China’s most international city and popular destination for foreign expats, Shanghai is an exciting, vibrant metropolis that combines the best of ancient and modern China. Spend just a few days in the city, and you’ll soon see why so many foreigners have chosen to live there. With ancient temples standing beside towering skyscrapers, the city is the definition of old meets new. Amongst the hustle and bustle, you’ll find quiet pockets of peace that make for the perfect escape from city life. Around the city are numerous quaint water towns that characterise this area of China.

Shanghai’s economic development has given way to the creation of millions of jobs that have attracted people from across China and the world. Shanghai’s population of over 24 million is largely made up of people from outside the city, contributing to a multi-cultural and interesting population.

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Homestay in Shanghai

With a homestay in Shanghai, you could be living in one of several districts either in the downtown area or the suburbs. You’ll, taking part in family activities, joining family meals, and socialising with them during your free-time. Our Shanghai families are very familiar with foreigners and have hosted several in the past, meaning they know how to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. Though they maintain their Chinese traditions and culture, their international mindset will make settling in much easier. Most families can speak at least a basic level of English, though should you prefer to practice your Mandarin you can request a family that doesn’t. Our Homestay Programme is about cultural exchange, so there will be plenty of opportunity for you to learn about the local culture and practice Mandarin as well as sharing your own with your hosts.

No matter which district you’re living in, you’ll be introduced to fellow homestayers in the city and invited to cultural events with our partner organisation. These range from calligraphy and tai chi classes to trips to local attractions like the Great Wall and are designed to give you a better understanding of life in Shanghai.

The City

One of China’s most exciting cities, there is plenty to see and do in Shanghai. Here are some of our favourite attractions.


Yu Gardens: Located just a short way from the Bund, YuYuan, or Yu Gardens in English is a peaceful area that boasts beautiful scenery. Decorated bridges, traditional pagodas and small alleyways lined with shops and restaurants surround the park itself, in which you’ll find temples and quaint Chinese buildings.

The Bund: Shanghai’s iconic skyline is a fascinating display of architecture. This cluster of buildings form the city’s financial district. Visitors can walk along the viewing platform on the other side of the river to get an excellent view of this attraction. From here you can also take a boat to the other side, and get great close-up views during the ride.

Shanghai Tower: The latest addition to the city’s iconic Bund, the Shanghai Tower stands as the fifth tallest building in the world. Naturally, it provides incredible 360° views of the Shanghai metropolitan. It’s possible to have a drink at the top of the tower, but of course this comes at a high price!

Nanjing Road: Nanjing Road is Shanghai’s equivalent to Oxford Street or Fifth Avenue. Stretching around 5.5km, the road leads from Jing’an Temple to the Bund and is home to various shops and restaurants. Attracting around 1 million visitors per day, the road is characterised by a certain buzz and is definitely worth a visit!

Jing’an Temple: One of the city’s most famous temples, this sits on West Nanjing Road amongst modern skyscrapers. It’s easily spotted by its golden colour and intricate details. With a history of over 780 years, it’s one of Shanghai’s most interesting and historical sights.

Cost of Living

Item RMB Item RMB
City bus 1-2 Beer (shop bought) 10
Taxi (first 3km) 14 Beer (at a bar) 25+
Metro Ticket 3-8 Water 2
New E-bike 2500+ Coke 4
Cheap meal 25 0.5kg fresh veg 10
Average meal 60-80 1kg chicken 30
Expensive meal 100+ Gym (per year) 4,000+
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Shanghai cuisine is a popular style of Chinese cooking, and is similar to that of surrounding areas like Hangzhou and Suzhou. Local food tends to be sweet rather than spicy, ideal for anyone afraid of those Sichuan peppercorns!

Xiaolong Bao: These delicious small dumplings originate from Shanghai, and make for a great snack. A semi-transparent dumpling skin is wrapped and neatly pleated around an aromatic filling of pork and a hot savory broth to form a kind of soup dumping. Typically served with a straw, you’re supposed to slurp the soup from the dumpling before digging in to the dumpling itself.

Shen Jian Bao: Similar to Xiaolong Bao, these are also a kind of soup dumpling, the main difference being that they’re bigger, breadier, and less delicate. Instead of being steamed, these dumpings are fried to create a crispy bottom and a crunchy texture.

Cong you bing: A great local breakfast snack, these fried pancakes are flavoured with scallions, pork and oil and are fried until crisp. You’ll see long lines of locals queuing to get their congyoubing fix year round!

Shanghai Noodles: Travel around China and you’ll find that each city has it’s own spin on a noodle dish. Shanghai is no different; here you’ll find the specialty is fried noodles mixed with various staple vegetables and covered in a soy sauce based sauce mixture.


As the nations most international city, there is always something happening in Shanghai, day or night. Here you’ll find a number of western style nightclubs and bars, which stay open until the early hours and prove popular among the expat crowds. If that isn’t your thing, head to the Yu Gardens at night to enjoy the atmosphere and pretty lights. You shouldn’t miss seeing the Bund at night, when the buildings light up to create a spectacular display. The city is also home to many theatres and stadiums, where famous West End shows are put on and international singers come to perform. If you’re looking for a local performance, head to Shanghai Circus World to see the Shanghai ERA; an incredible acrobatics performance that will have you on the edge of your seat!

Interested in a homestay in Shanghai? Check out our Homestay Programme, or apply now to start your adventure in China’s most international city!