Totally Free Things to do in Shanghai on New Year's
Even though Chinese New Year is much more widely celebrated in the city, there are plenty of ways to ring in the New Year, Shanghai-style.
Shanghai will no doubt be cautious at the holiday this year, after last year's public fireworks show and countdown on the city's historic Bund Promenade was marred by a deadly stampede. This year, visitors and locals should stay updated on information regarding large-scale, public events, as new crowd control measures will likely be in place. If you don't fancy joining the masses, though, there is also a whole wealth of other free, low-key activities to enjoy during the New Year, and here's our list of where to go.
Former French Concession
Wander around the wide, winding, tree-lined streets of the Former French Concession in the evening. Hop in and out of trendy wine bars dotted around the area to warm up and soak in the lively atmosphere.
Take a stroll down this late-night street-food market and make a toast to the New Year with a cold Tsingtao beer. Enjoy delicacies such as crawfish, snake, and Chinese-style barbeque skewers.
Unfortunately, the old-fashioned streets of the city are quickly disappearing to make way for fancy new residential or business developments, so make the most of them while it's still possible. Start at Yu Garden in the afternoon, before exploring ancient parts of the old city as darkness falls.
Related: Shanghai Travel Guide
Normally, there is a fireworks and laser light show held on the Bund to celebrate New Year's Eve, but after the events of last year, it's wise to check beforehand for the latest information.
Karaoke is one of the city's favorite past times, with an excess of themed KTV bars around the city. It's always great to join a sing-along with the experts, and it is common for locals to invite visitors into their room to join the fun. If not, hiring a KTV room by the hour is not expensive. Try Haoledi, Party World, V-Show KTV.
Experience local life in the city first-hand by visiting the city's largest public park. Watch tai chi experts practicing their art or join in with the happy granny's square dancing routines as the sun goes down.
Ring in the New Year, literally, at this temple. Not only is the architecture beautiful, dating back to the Song Dynasty, but the temple's ancient bell is also repeatedly struck at midnight on New Year's Eve to bring good fortune to all.
Celebrate the coming of the New Year in the city's most exclusive nightclub. Although there is no cover on the door, it is essential to be on the guest list (talk to your concierge or a local for help). Table minimum on the night is $155 per person.
Yong Kang Road
Soak up the celebratory atmosphere at the city's most popular bar street. This late-night watering hole will be bustling throughout the evening, with cheap drink deals in many of the bars.
Sneak into the bar of this luxurious hotel, 100 Century Avenue, to get a unique glimpse of the city from the 91 floor. Go for sunset and order a hot winter cocktail to take the chill off the bones if needed.
Amble around this fashionable shopping and entertainment area, modeled after the city's traditional shikumen buildings, and take advantage of the New Year activities laid on by the shopping center. It's possible to eat dinner and enjoy drinks throughout the night.
Nyima Pratten lives in Shanghai and covers the city for Travel + Leisure.