Shanghai's best swimming pools and waterparks open this summer

Combat the heat and cool off this summer by taking a dip in one of the top pools Shanghai has to offer

Photograph: Conor Brown via Unsplash
If you dare to step outside during Shanghai summer for even just a second, you'll probably notice that the temperature is cranking. And when you're sweating through your clothes, there’s only one place to go – the pool. While a few familiar haunts are yet to open this summer, the good news is that many of Shanghai's swimming pools are finally open (although with limited capacity). Whether you fancy luxury pools overlooking the city skyline or just want a space to do some lengths, here's where to make a splash this summer.

Note: a green Shanghai Health QR is necessary to guarantee entry and some of the venues require pre-registration at least one day ahead of your visit.
Outdoor pools
Photograph: courtesy W Shanghai - The Bund

Outdoor pools

Located on the fourth floor of the luxury hotel W Shanghai on North Bund, this outdoor pool is the place to see and be seen: it's got a stunning view of the Lujiazui skyline, topped off with mosaic flower pool tiles, stylish sunbeds and a sleek poolside bar. The heated indoor pool is equally as Moments-worthy, set under a red glass roof and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a panoramic view of the river.  

Opening hours: Outdoor pool: 10am-6pm daily. Indoor pool: 9am-9pm daily.
Entry: 580RMB (single entry); 3,000RMB (monthly); 28,000RMB (yearly). Swimming hats optional.
Fourth Floor, W Shanghai The Bund, 66 Lvshun Lu, near Dongchangzhi Lu, Hongkou district.

One of the most popular outdoor pools in Old Xuhui, the Grand Plaza Club House is situated inside the same compound on Julu Lu as Mexican restaurant Maya, thus known widely as the ‘Maya pool’. Though it’s a small swimming area with not much surrounding poolside space and packs out quickly with sun-seekers, it's hard to beat for location and convenience for many.

Opening hours: 9am-9pm daily.
Entry: 100RMB. Swimming caps mandatory.
568 Julu Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu, Jingan district.

Photograph: courtesy Sofitel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental

It’s hard to overstate the luxe factor at this lovely pool. A total 4,400 square metres of crystal-blue swimming territory awaits you, with outside pools surrounded by a man-made sandy beach, rows of loungers, bars, palm trees and faux-Mediterranean architecture. It’s a little bit of a journey from the centre of town, but is walkable from Sheshan station on Line 9 and not being downtown only helps to add to its retreat vibes. As you’d expect, everything inside is also rather wonderful, with shiny clean changing rooms, top-notch gym and general loveliness.

Opening hours:
Indoor pool: 7am-10pm. Outdoor pool: 7am-7pm
Entry: 300RMB.
3388 Sichen Gong Lu, near Jiasong Nan Lu, Songjiang district.

The original branch of New Star is one of our favourite bathhouses in the city, but it may not seem like an obvious place to head to when temperatures outside are hitting the mid-30s with a hefty dose of humidity on top. Yet hidden out the back of the main bathing area is a great outdoor swimming area with a small section for kids, a medium-sized pool for adults and a handful of sun loungers on the side. It’s not the biggest outdoor pool in the city, but rarely is it overcrowded.

Opening hours: 9am-7pm daily.
Entry: 108RMB (includes bath and sauna). Swimming caps mandatory.
Lane 258, 1 Jinhui Nan Lu, near Hongquan Lu, Minhang district.

A one-time affair unless you are or are with a member. This pair of indoor and outdoor pools are inside a private club complex that includes a restaurant, squash courts and a gym. The indoor pool is perfect for serious swimmers who want to do rounds without disturbances while the outdoor one is shallow, family-friendly and great for soaking up some Vitamin D. Expect a lively scene with kids on the weekends. One-time trials for the whole club are 150RMB (adult) or 80RMB (kid).

Opening hours: Indoor pool: 7am-9pm (Mon-Fri); 8am-9pm (Sat-Sun). Outdoor pool: 11.30am-6pm (Mon); 9am-6pm (Tue-Sun).
Entry: 150RMB; 7,000RMB (year membership). Swimming caps mandatory.
1500 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, Xuhui district.

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Photograph: courtesy JW Marriott Shanghai

Perched on the top of 60th floor above downtown Puxi, JW Marriott Shanghai Tomorrow Square's two outdoor circle pools overlook the heart of Shanghai's commercial and shopping district, reaching as far as The Bund. Neither of the pools are heated, so they're best saved for a sweltering summer afternoon. 

Opening hours: Indoor is currently under repair; outdoor: 9am-9pm (daily).
Entry: 288RMB. Swimming caps mandatory.
399 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huangpi Bei Lu, Huangpu district.

Public pools
Photograph: Yang Xiaozhe (Oriental Sports Center)

Public pools

There’s no mucking around here – this is a seriously good pool (if you want a serious swim). The grand complex hosted the FINA world championships in 2010, and qualifying for the 2012 Olympics too; inside there’s an Olympic-sized pool as well as a diving pool (the latter sadly not open to the public). Be wary that the main pool often gets busy at weekends, so swimmers are advised to turn up early. There’s also an impressive outdoor pool over the road. 

Opening hours: 9-11am, 1-8pm daily.
Entry: 40RMB (90min). Swimming caps mandatory.
701 Yaoti Lu, near Linpu Lu, Pudong.

A thoroughly utilitarian sort of pool, the 25 x 50m nine-lane pool is designed for competitive swimming, and while not everyone uses it for this, it’s a good place to get some lengths in. Scan the QR code below to register one day ahead of your visit via WeChat. 

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Opening hours: 1-7pm (Mon-Fri); 10am-7pm (Sat-Sun). 
Entry: 40RMB; 35RMB (before 5pm Mon-Fri); 90 mins per session starting on the hour. Swimming hats mandatory.
151 Kangding Lu, near Jiangning Lu, Jingan district.

Established in 1974, this pool spans 1,050sqm with a standard outdoor swimming pool and a small kids' pool with deck chairs and umbrellas. It's a popular swimming school for locals, so expect children learning to swim.

Opening hours: 3-5pm, 7-8.30pm daily.
Entry: 40RMB. Swimming caps mandatory.
500 Dongjiangwan Lu, near Dongtiyuhui Lu, Hongkou district.

Water parks
Photograph: courtesy Playa Maya

Water parks

Near Happy Valley theme park and Shanghai Sculpture Park in Sheshan, this huge water park sprawls across 150,000sqm and has all the classics, from chutes and rafts for adrenaline junkies to more chilled wave pools and bathing areas. While all the rides are in action, this summer the park is only operating at 30 percent capacity and all visitors need to register at least one day in advance (scan the QR code below). 


Opening hours: 9am-8.30pm.
Entry: 210RMB (adults); 140RMB (children under 1.2m); 180RMB (night session, 4-8.30pm).
888 Linhu Lu, near Linyin Dadao, Songjiang district. 

Channelling beach resort vibes, Sun Island is home to a hotel and a 2,400sqm water park with a faux sandy beach, palm trees, pools (the main pool generates artificial waves every half an hour) and slides. There's also activities like horse riding and go-karting. Expect it to get crowded during peak hours and get there early if you're looking to steer clear of the masses. 

Opening hours: 9am-7pm daily.
Entry: 150RMB (Mon-Thu); 180RMB (Fri-Sun); 60RMB (Dianping). Swimming caps mandatory. 
2588 Shentai Lu, near Shenzhuan Lu, Qingqu district.