Shanghai a city with a luxurious international ambiance.
Shanghai is a city is located on the southern estuary of the Yangtze River, with the Huangpu River flowing through it. The busiest city of the world with a population of around 25 million.
Originally a fishing village and market town, Shanghai grew in importance in the 19th century due to both domestic and foreign trade and its port location. By the 1990s, economic reforms were introduced city became a hub for international trade and finance. Shanghai is therefore considered as the "showpiece" of the booming economy of China.
Shanghai has much more gay life than most westerners typically expect. China does not rank highly for respecting LGBTQ rights the country is less conservative than many people think and attitudes are more tolerant than many assume.
Shanghai is considered to be the most gay-friendly city in mainland China. The LGBTQ area of Shanghai area is centred around the “French Concession Gay Triangle” which is located in the French Concession neighbourhood. This French Concession area is west of the Shanghai historic Old City and Bund areas, south of the Jingan area with a strong European vibe.
Whilst same sex marriage is not legal in China those who are married overseas can exercise certain legal rights that would otherwise not be available for a gay couple in China.
The Shanghai’s metro system is extensive, comfortable, and reliable but closes at 10:30 or 11pm.
Taxi is the best option for travelling to or from bar and nightclubs. They are plentiful and generally affordable despite the higher tariff between 11 pm and 5 am.
Shanghai has an extensive bus network that reaches most of the areas not covered by the metro but do tend to get stuck in traffic and not easy to use if you do not speak Mandarin.
Walking around city is safe but you need to check distances as city is large than many realize. You can easily walk between the different venues within the Gay Shanghai area of Changning.
There are two airports used for travellers to Shanghai.
From Pudong International Airport you can reach the city centre taking a combination of train and metro changing at Puxi.
From Hongqiao International Airport, which is close to Shanghai, you can travel by metro directly to the city centre for either of the 2 airport terminals.
Airport buses run direct to the city centre from both airports are available and time taken for the journal will all depend on the traffic.
Places to stay
The Former French Concession is one of the coolest and up-and-coming places to stay in the entire Shanghai! The French Concession dates back to the middle of the 1800s, when the city was broken down into smaller areas conceded to the French government. So, this neighbourhood used to be a French colonial area and it has a visible European architecture and feel. You’ll see a mix of old and new, you’ll be surrounded by countless food and shopping options, cosy cafes and a relaxed atmosphere. Some popular smaller areas inside the Former Concession are Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang.
A fast-moving city with vibrant atmosphere that due to cities size many wonder what to do first.
The Bund is one of the most recognizable and unique parts of Shanghai. A mile-long promenade along the side of the waterfront in central Shanghai opposite the financial district. An incredible view of the architecture in China's financial heart just across the river. Nice to during the day or at night when buildings are illuminated.
A night river cruise with dinner is a beautiful and possibly romantic way to see Shanghai. An opportunity to see the Shanghai skyline down the Huangpu River, soaking up the skyline while enjoying a delicious feast of Xinjiang food.
The French Concession is a pretty part of Shanghai that's also home to many of the city's gay hangouts, it is one of the most popular attractions in the city, due to its beautiful European-style buildings and fascinating history.
The Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower offers amazing views over the city. Standing at over 1500ft (457m) tall, this tower is partly what makes the Shanghai skyline so iconic. You can visit inside the tower to admire panoramic views of the city at the observation room located at 863 feet (263m) above ground or enjoy dinner in the rotating restaurant.
Bars, Clubs & Parties
Shanghai has more gay life than most westerners expect. Whilst some of the gay nightlife may not be as easy to find as in other cities it is interesting to visit.
The hub of gay Shanghai is located in the Changing district next to the French Concession area. Local gay bars are in an area called Xinhua Road Residential District.
Lucca 390 is possibly the best gay bar in Shanghai for foreigners. An upscale and international gay club which is always packed at the weekends. Live DJ’s, a crazy dance floor, and friendly staff are the reason bars popularity.
Telephone 6 upstairs from Lucca 390 is a cute British themed bar that is less crowded, serves better cocktails and has a less crowded dance floor. It has a kitsch feel with free entry and a free drink for women on drink on Friday’s and Saturday’s so popular with Lesbians in Shanghai.
Happiness 42 a short walk Lucca 390. The busiest nights here are on weekends as well. Happiness 42 has a good mix of foreigners and locals. They host RuPaul’s Drag Race viewings and play all the pop song favourites.
Hunt is a fabulous gay bar which hosts fun themed nights. Entering into the brilliantly red lair of the Hunt bar is quite an adventure! Intricate and classic Chinese art fills the room as you arrive. It has a much more up-scale feel than other bars, making it popular for a wide range of LGBTQ people who don’t necessarily like the other noise and more queer uninhibited bars and clubs.
Asia Blue is a low key mixed gay bar in Shanghai. It is rarely packed out so you can enjoy a relaxed drink, and chat with people. It attracts a mixed crowd with people of all sizes, genders, and ages meeting here. It’s the oldest gay bar in Shanghai which the owner Andy doing his best to make everybody feel welcome.
Lollipop Bar & Lounge is a fun and colourful gay bar in the middle of the Gaybourhood. It’s is a laidback bar lit up with rainbow-colored lights and chandeliers to add a campy flair to the place. They host regular karaoke nights which are popular.
Roxie is the main lesbian bar in Shanghai, with decent prices drinks and a packed dance floor at the weekend. Gay guys as well as straight friends are welcome in the weekend.
Cafes & Restaurants
Shanghai is a paradise for foodies if you like to each delicious Asian varieties of healthy food.
Sushi is popular and typically some of the best sushi restaurants are at or close to the any fish market around the city. This fresh fish and creativity of the sushi chefs makes Shanghai among one of the best places to eat sushi in the world.
Ramen is popular as Japanese love noodles and broth. There a numerous Ramen based which sell multiple variations of the delicious meat or vegetable-based broth with noodles plates. These Raman bars tend to be some of the cheapest places to eat out.
Shanghai for Sichuan cuisine is popular option. Typically, these restaurants serve a great choice of both spicy and non-spicy items depending on your taste buds alone with plenty of drinks and cocktails to choose from.
Dumplings are also popular in Shanghai. There are restaurants where this is there speciality serving a mixture of pork, vegan and vegetarian to choose from. There are fried and steamed options available.
In addition to the typical Asian food more international restaurant are available if you not a bit fan of Asian food every day of you trip.
Male Massage Spas and Gay Saunas
Hero Man Spa is the biggest gay spa offer around 20 treatment rooms, shows, wood jacuzzies and more. Cute guys with professional training, the staff can offer a range of services including aromatherapy and Balinese style spa. They are open 24/7.
Shanghai Yi Massage is a modern gay spa with a cute selection of male masseurs. Lots of treatment options including Thai-style, body to body oil massage and the popular Twin Dragon Massage with two masseurs.
Lian Bang is a local gay sauna hidden behind an unmarked door on the righthand side of the Lianbang Hotel. A very local no frills sauna, steam room and private relaxation spaces with normally a few rent boys hanging around. Open 24/7.
Ding Lin Men’s Club is the largest and popular sauna. Facilities include sauna, steam room, gym, TV room and some fun large open showers. Ding Lin Men’s Club is a private club so you will need to purchase a membership card. Mixed-age crowd of mostly locals with many men in their 40s and over, and many who do not speak English but toned foreign guys can expect a lot of attention. Open 24 hours. Apparently only locals are allowed after midnight but not sure why.
Huli Men’s Club is popular sauna with locals, Hidden away on Baotong Road. Clean and modern with several saunas, a dark room, and a large steam room. They have masseurs offering full ‘body-to-body’ massages and body scrub options.
Shanghai Door Health club with steam rooms, dark rooms, dry saunas, and open showers. The guests are a good mix of locals and tourist, young and mature. All visitors are made feel welcome on arrival.
Hawaii Gay Gym is a modern gym and sauna. It is modern sauna with an upscale interior and facilities. As the name suggests, it has a gym but showers and steam room are where the majority of workouts happen.
The main shopping streets are Nanjing Road and Huaihai Road which off a huge selection of international brand names. If fashion is not your interest to shop for in Shanghai, try one of Shanghai's numerous flea markets beneath Shanghai's magnificent shopping malls, department stores and boutiques
Main LGBT Events
Shanghai Gay Pride in May/June the is the largest and one of the best Pride events in all of Asia. Every year it’s getting bigger and better.
Shanghai Pride Film Festival (June) is one of three film festivals held in the bustling Chinese city. It is typically held in June, around the same time of the main Pride event. It showcases films from Asian filmmakers with a LGBTQ theme.
CINEMQ (June) is a more underground festival showcasing LGBTQ cinema from around the globe. The films are a mixture of It has events throughout the year, though mostly in June, which showcase short films that are a mix of documentaries, drama, romance, and arthouse.
Shanghai Queer Film Festival held in Sept/Dec and the focus is on Chinese and other Asian LGBTQ stories. This event hosts film screenings, discussion groups, and parties.
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