This is my own personal list of my 15 favorite cities in the world to visit. I have ranked them in 10 categories on a scale of 1-10: local cuisine, non-local food, public transportation, safety, scenery/beauty, history, price, cleanliness, tourist friendly, and walkability.
These are my own personal opinions, and I am sure that many people would disagree with the rankings. These are only cities that I have personally visited, so if your city is not on here, that may just mean I have not been yet.
Local Cuisine (how good the cities local cuisine/food was): 10/10
The food in Shanghai is so good; Shanghainese food is my favorite type of Chinese food. My favorite type of Shanghainese food is 生煎包, but there are plenty of other great dishes as well. Shanghai also has cong you bing (green onion pancakes), xiaolongbao (like the ones at Din Tai Fung), and some of the best noodle dishes in China. The great thing about Shanghai is the diversity, as it has both super cheap takeaway meals as well as the highest-quality sit down meals (but be ready to pay a ton). Shanghai is definitely worth a trip for the food alone!
Scenery/Beauty (how pretty/cool the sites and nature were to look at): 9/10
Shanghai, as you can see in the picture above, is an incredibly picturesque city. Especially at night when all of the buildings are lit up, the city is a must see. It really depends if you enjoy seeing a modern city or a city with nature; Shanghai definitely is beautiful, but in a man-made way rather than a natural way. It depends on your personal preference, but I really enjoyed walking around and seeing all the skyscrapers.
History Monuments (how the city’s historical monuments are): 7/10
Compared to Beijing with the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, the history is not as rich in Shanghai. Shanghai in its current form has developed within the past 25 years, so there are not as many historical sites as there are in other parts of China. Still, there are sites such as The Bund and Zhujiajiao that are worth a visit. If you are going solely for history, I would recommend going to Beijing over Shanghai; holistically speaking, though, I prefer Shanghai.
Non-Local Food (how good food from other places was): 9/10
In addition to having great Chinese food, Shanghai is also a very international city with food from all different cultures. I think almost any type of food you want, you will be able to find in Shanghai.
Public Transportation (whether they had trains, subways, buses, etc. and how accessible they were): 9/10
Public transportation in Shanghai is extremely good. The subway system is very efficient, and it goes to most parts of the city. While I would say it is a step below Hong Kong and Singapore, Shanghai is super easy to navigate.
Safety (how safe I feel the city is): 9/10
For such a large and international city, Shanghai is very well organized and orderly. The people in Shanghai are very respectful, and I did not feel threatened at all when walking down the streets.
Price (how expensive it was to visit the city, not including airfare (lower score means more expensive, higher score means good value)): 7/10
Shanghai is an affordable city for tourists. Things generally tend to be cheaper in China than they are in some other countries such as Korea and Japan. Even though there Shanghai is now a major financial hub and international city, the prices do not always reflect this fact. Good food, in particular, is very affordable as long as you are not trying to go to 2-3 Michelin star restaurants.
Cleanliness (how clean the city was in general): 9/10
Shanghai as a city is very clean and modern. Compared to Beijing, Shenzhen, and other parts of China that I have been, Shanghai was the cleanest. Also, since Shanghai is near the water, the air quality tends to be better than other major Chinese cities.
Tourist Friendly (how accessible and accommodating the city is for tourists (mainly English speakers)): 8/10
Since there are many foreigners living in Shanghai, there is not as much of a language barrier as you might think there would be. Although many locals still only speak Mandarin, you should be able to get by easily just speaking English.
Walkability (how easy it is to walk around the city): 9/10
Shanghai is a very walkable city. Walking alongside the Bund is a great experience, and it is something that all tourists should do. Overall, there is so much in a compact space in Shanghai that it is always easy to find restaurants and things to do.
Conclusion: I went to Shanghai during an off-peak time, so I have never experienced Shanghai at its busiest. I am sure it would be really fun to be around when so much is going on. The energy in Shanghai seems like it would be great with more people, as everyone is really motivated and lively. Personally, I could never really envision myself living anywhere in China long-term; however, Shanghai would be the only city I would consider making an exception for.
Total Score (Combined Score of all the categories): 86/100