If you have time to visit Shanghai during a layover, I highly recommend experiencing the cultures of China. In Shanghai, transit tourists can travel visa-free- so why not see what Shanghai has to offer? Here’s some ideas of what to do on your next layover via Shanghai:

Get a Day Room 

If you’re short on time when arriving into Pudong International Airport, head to the Max VIP Hourly Lounge located in Terminal 2, on the 3rd floor of the International Departure area. Here you can get a quick rest in, and shower. The Max VIP Hourly Lounge has mini rooms equipped with a bed, bathroom, and shower. If you think you will need more time, the Dazhong Airport Hotel is located inside the airport, and only a 5 minute walk from airport departure gates (between Terminal 1 and 2) and near the Maglev and metro stations. No thanks to hauling luggage through a big city like Shanghai, or paying in full for a hotel room downtown and then bringing all of the luggage back to the airport. Stretch out, shower, get a massage, and relax a bit at a convenient airport hotel before your adventure in the largest city of China.

Ride the Maglev Train

This renowned magnetic-levitation train that can take you to the city from the international airport in 8 minutes, is the perfect symbol for Shanghai. The train can reach a speed of 267 miles/hr. (430 km/hr.). Warning: you may feel a little bit dizzy after getting off the train at first! This only happened to me for a brief second and I soon got my bearings. It was really cool to recognize how fast the train was going as buildings and houses whizzed past the window! Amazing experience.

Eat Dim Sum

A trip to Shanghai is incomplete without trying out famous (and yummy) Cantonese-style Dim Sum. Dim Sum is a dumpling filled with shrimp, sausage, chicken or vegetables, and served in a bamboo steamer basket. One order of Dim Sum, and you will want for more since they go so fast. I was hooked after my first steamer basket of shrimp and vegetable Dim Sum. So delicious!

Go to the Bund

Awww, the Bund. Often called “the museum of buildings,” the Bund is lined with a variety of different structures showcasing a strong contrast between the modern skyscrapers and buildings of the past. The Bund highlights European influence on Shanghai’s 19th and early 20th century architecture. The riverfront walkway is buzzing with boat tours, and visitors from around the world are lining up for the perfect photo op. After enjoying the Bund from the ground, head to the roof terrace at the ‘M on the Bund’ for a beautiful view, and refreshing cocktail. The ‘M on the Bund’ is a restored 1920’s shipping building, pioneered by renowned Australian chef Michelle Garnaut. If the menu is a bit fancy for your taste, order dessert instead!

Shopping in Nanjing Road

Shanghai is a shopping mecca! You can choose beautiful high-end shopping, or shop counterfeit products quasi-openly sold at nearby Ying Yang market. Nanjing Road is Shanghai’s premier market street, with pedestrian walkways, and shops on each side of the street to choose from. You can enjoy large shopping malls with a modern flare, and a variety of more local shops with vendors haggling, as well as restaurants, bars and street vendors. My favorite part of shopping Nanjing was that pedestrians could walk around without the disruption of cars. However, it’s crowded so be prepared for cultural differences in personal space and organized lines.

Photo Credit: @ AARP Travel

Pictured here is one of the wholesale markets. Mounds of products are brought to and from the stores. You can get garments custom cut for you in some of the stores, browse some of the fake merchandise for fun, and remember to be firm and ready to walk away when being haggled.

Have you been on a long layover in Shanghai? Do you have suggestions on what to do for 12 hours? Please feel free to share with me your thoughts! Happy travels!