Shanghai, one of the most bustling and exciting cities in the world, boasts countless activities and attractions for visitors to experience during a layover. Offering efficient transportation and an abundance of outstanding restaurants, sights, and things to do, Shanghai is the ideal place to accommodate layovers spanning from 4 hours to an entire day.

The city has 2 commercial airports: Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Hongqiao International Airport (SHA). The former is Shanghai’s major international airport whilst the latter serves as a primarily domestic airport with limited international flights.

Visitors can ride a taxi, airport shuttle bus, subway, or the Shanghai Maglev Train (SMT) to travel from either of the airports to the heart of Shanghai at the People’s Square where the Shanghai Metro is located. Although taxis can be relatively pricey depending on the time of day and traffic, they are the most convenient mode of transportation. The taxi fare from PVG to the People’s Square should amount to about ¥200 ($30) and take about an hour. On the other hand, the taxi fare from SHA to the city center is around ¥70 ($11) and usually takes half an hour.

The fares for the SMT range from ¥50 ($8) for a single trip ticket and ¥80 ($20) for a round-trip ticket. A one-way journey on the high-speed SMT would take around 8 minutes. Passengers who present a same-day airline ticket can receive 20% off on an SMT ticket for a single trip.

8 Great Things To Do On A Shanghai Layover

1. Take a tour of the Zotter Chocolate Theatre

Originating from Austria, Zotter is a renowned chocolate company that has set up a factory in Shanghai’s Yangpu district. Visitors at the Zotter Chocolate Theatre can expect a thorough educational tour of the chocolate making process as well as many opportunities to taste exquisite chocolate treats. The tour lasts about 2 hours and a single adult ticket costs ¥180 ($27).

Distance from People’s Square: About 10 kilometers (around 6.2 miles) by car

2. Relax at the Subconscious Day Spa (Fumin Lu)

Featuring a wide selection of spa essentials from facials to hot stone massages, the Subconscious Day Spa is the go-to destination for visitors to pamper themselves. The cost and duration of time at this spa are dependent on the desired services, but most massages and facials tend to last for an hour and packages range from a couple hundred to a little over a thousand Chinese yuan.

Distance from People’s Square: Around 3.5 kilometers (about 2.2 miles) by car

3. Stroll along the famous Bund

The Bund is a prominent waterfront running along the Huangpu River and facing the magnificent Pudong District cityscape. The historical buildings at the Bund reflect a multitude of gorgeous architectural styles including Art Deco, Renaissance Revival, and Gothic Revival.

Distance from People’s Square: About 3 kilometers (around 1.9 miles) by car

4. Indulge in scrumptious dumplings at Yang's Fry-Dumpling

Although the lengthy line at Yang's Fry-Dumpling can be intimidating, the somewhat long wait is just proof of how irresistible the dumplings are. Serving homemade fried and juicy steamed dumplings, soup, and noodle dishes, Yang's Fry-Dumpling has an extensive menu with affordable prices—some offerings start at just a handful of Chinese yuan.

Distance from People’s Square: Around 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) by car

5. Learn about the city via Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall

For visitors who want to explore Shanghai but don’t have the time, Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall is the place to be. The Exhibition Hall is a six-storey building that displays detailed scale models of Shanghai in its entirety as well as future planned developments. Adult admission is ¥30 ($5).

Distance from People’s Square: Located on People’s Square

6. Visit the historic Yuyuan Garden

Completed in 1577, Yuyuan Garden is a stunning Chinese garden spanning about 5 acres. Yuyuan Garden features beautiful halls, courtyards, and landscapes. Depending on the time of year, admission can cost between ¥30-40 ($5-6). Expect to set aside 2 to 3 hours to enjoy the unique, expansive garden.

Distance from People’s Square: Around 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) by car

7. Embark on an UnTour Shanghai Food Tour

UnTour Shanghai leads patrons through the city’s vibrant culinary scene by offering themed excursions such as “Shanghai Night Markets,” “Street Eats Breakfast,” and “Hands-on Dumpling Delights.” Tours typically last around 3 hours and ticket prices range from ¥450-600 ($76-91) per person depending on the tour. Booking in advance is required.

Distance from People’s Square: Meeting places vary by date and type of food tour

8. Wander around the city center at People’s Square

During layovers, time is of the essence, so visitors with a limited amount of time in Shanghai may just enjoy taking a quick trip over to the heart of the city. With grand hotels, fantastic museums, and breathtaking fountains, People’s Square is a feast for the eyes as well as a picture perfect spot to snap photographs.

Distance from People’s Square: Located on People’s Square

This article was written by Justina Tran.