Shanghai is by far the largest city in mainland China, and for some it may seem like wheelchair accessibility wouldn’t be that great. But thanks to the relative newness of the downtown and its overall modernity, Shanghai is much more wheelchair accessible than you might think! There are definitely challenges here and there, but with the proper planning, Shanghai is an absolutely incredible place to visit as a wheelchair user. Read below to find out some of the fantastic accessible things you can do during your time in Shanghai.
1. The Bund. The Bund, also called Waitan, is a famous waterfront on the west bank of Huangpu River and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai. Here, the charm of Shanghai as a bustling metropolis combining the century-old history and flourishing future is fully presented, making the Bund Shanghai a must-see attraction. Local people often start a day by doing exercise at the Bund. Here you can see them walking, jogging, practicing Tai Chi or flying kites. Getting up early and joining them is a pleasant thing to take in the real lifestyle of locals. The most classic route to explore the Bund is either to wander from the north end to the south or the contrary way. Along the way, you will see the most famous and attractive sight in the Bund, namely 26 colonial-era buildings of different western architectural styles, which give the Bund Shanghai China the fame as a ‘museum of international architecture’. Looking across the Huangpu River, dense high rises in Pudong Area on the opposite bank come into your review, represented by the Oriental Pearl Tower, World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and Shanghai Tower, top four highest skyscrapers in the city. They dominate the skyline and form a nice backdrop for taking pictures. There are two ramps to the upper level of The Bund. One is located about two blocks south of Nanjing Road, roughly across the street from the end of Fuzhou Road. The other is at the north end of The Bund at the Sichuan Road bridge The closest metro stop is Nanjing Road East on Line 2.
2. Yuyuan Bazaar. Yuyuan Bazaar, also known as Yuyuan Market, is outside the Yu Garden, in the heart of Old Shanghai City, and close to the Old City God Temple. There are many traditional Chinese buildings, which nowadays are used as commercial stores to sell local products, snacks, jewelry, souvenirs, antiques and so on. The market provides visitors with the most delicious local food. Nan Xiang Steamed Stuffed Bun (Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao) is famous because of its many special ingredients, and is reputed to be the best in China. Another famous restaurant is called Lv Bo Lang, and steamed crab stuffed bun, crab bean curd and crispy fried cake are the favourite dishes. Many world-famous politicians and visitors have come here, such as former US president Clinton. Visitors can also taste some local snacks, like the Yangchun Noodles, Fried Stuffed Bun, Crab-Yellow Pastry and Chop Rice Cakes. In the bazaar, there are a great number of small lanes filled with stores. Yuyuan Old Street, in the north of Yuyuan Market, mainly offers various commodities with traditional Chinese characteristics. These products include home supplies, handicrafts, and festive supplies. Most of the shops and restaurants have a step to enter, but many food vendors can bring your purchase around the counter. It’s also fascinating just to roll through the bazaar and people-watch. The closest metro stop is Yuyuan Garden on Line 10.
3. People’s Park. The park can be divided into three areas: the east area, the middle area and the west area. The major attraction in the east area is the Memorial to the May Thirtieth Movement. The Antarctic Stone, the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, a teahouse, an outdoor theater, and a dance hall can be found in the vast middle area. Additionally, tourists can have a rest, play chess, or have a picnic on the stone tables and stone stools in the jungle of the middle area. Compared with the east and middle areas, the west part has a lot of landscape architecture, including pavilions, corridors, artificial hills, pools and pergolas. The Marriage Market is the highlight of the Shanghai People’s Park. It attracts a lot of people on weekends. Even some parents come here to choose the future wives and husbands of their children. On the notes are written the personal information of those who want to find a partner, including their gender, age, occupations, income, photos, telephone number, and educational background. In addition, their requirements for partners can be found on the notes. There are several entrances to People’s Park along West Nanjing Road and South Xizang Road. The closest metro stop is People’s Square on Line 1, 2, and 8.
4. Shanghai Museum. Located in the center of Shanghai in People’s Square, Shanghai Museum is a large museum of ancient Chinese art. Its style and presentation surround visitors with artifacts demonstrating ancient wisdom and philosophy. The museum is divided into eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. The eleven galleries cover most of the major categories of Chinese art: Ancient Bronze, Ancient Ceramics, Paintings, Calligraphy, Ancient Sculpture, Ancient Jade, Coins, Ming and Qing Furniture, Seals, and Minority Nationalities. The main entrance to the museum is on the south side of the building along East Yan’an Road. There are two ramps on either side of the steps, and the entrance ramp is on the right. Admission is free, and the museum has elevators and accessible bathrooms. The closest metro stop is People’s Square on Line 1, 2, and 8.
5. Shanghai Science & Technology Museum. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum promotes science, education, cultural and ideological progress and aims at offering visitors a unique experience in the modern scientific discipline under the theme of ‘Nature, People and Science’. The museum rises in a spiral, symbolizing scientific progress. A huge glass sphere embedded in a pool of clear water, at the building’s midpoint, gives the theme of life renewed. The basement floor houses the Temporary Exhibition Hall, IMAX Dome Theater, IMAX 3D Large-Format Theater, Collection Exhibition Area and Popular Science Department Store. The first floor of Shanghai Science and Technology Museum houses the Hall of Widest Spectrum of Life which captures the scenery in Yunnan Province. The Earth’s Crust Exploration Hall reveals the secrets of the earth and Shanghai’s physical geography. The Light of Wisdom Hall demonstrates chemistry, biology and maths with a large number of interactive items. The Children’s Techno-Land is designed for children between one and twelve years old, to interest them early in scientific matters. Besides, the Cradle of Designers and the IWERKS 4D Theater are also worth visiting. The second floor includes the Hall of Earth Home, the Hall of Information Age, the Seeker Corridor, the Robot World and the Spider Exhibition Hall, all of which are full of wonder and excitement. The third floor is the place of the Hall of Exploration Light, the Astronavigation World, the Hall of People and Health, and the Space Theater.
The accessible entrance to the museum is on the southwest side of the building along Yingchun Road. If you arrive by metro, you will have to ask for assistance to exit the station by elevator through the AP Plaza. You will cross through a large plaza and approach the museum from the rear. Go around the building to the left (southeast) and go down a ramp to reach the sidewalk along Yingchun Road. Once you reach the front steps, there is a wheelchair ramp to the right of the steps. Admission for wheelchair users is free, but they will ask you for a ticket. Wheelchair users will not fit between the metal rails to the ticket desks, so someone will either need to get your ticket for you, or if traveling alone, they will understand and security will swipe their own QR code to get you through the entrance gate. The museum has elevators and accessible bathrooms. The closest metro stop is Science & Technology Museum on Line 2.
6. AP Plaza/Xinyang Market. AP Plaza (a.k.a. Xinyang Market) is one of Shanghai’s few remaining truly great fake markets. This Aladdin’s cave offers all the knock-off clothing, accessories and souvenirs you could dream of. Fear not, there are no questionable ‘Mikes’, ‘Wans’ or ‘Babidas Spam Smiths’ here. Snag reasonable quality fake-branded trainers (Vans, Nikes, Converse), ‘Beats’ headphones and ‘Hunter’ rain boots for 150RMB ($22) or less. Luxury fakery is also available, hidden within the rabbit warren of market stores where, if you ask, you’ll find almost-real Louis Vuitton or Gucci handbags for around 200-250RMB. Market rules apply here, so haggle hard, start at 10 percent of the asking price and never pay more than 30 percent of the original price.
7. Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower is located in Pudong Park in Lujiazui, Shanghai. Surrounded by the Yangpu Bridge in the northeast and the Nanpu Bridge in the southwest, it creates a picture of ‘twin dragons playing with pearls’. The entire scene is a photographic jewel that excites the imagination and attracts thousands of visitors year-round. This 468 meters (1,536 feet) high tower is the world’s sixth and China’s second tallest TV and radio tower. However, even more alluring than its height is the unique architectural design that makes Oriental Pearl Tower one of the most attractive places anywhere. Its base is supported by three seven-meter wide slanting stanchions. Surrounding the eleven steel spheres that are ‘strung’ vertically through the center are three nine-meter wide columns. Visitors travel up and down the Oriental Pearl Tower in double-decker elevators that can hold up to fifty people at the rate of seven meters per second. The elevator attendants recite an introduction to the TV Tower in English and Chinese during the rapid 1/4-mile ascent. Once you reach your destination, you will be amazed at the variety of activities available as the various spheres and columns actually house places of interest, commerce, and recreation.
After you purchase your ticket (skip the Space Module; trust me), go to Entrance 8 (just before the VIP entrance) up a short driveway on Lujiazui Ring Road, just to the northeast of the ticket desks. You will then be escorted into the mall area below the tower and taken to the appropriate elevator. There are accessible toilets in both the mall area and on the observation deck. The closest metro stop is Lujiazui on Line 2. When you exit the elevator, roll to Lujiazui Ring Road and head northeast for about a block to reach the crosswalk.
8. Shanghai Tower. Shanghai Tower is in Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone of Pudong, with Shanghai World Financial Center to the east and Jin Mao Tower to the north. The tower ranks as China’s tallest building and second only to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The exterior of the building spirals upward like a snake. It twists about one degree per floor to offset the wind effect on higher altitude. This is very important to a super tall building in Shanghai to withstand frequent typhoons. The building is serviced by 149 elevators, of which 108 are lifts. Three of the lifts can send passengers up to the 546 meters (1,791 ft) high sightseeing deck from street level within one minute, which is a world record holder. For tourists, a Shanghai Tower visit would not be completed unless including a climb to the ‘Top of Shanghai Observatory’, which is the world’s highest indoor observation deck. From this height, one can enjoy a unique panoramic view of the Huangpu River, the Bund on the west, and several other skyscrapers like the Jin Mao Tower and the World Financial Center on the east bank. Tourists are recommended to visit the exhibition hall on floor B1 first, and then take the express elevator to the 118th floor directly within only 55 seconds.
The main entrance and ticket desk for Shanghai Tower is located on Middle Yingcheng Road (west side). The closest metro stop is Lujiazui on Line 2. When you exit the elevator, head straight (roughly east) and you will soon see a skywalk above you. After about two blocks, you will see an elevator on your left that will take you to the skywalk on level 2. This will help you cross Century Avenue and take you to an elevator only a block from the Shanghai Tower (you will briefly pass through a mall). After buying your ticket, you will be escorted through several elevators to get you through security and to the appropriate high-speed elevator to the observation deck. When you exit out to the mall, find the north elevators and go to level 1. To your left will be the exit to the street level.
9. Shanghai World Financial Center. Standing in the center of Lujiazui in Pudong and neighboring Shanghai Tower and Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) is the second tallest skyscraper in the city up to now. From the exterior, the structure looks like a bottle opener and that’s exactly its nickname. Aiming to be a magnet of the world’s finance, Shanghai WFC boasts functions of first class financial centers, able to showcase monetary talents, cultural and art exhibitions and information from all over the world. For tourists, it’s more of a hot attraction featuring the sightseeing observatories and the Park Hyatt Hotel. The sightseeing arena on 94F provides a perfect and extensive view of Shanghai along the Huangpu River. The 750-square-meter (about 897-square-yard) sightseeing hall is also suitable for exhibitions. A café bar and a souvenir store can be found there (you HAVE to buy the actual bottle opener in the shape of the SWFC).
The main entrance and ticket desk for Shanghai Tower is located on Dongtai Road (west side). The closest metro stop is Lujiazui on Line 2. When you exit the elevator, head straight (roughly east) and you will soon see a skywalk above you. After about two blocks, you will see an elevator on your left that will take you to the skywalk on level 2. Use the skywalk to cross Century Road and keep heading roughly east until you reach the entrance to the SWFC complex. You can also take an elevator from the skywalk to reach the street level, where you will need to be escorted through multiple hallways and elevators to reach the ticket desk. Make sure you buy the ticket only for floor 94, as the other two floors have only escalator access. From there, you will be escorted to the appropriate high-speed elevator to the observation deck. To exit, you will need to ask to be directed through the complex to the food court area in order to exit back out to the skywalk on level 2.
10. Nanjing Road. China’s premier shopping street, the 5.5-km-long (3.4-mile-long) Nanjing Road, starts at the Bund in the east and ends in the west at the junction of Jing’an Temple and West Yan’an Street. Today it is a must-see metropolitan destination attracting thousands of fashion-seeking shoppers from all over the world. As a century-old shopping street in Shanghai, Nanjing Road was a witness of the city’s history. Over time, it has been restructured, undergoing significant changes. Big traditional stores no longer dominate the market since modern shopping malls, specialty stores, theaters, and international hotels have mushroomed on both sides of the street. For shopping convenience, its eastern end has an all-weather pedestrian arcade. Most stores and restaurants have at least one step to enter, and you will likely have no access to accessible toilets along Nanjing Road. However, if you keep heading east toward The Bund after the pedestrian-only portion ends, more stores have flat entry. That being said, the sidewalks will get narrower and the crowds heavier, especially on weekends and after 5PM, so plan accordingly. The closest metro stops are People’s Square and Nanjing Road East, both on Line 2.
11. Museum of Contemporary Art. The best part of the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai (MOCA) is the prime location smack dab in a lovely green portion of People’s Square. Sunlight and panoramic views pour in through the museum’s floor to ceiling glass walls. International exhibitions are the name of the game at MOCA with Spain’s flamboyant architect, Antoni Gaudi, highlighting 2017’s exhibitions and Salvatore Ferragamo in 2018. The current exhibition is about urban/street art, featuring well-known artists like OBEY (he created the Obama campaign poster). The ArtLab, a new, trendy space for stage events opened in spring of 2018. You can see the whole museum in less than 45 minutes, but it packs great stuff into a small space. The entrance to MOCA is on the northwest side of the building, and there are no accessible bathrooms. The closest metro stop is People’s Square on Line 1, 2, and 8.
12. Shanghai Zoo. Shanghai Zoo is a large-scale state-level zoo. It was previously named Western Suburban Park and renamed in 1980. It is located on the western outskirts of Shanghai, adjacent to Hongqiao International Airport. Covering an area of 740,000 square meters (885,000 square yards), it exhibits more than 6,000 animals, including up to 600 rare animals. There are not only animals from China, such as giant pandas, golden monkeys, South China tigers, Manchurian tigers, Yangtze alligators, elks, but also animals from all over the world, such as giraffe, kangaroo, penguin, hippopotamus, sea lion, ostrich, and cougar. Shanghai Zoo is divided into 5 exhibition areas: Primates, Herbivores, Carnivores, Birds, and Amphibians. A wide variety of flowers are also displayed. Standing in the garden, tourists are surrounded by fragrances of flowers. Because the site of the zoo was originally a golf course, it is now reputed for its beautiful environment and extensive green belt. More than 100,000 trees flourish here. There are accessible bathrooms located throughout the zoo. However, there are considerable distances between them. The closest metro stop is Shanghai Zoo on Line 10.
13. Shanghai Disneyland. As the sixth in the world and the first in mainland China, Shanghai Disneyland Park creates many records among the existing Disney parks. It has the tallest theme castle: the Enchanted Storybook Castle, the first garden-designed zone and the first pirate-themed garden. It also combines movie figures with Chinese elements, like the Chinese Zodiac Murals in the Gardens of Imagination. There are altogether seven theme attractions inside the park. For all the details about Shanghai Disneyland, CLICK HERE. There are accessible bathrooms located throughout the park. The closest metro stop is Disneyland at the terminus of Line 11.
14. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is located in Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone in Pudong District and is adjacent to the famous Oriental Pearl Tower and Jin Mao Tower. One of the largest ocean aquariums in the world, it has the world’s longest submarine viewing tunnel measuring 155 meters (about 170 yards) in length. The main building is divided into different exhibition zones: China Zone, South America Zone, Australia Zone, Africa Zone, Southeast Asia Zone, Cold Water Zone, Polar Zone, Sea and Shore, Deep Ocean Zone and Special Exhibitions. The exhibits include more than 300 types and 15,000 water creatures and rare fishes, such as poison dart frogs, jellyfishes, moonfish, leafy sea dragons and emperor penguins. Currently, this is the only aquarium in the world to have a China Zone. This zone specializes in exhibiting aquatic organisms and ecology of the Yangtze valley as well as some endangered aquatic species in China. Most creatures in this zone are under national protection such as the Chinese sturgeon, mullet, Yangtze alligator and giant salamander.
There are accessible toilets on the ground floor of the aquarium. The ticket desks are on the southwest side of the building on Middle Yingcheng Road (west side). To enter, you have to roll around the building to the northeast side just past the group entrance to reach the ramp. From there, you will be escorted through staff-only hallways to reach an elevator to the 3rd floor. You will spiral down to the 2nd level, then be guided to elevators for the other areas. The closest metro stop is Lujiazui on Line 2. When you exit the elevator, roll to Lujiazui Ring Road and head northeast for about a block to reach the crosswalk.