Explore my city with guest blogger Dani from A Baby Abroad
Although it may surprise lots of people, Shanghai with kids can be great, and within 24 hours there are lots of things to see and do that the entire family will surely enjoy.
It may not strike you as a super child-friendly place at first look, but I hope this list of things to do in Shanghai with kids may inspire you to visit this bustling, boisterous and amazing city with your family.
But first, some basic tips to better prepare your visit to Shanghai:
Top tips to visiting Shanghai with kids
The air quality
Yes, there are times where the air pollution is so bad that it’s best to stay indoors. Be prepared to deal with this, as there is not much that can be done. Wearing masks is not a solution as the real danger are the PM 2.5 particles that are so tiny they are not blocked by masks.
The bad air won’t kill you if you are exposed to it for two, three, or even four or five days, as it’s the long-term exposure that can cause damage. My recommendation is not to worry too much about it unless the AQI is above 200. If this is the case, you can still leave your accommodation and go to an indoors museum or similar activity. Of course, you should always contact your paediatrician first to find out of any specific measure you need to take, especially if your children are very young (under one-year-olds) or have any respiratory issues, like asthma or others.
It is very easy to find all sorts of food in Shanghai. If you want to eat like a local, you can try the food from street carts and local eateries or restaurants. If you have picky eaters, you can find great restaurants that serve international food. Worst case scenario, there are Starbucks and Costa Coffee shops in every corner where you can find a healthy sandwich or salad.
Always carry hand sanitizer and tissue paper with you. Be prepared for squat toilets. There are public restrooms everywhere around Shanghai. Many of these are not always clean, but the best you can do is face this reality. You will come to understand one of the many reasons it is custom to remove your shoes before entering a house!
Depending on where you are from, you may have varying levels of culture shock. It’s easy to judge a book by the cover and form biased opinions based on what you experience, but hopefully visiting China will be an opportunity for you and your children to gather more information about China, its culture, its people and their behaviour. Try to be open-minded and use the experiences you live together as a way to discuss and reflect. Travelling should make us more tolerant, and hopefully experiencing China will help!
If you have more time to spend in China, don’t miss this guide to the Top 10 Places to Visit with Kids.
Must see things in Shanghai with kids
So, what are the things you cannot miss within 24 hours in Shanghai with kids?
I’ve written extensively about this over at A Baby Abroad, but here are the absolute basic things you cannot miss, even if you have a few hours to enjoy this city!
Old city and Yuyuan Gardens
The Old City is a renovated area from the 11th century, where you can find traditional Shanghanese constructions. This is the perfect place to get souvenirs, shop for traditional Chinese crafts, and eat Shanghanese food. Yuyuan Gardens are located in the Old City and require you to pay an entrance fee, which I think is worthwhile. The gardens are lovely and a great example of classical chinese landscaping.
The best thing to do in this park is to watch the people and the tremendous amounts of activities they enjoy within the park grounds! There is a small children’s amusement park within People’s park, which will surely be a hit when travelling to Shanghai with kids, especially if they are between the ages of 2 and 8.
People make the most of parks in China: dance lessons, badminton, Taiqi, yoga, Chinese medicinal exercises, character writing with water on the ground, and many other things that are very entertaining to watch.
If you visit this park on a Saturday or Sunday you will see tons of people lining the corridors of the park with open umbrellas. This is the Shanghai marriage market, where parents of single men and women go to meet potential sons and daughters in laws to arrange a meeting.
Zhongshan Road is filled with art deco style buildings, and the walkway along the river offers spectacular views of Lujiazui. Although this place gets quite packed towards the end of the evening, this is the best time to visit. As the sun sets, the views of the skyscrapers on the other side of the river are beautiful, especially as the buildings start to slowly light up with all sorts of fancy light arrangements.
Shanghai for kids – my best kept secrets
The things above are great to do with or without children, but the following are activities that are specifically great to do with kids. Your children will thank you greatly if you have the time to fit any of these in your itineraries!
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
This aquarium has several exhibits showcasing ocean life from all over the world. My favorite section of this aquarium is the jellyfish exhibit, where they use different colored neon lights to make the jelly fish shine. Another great section of the aquarium is the viewing tunnel, which is the world’s longest and measures 155 meters.
Shanghai Natural History Museum
The exhibits in this museum are well organised and interesting – especially the real life-sized dinosaurs and other animals, which are a huge hit with our son!
Science and Technology Museum
This is a huge museum with several exhibit halls. Some of the exhibitions are interactive and very fun for children, such as the “World of Robotics” or “Children’s Rainbow Land”. There is also a large section displaying animals and other living things, one dedicated to the human body and health, another in relation to Space.
Mini Mars Play Areas
These are a great option if the weather is too hot or too cold, or if the air quality is too polluted. There are several locations and all of them are very well equipped with an indoor gym, ball pits, play kitchen, a mini movie theatre and slides and toys for babies, toddlers and older children. The place also has an amazing cafeteria where you enjoy pizzas, pasta, salads, sandwiches, and of course, cakes and icecream!
Shanghai Disney World
No post about Shanghai with kids would be complete without a mention to Shanghai Disney! Although you may not have enough time to squeeze this into your 24-hour itinerary, it’s worth mentioning, just in case! Although this version of Disney is smaller than the extraordinary brothers in the US, Japan and France, this one has loads of amusing things to do that kids will clearly enjoy.
Even if you don’t have the time to visit the park itself, it’s worth the while to stroll around Disneytown for shopping, dining, and watching the firework show in the evening.
About the Blogger
Dani is a writer at A Baby Abroad where she documents her life abroad and travels with her husband and 2-year-old son. So far, she has been to 42 countries, 19 of these with her son, since he was three months old.
You can follow along with Dani and her family adventures here:
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