When Shanghai’s streets start steaming with more heat than your neighbourhood barbecue joint and the summer showers are really raining on your parade, just keep calm and carry on. You might already know about the fantastic al fresco happy hours or how to live like it’s the weekend everyday of the week, but we’ve got even more tips on how to make the most of the season. Here’s the essential list of the best things to do this summer, whatever the weather.
Kick back in these outdoor pools
Make like you’re in the Med at the Sofitel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental’s super-luxe pool with its 4,400 square metres of crystal-blue swimming territory surrounded by a manmade beach, rows of loungers, bars, palm trees and faux-Mediterranean architecture. 300RMB (adults pool entry only); 150RMB (kids, pool entry only); from 598RMB (pool access and brunch buffet).
Set inside a housing complex, Mandarine City’s large pool is a favourite with everyone from residents to Gubei daytrippers who get stuck into the pool bar. Expect it to fill up fast, especially on the weekend. 100RMB (adults); 60RMB (children).
Also known as the ‘Maya pool’, Grand Plaza Club House’s pool is situated inside the same compound as Mexican restaurant Maya. It’s one of the most popular outdoor pools in the Former French Concession and packs out quickly with sun-seekers who settle in for a chilled day of drinking. 100RMB (Mon-Fri); 150RMB (Sat-Sun).
Part of a fancy Pudong residential complex, the Shimao Riviera Garden pool is the sort of place a Miami resort pool party might groove in, with an enormous pool, faux-beach, deckchairs and bar. It gets pretty busy with families on evenings and weekends. 200RMB (adults); 100RMB (children).
The Oriental Sports Center’s large outdoor pool (across the road from the main indoor pool) is the place to be for serious swimmers looking to do some actual laps under the sun. 20RMB (outdoor pool only).
The Purple Mountain Hotel might not be in the most glamorous part of town – stranded in a nondescript part of Pudong somewhere between Lujiazui and Century Park – but this means that it’s excellent rooftop pool often flies under most people’s radars when the sun comes out. There are two pools – one for adults and one for kids (the latter is half the depth of the former, at 1.5 metres) – and views across the eastern side of the city from the fifth floor terrace they sit on. 200RMB (adults); 100RMB (children).
Break out your best bikini and board shorts for westward den of iniquity The Mansion’s themed pool parties through the summer (weather permitting). The 150RMB entrance ticket includes five drinks, and you can take your own meat and veg to grill on the communal barbecue. Follow ‘the-mansion’ on WeChat for upcoming party details.
Get a taste of the high life at rooftop bars
On the 58th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Pudong, open-air bar Flair brags one of the most impressive views in the city, and like many Bund-side bars, the prices to match – but it’s still well worth a visit.
Thanks to its breezy American coastline vibes, POP Bar is a summery space to chill overlooking Lujiazui. Get buy-one-get-one-free cocktails at their daily happy hour from 5-8pm.
Offering an alternative view of Shanghai (ie not Lujiazui or the Bund), Kartel’s terrace overlooks low-rise Former French Concession rooftops. Get there for the 6-8pm daily happy hour for 30RMB drinks.
With palm trees, good vibes and some killer happy hour deals on beers, cocktails and pitchers (5-7pm daily), Mayita’s rooftop is a great space to unwind with a margarita, or two.
Once you’re done with the rooftop views, you can…
Go for a late-night picnic at these 24-hour parks
Or if late-night activities aren’t your jam, then…
One of the more lively parks in town, boats abound on Changfeng Park’s large lake making it the perfect spot to mess around on the water. Make your way over early in the morning (from 8.30am) for a serene paddle before the sun starts to scorch. Depending on your energy levels, both electric boats and pedalos are available to rent for 60RMB an hour. When you’re done boating, join the landlubbers and follow the manmade river that runs off the central lake by which you’ll find plenty of shady nooks to bunker down in.
Fire up the barbecue at one of these parks
This forest park has 40 tented waterside barbecue pits, including a VIP area of bigger, better pits. There’s also a shop selling meat, fish and vegetable skewers, plus beer and ice creams, or you can bring your own. Gucun Park entry is 20RMB; 150-480RMB barbecue rental for two hours.
Set aside a day for a trip to Sheshan’s Sculpture Park. As well as enough barbecue pits for a mini party, the park has a beautiful lake, a manmade beach and some slightly bizarre sculptures. Plus a slightly higher entrance fee (100RMB) and considerable journey time from downtown mean you’re pretty much guaranteed some peace and quiet. Bring your own food for the grill. 100RMB park entry; 100RMB barbecue rental.
As well as a huge amount of green space for picnicking, Gongqing Forest Park has a series of barbecue pits for four to eight people to rent for two hours with packs of wood and charcoal included. Bring your own food and book ahead when the sun’s out. 15RMB park entry; 100-180RMB barbecue rental for two hours.
Get a culture trip at these (blissfully cool) museum
28. Shanghai Center of Photography (SCoP)
China’s first state run contemporary art musuem Power Station of Art – set in a former power station – hosts some of the city’s biggest art shows in spectacular surrounds.
The Shanghai Natural History Museum is for all ages, with an impressive collection of artefacts from around the world and a 4D cinema. Plus, its bioclimatic building works with nature to control the conditioning indoors.
When it gets too hot or too wet to explore Shanghai for real, experience it in miniature at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum dedicated entirely to the city’s modernisation and urban development (complete with architectural scale models).
After the museums you can…
As well as boasting large baths at a range of temperatures, Korean bathhouse New Star’s Tianshan Lu outpost also has a small igloo-like ice room with thermometers reading -10 degrees Celsius. While we’re not convinced by the temperature reading, the ice room has a nice chill that’ll cool you down quickly enough. There’s also a cinema, a nail salon, a large restaurant and more indoor entertainment to keep you busy.