Flair Rooftop Terrace Sunset View

Planning Your Trip

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There is perhaps no greater example of China’s incredible economic growth than Shanghai. A unique mix of charming colonial architecture, futuristic skyscrapers and traditional landmarks, plus its status as a global financial hub, make it clear why this is the country’s crown jewel. Read on to find a packing guide for your trip.

A river, flanked by development on both sides, flows toward a skyline of skyscrapers as the sun rises overhead
A river, flanked by development on both sides, flows toward a skyline of skyscrapers as the sun rises overhead
What to Pack

The distinctive beauty of Shanghai and the stunning landscapes to be found just a train ride away will truly be a feast for your eyes. Make sure to catch every magnificent detail by bringing along a good camera — it will be worth it.

Business Travel
  • Shanghai is home to more than 300 Fortune 500 companies. While this creates a hotbed of innovation and attracts expats, it’s still best to err on the side of modesty when dressing for business in conservative China.
  • Well-tailored dark suits are the standard for men, paired with demure ties and leather oxfords.

  • Women should opt for blouses and skirts or dresses that fall below the knee. Make sure your heels are also at an appropriate height.

  • Have a good supply of business cards — they’re crucial to forging good relationships.  
Exploring the City
  • Not only is Shanghai one of the most populous cities in the world (with a population of 24 million), but it’s also China’s largest. From the flashing lights of Pudong to the tiny storefronts, there is much ground you’ll want to cover. Here are a few essentials to keep in mind.

  • The region enjoys all four seasons. In summer fill your suitcase with lightweight and breathable layers, along with a sweater or scarf for chilly evenings and the air-conditioned indoors. Warm coats, sweaters and jeans are good options for winter.

  • Shanghai’s interesting architecture is best observed on foot. Pack comfortable sandals, sneakers or flat boots.

  • It rains for nearly one-third of the year, with most of the precipitation occurring in summer. Bring a light raincoat and umbrella to be prepared.
Day Trips
  • Whether you want to experience the tranquility of Hangzhou’s lakes or visit the Buddhist temples of Ningbo, Shanghai makes for a convenient starting point to explore other nearby parts of China. Bring the right essentials for comfort and versatility.

  • Bring swimsuits and flip-flops for a refreshing trip to kid-friendly Dino Beach, a water park with Asia’s largest wave pool.

  • A backpack or light canvas tote will hold the essentials, such as water bottles, sunscreen and reading material for train rides, you need for exploring various towns.

  • There’s nothing worse than losing cellphone power in the middle of the day — pack a portable charger and Chinese plug socket adapter.
Flair Winter Garden Twilight Moment
Flair Winter Garden Twilight Moment
What to Reserve

Known as the “Paris of the East,” Shanghai certainly lives up to its nickname with its high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants, cutting-edge art and plentiful cultural offerings that emphasize both the city’s rich history and cosmopolitan cool. Below are some suggestions to fill out your itinerary.

International influences coupled with centuries-old local culinary traditions make for a wide-ranging and highly acclaimed food scene. Don’t miss a taste of the popular xiaolong bao (soup dumplings) — Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung is a reliable option, but so is the less touristy Jia Jia Tang Bao. If you’re feeling adventurous, try celebrated chef Paul Pairet’s Ultraviolet. You’ll be picked up from a meeting point and taken to a top-secret, window-less location, where you’ll be served a 20-course multi-sensory feast. For a meal with a view, check out Jin Xuan on the 53rd floor of The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong. After dinner, head up to 58th floor for a nightcap at Flair Rooftop Restaurant & Bar.

Find respite from Shanghai’s nonstop excitement at The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong's opulent spa. Relax in the crystal steam room, rock sauna or indoor infinity pool, which, thanks to its location on the 55th floor, has the most breathtaking views of the city. A menu of locally inspired treatments uses ingredients like pearls, green tea and jasmine flowers. Get the ultimate head-to-toe experience with the Oriental Pearl Spa Treatment, which incorporates indigenous pearl powder into a full-body exfoliation, wrap, massage, facial and scalp massage. And cure aching feet with a reflexology massage and you’ll be ready in no time for another day of sightseeing.

Shanghai’s quirky blend of the ancient with the hypermodern makes for a fulfilling cultural experience. Take your time exploring various pockets of the city. Admire the waterfront Bund’s impressive cluster of art deco buildings, stroll through the picturesque Yu Garden and hunt for souvenirs at Tianzifang, an arts and crafts enclave laden with charming boutiques. At night, take a river cruise along the Huangpu River, where you’ll marvel at the stark juxtaposition of the historic Bund on one side and the glittering, towering skyscrapers of the financial district on the other, for which Shanghai is most famous.

There are a number of options for a quick city escape, made simpler with Shanghai’s high-speed trains. Less than an hour away is Hangzhou, most famous for its West Lake, a freshwater lake dotted with temples, pagodas and gardens. Its tranquility and natural beauty will entrance you and help you understand why this site has inspired artists and poets since the ninth century. For a Venetian-style outing, go to Zhujiajiao, one of eight ancient water towns surrounding Shanghai. Established nearly 2,000 years ago, these villages were built on a vast canal system connected through bridges. Finally, sporty travelers can go hiking through the bamboo forests of Mount Mogan, an erstwhile summer retreat for Shanghai elite.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image

Once a small fishing village, Shanghai is now one of the most cosmopolitan and chic metropolises in the entire world — and one that can be richly explored from The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong in the quickly emerging financial district of the city. Admire beautifully designed skyscrapers and cultural sites, including active monasteries. Experience the thriving arts scene and unique shopping. And, of course, get your fill of dumplings, skewers, crab and other authentic and flavorful dishes of the region.

  • Have a Cup of Superb Coffee. Stylish Fumi Coffee, in the Pudong Financial Centre, serves a Tasting Combo menu to kick-start your day. Taste three different preparations: It begins with a drip coffee, moves on to a perfect espresso and ends with a creamy “piccolo latte.”

  • Shop in a Truly Modern Neighborhood. A luxury mecca in China, Shanghai’s glitzy Lujiazui neighborhood on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River includes many legendary shopping malls, including the towering Plaza 66, where you can browse Hermès, Dior and Cartier boutiques.

  • To the Top. With 128 stories that soar 2,000 feet into the air, the Shanghai Tower breaks many records, including being China’s tallest building. Designed by internationally renowned Gensler Group with many sustainable elements, the façade is transparent and resembles a large twisted cylinder.

  • Have a Luxe Lunch at a Local Cantonese Institution. The menu at the elegant Lei Garden is extensive. Choose from pigeon roasted to a golden brown, dim sum like radish cakes, pork dumplings fried crisp, razor thin slices of tofu and the popular long-boiled daily soup, which must be requested before arrival.

  • Try Some Unique Sweets. At the colorful Miss Ma Macarons café, the French-style macarons and cake rolls are made with a twist: Each is colored and flavored with vegetables like beets. Try just-sweet-enough combinations like bell pepper with chocolate and lemon with chili.

  • Pick Up an Unusual Souvenir to Take Home. You’ll find a wide range of unusual trinkets at the seven-story Yunzhou Curio City, one of the largest antique shopping destinations in Shanghai. Browse vendors hawking jade jewelry, teapots, old posters and banknotes, and a host of vintage curiosities.

  • Dine on Michelin-Starred Cuisine With a View. At Jin Xuan on the 53rd floor of The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, Chef Daniel Wong prepares a refined menu of Cantonese dishes with an unforgettable view of the city. The menu includes authentic staples with a creative bent like Australian Wagyu beef cooked in black pepper sauce, double-boiled fish maw soup, and crispy lobster with curried leaves. Next, enjoy a martini at Flair on the 58th floor, where you can choose from 40 vodkas.

  • Admire an Unmissable Landmark. The 14-story Oriental Pearl Tower is among the most famous sites in Shanghai. The structure on the river near the Yangpu Bridge is a functional TV and radio tower containing three large spheres, which contain shops, lounges and observatories.

  • Dine Among Artists. The popular café Commune attracts a crowd of local painters and designers who come to enjoy fresh-squeezed juices and alfresco brunch in the restaurant’s sunny courtyard, where a chef barbecues eggs, hash browns and bacon.

  • Explore an Off-the-Beaten-Path Neighborhood. The artsy neighborhood of Tianzifang, also known as Lane 210, consists of old traditional longtang (alleyways) that are full of charm. Explore large malls, design studios and kitchen goods stores like Taste, where you can buy modern charcoal ceramics.

  • Visit an Epic City Park. The massive 346-acre Century Park is divided into seven zones that include bamboo forests, European-style gardens and plum blossom tree groves. Check the schedule for concerts held in the park.

  • Go Vegetarian for a Night. Ranked No. 19 in Asia by the World’s Best Restaurants list, Fu He Hui by Chef Tony Lu celebrates the wonders of diverse, exotic mushrooms with dishes that will please any carnivore, such as grilled porcini that have been smoked with grape vines.

  • Treat Yourself. Pudong café C’est Zhazha is a chocolate-lovers fantasy. Owner Tony Tan turns premium Belgian and French chocolate into delicious cakes, spicy hot chocolates, and inventive milkshakes.

  • Unwind With Live Jazz. At Aurora Lounge & Live Jazz at The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, an art deco gem on the prestigious World’s Best Bars list, you’ll find sweeping views of the city, soulful live jazz performances and plenty of indulgences. Choose from their list of rare teas, 25 rosé champagnes and a list of hard-to-find cigars.

  • View a Stunning Work of Architecture. Opened in 2016, the Shanghai Tower is one of three buildings in the city known as “supertall” towers, with a height of over 2,000 feet. The building’s clean lines spiral from the base to its peak, which is outfitted with 200 spinning wind turbines that help conserve energy.

  • See a Slice of Old Shanghai. Bordering the City God Temple, the Yuyuan Garden dates back to the reign of the Ming Dynasty, when it was a private garden for royalty. Wander amid zig-zagging bridges, pagodas and pools. In spring, you’ll find blossoming flowers and verdant green trees along its paths.

  • Eat a Classic Shanghainese Delicacy. Although it’s a chain, the spectacular Din Tai Fung shouldn’t be ruled out and has an exceptional outpost in the neighborhood of Xintiandi. The house specialty is soup dumplings made with a delicate noodle skin that encases a lump of juicy pork and delicious broth.

  • Take a Scenic Walk on the Waterfront. One of the city’s most treasured sites, the Bund promenade wraps around the west bank of the Huangpu River and offers exceptional views of Shanghai’s soaring skyscrapers. Along the way, spot divergent styles of architecture, including Gothic and neoclassical.

  • Tackle the Big Questions. Reopened in 2015, the celebrated Natural History Museum addresses questions like the origins of Earth in interactive exhibits of fossils and natural wonders. Before leaving, walk through the pristine Jing’an Sculpture Park, which snakes around the building.

  • Tea Time. By night, the art deco-style Aurora Lounge & Jazz Bar serves top-shelf malt whiskeys and a wide of array rosé champagne with live music. But in the afternoon, the handsome setting can be enjoyed with an afternoon tea of bite-sized treats and teas brewed from a selection of premium leaves.

  • Dine on Exquisitely Prepared Sushi. In a charming villa, Hiroshima-born master Chef Oyama hosts an omakase tasting menu of sushi prepared from fish flown directly from Japan. The atmosphere is relaxed but highly traditional with friendly servers dressed in kimono gowns.

  • Enjoy a Nightcap With a View. At Flair on the 58th floor of The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, you can enjoy a cocktail at the highest alfresco dining location in all of China from the seat of a cozy couch. Chose from over 40 types of vodka, craft rums and inventive signature cocktails.

  • Visit an Active Buddhist Monastery. One of the busiest sites in Shanghai, the Jade Buddha Temple was constructed between 1918 and 1928 and attracts many worshippers daily. Most come to see the pale green Buddha statue made of jade after which the temple is named, but there are many other intricate sculptures and paintings to see.

  • Shop in a Massive and Beautiful Mall. Inspired by the glistening diamonds, the space-age ceiling of the Shanghai IFC Mall contains a gorgeous shattered glass pattern. Across six floors, the mall is home to stores for over 180 international brands, including Burberry, Prada and Armani.

  • Experience a Fine-Dining Gem in the Heart of the City. Hidden behind a gate near a busy intersection, Fu 1088 serves immaculate Shanghainese food in a chandelier-strewn setting. Don’t miss the braised pork with soy and rock sugar and the drunken chicken made with rice wine.

  • View One of China’s Largest Private Collections. Owned by married collectors who have amassed an impressive number of works, the Long Museum West Bund exhibits radical pieces by artists from the Cultural Revolution along with works from art world giants like Olafur Eliasson and James Turrell.

  • Wander a Quirky and Well-Respected Museum. The Rockbund Art Museum views work from the eccentric minds of contemporary Chinese masters such as Zeng Fanzhi, an expressionist painter who captures emotional scenes, and Cai Guo-Qiang, who is known for his immersive gunpowder drawings.

  • Find Your Flow. Arrange for a Tai Chi Yun treatment at the spa at The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong. Using deep and intuitive strokes, a therapist will administer a traditional Chinese Tuina massage that restores the balance of chi and yun in your body.

  • Experience Exceptional Cantonese Cuisine. Chef Daniel Wong of Jin Xuan has earned a one-Michelin-star rating two years in a row since the inaugural Michelin Guide Shanghai 2017 for his authentic expressions of Cantonese classics like double-boiled fish maw soup, Wagyu beef with black pepper sauce, and crispy cereal lobster with curried leaves.

  • Paint the Town. Wrap up your weekend with a fun night out on Hengshan Road, where lively bars and clubs line the sidewalk. From sipping on classic cocktails in a cozy atmosphere to dancing the evening away at nightclubs, Hengshan Road is the perfect place to toast to a great trip.