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Creative Corners – What to do in Shanghai
September 6, 2018
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Creative Corners - What to do in Shanghai, China

Shanghai isn’t the picture of ancient culture I expected from China. Unlike Beijing’s obvious historical legacies, evidence of Shanghai’s quaint, fishing village past is long buried beneath urban sprawl. Only the meandering Huangpu River is old enough to tell the city’s full history. Spending an entire week in Shanghai, I really got to spend some time with the city and here I share what to do in Shanghai for creative inspiration.

Disclosure: I may earn compensation from the purchase of any product or service linked on this website, at no extra cost to you. I only link to products I use and love, therefore feel comfortable recommending.

Dance the green ballrooms

Parks are a wonderful place to witness Chinese culture and daily life take place. On any given day of the week, you can pull up a park bench in any of the city’s major green spaces to watch couples practise their ballroom moves. First thing in the morning and early evenings sees groups of mostly seniors fox-trotting their way throughout Shanghai’s leafy public spaces. You may also find others practising martial arts or locked in a game of xiangqi. Popular parks for witnessing or even taking part in the ballroom blitz are:

Shanghai Fuxing Park

Shanghai Xiangyang Park

Shanghai Liyuan Park

Shenzhen Lihuashan Park

Dancing in Fuxing Park
Dancing in Fuxing Park
Dancers in Fuxing Park
Men playing xiangqi
Men playing xiangqi "Chinese chess" at sunset in the park

Stride The Bund

In the 1840’s the west bank of the Huangpu River became a British settlement and Shanghai soon transformed into a major trading port. Buildings flourished in a variety of imperial European styles that housed banks, newspapers and consulates. These buildings remain today as an architectural testament to the cities colonial heritage on the boulevard known as The Bund. Learn more about colonial architecture in Shanghai here!

The Bund, Shanghai
The Bund viewed from rooftop restaurant POP
Creative Corners - What to do in Shanghai, China
Pudong viewed from The Bund

Discover the arts district

50 Moganshan Road is the address of Shanghai’s contemporary art district. Housed in warehouses and factories abandoned by the textile industry, the neighbourhood often referred to as M50 is now occupied by studios, galleries, cafes and bars. In 2000 local artist Xue Song took up residence and sparked a trend that attracted a steady influx of artists to the area, such as electronic art collective Liu Dao, who showcase their work at Island6—a must-see gallery. Bandu Cabin (1/F, Bldg. 11, 50 Moganshan Road) is a great place to stop for refreshment as you make your way through the 100+ artists worth of work on display.

M50 Arts District, Shanghai | Creative Corners - What to do in Shanghai
M50 Arts District, Shanghai
Street art in the M50 Arts District

Get lost in heaven

While there is all manner of delicious things in which to indulge in Shanghai, make sure you spare a meal for Lost Heaven. The upscale, yet casual restaurant features cuisine from the trading route that historically linked Tibet with the Yunnan Province of China, and down into Burma and Thailand, known as the Tea-and-Horse Trail. The dark, atmospheric space is distinctively furnished in a modern style that reflects the richly coloured aesthetic of the region’s ethnic minority groups. The food is fresh and tasty, the cocktails are…heavenly!

Inside Lost Heaven Shanghai
Inside Lost Heaven, Shanghai

Muse over the Museum

The Shanghai Museum contains an extensive collection spanning China’s artistic heritage including calligraphy, coins, sculpture, seals, painting, porcelain, jewellery, traditional dress and furniture, just to name a few. I found it effortless to while away half a day (or more) marvelling at the exquisite details of the display.

Shanghai Museum
Shanghai Museum
Underglaze Blue Flask 1736-1795AD
Underglaze Blue Flask 1736-1795AD
Tujia woman's traditional dress
Tujia woman's traditional dress

Explore traditional crafts

The Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum is worth an hour of your time not just to explore the beautiful traditional crafts of China including jade, boxwood carving, embroidery and paper cutting, but for the Museum building itself. Built in 1905, the French Renaissance style building is known as “the little White House of Shanghai.” It was formerly a World Health Organisation office and the Sino-USSR Friendship Organisation before it became a centre for arts and crafts research.

Shanghai Museum of Arts & Crafts
Inside the Shanghai Arts & Crafts Museum
Inside the Shanghai Arts & Crafts Museum
Shanghai Museum of Arts and Crafts

Plan a trip to Shanghai

Find the best flights to Shanghai with Skyscanner.

Search for accommodation using Tripadvisor.

Don’t forget travel insurance, I recommend Seven Corners or World Nomads.

If you’ve found a favourite or inspiring creative corner in Shanghai, please share with us in the comments below.

Peace, love & inspiring travel,

Madam ZoZo

Creative Corners: What to do in Shanghai
Creative Corners - What to do in Shanghai, China

About author

Madam ZoZo

Hi! I'm Madam ZoZo, aka Zoë, an Australian designer, creative consultant, blogger and digital nomad. I'm passionate about travel, design, dance and new experiences that fuel my creativity. I strive to travel in a style that is gentle on the earth and that contributes to the communities I visits, even if it is merely to take away a greater understanding of a different culture. Duende by Madam ZoZo, is where I share the stories of my travels and the duende (soul/inspiration) I find along the way.

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