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17 Top Shanghai Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for shanghai
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Shanghai is an electric city buzzing with people and productivity. Located along the water in central-east China, this city juxtaposes the old and the new as it is one of the world’s largest global economic centers and one of China’s oldest cities. A trip to this city will leave you spellbound by its incredible skyline and beautiful Chinese culture.

When you go to Shanghai it is important to pack accordingly. As with any large city, you will be doing a lot of walking and the weather fluctuates based on the season. Read on for our best packing tips before you head off on your next great adventure!

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What to Pack for Shanghai - 17 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    Organization is a key part of having a trip run smoothly, and it is no secret that it is easy to have all of your belongings jumbled around during transit. By using packing cubes you can eliminate these issues and ensure that all of your clothing and toiletries are right where you left them when you closed the zipper on your suitcase.

    Packing Cubes

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  • 2. Jet Lag Tablets

    Depending on where you are in the world, the time change in China can be a big one. Nothing makes a trip less enjoyable than not being able to get your schedule flipped and on track. By using jet lag tablets you can help combat this and get feeling well rested and energized as you hit the city.

    Jet Lag Tablets

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Using a random internet network opens your computer up to the potential for all sorts of different people to gain access to your personal information. By using a VPN, or virtual private network, you can rest easy knowing that all of your data is protected no matter where you are in the world.


    View options at NordVPN ➜

  • 4. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Although most places provide you with towels, it is sometimes nice to have your own, especially if you are moving around or planning on going to other more rural parts of China where amenities aren’t as easy to come by. This quick dry travel towel is lightweight and easily portable and a great solution for drying off on vacation.

    travel towel

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  • 5. Memory Foam Neck Pillow

    As we mentioned above, depending on where you are coming from, the flight to China can be a long one and comfort is essential if you want to have a good trip. By investing in a good memory foam neck pillow you can enjoy better rest and comfort on your journey to Shanghai.

    Memory Foam Neck Pillow

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  • 6. Cooling Towel

    If you are visiting Shanghai in the summer months, it will be hot and humid. You will also likely be spending a lot of time walking around in the heat of the city experiencing and exploring all that Shanghai has to offer. A cooling towel is a great thing to have on hand to help you beat the heat.

    cooling towel

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  • 7. Portable Charger

    Although we live in a day and age where many establishments have become accommodating to charging needs, this is not always the case in Shanghai, and especially in other parts of China. It is important to be able to have access to your phone to help you navigate your way around the city and keeping a portable charger on hand will ensure that you have battery power all day.

    Portable Charger

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  • 8. Luggage Locks

    Luggage locks are essential when traveling to faraway places like Shanghai. You’ll likely have many stopovers and your luggage will pass through various hands. It’s best to secure it with TSA-approved locks so that only security officials are able to access your luggage.

    luggage locks

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  • 9. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Spaces in all of Asia are generally smaller than they are in the western world. Bathroom space, especially if you are traveling as a family, is going to feel much more condensed than normal. A hanging toiletry bag will help to keep the counter space in the bathroom not feeling so cramped and overwhelmed.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 10. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    If you are visiting Shanghai in the springtime there is a good chance that you may encounter some rain. Having a windproof travel umbrella will help to keep out and about and make the most of your time on your trip.

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

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  • 11. Universal Power Adapter

    Depending on where you are from, you may need a universal power adapter in order to charge your electronics. In the case that you do, this adapter is a one-stop shop and allows you to plug in anywhere in the world no matter where you are from.

    Peru power adapter

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  • 12. Travel Insurance

    Shanghai is a relatively safe city, and the chances of incidents are lower than they are in a lot of places. However, it is always advisable to invest in travel insurance before you go on a trip. This can cover any lost or stolen property and problems that may occur during traveling as well. We use to compare policies from top companies and find the best option for our family and travel plans.

    Travel Insurance

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  • 13. Neck Wallet

    Crime rates in Shanghai against tourists are incredibly low, however, as with any large city, it is always smart to keep important documents and credit cards close to your body to avoid any petty theft or pickpocketing. This neck wallet will help keep you organized as well as protect your belongings.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 14. Activated Charcoal

    The diet in China is vastly different from that in the western world. There are also fewer regulations on food preparation and requirements as well. It is very common to get a bit of a traveler’s belly when visiting China. Activated charcoal will help to absorb some of that for you to keep you feeling good for your trip.

    Activated Charcoal

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  • 15. Comfortable Walking Shoes

    As with all big cities, you will be doing a lot of walking here. There is great public transportation in Shanghai but you will still be out and about walking once you get to the station that is nearest to your destination. Bringing a great pair of walking shoes will help keep you comfortable as you explore the city.

    Comfortable Walking Shoes

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  • 16. Shawl or Shoulder Cover

    Shanghai is a booming metropolis built on a very old city. There will be shrines and temples scattered throughout the city and to access them you will be required to have your shoulders and knees covered. Having a shawl on hand can be a great way to make sure that you are always able to enter and pay your respects.

    Shawl or Shoulder Cover

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  • 17. Lifestraw Water Bottle

    Tap water is NOT safe to drink in Shanghai. They do not have a filtration system in the city and therefore the water can be full of contaminants. It is suggested that you only use bottled water or a Lifestraw water bottle to make sure that you stay healthy on your trip.

    Lifestraw Water Bottle

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What to Wear in Shanghai

Shanghai has all four seasons, which means your wardrobe will vary greatly depending on when you decide to take your trip. However, in general, China is much more modest than the west is and therefore there are some staple pieces that you can usually rely on no matter what time of year it is there.

When visiting temples it is required that you keep your shoulders and knees covered, therefore we suggest investing in a good pair of linen pants and a shawl for the summer months, as well as sweaters and pants if you are visiting during the colder winter months. You will also be doing a lot of walking, so make sure you bring a sturdy pair of shoes that will support you for your trip.

What Should WOMEN Wear in Shanghai? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

The best women’s clothing is going to be something a little more on the modest side with material that is breathable and light. It can get very warm in Shanghai, and it is always very humid, so it is important to make sure that you are well-ventilated. In the winter it can get below freezing and so if you are visiting during those months make sure to bring a jacket as well. Shanghai is monochrome and neutral-colored city when it comes to clothing, with a lot of streetwear and dark color schemes as the primary choice for most residents.

What Should MEN Wear in Shanghai? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Shanghai is a booming business metropolis and the majority of men that you see there will be dressed in suits and on their way to work. To blend in, investing in a good sports coat and slacks will help you look put together and like you belong there. Another more casual option is investing in some streetwear or nicer t-shirts and dark pants as well.

Packing for the Seasons in Shanghai

SUMMER – June, July, August

Summers in Shanghai can be extremely hot and muggy. Temperatures during this time can range from 80-105 degrees Fahrenheit. They are pretty unrelenting and it is recommended to try to plan your travel in the more moderate shouldering months if possible. One thing to note is that there is not a lot of direct sunlight during this time due to the pollution in the city and there is also rain that will occur during this time which adds to the mugginess. This being said, the dress code in Shanghai still remains on the more modest side, with not a lot of shorts and tank tops to be seen. We recommend that you invest in some flowing short-sleeved shirts or blouses and light linen pants for this time that will help keep you cool and covered.

FALL – September, October, November

Fall temperatures start to drop and things tend to cool down a bit which makes it much more enjoyable to use public transportation and walk around the city. Temperatures range between 60-80 degrees during this time. There is still some rainfall during this time and the evenings can dip down to the 50s, especially as you get closer to November. We suggest a similar dress code to summer here, just accompanied by a jacket that can be put on or taken off. Dress slacks with longer-sleeved blouses and dress shirts for the evenings are recommended as well as the temperatures have a wider range during this time.

WINTER – December, January, February

Temperaturs in the winter in Shanghai can drop significantly and are occasionally below freezing. The average temperatures range from 35- 50 degrees and there is the lowest rainfall of the year during this time. We suggest layers for this time of year, as you will be in and out of establishments and the temperature will vary greatly from that outside. A nice jacket is a great option for this time of year as well as pants and boots for walking around the city.

SPRING – March, April, May

Spring is a more moderate season with temperatures ranging from 45-75 degrees depending on if you are there more towards winter or towards summer. During this time we recommend similar clothing options to fall, with layers and a mix of comfortable linen pants, dress slacks, and black pants with a mix of nicer short and long-sleeved shirts and light jackets.

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)
City Exploring: Shanghai is primarily a business city, therefore a lot of your time will be spent in and out of establishments like museums, restaurants, and city buildings. The best thing to wear for a day of city exploration is something that is light and breathable because you will be moving around a lot. Pair this with a great pair of walking shoes and you will be golden!

Day Trips: There are a few different day trips that are available to take out of Shanghai. Make sure to dress comfortably based on the weather and which one you choose to do. Generally speaking, there isn’t much available in the area that comfortable lightweight breathable clothing and good walking shoes won’t work for.

Visiting Buddhist Temples: Visiting temples is a big part of the Shanghai experience. For these, your street clothes will be fine, but make sure and bring a shawl wherever you go if you are wearing tops that do not have sleeves.

Fine Dining: One of the best parts of any city is all of the incredible food options. Shanghai is no exception and going out for a fine dining experience is sure to be the highlight of any trip. Dressing semi-formal or in nice dress clothes is a great option for this

What NOT to Bring to Shanghai

  • 1.DON’T Bring Beach Clothes

    Even though Shanghai is on the coast it is not a beachy destination. Shanghai is a port city where the majority of the world’s exports come in and out, so the water is not suitable for swimming and there are not any beaches to relax on.

  • 2.DON’T Bring Flip Flops

    Shanghai is a large metropolitan city and you will be doing a lot of walking while you are there. Wearing shoes that do not have good support is a quick way to spoil your vacation.

  • 3.DON’T Pack a Regular Towel

    Packing a normal-sized towel will take up too much space in your luggage. Packing a smaller option, such as this quick-dry travel towel is a great alternative instead.

  • 4.DON’T Bring Too Many Valuables

    Even though Shanghai is safe for travelers, incidents can happen in any city and it is best to leave things that are valuable at home.

  • 5.DON’T Overpack

    Shanghai is a great destination to practice your lighter packing. All you really need for this trip are a few good neutral staples that can be mixed and matched throughout the duration of your trip.

  • 6.DON'T Bring Heavy Books

    Don’t lug around heavy books when you can use a Kindle or download an ebook onto your phone. You’ll likely be doing a lot of shopping in Shanghai so better save your precious suitcase space for souvenirs.

What NOT to Wear – (Click to expand)
Although it does get cold in the winter, it generally does not snow. If you are visiting during the winter time you will not need super heavy parkas or any kind of snow gear. This applies to the summer as well.

FAQs about Visiting Shanghai

  • 1. What Are the Must-See Attractions In The City?

    What Are the Must-See Attractions In The City?

    Some of the best attractions in the city include; the beautiful Yuyuan Gardens, visiting the top of the Shanghai Tower (the second tallest building in the world), shopping the stores on Nanjing Road, going to Disneyland, ride on the Maglev train, visiting Zhujiajiao the water town that is much like Venice or spend the day strolling The Bund.

  • 2. What is The Best Way to See The City?

    The best way to see Shanghai is by using the public transportation that is provided here. It is inexpensive and efficient and can get you anywhere that you want to go in the city. Taxi is the next best option, as Uber is banned from China

  • 3. What is the Best Area to Stay In?

    What is the Best Area to Stay In

    The Bund: The Bund is a historical waterfront area of the city that boasts some of the higher-end stays in Shanghai. This area is full of beautiful historical buildings and restaurants and is a fantastic walking area. Even if you don’t stay here, this is a fantastic place to spend the afternoon.

    People’s Square: This area is a food lover’s paradise and is complete with museums and shopping. People’s Square is centrally located in the city which makes it a great place to use as a launching point for everything else.

  • 4. What is the Best Month to Visit Shanghai?

    Shanghai is best in the spring and in the fall. The temperatures during this time are more moderate and so walking around the city is much more comfortable. These months include March to May and September to November.

  • 5. Where is the Best Nightlife?

    Where is the Best Nightlife?

    The best area of the city for nightlife is the downtown area of Shanghai. Some of the best bars in the city include; The Vue, Bar Rouge, M1NT, The Long Bar at Waldorf Astoria, House of Blues, and The Glamour Bar. No matter what kind of bar you’re looking for, you’ll find it downtown.

  • 6. What is There to Do Outside of The City?

    There are some great things to do outside of the city! The most popular include; hiking for the day in the Anji bamboo forest, Shanghai film studios, Songjiang which is the oldest mosque in the city, Shengsi Island for some beach town fun, or the old culinary city of Wuzhen.