Pulsating, lively and trendy – Shanghai changes every day, inspiring creativity and new ideas. Whether you are in search of historical buildings around The Bund, the newest art exhibitions, high-tech architecture or offbeat culture, in Shanghai you can find it all.From river cruises to amusement parks, Shanghai offers a huge variety of recreational pursuits that visitors can partake in.
Golfing and bowling are perhaps two of the most popular leisure activities amongst locals, expats and visitors, with hundreds of bowling centres and golf courses available all over the city.
For those looking for something out of the ordinary, there’s kite-flying, go-kart racing and rock climbing.
Huangpu River Cruises
The best way to enjoy Shanghai’s infamous waterfront sceneries, a river cruise down Huangpu River ranks high on the list of must-dos when visiting this city. Get enchanted by the sights that greet you as you journey along the river – on one side, The Bund mesmerises with a sense of nostalgia, and on the other side, Pudong’s glitzy, cutting-edge skyline charms like never before – giving you an interesting contrast of old and new Shanghai.
The shortest cruise takes about 30 minutes, and the full cruise, which takes you all the way to the mouth of the Yangtze River where it merges with the sea, takes approximately three hours.
Location: Shanghai Huangpu River Cruise Company (Shanghai Pujiang Youlan): Zhongshan Dong Er Lu 219 (at the southern end of The Bund Promenade) & Zhongshan Dong Er Lu 153 (at the northern end of The Bund Promenade)
Jin Jiang Amusement Park
Jin Jiang Amusement Park is Shanghai’s first large-scale specialised amusement park and covers some 103,000sqm. This popular family attraction features rides imported from overseas and comes equipped with a host of recreational facilities which include retail shops, restaurants and cafés. Amongst its more popular rides are a giant Ferris wheel, a layered merry-go-round, a space shuttle, a fighter plane and a UFO simulator.
The Water World section of the amusement park, which is open in summer, offers a range of exciting recreational activities such as rock-and-roll skiing, variable-speed skiing, stream surfing and a massage pool.
Opening Hours: Daily, late July-Sept: 08:00-21:00, Winter: 08:00-17:00
Location: 201 Hong Mei Lu, Xuhui (at Huming Lu)
Shiji Gongyuan (Century Park)
Located at the southern end of Century Boulevard, this sprawling 347-acre family-friendly park combines western and eastern influences in its design and landscape and is by far the largest in Shanghai. The park is divided into seven areas which include a mini-golf course, a man-made cobblestone beach, a bird sanctuary and a huge lake in the centre where fishing gear and paddleboats can be rented.
Although visitors are not allowed to bring in their own bicycles to ride along the park’s perfectly-manicured walkways, standard two-wheel bicycles and tandem bicycles can be rented at the park itself, as well as four-passenger pedal cars.
Opening Hours: Daily 07:00-18:00 (Nov 16-Mar 15: 07:00-17:00)
Location: Jinxiu Lu 1001, Pudong
Go-karting is an increasingly popular extreme sport in Shanghai. There are plenty of opportunities around town for adrenaline junkies to race at breakneck speed in a safe and secure environment.
Disc Kart Indoor Karting
Disc Kart is by far the most fun karting centre in town, and a great place to spend a few hours. Walking into a bar area with circular banquettes overlooking the track seems like an invitation to drink drive, and the fact that you’ll normally wait 20 minutes for a spin on the track makes the 60RMB pitchers of draught beer (1.25l) particularly appealing (you can also play foosball, pool or the Daytona USA 2 arcade game).
Once you’ve paid your 70RMB for eight minutes of track time, it’s a lot of fun, with the 550m race track full of interesting twists, turns and opportunities for overtaking. The only slight irritation is that the 40 karts – all imported from Germany and fitted with Honda 160cc engines – vary wildly in their performance, so observe first. Karts six, nine and 24 will have you overtaking at will, while karts two and 17 are painfully slow.
Opening Hours: Daily 14:00 – 02:00
Location: No. 809 Zaoyang Road, Chang Feng Park
Shanghai International Circuit Kartworld
Shanghai International Circuit Kartworld, on the other hand, offers world-class FIA Grade-A go-karting facilities including a 1.2 kilometre race track with 18 challenging corners, deemed one of the most challenging go-karting circuits in China.
Opening Hours: Daily 09:00-16:00
Location: 2000 Yining Lu, Jiading District
One of the Shanghainese’s favourite pastimes, bowling arenas can be found dotted all around the city, particularly in major hotels, shopping complexes and entertainment centres.
Hotels such as Cypress, Equatorial, Hua Ting, andRegal all have their own bowling facilities, and major bowling centres such as The Orden Bowling Centre are open 24 hours for round-the-clock bowling enjoyment.
Rates vary from one bowling venue to another, depending on the quality of the bowling centre and the time of the day (the later it gets, the more expensive it is).
The Orden Bowling Centre
Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours
Location: 10 Hengshan Lu, Pu Xi Qu (near Gaoan Lu)
SHANGHAI GOLF COURSES
Since the ban on golf had been lifted at the end of the Communist regime in China, golf courses have sprung up all over town like mushrooms. Golf enthusiasts – amateur or professional – will be spoilt for choice when it comes to places to practise their putting skills here.
Golf clubs and golf courses of all sizes and types can be found in abundance around Shanghai, from world-class designer golf course at the Shanghai International Golf and Country Club to sprawling 54-hole golf course at the Shanghai Binhai Golf Club.
Shanghai Binhai Golf Club
Location: Binhai Resort, Nanhui
Shanghai International Golf & Country Club
Location: Zhu Jia Jiao, Qing Pu County
The Chinese have been flying this delicate invention of theirs for over 3,000 years. In the old days, the Chinese Emperors used kites as a means to send signals to their troops during ancient wars. Today, this traditional activity remains one of the most popular recreational pursuits in China and Shanghai is no exception.
The best places to buy kites and indulge in a spot of kite flying are the city’s public parks, particularly at the People’s Square in front of the Shanghai Museum. It is a common sight to see men, women and children here flying their colourful works of art in the city’s parks, at any time of the day.
Opening Hours: 24 hours, daily
Location: Renmin Boulevard, People’s Avenue, Huangpu
For the more adventurous who’d like to test their strength to the limit, there’s rock-climbing, a form of extreme sports slowly gaining popularity among the masses.
Ozark Rock-Climbing Centre
The Ozark Rock-Climbing Centre at Jiang Su Road also has an indoor rock-climbing facility. Originally a state-run factory, this climbing centre features a massive climbing wall with three different skill options: two 15-metre wall routes, two 12-metre beginners’ routes and two 12-metre speed routes.
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00-22:00
Location: 1 Jiang Su Road, Pu Xi
Shanghai Stadium Rock-Climb Sports Centre
The rock climbing wall at the Shanghai Stadium is the highest and best indoor wall in China, though it barely qualifies as indoor, being on the very outer edges of the stadium (and thus chilly in winter). There are eight main walls, stretching up to 20m high, with two easy walls and then a succession of increasingly tricky climbs, as well as a large bouldering area (rope-free climbing above soft mats) with plenty of routes.
There’s a lot here for experienced climbers, with six of the eight main walls featuring overhangs. For beginners, there are attendants on hand to sort your equipment and belay you (ie hold the rope), though they don’t always offer much in the way of advice. Still, the rental equipment is good, and it’s great value – 70RMB per session, including equipment rental, or 1,500RMB a year, which will likely do more for your body (and soul) than an overpriced gym membership.
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00-22:00
Location: 666 Tianyaoqiao Lu, Xuhui (near Lingling Lu)
Ice Skating at the Mercedes-Benz Arena
Teenagers skating to blaring pop music, kids holding onto the glass as they slowly circumnavigate the rink and funky retro-shaped blue lights on the walls: this brand new facility is probably the best skating spot in the city. If the temperature is too low for you, be sure to warm up in the café that overlooks the ice after a lap or two.
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Hours: 10:30 a.m.–10 p.m. (daily)
Price: RMB 50 for two hours (Monday – Thursday before 4pm); RMB 60 for two hours (Monday – Thursday after 4pm); RMB 60 for two hours Friday – Sunday. Skates included.
Mercedes-Benz Arena, 1200 Shibo Da Dao, near Zhoujia Du Lu 世博大道1200号, 靠近周家渡路, +86 400 18166 88
Beach it on the Bund
Work on your tan or catch up on your reading against the Pudong skyline at the Bund’s latest addition. Wooden beach chairs fill up fast on the weekend, but on weekdays you’ll often have this sandy retreat to yourself. At the time of writing, a pool and complete barbecue and bar are due soon.
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Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (daily)
Price: RMB 20 entry fee including free cup of tea
Sunny Beach, 421 Waima Lu, near Maojiayuan Lu 外马路421号, 近毛家园路, +86 21 6152 6712
JW Marriott’s Pool
For pleasure-seekers who can’t fork out the cash to sleep at the Marriott, spend a day at their pool for a taste of luxury. Entrance fee includes access to both the 125-square-meter indoor pool and two more up on the roof. Sweat it out in the sauna and Jacuzzi between dips.
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Hours: 6 a.m.–11 p.m. (daily)
Price: RMB 150 for entire day for non-guests
JW Marriott, 399 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huangpi Bei Lu 南京西路399号, 近黄陂北路, +86 21 5359 4969