4 free things to do in Shanghai

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China’s most populous city, Shanghai, is a hive of bustling excitement and entertainment. The sheer choice of things to see and do could easily run your wallet dry, but you don’t always need to splash the cash to experience the best Shanghai has to offer, as our list proves.

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Power Station of Art

In what was formerly the Nanshi Power Station, now lays the very first museum of contemporary art on mainland China. The celebrated PSA, as the locals refer to it as, takes centre stage along the Huangpu River, with the imposing ‘production centre for art’ housing 12 huge exhibition halls featuring an array of cross-disciplinary exhibitions from an array of international artists.

Power Station of Art © Shanghai Biennale (http://www.shanghaibiennale.org/)
Power Station of Art © Shanghai Biennale

Kuaizi Chopsticks Museum

One of the smallest museums in Shanghai, the Kuaizi Museum is the passion of owner Lan Xiang. Over the years he has amassed a collection of thousands of chopsticks, including a pair from as far back as the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). If you can master the local dialect, Lan Xiang will tell you the entirety of his amazing story.

Kuaizi Museum © prryanwang/iStock/Thinkstock (http://www.thinkstockphotos.co.uk/image/stock-photo-chopsticks/491685777)
Kuaizi Museum © prryanwang/iStock/Thinkstock

Qibao Ancient Town

One of the only free water-towns near Shanghai, Qibao’s history dates back a thousand years. Built in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126), the town grew into an economic centre during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The ancient architecture and watercourses are absolutely stunning, and accompanied by plenty of traditional shops and food stalls for visitors to sample a slice of authentic old school China. There are small fees to visit certain individual sites and temples.

Qibao Ancient Town © zorazhuang/iStcok/Thinkstock (http://www.thinkstockphotos.co.uk/image/stock-photo-chinese-ancient-town-in-night/160312405)
Qibao Ancient Town © zorazhuang/iStcok/Thinkstock

OV Gallery

The rebellious OV Gallery has had pieces censored and exhibitions shut down for its controversial approach. Giving centre stage to emerging Chinese artists, the gallery hosts everything from the wonderful to the very weird. Accompanying artwork are workshops, cultural tours and talks, all for the bargain price of absolutely nothing.

OV Gallery © Andrea Chu/iStock/Thinkstock (http://www.thinkstockphotos.co.uk/image/stock-photo-matue-couple-holding-wine-glass/sb10063807k-001)
OV Gallery © Andrea Chu/iStock/Thinkstock

Cheap flights to Shanghai

Feature image © Liufuyu/iStock/Thinkstock

Words by Lance van Dijk

Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guides cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas.

4 free things to do in Shanghai was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Chantelle Symester