10 weird things to do in Shanghai

Sep 10,2015

The most memorable moments are found in experiencing things new and unknown. Shanghai has many opportunities to explore the unusual and extraordinary – from restaurants to architecture and hotels. This time round, forget the usual landmark tourist attractions and make a beeline for these weird and wonderful spots in the bustling city.

Meet (and eat) the locals


Southern Barbarian. Credit: Neal Kessler


Strange looking insects from all over the world, such as the orchid mantis and wood leopard moth, call the Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Kingdom home. Here, visitors can interact and learn more about the creatures and critters in the attraction’s Tropical Rainforest Area or Ecological Garden. Southern Barbarian is also teeming with creepy crawlies. However, at this Yunnan restaurant, they’re cooked and served to guests. Sample a few bugs at a time or order the platter that includes honeybees, tree worms, and grasshoppers. 

Play with your food



More Than Toilet. Credit: Steve Aronberg


Shanghai has more than its fair share of odd restaurants. One of the most notable is lavatory-themed More Than Toilet, which offers dishes such as soft-serve chocolate ice-cream in toilet-shaped bowls or drinks served in urinal-shaped mugs. Its theme goes far beyond the menu as the place is decorated with toilet-shaped chairs and golden urinals, too.

If that’s not enough to give you the creeps, visit Vampire Coffee, where cakes in the shape of coffins and red drinks served in blood bags are on the menu.

A390 restaurant, on the other hand, is an aviation fan’s dream come true. The entire space is designed to look like an aircraft cabin, right down to the seats and oval-shaped windows, while the food is served in trays by servers dressed as flight attendants.

Knock on death’s door

Originally designed in the 1930s as a cattle slaughterhouse, 1933 Old Millfun in Shanghai’s Hongkou district has been repurposed as a business hub for creative industries. Where cattle once roamed the many corridors, ramps and bridges, this former abattoir now houses many hip restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a meal or coffee while soaking up the atmosphere in the building’s stirring interior. It’s also a popular venue for fashion shows, conferences and concerts. Check out the multitude of galleries and revel in being surrounded by art, history and modern-day culture in a hauntingly beautiful space.

For a closer brush with the underworld, head to Lingxin Culture and Communication Company in the Putuo district where you can experience your own fake funeral and have a ‘death experience’ inside an actual coffin. If that isn’t weird, we don’t know what is.

Do a double take



Thames Town, Shanghai


Finally, there are several spots in this city that might make you wonder if you’re still in Shanghai.

See European architecture at Thames Town, albeit in a different way. This bizarre new riverside residential development is named after London’s River Thames and is unabashedly modelled on a traditional British town – complete with cobblestone streets and red telephone booths.

Perhaps more authentic is the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, which is housed in the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue, a beautiful three-storey place of worship built in the 1920s. Tours and exhibits centred on Shanghai’s intriguing and little-known Jewish community are ongoing.

To cap off your weirdly wonderful trip, cross the Huangpu River underground via The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel train. Your mind will be blown by the 360-degree views of psychedelic kaleidoscope imagery projected onto the tunnel walls. A six-channel surround sound system amplifies the five-minute train ride and changes as the wall scenery transforms, making your journey a truly out-of-this-world experience.

It’s said that stepping out of your comfort zone can make or break a trip. However, if it all gets too much, retreat to the Grand Millennium Shanghai HongQiao, which is outfitted with modern comforts, luxurious amenities and top-notch service. Click here for last minute packages.

Credit: Article’s main photo by Wenjie, Zhang/CC BY 2.0.

Travelling to China? Read our other articles for more travel inspiration and tips.

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