Occupying the eastern bank of the Huangpu River, Pudong is the commercial heart of Shanghai, a vibrant and energetic city. Amid stunning skyscrapers and streets that pulse with fast-paced urban energy, this district epitomizes Shanghai’s sophisticated 21st-century allure. To make the most of your time here, we asked James Zhang, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, to share recommendations for things to see and do throughout this lively city – from authentic culinary experiences to world-class designer shopping.
Sky-high views in Pudong
The Oriental Pearl Tower and the Jin Mao Tower sketch out the iconic Shanghai skyline. For above-the-cloud views, ascend by elevator to Sky Walk 100 on the 100th floor of the 492-metre (1,614-feet) Shanghai World Financial Center. A pinnacle of Pudong’s modern magnetism, the Shanghai World Financial Center is China’s second-tallest building. Offices, shops and restaurants fill the Center's 101 floors, and the glass-panelled observatory yields panoramic views, day or night. For bird's-eye sights, head to the Shanghai Tower – the tallest building in China. The Shanghai Tower’s facade curves around its core as it climbs 632 metres (2074 feet) into the sky. One of the world’s highest observation decks rests on the 118th floor, and the fastest elevator in existence whisks you to the top in under a minute.
Classic and contemporary cuisines
Hidden gems beloved by locals and cutting-edge cuisine that draws international clientele pepper the city of Shanghai. Cosy up to delicious Cantonese delicacies like dim sum at the Hotel’s intimate Shàng-Xí restaurant. Opt for a seat in one of the private dining rooms and choose from four set dim sum menus. Trade Shàng-Xí’s modern feel for a traditional culinary adventure at Family Li Imperial Cuisine, founded by a relative of the Qing dynasty’s royal family. Located 10 minutes from the Hotel, the restaurant’s classic dishes are based on recipes that once fed China’s last emperor, Puyi.
For authentic Shanghainese cuisine, try Lao Jishi (known locally as Jesse) on Tianping Road. This rustic favourite serves mouth-watering hong shao rou (braised pork in soy sauce). If you have a taste for history, sample Shanghai's oldest restaurant, Lao Zheng Xing. This always-packed eatery is known for its seafood and has been serving signature dishes, like fried river shrimp and braised sea cucumber, since 1862.
Sample upscale takes on cuisine from provinces known for exotic dishes. Inspired by spicy comfort food found in Yunnan province, the cuisine at Lost Heaven is only enhanced by its chic Bund setting. Xibo crafts fine-dining versions of delicacies from Xinjiang, a province famous for airy flatbreads and savory meats.
Culinary adventurers will want to check out Ultraviolet – an innovative restaurant on the Bund. You’ll be transported to a secret location where a single table set for 10 awaits. French chef Paul Pairet creates a multi-sensory meal; each of the 20 courses is enhanced by its a taste-tailored atmosphere that blends elements of light, sound, scent and touch.
The Shanghai Municipal History Museum, located at the base of the Oriental Pearl Tower, houses lifelike wax figures and scale models of famous landmarks on the Bund, Nanjing Road and the former British, French and International concession. Trace a fascinating timeline from Shanghai’s post–Opium War period of the early 1840s through Mao’s Communist Revolution in 1949 in the museum's halls.
Disneyland brings thrilling rides, beloved characters, and the magic of happily ever after to Shanghai. Disney’s newest park features a dream Enchanted Castle, a swashbuckling pirate-themed Treasure Cove, classical Chinese gardens and the famed Tron roller coaster.
A 5-minute drive from the Hotel is the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, home to more than 450 aquatic species from 5 continents and 4 oceans. A 120-metre (394-foot) sight-seeing tunnel transports you to marine depths, taking you from China’s Yangtze River to South America’s Amazon and the icy waters of Antarctica.
See Shanghai’s soaring skyscrapers up close on Binjiang Avenue, Pudong’s answer to the Puxi Bund. This 2.5-kilometre walkway on the eastern banks of the Huangpu River takes visitors along views of the Pudong skyline, elegant green spaces, dancing fountains and its historic shipyard's enormous iron anchor.
The newly renovated Shanghai Natural History Museum explores the natural world with a 4-D movie theater, hall of dinosaurs and a butterfly enclosure. The building's cell-like edifice disappears into the surrounding sculpture park, and is worth a look on its own.
The Shanghai Science & Technology Museum offers 14 interactive exhibitions like the World of Robots and Space Navigation.
To heed the call of the wild, head to the Shanghai Zoo in quiet, leafy Hongqiao district. You’ll find Yangtze alligators, Manchurian tigers and, of course, pandas, living in enclosures designed to mimic their natural habitats.
Just two minutes from the Hotel is the Shanghai IFC Mall. This six-storey retail centre offers a wealth of international brands, including the latest China collections by Chanel, Red Valentino, Shiatzy Chen and Louis Vuitton, plus smart cafés and Asian and European fine dining. To purchase jade—the hallmark souvenir from China—visit Cang Bao Ge, or the Bund Pearl and Jade Center, known for its reasonably priced jade and pearl jewellery. If you still have shopping time to spare, cross the river to Shang Xia in Puxi. This debut collaboration between luxury brand Hermès and star designer Jiang Qiong Er offers furniture, clothing and home accessories inspired by traditional Chinese culture.
Experience the city’s greener side at Century Park. The park offers 56 hectares (140 acres) of landscaped green space, lakes and trees, making it a tranquil setting for an afternoon picnic or leisurely bike ride. Across the water in Puxi, Yuyuan Garden is a peaceful 437-year-old Chinese garden set around ancient pavilions, fish ponds, rockeries and colourful flower beds. Its timeless ambience contrasts with the bustle of the nearby Yuyuan Bazaar, which is abuzz with tourists and souvenir sellers.
The Art Scene
The Shanghai Oriental Art Center, located in Pudong, hosts international ballets and musical performances that range from jazz nights and weekend classical brunch concerts to performances by the world’s symphony orchestras. Visual arts lovers will want to sample the city’s thriving contemporary arts scene. The place to start is the China Art Museum. Originally created as the China Pavilion, the centrepiece of the 2010 World Expo, this eye-catching red structure has been converted into Shanghai’s largest art museum.
You’ll find a mix of Chinese and international work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, located in People’s Park. In addition to its permanent collection of provoking pieces from established and up-and-coming artists, MoCA regularly hosts high-profile traveling exhibits.
Experience the urban beauty of Shanghai by strolling its streets and riverside. Take in the diverse historic architecture of the Bund, where grand Neoclassical-, Baroque-, Romanesque- and Art Deco-style mansions were built beside the Huangpu River at the 19th century. View the Bund from another perspective by walking the Pudong Riverside Promenade on the Huangpu’s east bank. Join locals for an evening stroll, and savour the contrast between the classically illuminated buildings and the neon-lit towers of Pudong.