. I consider this to be the best Shanghainese dish, but you should judge for yourself!
If you do have a bit of that Shanghai sweet tooth, you can’t miss hongshao rou – or braised pork. These caramelized, thick chunks of pork belly in a brown sauce will melt in your mouth.
And if these two dishes aren’t for you, there are plenty more to try, from high end to street food!
Shanghai Summer School strives to provide you with a summer experience unlike any other. The summer school is primarily about learning the Chinese language in an immersive way, but it’s also about going out and discovering a new culture and making meaningful connections with its people. We would even go as far as to say that delving headfirst into the bustling metropolis of Shanghai will allow one to adopt a new and expanded worldview, and a deeper understanding of cultures different than our own.
The knowledge of new languages combined with heightened cultural sensitivity and awareness has become ever more important in the global world we live in today.