Shanghai is a massive city, but it really doesn’t take very long to see all the main attractions. Once you’ve done the Bund, the museums, the French Concession stroll, People’s Square, and Yu Yuan, there isn’t an awful lot else. But we’ve dug up some hidden gems that you probably never imagined you could do in Shanghai.
1) Swim with sharks
Despite our city’s name suggesting proximity to the sea, Shanghai’s marine possibilities are limited, so a scuba diving facility might not be the first thing you’d expect to find here. But Big Blue Scuba is blazing a trail for the city’s divers. They organise dive trips in China and across Asia, and offer PADI and NAUI training. In Shanghai itself you can dive at Changfeng Ocean World (also known, for some reason, as Aquaria) in Putuo. If you have a spare ¥800 and a death wish, you can swim with sharks. Visit www.big-blue.cn for details.
2) Go skiing
Yearning for the snow-clad slopes of Europe? Then head to Yinqixing Indoor Skiing Site in Minhang – the second largest indoor ski facility in the world. The piste may not rival Meribel, but at 380 metres long it’s good enough for a decent run. It works out cheaper, too: ¥198 for a day pass during the week and ¥218 at weekends.
Yinqixing Indoor Skiing Site 银七星室内滑雪场View In Map
Add: 1835 Qixin Lu, near Gudai Lu七莘路1835号近顾戴路
Tel: 021 6478 8666
Hours: Mon – Thu and Sun: 09:30 -22:00; Fri and Sat: 09:30-24:00
3) Climb StuffView In Map
Want an unrestricted panoramic view of Shanghai? Sick of the queues and inflated ticket prices at the Jin Mao and bottle opener? Then scale the Lupu Bridge instead. It’s only ¥80, and the climb consists of 367 steps, and takes you 100 metres above the Huangpu. The ticket office is at 909 Luban Lu near Puxi Guangchang, and is open between 10am and 4pm.
Regular climbing walls can be found at Hongkou stadium (444 Dongjiangwan Lu 东江湾路444号虹口足球馆; 021 - 5696 6657) where the Masterhand Rock Climbing Club practise, and at Shanghai Stadium (666 Tianyaoqiao Lu, near Lingling Lu 天钥桥路666号近零陵路; 021 - 6426 5178), China’s biggest climbing facility.
4) Ride a horse
It’s easy to forget that there are open pastures outside of the ring road. While there may not be rolling hills and green, green grass, the outlying districts of Shanghai count as countryside of sorts. In the wilds of Pudong lies the Jialiang Equestrian Club where you can ride one of 30 horses around 500 metres of track. Out west near Hongqiao Airport is Meadowbrook Equestrian and Rural Activity Center where you can ride, camp, and barbecue. Gongqing Forest Park has horses too, but they look kind of wild, and saddles aren’t compulsory, so we’re not sure how good an idea it is to ride there.
Shanghai Jialiang Equestrian Club上海佳良马术俱乐部View In Map
Add: 858 Sanlu Highway, near Zhahang Highway, Shanghai 上海三鲁公路1858号近闸航公路
Tel: 021 6411 0049
Meadowbrook Equestrian and Rural Activity Center上海跑马地View In Map
Add: 2780 Shenzhuan Highway, Shanghai 上海沈砖公路2780号
Tel: 021 6983 0022
Gongqing Forest Park 共青森林公园View In Map
Add: 2000 Jungong Lu, near Yinhang Lu, Shanghai 上海 军工路2000号近殷行路
Tel: 021 6574 0586
5) Stay in a log cabin
Speaking of Gongqing, the Forest Park is one of the only places in Shanghai where you can actually forget you’re in a megalopolis. With pine forests, lakes, and lawns, it’s the nearest you’ll get to a bucolic idyll. If a day in the park isn’t enough, why not book a cabin and spend the night? Call the Hongsen Forest Park Hotel (021 - 6532 1296) and request a bungalow. It’ll cost you ¥400 per night, from 6pm until noon the next day. Make sure you take plenty of food.
6) Practise your religion
Communism stripped China of its religion. Traditional folk beliefs live on, and Buddhism and Daoism are still practised, but the official line is atheism. However, if you’re a devotee of one of the Big Three, you’ll still be able to worship.
Muslims east of the river gather at Pudong Mosque, and Fuyou Lu Mosque which was built in 1917 and is Shanghai’s oldest. Puxi’s Muslim community is centred around the Huxi Mosque which is also home to the Muslim market every Friday.
Pudong Mosque 浦东清真寺View In Map
Add: 375 Yuanshen Lu, Century Park, near Shangcheng Lu 源深路375号近商城路
Tel: 021 5054 0416
Fuyou Lu Mosque 福佑路清真寺View In Map
Add: 378 Fuyou Lu, near Houjia Lu 福佑路378号近侯家路
Tel: 021 6328 2135
Huxi Mosque 沪西清真寺View In Map
Add: 4, Lane 1328 Changde Lu, near Aomen Lu 常德路1328弄4号近澳门路)
Tel: 021 6277 5966
Christian Catholics congregate at St. Peter’s Church which was built in the 1930s and hosts Masses in French, German, Korean, and English. The famous St. Ignatius Cathedral holds Sunday morning Mass. Shanghai’s Protestants worship at Hengshan Community Church which offers Sunday Mass in Chinese and English, as well as Sunday school for children.
St. Ignatius Cathedral 徐家汇天主教堂
Shanghai St. Peter’s Church 上海圣彼得教堂View In Map
Add: 3F, 270 Chongqing Nanlu, Luwan District, near Hefei Lu 重庆南路270号3楼近合肥路
St. Ignatius Cathedral 徐家汇天主教堂 View In Map
Add: 158 Puxi Lu, near Caoxi Beilu 蒲西路158号近漕溪北路
Tel: 021 6469 0930
Hengshan Community Church 上海国际礼拜堂View In Map
Add: 53 Hengshan Lu, near Wulumuqi Lu 衡山路53号近乌鲁木齐路
Tel: 021 6437 6576
Shanghai used to have seven synagogues to serve its large Jewish community, but most of them have been destroyed or abandoned over the years. Only Ohel Rahel and Ohel Moishe remain, but neither of them is in use. The city’s Jews now worship under Rabbi Shalom D. Greenberg at the Chabad Project, which provides mikveh, services, and Shabbat meals. More details at www.chinajewish.org.
7) Go to the beach
Shanghai Dino Beach 热带风暴水上乐园
You don’t have to go to Sanya or Xiamen for sea and sand. Head to Dino Beach (热带风暴水上乐园) in Minhang instead. It has an artificial beach, and the largest wave pool in Asia. It’s unbearably crowded at weekends in peak season, so avoid at all costs. Go later in the day after the masses have dispersed, and you might get a square foot of sand to yourself. (78 Xinzhen Lu, near Gudai Lu 新镇路78号近顾戴路, 021 - 6478 3333)
8) Ride a rollercoaster
People’s Park has a newly refurbished amusement park, but thrill-seekers should go to Happy Valley for some real stomach-churning fun. The new amusement park in Songjiang (18 Linyin Dadao 林荫大道18号) sparked safety concerns when it first opened, but apparently these have been ironed out.
9) Take a day trip to Europe
The former French Concession doesn’t have the monopoly on European charm. Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Towns” urban planning scheme saw the development of satellite towns in the suburbs. Many were built to mimic European cities. Anting Town and Lingong Harbour City have a distinctly German feel, while Pujiang is also known as Città d’Italia for its Romanesque style. Thamestown near Songjiang is a rip-off of an historic British city, complete with a church, cobbled streets, and red post boxes. Unfortunately, the appeal seems to have been lost on the Chinese citizens the developments were designed for; most are as empty as ghost towns, but worth a visit to witness the kitsch.
10) Visit Asia’s Biggest Film Studio
Hengdian World Studio 横店影视城
Ok, so it’s two hours outside Shanghai on a fast train, but a lot of places inside the city limits take two hours to get to, so this one counts. Hengdian World Studio (横店影视城) is the largest film studio in Asia, with 330 hectares of land and 13 shooting areas. It’s close to the town of Yiwu in Zhejiang Province, which you can get to by fast train from Shanghai South Railway Station in two hours, after which there are buses and taxis to cover the 36 kilometers to Hengdian. At the studio, you’ll see a mock up of a Hong Kong street, Ming and Qing palaces, Dazhi temple, grottos, gorges and a fake Forbidden City, along with various random European-style town squares and churches. It’s surreal. You can pay individually to see the sights you’re interested in (between ¥40 and ¥90), or buy a combined day ticket for ¥380.
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