Shanghai is one of the most up and coming cities in China. During the past few years, the sprawling metropolis has grown to become China’s symbol of modernism and economic growth. Still, some more traditional neighbourhoods have survived and remind us of the city’s colonial past.
However, as Shanghai is a large city and spreads out over dozens of kilometres, it can be tricky to choose a place to stay that will be cheap and well located at the same time.
This is exactly why I wrote this insider guide on where to stay in Shanghai!
Thanks to this guide, you will be able to find the perfect accommodation in the perfect neighbourhood, at the perfect price!
Without further ado, let’s get to it. Here is my guide on where to stay in Shanghai.
Quick answers – Where to stay in Shanghai
- Where to stay in Shanghai your first time – Xujiahui
- Where to stay in Shanghai on a budget – Jing’an
- Best area to stay in Shanghai for nightlife – People’s Square
- Coolest place to stay in Shanghai – Former French Concession
- Best neighbourhood in Shanghai for families – Pudong
In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:
- Shop til you drop in one of the numerous shopping malls
- Take a break from the urban frenzy at the Xujiahui Park
- Watch a football game in China’s third largest stadium
Table of Contents
- Where To Stay In Shanghai
- Shanghai Neighbourhood Guide
- 5 Best Neighbourhoods To Stay In Shanghai
- 1. Xujiahui – Where to stay in Shanghai your first time
- 2. Jing’an – Where to stay in Shanghai on a budget
- 3. People’s Square – Best area to stay in Shanghai for nightlife
- 4. Former French Concession – Coolest place to stay in Shanghai
- 5. Pudong – Best neighbourhood in Shanghai for families
Where To Stay In Shanghai
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Shanghai.
Best Hostel in Shanghai – The Phoenix Hostel Shanghai
The Phoenix Hostel is the best hostel to stay in Shanghai. The hostel is located just five minutes away from the People’s Square metro station and features a bar, an airport shuttle and breakfast service. It offers private rooms as well as dormitories. Free wifi is available.
If you love hostels, you should check out our list of the coolest hostels in Shanghai!
Best Hotel in Shanghai – Ya Qing Hotel
Ya Qing Hotel is located a bit outside the centre of Shanghai and offers great value accommodation. All the rooms feature a private bathroom, air conditioning, a desk and free toiletries. In addition, the hotel features a restaurant and a free wifi connection.
Best Hotel in Shanghai – Les Suites Orient Bund Shanghai
Les Suites Orient Bund is a nice hotel located in the Bund area of Shanghai. Rooms are decorated with wooden furniture and feature soundproofing, a private bathroom with a bathtub, air conditioning and a flat screen TV. Some of the rooms have a river view. The hotel has a gym and two restaurants.
Shanghai Neighbourhood Guide
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Shanghai
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Former French Concession
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Shanghai is a sprawling metropolis located on the coast of the East China Sea, in China. The city is pretty large, and when visiting it for the first time, can feel quite overwhelming for travellers. However, you are more than likely to let it grow on you and end up having the time of your life in China’s modernest town.
Shanghai is divided into many different neighbourhoods that each have they own vibe and atmosphere. There is something for every type of travellers: modern skyscrapers, old traditional Chinese houses, good nightlife and museums.
Pudong is the part that most people see on postcards and on TV. It is the representation of modern China with sky-high buildings that light up the sky beautifully at night. coated on the east of the Huangpu River, Pudong is an incredible example of the rapid development of China during the last 20 years.
On the other side of the river, People’s Square and the Bund are the heart and should of the old Shanghai. Lots of shops, traditional houses and shopping can be found there. In addition, you can catch a great view over Pudong’s buildings from the riverside in the Bund.
For some colonial architecture and cool vibes, you have to head to the Former French Concession. This area is literally like a little Paris of the east and has streets lined up with small cafés and European-style buildings.
You might still feel confused about where to stay in Shanghai. Let’s solve this problem right now!
5 Best Neighbourhoods To Stay In Shanghai
It is time to take a closer look at Shanghai 5 best neighbourhoods. Look out for which one suits your needs best!
Xujiahui could not be more centrally located in Shanghai. From there, it is easy to reach all the interesting places in the city thanks to the metro network or by taking a taxi.
A lot of shopping malls are located in this neighbourhood, making it the perfect place to stay if you are in for a shopping trip. International and Chinese brands are well represented.
On warm days, take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and go relax in greenery at the Xujiahui Park.
Xujiahui is also home to the third largest sports stadium in China. This is where Shanghai’s SPIG football club plays on a regular basis. When the club is not playing, the stadium can be used for other purposes such as concerts or other sports events.
Last (but not least!), should we mention that Xujiahui is where the world-famous Chinese basketball player Yao Ming was born?
Things to see and do in Xujiahui
– Shop til you drop in one of the numerous shopping malls
– Take a break from the urban frenzy at the Xujiahui Park
– Watch a football game in China’s third largest stadium
Best Hostel in Xujiahui – Blue Mountain Luwan Youth Hostel
The Blue Mountain swan Youth Hostel is located just across a metro station in Xuijahui and offers dormitory and private rooms. The beds are comfortable and the hostels have hot water year-round. Some private bedrooms also feature a private bathroom. Free Internet, free books and free movies are available.
Best Hotel in Xujiahui – Anting Villa Hotel
Anting Villa Hotel is a nice budget hotel located in the Xuijahui neighbourhood of Shanghai. It offers facilities including a fitness centre, a restaurant, a bar, and room service. A good breakfast is served in the morning and rooms feature air conditioning, a private bathroom with a bathtub, a minibar and a hairdryer.
Best Hotel in Xujiahui – Courtyard Shanghai Xujiahui
Courtyard Shanghai Xujiahui offers upscale accommodation for an affordable price. The rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, a flat screen TV, a private bathroom and air conditioning. The hotel features a large fitness centre, a free Wifi connection and a restaurant serving international cuisine.
Jing’an is a great compromise for those who are looking to stay in a cool and trendy neighbourhood in Shanghai while avoiding the high prices of the Former French Concession and the Bund. The area gets its name from the iconic Buddhist temple that has stood for centuries and is now surrounded by skyscrapers and shopping malls.
Many expats choose to live here, giving the area a western feel. As a consequence, there are many bars, restaurant and international shopping available around the area. Nanjing road concentrates most of the fun and entertainment. Many businesses also have chosen to settle in the many skyscrapers of the neighbourhoods.
Colonial architecture can also still be seen in the area, as Jing’an used to be part of the International Settlement. Finally, in Jing’an, you can see the former residence of Chairman Mao Tse Tung. This small traditional house has been preserved and now hosts a little museum.
Things to see and fo in Jing’an
– Visit the Jing’an temple and get a feel of ancient China
– Appreciate Chinese modern art in the Jing’an Sculpture Park
– Relax from the craziness of the city in Jing’an Park
– Shop high fashion brands at the Kerry Centre
Best Hostel in Jing’an – Meego Youth Hostel
Meego Youth Hostel offers budget accommodation in private and dormitory rooms in the heart of Jing’an in Shanghai. All the rooms have air conditioning, are soundproofed and have access to a private bathroom. A free wifi connection is also available all around the hostel. Guests can make use of a shared kitchen to cook.
Best Hotel in Jing’an – Campanile Shanghai Jing’an
The Campanile Shanghai Jing’an is located less than 5 minutes’ walk away from the famous Jing’an temple and offers budget accommodation. Each room is fitted with a private bathroom, air conditioning, a flat screen TV and soundproofing. A good buffet breakfast is served in the morning and the hotel has a bar serving nice cocktails.
Best Hotel in Jing’an – The Kunlun Jing’an
The Kunlun Jing’an offers luxury accommodation for an affordable price in the heart of the Jing’an neighbourhood of Shanghai. The rooms feature a private bathroom with a bathtub, air conditioning and a flat screen TV. The hotel also has an indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a spa providing massage services and health treatments.
People’s Square is a neighbourhood centrally located in Shanghai and is a convenient place to stay due to its closeness to the main attraction and its good connection to the rest of the city. Indeed, the People’s Square metro station is a big interchange with many lines passing through there.
The Bund, one of Shanghai’s top spots, is located close to People’s Square. This iconic riverwalk is even more impressive at night when the lights from Pudong’s skyscrapers light up the sky. The Bund is also a popular nightlife area and is lined with trendy bars and clubs.
For a truly Chinese experience, try joining up a tai chi practice on People’s Square in the morning. Connect back with your inner self while exercising and really get to know this important part of Chinese culture!
Things to see and ado in People’s Square
– Wander along the Bund, Shanghai’s most iconic riverfront walk, and take in the incredible views over Pudong on the other side
– Shop around Nanjing East Road, a pedestrian-only street filled up with shops
– Join a tai chi practice on People’s Square
– Learn more about the history of the city at the Shanghai History Museum
– Try some local cuisine in one of the numerous food stalls lining the streets
Best Hostel in People’s Square – Mingtown Nanjing Road Youth Hostel
Conveniently located next to the Nanjing East Road metro station and walking distance to the Bund, this hostel is an amazing choice for where to stay in People’s Square on a budget. Dorm beds and private bedrooms are available, each room being fitted with air conditioning and a bathroom.
Best Hotel in People’s Square – Shanghai Fish Inn East Nanjing Road
The Shanghai Fish Inn East Nanjing Road is one of my favourite places to stay in the People’s Square neighbourhood. The rooms there are spacious, comfortable and fitted with a private bathroom and air conditioning. The hotel itself has a 24-hour front desk, a bar and provides a free Wifi connection to guests.
Best Hotel in People’s Square – The Yangtze Boutique Shanghai
The Yangtze Boutique Shanghai offers 5-star accommodation in the popular neighbourhood of People’s Square, for a price you would have never imagined possible! The hotel features a fitness centre and a spa, as well as a bar and three restaurants serving Italian and Cantonese dishes.
As its name suggests, the Former French Concession neighbourhood used to be a French colonial area up until 1943. During the colonial times, the neighbourhood used to be the most sought-after, and consequently one of the most expensive areas of the city to live.
Today, the landscape has changed but the Former French Concession has managed to keep its unique European feel, streets lined with beautiful trees and small colonial houses. Many of the latter have turned into quaint bars and cafés, artsy shops or trendy restaurants, making the Former French Concession the coolest place to stay in Shanghai.
The small alleyways of the area are real gems for shopping and you can easily spend hours getting lost around them.
Things to see and do in the Former French Concession
– Get lost in the alleys making up Tian Ze Fang and find some cool souvenirs to bring back home
– If you have a bigger shopping budget, stroll around the streets of Xintiandi
– Watch elderly locals play intense chess games in Fuxing Park
– Immerse yourself into Maoist propaganda at the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre
– Get some custom-made suits for a bargain at the Shanghai Soft Spinning Fabric Market
Best Hostel in the Former French Concession – Le Tour Traveler’s Rest Youth Hostel
This hostel is located a bit outside the Former French Concession, in the neighbouring area of Jing’an. It offers clean and quiet dorms and private rooms. Bed linens and a free Wifi connection are included, and a bar and a games room can be used by guests at their convenience.
Best Hotel in the Former French Concession – Hotel Equatorial Shanghai
The Hotel Equatorial Shanghai offers comfortable rooms featuring air conditioning, a private bathroom with a bathtub and views over the surrounding city. The hotel also features an indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a spa. In the morning, a good buffet breakfast is served in one of the 3 restaurants.
Best Hotel in the Former French Concession – Donghu Hotel Shanghai
The Donghu Hotel Shanghai is the perfect place to go explore the Former French Concession neighbourhood. It offers comfortable and spacious rooms with air conditioning and a private bathroom and features an indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a bar.
Pudong is located in the east of the Huangpu river and actually represents a very large part of Shanghai. However, when talking about Pudong, visitors often refer to the area closest to the river, where modernism and skyscrapers dominate the landscape. It is quite incredible to think that the neighbourhood was still mainly farmland in the 1990s!
The famous Shanghai landscape you can admire from the Bund is located here and is made up of four main towers: the Jin Mao Tower, the Shanghai Tower (which is the second tallest in the world), the Shanghai World Financial Centre and the Oriental Pearl Tower.
Activities in Pudong include climbing up to the observatory decks of all these towers or to grab a drink at the Grand Hyatt bar, located on the 87th floor of the Jin Mao Tower.
Things to see and do in Pudong
– Climb up to the 118th floor of the Shanghai Tower to get a bird’s view of the city below
– Walk the glass bottom walkway of the Oriental Pearl Tower Observatory
– Feel the magic for a day in Disneyland
– Shop for cheap electronics at the Science and Tech Market
– Get a drink at the Grand Hyatt Cloud 9, on the 87th floor of the Jin Mao Tower
Best Hostel in Pudong – Shanghai Hidden Garden Youth Hostel
The Hidden Garden Youth Hostel has been refurbished in 2017 and offers brand new facilities. The highlight of the place is certainly the garden and terrace where guests can enjoy good food and beers in the summer. Dorm beds and private rooms are available, and a free Wifi connection is included.
Best Hotel in Pudong – Novotel Shanghai Atlantis
The Novotel Shanghai Atlantis features nice and comfortable rooms in the heart of Pudong. They are all fitted with a private bathroom, air conditioning and a minibar. Some of the rooms have a view over the Pudong area. The hotel also features an indoor swimming pool, four restaurants, a bar and free parking.
Best Hotel in Pudong – Oriental Riverside Hotel
The Oriental Riverside Hotel is located on the shores of the Huangpu River and offers incredible views over the river and the Bund on the other side. The luxurious rooms feature a private bathroom with a bathtub and air conditioning. The hotel also features a fitness centre and a spa.
Our Final Thoughts On Where To Stay In Shanghai
Irresistibly modern yet keeping a traditional feel, Shanghai is a unique city in China, and it would be a real shame to miss it. With stunning urban views, traditional restaurants and temples, an array of shopping, it is not a surprise that Shanghai keeps attracting more and more visitors every year.
The area around People’s Square and the Bund is our number one choice for where to stay in Shanghai. It is centrally located and provides attractions and sights for the whole family.
Our recommendation for the best hotel in Shanghai is Les Suites Orient Bund Shanghai. Located close to the Bund, the hotel offers comfortable rooms, with some of them boasting a view over the river and Pudong.
If you are travelling on a budget, we highly recommend The Phoenix Hostel Shanghai, also located around People’s Square. It is the perfect base for backpackers who want to enjoy Shanghai’s sights and nightlife.
Have we missed your favourite place in Shanghai? Let us know in the comments below!
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