When you’re plopped in the middle of Shanghai, a city of 24 million people and hundreds of skyscrapers, it can all feel a bit overwhelming to the senses. With these following nuggets of advice, however, you can find some semblance of calm in the city’s organized chaos.
The best time to visit Shanghai
Shanghai is a city best experienced by foot, which means the best time to visit is when the weather is nice. From the Bund to the French Concession, there are a number of leisurely walking tours that should be properly enjoyed during spring (April to June) and early autumn (September and October). During these times, temperatures reach a pleasant 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and the precipitation is manageable.
Of course, this is also Shanghai’s high season for tourism, so the city can get a bit crowded during these months.
Other times of the year, the city tends to be quite humid, which can exaggerate the summer’s sweltering heat and winter’s biting cold.
What to pack for a trip to Shanghai
Don’t worry about packing too much for a trip to Shanghai. In fact, if you forget something, it will give you an excuse to get some custom-made clothes, a Shanghai specialty. You can get virtually anything made — from shoes to suits to jeans — for a fraction of the price you’d pay if you bought them off the rack.
Generally, Shanghai tends to be a pretty casual city, so you won’t need anything more dressed-up than a skirt or nice pair of slacks for even the most high-end restaurants or clubs.
Just be sure to tote along weather-appropriate gear. Add an umbrella to your luggage if you travel in the sometimes-rainy spring.
Although the winters are relatively mild — you likely won’t see any snow — pack some warmer clothing.
The summers are humid and hot, so lighter clothing is a must during those months.
Something you’ll want to bring no matter the season is a comfortable pair of walking shoes. You don’t want blistered feet to prevent you from strolling the lovely Bund.
Tipping etiquette in Shanghai
Travelers to China often ask about tipping etiquette in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. In general, people do not tip.
You will almost never see tips left at a restaurant or on a bar top. Cab drivers aren’t tipped, either, but if one has been particularly helpful, a few one RMB coins would be well-received.
At hotels, on the other hand, tipping is more common and has come to be expected. A good rule of thumb for tipping etiquette in Shanghai’s hotels and elsewhere is simply to go with your gut and know that it’s unlikely a tip will be turned down.