SINCE the beginning of 2013, Shanghai has offered some foreign tourists a 72-hour window to explore the city without a visa, following the introduction of a new policy for transit passengers from 45 countries. The city's airports - Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao Airport - have set up special visa-free channels for these passengers.
The 45 countries include much of Europe, plus the United States and Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the United Arab Emirates, among others.
So if you're in transit, why not take the opportunity to explore the city? Here are the iDEALShanghai choices for getting the most out of three days in this vibrant metropolis.
The first day: sightseeing
If you're on a 72-hour trip to Shanghai, you're well advised to seize every moment. And for transit passengers landing at the Pudong International Airport, that can start with the maglev train (50 yuan/US$7.9 one way) linking the airport to Metro Line 2.
Traveling on the magnetic levitating train that can exceed 380 kilometers per hour provides a thrilling start to your stay. Within eight minutes, you can transfer to Line 2, which crosses the Huangpu River and links Shanghai's busiest areas, including Pudong Lujiazui hub, People's Square and the Jing'an Temple.
For foreign visitors to Shanghai, Chenghuang Temple - or the City God Temple - is a must-see.
Transfer from Line 2 to Line 10 at People's Square and you will soon be at the bustling temple, with its traditional architecture, colorful folk cultures, crafts and local snacks. Chances are you'll also encounter one of its biggest characteristics - seas of people.
At the Chenghuang Temple Fair, "the kingdom of snacks," you can eat to your heart's content. Mouthwatering options include vegetable pastries from Song Yue Restaurant for vegetarians and Buddhists; Nanxiang's xiaolongbao - pork-filled buns served in bamboo steamers; pigeon's egg dumplings from the Osmanthus Hall; rose rice cake at the 450-year-old Lu Bo Lang (Green Wave Porch) Restaurant, which counts former US President Bill Clinton among previous customers.
After a feast, you can relax with a cup of green tea on the second floor of Huxin Pavilion and idle away an hour or two people watching.
Or stroll around the area to discover some local handicrafts and antiques hidden in the small lanes and venture into the temples and shrines - all helpful for burning off some calories gained from the snacks.
One of the best ways to get a feel for the city is to see its old architecture. Take a taxi or a brisk walk from the City God Temple to the Bund, where the buildings reflect Shanghai's colonial history from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Westerners came to Shanghai to do business, bringing their own influences - including architecture - with them.
The buildings stretch 1.5 kilometers along the west bank of the Huangpu River that divides the city in half, providing a counterpoint to the glitzy skyline of the spectacular high-rises in Pudong on the east bank.
The 52 buildings on the Bund represent a diversity of styles, including Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque, leading to the stretch being dubbed the city's Gallery of World Architecture.
If you're in need of refreshment, enjoy English afternoon tea at the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel at the northern tip of the Bund or sip Japanese sake at the Bund 5.
Wukang Road is another top location for seeing the city's Western architecture heritage. Unlike the noisy and busy Bund, this 1,200-meter street in Xuhui District flanked by phoenix trees is a quiet spot.
Located in the picturesque former French concession, Wukang Road features a number of old beautiful villas - including mock Tudor-style - and gardens. Many celebrities and politicians of old China lived on the street.
You can rent a bicycle on the road (300 yuan deposit and 2 yuan for the first hour, 4 yuan an hour thereafter) and take your time to explore the old stories hidden behind those ancient wooden doors.
When night falls, sample some of the city nightlife. On and around Hengshan Road are numerous restaurants, bars and night clubs, among many options in the former French concession. Around the Bund too are vibrant restaurants, clubs and other nightlife.
If all this partying sounds too much, you might want to take a stroll along the Huangpu River bank pathway, with the gentle breeze and twinkling lights your companions.
The second day: shopping
Shopping is another unavoidable part when visiting Shanghai. Take a day and follow iDEALShanghai's picks of must-go places to do shopping as well as to find the most charming faces of this attractive metropolitan city. Here we go!
Nanjing Road W., Huaihai Road M. and Xujiahui area are where many popular malls and shops are found.
Nanjing Road W. (mostly within the stretch between the intersections with Shaanxi Road N. and Ruijin Road) is home to high-end malls, including Plaza 66 and Citic Square, and Isetan Department Store.
Plaza 66 gathers international luxury brands, such as Channel, Gucci and Prada, while Isetan has exclusive fashion brands from Japan.
Xintiandi offers a different shopping experience with its connected malls featuring indie design brands, both local and international, plus traditional-style buildings with plenty bars, restaurants and coffee options.
In addition, you can find high-end souvenirs and gifts and home decoration stores in and around the malls. These include Gift Zen lifestore and Shang Tang Home and Gift.
This is an ideal place for stocking up on souvenirs, designer accessories and having a look at traditional Shanghai living style.
Located on Taikang Road and Jianguo Road, Tianzifang brings together various stores and cafes and restaurants in a maze of old Shanghai lanes.
These are full of quirky and creative stores, with everything from ethnic clothing to fridge magnets. You can also find all kinds of international cuisine here, including Thai, American, French and Japanese restaurants.
Highstreet Loft on Jianguo Road W. near Jiashan Road in Xujiahui was established in 2007, and is now one of the trendiest creative parks in the town, featuring indie designer shops, cafes and restaurants.
It's not just somewhere people come to for shopping, but also a place for socializing.
A cup of coffee in a relaxing atmosphere and the latest trends from fashion show rooms are what Highstreet Loft promises.
Brands with outlets there include Premium, Anton Lee Professional Salon, Prolivon, FeiDan Imported Food Store, and Cellar Door Wines.
It's also worth a visit to see the architecture of old warehouses, dating back to the 1920s.
Shanghai is famed for its indie designer stores, often tucked away down leafy lanes. Here are a selection:
Indie design brand May J. features men's styles from local designer Jiang Ling, a new star of international fashion.
Address: 2/F, Xintiandi Style, 326 Madang Rd
This features the work of young designers from Raffles Design Institute in Shanghai.
Address: 2/F, Xintiandi Style, 326 Madang Rd
NPC (New Project Center)
Owned by Taiwanese singer Wilber Pan and Shanghai local TV host Li Cheng, the store carries items from Nike, STAGE, toy designer Michael Lau and G-Shock.
Address: 139-15 Changle Rd
Shao Junyan is a famous Shanghai pop singer who recently moved into fashion with his own accessories store. And if the adorable exclusives weren't enough for female fashion fans, there's also a nail salon.
Address: 383 Panyu Rd
The third day: art trip
"72 Hours in Shanghai," sounds like it could be the title of an arthouse film. So why not spend a day on an art tour of the city and discover somewhere and something special?
Shanghai art galleries and museums have interesting histories and architecture in their own right, which alone merit a visit. And many have their own cafes, or there are options nearby, so visitors can admire architecture and artworks, followed by a leisurely glass of wine or an espresso.
Located at the edge of People's Square, Shanghai Museum is the home of ancient arts.
The scope, depth and quality of its collections, plus the striking architecture and use of modern technology make the Shanghai Museum one of the most famous in China. It covers an area of 38,000 square meters, several times bigger than its predecessor.
The museum is divided into 10 collections: ancient Chinese bronzes; sculpture; ceramics; jades; seals; calligraphy, coins and other currency; paintings; Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty furniture; and crafts of China's national minorities.
In addition to these permanent exhibitions, the museum often holds small-scale shows and has items on short-term loan from collections within China and abroad.
So if you're a fan of China's art and culture over the centuries, Shanghai Museum is a must-see.
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Address: 201 People's Ave
In industrial buildings dating from the 1930s at Suzhou Creek are numerous galleries featuring contemporary Chinese art. M50, one of the earliest contemporary art communities in town, is an art hub housing galleries, plus design and artists' studios.
The struggling artists of M50's early days have been replaced by big high-end galleries, as the 24,000-square-meter space has established itself as Shanghai's answer to Beijing's 798 art zone.
Top contemporary art gallery ShangART Gallery is an M50 tenant, where visitors can find work by pioneers of China's contemporary art stage - including Ding Yi, Zhou Tiehai and Zhang Enli.
There are also some art gift stores where visitors can find unique and tasteful presents, such as the limited edition of prints, mini-sculptures and artistic jewelry.
You could easily spend half a day checking out the many galleries in this complex.
There are cafes on hand where you can take a break if you're felling a little overloaded by art.
Opening hours: 11am-5pm
Address: 50 Moganshan Rd
Minsheng Art Museum
Established by the China Minsheng Bank, this museum opened in 2010 in the Red Town art area in the city center - so called because it's part of the old red brick Shanghai No. 10 Steel Factory.
Today, Red Town creative zone houses the Shanghai Sculpture Museum Park and a collection of cafes, gift shops and offices.
The grassy areas among the sculptures are a popular place for weekend picnics.
The two-story main building covers 4,000 square meters and is notable for not having a single supporting pillar. This obstruction-free design makes it an ideal venue for exhibitions.
The museum officially opened with the landmark exhibition "Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art 1979-2009." This was considered a milestone in the history of modern Chinese contemporary art.
Since then, Minsheng Art Museum has hosted numerous top contemporary art exhibitions, including solo shows by Zhang Enli and Liu Wei.
Visitors can relax, read magazines and chat on the first floor in the Room of Switzerland, which is decorated with drawings by Swiss new media artist Yves Netzhammer.
Outside are landscaped grounds, lawns, galleries and design shops.
And you can top up on caffeine at a nearby branch of Costa Coffee.
Opening hours: 10am-9pm, Tuesday-Sunday
Address: Bldg F, 570 Huaihai Rd W.
Rockbund Art Museum
The Rockbund Art Museum is situated in the famous Rockbund area of the Bund, where Suzhou Creek flows into the Huangpu River. The building formerly housed the Royal Asiatic Society and the Shanghai Museum, one of China's first modern museums.The building was restored by British architect David Chipperfield, who also directed the master plan of the Museum Island in Berlin.
The original structure, built in 1932, was designed by George Wilson of British firm Palmer and Wilson, in Hong Kong. Its hybrid architectural style dovetailed with the cityscape, blending Western architectural elements and Chinese decorative elements.
To retain the feeling of the original historic building, Chipperfield stayed true to the 1932 design in the main exterior facade.
The museum operates a small cafe on the sixth floor.
Opening hours: 10am-6pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday; 10am-9pm , Monday, Thursday and Saturday
Address: 20 Huqiu Rd
Longmen Art Projects
Sinan Mansions is becoming a fashion, style and art beacon, less crowded and glitzy than nearby Xintiandi.
Sinan Road, one of the city's quieter roads, was home to numerous celebrities in old Shanghai. Today a number of its old houses and apartment buildings have been converted into galleries, restaurants and fashion shops.
Longmen Art Projects occupies a three-story renovated building, where colorful paintings by acclaimed Shanghai-born artist Walasse Ting (1929-2010) are on display.
Gallery owner Lily Lee, former president of Taiwan Galleries Association, occasionally gives a tour, and has been known to invite art lovers for a cup of coffee on the second floor.
Opening hours: 10am-6:30pm, Tuesday-Sunday (1/F); 10am-6:30pm (2/F); appointment only (3/F)
Address: Bldg 23, Sinan Mansions, 515 Fuxing Rd M.
Power Station of Art
Shanghai's new contemporary art museum, the Power Station of Art, opened last October with the 9th Shanghai Biennale art festival, appropriately titled "Reactivation."
The Power Station of Art is China's first government-aided contemporary art museum, housed in the former Urban Future Pavilion from the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
The pavilion itself was the renovated Nanshi power station, built in 1897 and symbolizing the city's industrial might at the time. Since it burned high-sulfur coal, it was a major polluter and from 1997 was gradually converted to gas power. It was decommissioned in 2007.
The power station was at the heart of an area containing the city's first steel company, water company and other industrial giants.
But these days, the old plant has turned green and artistic, epitomizing creative sustainable development.