Roam Free Tours | Engaging China City Walking Tours

The Best Areas to Stay in Shanghai

First time in Shanghai, where to stay? Where is downtown?

Shanghai is one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of the People’s Republic of China and is further divided into 16 districts. There is no single downtown district in Shanghai as the urban core is scattered across several districts, although Huangpu, Jing’an, and Xuhui are generally considered the center of Shanghai.

Every barrio in Shanghai has a unique style. You can choose an accommodation location according to your budget and travel route.  Here we list different options for you to choose.  

(P.s. we found a helpful website with great info about the city and barrios, no ads:


The Bund & People’s Square 

This is located at the very center in Shanghai and is a great place to stay for its convenience. Many of the main tourist sites just locate around. 

Hotels along the Bund offer a great river view and skyline and apparently come with a high price. People’s Square is the primary interchange for 1,2,8 three main metro lines, which can easily take you to anywhere in the city. 

Things to see around this area: 

The Bund: One of the signature places in Shanghai, the Bund is famous for its panoramic view of the historical architecture complex and modern Pudong skyline along the two sides of Huangpu River. When the night falls, take a walk on the boardwalk, all the architects are covered in dazzling lights, you will know why people call Shanghai the “Ever-Bright City”. 

East Nanjing Road: Shanghai’s most renowned pedestrian-only shopping street. You will find both modern and old European-style buildings with huge billboards or neon lights standing along the East Nanjing Road. There are numerous shopping malls, time-honored stores, specialty stores, restaurants, hotels, and so on. You can get food, books, silk, traditional Chinese medicine, and other souvenirs.

People’s Square: You can check out the Shanghai Museum in this area to see ancient Chinese art and treasures. If you come on a weekend, don’t miss the “Shanghai Marriage Market ” in People’s Park which takes place every weekend from 10 am to 5 pm. You will see a crowd of parents trying to arrange to matchmake for their children. Inside the park, you can also find local people doing tai chi, chatting, dancing, children playing in the mini amusement park, etc. 


Join our Shanghai City Free Walking Tour to explore downtown Shanghai with local experts, hearing the hidden history and anecdotes, getting useful tips for a successful matching making for yourself or your children!

French Concession

(The Former) French Concession, an area full of stylish shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, and awesome Airbnb accommodations. The history of French Concession can date back to the 1850s when lots of European residents settled here and left it with a great cultural legacy. If you are interested in living in stylish, tranquil while chic accommodation (also enjoy becoming neighbors with curious locals), French Concession is definitely the best choice!

Things to do around this area: 

You can find well-maintained historic villas and colonial houses along Wukang Road, Yuyuan Road, Hengshan Road, etc.; fancy bars and restaurants at Julu Road, Fumin Road, Yongkang Road, etc.. 

In central French Concession, there is a cool area named Xintiandi, which is a fashionable area combining local Shanghai Shikumen architectures and modern skyscrapers. Hotels around this area are pricey but you can enjoy the great nightlife as well as fancy restaurants including Shanghai cuisine, Sichuan hotpot, Thai food… you name it!

If you want to delve deeper into French Concession area, come join our French Concession free walking tour which takes you to all the must-see sites in the area with more stories behind; Legendary Century-Old Road Walking Tour which brings you to the heart of historical atmosphere full of legends, vibrance, and gossips!


Jing’an Temple

Jing’an Temple area is located between the French Concession and People’s Square with very convenient public transportation as the intersection of Metro Line 2 and 7. You can find some fair-price hotels and nice Airbnbs in this area. 

Things to see around this area: 

Jing’an Temple: Sited on the West Nanjing Road, Jing’an Temple (which means the “Temple of Peace and Tranquility”) is an ancient Buddhist temple with a history of nearly 800 years. The 3.9-meter jade Buddha statue in the Jade Buddha Hall is the largest in China. The temple opens every day from 8 am to 5 pm, with an admission fee of RMB 50. 


Yu Garden

Yu Garden is a top tourist spot located in Shanghai’s Old Town with hundreds of years of history. In this area, you can experience the local Shanghai lifestyle in intense local neighborhoods. You can find many hotel options here from economic hotels to high-end five stars.  

Things to see around this area: 

The City God Temple (Cheng Huang Miao)  and Yu Garden located nearby is a must-see in Shanghai as the traditional Chinese architecture treasure. Yu Garden has a history of more than 400 years, famous for its delicate Chinese garden layout and beautiful scenery. City God Temple was the traditional urban center. You can find a lot of Chinese and Shanghainese snacks in the Yuyuan garden Bazaar area – it is worth having a look but to be honest food there is not the best!



If you are amazed by the skyscrapers aligning on the east of the Huangpu River, Lujiazui can be your accommodation option to enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere. Lying on the east bank of Huangpu River and facing the Bund, Lujiazui Finance Zone is full of landmark modern skyscrapers. There are a lot of high-end hotels close to the riverbank that can offer you an awesome view of the historic buildings along the Bund.

Things to see around this area: 

Looking out of your window, all the most iconic Shanghai Skyscrapers are in your sight! You can go to the second tallest building in the world — Shanghai Tower (632 meters high) to enjoy a bird view of Shanghai city, try SkyWalk in Jinmao tower to embrace the city “beyond glass”, go to the oldest skyscraper Oriental Pearl Tower to enjoy a buffet dinner. You can also walk along the riverside to enjoy the beautiful view at any time!


All in all, the same as every metropolis, no district of shanghai has a complete lock on convenience for the traveler, because the main tourist sites are scattered around the sprawling city, and shuttling by taxi and Metro is cheap and efficient. Hope this article provides you with a clear guideline for your trip planning. We have also prepared you a list of the most recommendable hotels & hostels for different budgets based on the local reputation and feedback from our thousands of visitors (We don’t take any commission from them)!

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