Five of the best alternative, non-touristy attractions to help you experience Shanghai like a local, including The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre, bathhouses, Zhongshan Park and more
Jinjiang Amusement Park, within easy reach on Line 1, isn’t the most spectacular theme park you’ll ever see – but for a different day out, we think it’s worth a visit. The park, surrounded by high-rise apartments and with a multi-lane flyover on one side, has an old-school fairground feel within the urban jungle. The highlight is the 108-metre ferris wheel, which takes 20-25 minutes to go round and offers a great alternative view from the south of the city. There are plenty of fun rides, from a thrilling backwards loop-the-loop to a 4D theatre and a motorbike rollercoaster, but in many ways this is more about sedate fairground activities – teacups, goldfish fishing and boat rides in ‘Joy Land’.
Where is it? 201 Hongmei Lu, near Meilong Lu, Minhang 闵行区虹梅路201号,近梅陇路 See full address details. It’s to the southwest of Shanghai . A cab from Peoples’ Square will take around 40 minutes. Or you can take Line 1 south to Jinjiang Park.
Entry 50RMB/two rides; 80RMB/six rides, with extra fees for some rides.
You won’t see tourists at New Star bathhouses, but you will see blissed-out local Chinese and Koreans relaxing in the hot baths, lying in human kilns and playing cards in heated hobbit-style homes. In July and August, there’s also a great outdoor pool. When you get there, you’ll be given slippers and a key. You leave your shoes behind, head into the changing rooms and get naked before entering the single-sex bathing areas, use of which is included in the 58RMB entry price.
After a good soak and maybe a body scrub (from 38RMB extra), you get given white pyjamas and go upstairs, where the aim is basically to relax to the fullest extent possible: in sound-proofed human kilns, on straw mats or in heated rooms (all for no extra charge). You can also go to different rooms for foot massages (78RMB extra) and other treatments, or eat decent Korean fare on the ground floor. With relaxed service and none of the dodgy ‘massages’ that you find in some bathhouses, it’s blissful.
Do also note that while the bathhouse is open 24 hours, non-Chinese customers must leave at midnight, due to Shanghai foreign temporary residence regulations.
Where is it? Lane 258 Jinhui Nan Lu, near Hongquan Lu, Minhang district 闵行区金汇南路258弄1号, 近虹泉路 See address details. It’s in the southwest of Shanghai. A cab from Peoples’ Square will take around 45 minutes.
See our guide to Shanghai's best bathouses
Zhongshan Park is a fairly standard Chinese park, but it’s the biggest in the downtown area, and is a great place to just watch how the locals (especially the old folk) go about their daily business. The best time to go is early in the morning, when you’re likely to see everything from tai chi to stage fighting, revolutionary singing and lines of ladies dancing. But it’s nice at any time of day, with a large green central area, boat rides, dodgems and a rickety pirate ship amid the greenery.
Where is it? 780 Changning Lu, near Dingxi Lu, Changning district 长宁区长宁路780号,近定西路 See full address details. It’s on the western edge of the downtown area. A cab from Peoples’ Square will take around 30 minutes.
See our secret gardens feature for more green spaces to escape the grounds.
The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre is the definition of a secret museum. A tiny spot tucked in a basement at the back of a faceless apartment complex, hidden from the view of the authorities and without even a sign. It houses hundreds of original posters from the Mao years, some of which you can buy for as little as 200RMB. Read more
Where is it? Basement, Bldg B, 868 Huashan Lu, near Zhenning Lu, Xuhui district 徐汇区华山路868号B号楼,近镇宁路 See full address details. It’s on the northwest edge of the French Concession. A cab from Peoples’ Square will take around 30 minutes.
See more of Shanghai's best museums
The Shanghai Postal Museum might not sound like the most exciting museum, but it’s beatiful setting on the river to the north of the Bund makes the trip well worth it. The museum itself, telling the history of Shanghai’s postal service, is interesting, but the best bit is the sculpted rooftop garden, with a gorgeous Romanesque clock tower and sweeping views west up the Suzhou Creek and across to Pudong’s futuristic skyline.
Where is it? 276 Bei Suzhou Lu, near Sichuan Bei Lu, Hongkuo district 虹口区北苏州路250号,近四川北路 See full address details. It’s just to the north of The Bund. A cab from Peoples’ Square will take around 10 minutes.