What to Do in Shanghai & Suzhou: Travel Diary

I had such a good time with my family this year in Shanghai and Suzhou for Chinese New Year. We stayed in Suzhou for most of the trip but took a day trip to Shanghai, and I absolutely fell in love with the city. Even though I only had one day in Shanghai, I managed to hit up some of the most popular photo spots, so I’ll be sharing those with you in this post. I definitely want to go back to Shanghai, there are so many quaint spots and pretty streets, it’s the perfect mix of East meets West. Read on for all my favorite spots in Shanghai and Suzhou!

WHAT TO DO IN SHANGHAI: ORIENTAL PEARL TOWER

The Oriental Pearl Tower is a must-see in Shanghai, even if it’s just for a photo! Since I was only there for day, I didn’t have time to go into the actual Tower. There is a cafe at the top of the tower where you can enjoy some yummy drinks and views of the city. But for my photo purposes, I was able to shoot with the tower in the background, and I love the way it turned out! 

Right by the Oriental Pearl Tower is The Bund, another great spot for photos. This waterfront area is lined with European style buildings, making it a cool place for street style photos. Don’t I look like I could totally be in Europe?!

WHAT TO DO IN SHANGHAI: YU GARDEN

For a more traditional taste of Shanghai, I recommend visiting Yu Garden. This is a traditional Chinese garden in the middle of the city, and really makes you feel like you’re not in the city anymore once you enter the garden. I loved the traditional Chinese style windows and doors, lush greenery, and serene temples

WHAT TO DO IN SHANGHAI: WUKANG BUILDING

The next spot is the Wukang Building, which I now consider to be the Flatiron Building of Shanghai due to the architectural similarities. When I posted the above photo on Instagram, a few people actually thought it was the Flatiron Building! Shooting at this spot was a lot of fun and I decided to go with an athleisure style look to contrast against the building. 

WHAT TO DO IN SHANGHAI: WUKANG DISTRICT

Another great spot for walking around and exploring is the Wukang District. This is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Shanghai and is full of cute shops and restaurants. Wukang District is also very westernized, I felt like I was in Europe! 

WHAT TO DO IN SUZHOU: TONG LI ANCIENT TOWN

Suzhou is about an hour and a half away from Shanghai and has a more relaxed vibe, feeling very much like a vacation town. Suzhou is known as the Venice of China due to its abundance of rivers and canals. One of my favorite places that we visited is Tong Li Ancient Town, which is about a 40 minute drive from Suzhou. This town was so quaint and well preserved, I felt like I was transported to another century. 

WHAT TO DO IN SUZHOU: GARDENS & COURTYARDS

Suzhou is primarily known for its traditional Chinese houses with gardens and courtyards. These are essentially large garden-style houses where the rich people used to live, and now turned into tourist destinations. The above photo is taken in one of these gardens, there are so many in Suzhou!

WHERE TO STAY IN SUZHOU: TRADITIONAL CHINESE AIRBNB

Perhaps my favorite part of the whole trip was the Airbnb we stayed at. My family booked this traditional Chinese style villa, and it really felt like we were getting the real Suzhou experience. There were 3 floors, 9 rooms, and tons of living spaces and courtyards. The above photo was actually taken on the roof as the window in my room opened out directly onto the roof. You can see exactly how I got the shot in my China Suzhou VLOG below!