Most visitors to Shanghai do not come intending to pursue outdoor recreation or sports, but there is a wide range of such activities. Hotels routinely provide exercise machines, weights, aerobic and workout areas, swimming pools, locker rooms, and, less often, tennis and squash courts, all at little or no charge to their guests. It is possible to use some hotels' fitness facilities even if you are not a guest (although the fees can be steep). Joggers in Shanghai will find the early morning streets and public parks conducive to running. Shanghai has its own annual international marathon, the Toray Cup (run in mid-Nov).
Golf and bowling are two of the most popular recreational sports in Shanghai, pursued by well-to-do locals, foreign residents, and overseas visitors, but you can also enjoy kite-flying, traditional taiji quan, and even go-cart racing if time and energy allow.
Spectator sports include Formula One racing, professional basketball, interleague soccer, and international badminton.
Bowling (Baoling Qiu)
Bowling experienced a boom in China during the 1990s, when more than 15,000 alleys were built, many of them in Shanghai. There are good alleys in the Regal International East Asia hotel. The Orden Bowling Center at Hengshan Lu 10 (tel. 021/6474-6666) is open 24 hours. Rates run from ¥8 to ¥30 per line at Shanghai bowling halls, depending on the quality of the facility and the time of day (the later, the more expensive); shoe rentals toe the line at ¥3 to ¥10.
Go-Karting (Kading Che)
The best track for a Formula One drive in miniature is the indoor arena at Disc Kart (Dishika Saicheguan, Zaoyang Lu 609 [near Metro Line 3, Jinshajiang Rd. Station]; tel. 021/6285-7778; www.kartingchina.com), where the timing system is high-tech, the carts have new Honda engines, and the driving goes on into the wee hours (2pm-2am). An outdoor alternative is the Quyang Racing Cart Club, Zhongshan Bei Yi Lu 880 (tel. 021/6531-6800; Mon-Thurs 10am-5:30pm; Fri-Sun 9am-6pm).
Golf (Gaoerfu Qiu)
Greens fees at Shanghai's dozen or more golf courses run from ¥400 to ¥830 on weekdays, ¥830 to ¥1,660 on Saturday and Sunday. Caddies cost ¥90 to ¥200 and club rental costs ¥250 to ¥450. All courses require advance reservations; summer weekends are particularly crowded. One of Shanghai's best is the Sheshan International Golf Club (Sheshan Gao'erfu Qun), Linyin Xin Lu 288, Sheshan National Tourism Resort, Songjiang District (tel. 021/5779-8008; www.sheshangolf.com), about 30 minutes outside the city. Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods have both played here in the HSBC Champions Tournament on the Nelson and Haworth course featuring natural forest and man-made lakes.
Other top courses include the world-class, Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed Shanghai International Golf and Country Club (Shanghai Guoji Gao'erfu Xiangcun Julebu), Xinyang Cun, Zhujiajiao (tel. 021/5972-8111; Wed-Mon 9am-5pm), an hour's drive west of Shanghai in Qingpu District; the Shanghai Riviera Golf Resort (Shanghai Dongfang Bali Gao'erfu Julebu), Yangzi Lu 277, Nanxiang Town, Jiading District (tel. 021/5912-6888; Tues-Fri 9am-10pm; Sat-Sun 8am-10pm), a Bobby J. Martin-designed 18-hole par-61 course with a driving range and year-round night golfing; the Tomson Golf Club (Tangchen Gao'erfu Julebu), Longdong Da Dao 1, also in Pudong, with reservations available through the InterContinental Hotel Pudong (tel. 021/5833-8888; Mon 1-10pm, Tues-Sun 8am-10pm); and Shanghai's only 54-hole course, the Shanghai Binhai Golf Club (Binhai Gao'erfu Julebu), Binhai, Nanhui, located near the Pudong Airport (tel. 021/5805-8888 or 021/3800-1888; www.binhaigolf.com; call for hours).
Health & Fitness Clubs
Some hotels offer day rates to outsiders. The Spa at the Hilton (tel. 021/6248-0000, ext. 2600; 6am-11pm), for example, charges ¥480 per day for use of its gym, pool, tennis and squash courts, sauna, Jacuzzi, locker rooms, and exercise room. The most complete range of fitness facilities in town is offered by the Shanghai International Tennis Centre Club, attached to the Regal International East Asia Hotel, Hengshan Lu 516, third floor, Xuhui (tel. 021/6415-5588, ext. 82), with its 25m (82-ft.) indoor lap pool, aerobics studio, exercise machines, simulated golf range, 12-lane bowling alley, and 10 of China's best indoor and outdoor tennis and squash courts (daily 6am-11pm). Among private fitness clubs, one of the best offering day passes is the Clark Hatch Fitness Center at the Radisson Plaza Xing Guo Hotel, Xingguo Lu 78 (tel. 021/6212-9998, ext. 3300), which has a vast array of state-of-the-art equipment (daily 6am-11pm) and single-entry passes for ¥200. The boutique fitness club One Wellness at Yanping Lu 98 (near Xinzha Lu; tel. 021/6267-1550; www.onewellness.com.cn) claims to be the first carbon-neutral gym in China and features a gourmet health-food cafe and free Internet stations and Wi-Fi. Daily hours are 6am to 11pm, and a day pass costs ¥300.
In most people's minds, Shanghai may not be readily associated with the spa experience, but those addicted to their mud wraps, body polishes, and lomi lomi massages can now get some world-class pampering at a number of classy, brand-name spas in town. In fact, it has become de rigueur for every top hotel worth its salt (rub) to have a brand-name spa.
One of the most sybaritic of the lot is Chi, the Himalayan-themed spa at the Shangri-La Hotel Tower (Fucheng Lu 33; tel. 021/6882-8888, ext. 460), delivering top-of-the-world treatments at predictably sky-high prices. The world-famous Banyan Tree Spa, located on the third floor of the Westin Hotel (Nanjing Dong Lu 88; tel. 021/6335-1888; www.banyantreespa.com), is beautifully designed using the theme of the Chinese five elements (wood, water, fire, earth, and metal). A host of beauty, hair-care, and massage treatments are available at steep international spa prices. Also from Thailand, the Anantara Spa at the PuLi Hotel and Spa (Changde Lu 1; tel. 021/2216-6899; www.spa.anantara.com/shanghai) specializes in tea treatments, while the Spa at the Hilton (Huashan Lu 250; tel. 021/6248-0000, ext. 2600) continues to dole out some of the city's consistently best massages, especially its signature shenti massage, which combines Swedish with Chinese massage. The worldwide Chuan Spa at the Langham, Yangtze Boutique (Hankou Lu 740; tel. 021/6080-0722; www.chuanspa.com), offers treatments guided by the principles of traditional Chinese medicine to restore harmony and balance.
Many expats and discerning locals head for Dragonfly Therapeutic Retreat (Xinle Lu 206; tel. 021/5403-9982; www.dragonfly.net.cn), which has an exotic Asian ambience with all the standard treatments at just the right prices (often less than half the rates at hotel spas), though its recent rapid expansion has resulted in somewhat uneven service at different branches. The small but excellent Shui Urban Spa (Wukang Lu 376, Ferguson Lane, fifth floor; tel. 021/6126-7800; www.shuiurbanspa.com.cn) features a variety of pampering treatments by very strong and skilled English-speaking massage therapists. For the truly intrepid, Funing Point Pressure Massage Center of Blind People (Fuxing Lu 597; tel. 021/6437-8378) offers invigorating Chinese massages for around ¥45 an hour. Little to no English is spoken here, however.
Kite-Flying (Fang Fengzheng)
Chinese have been flying their invention of kites for more than 2,000 years. The best places to buy and to fly local Shanghai kites are in the public parks and in People's Square in front of the Shanghai Museum.
Tai Chi (Taiji Quan)
These venerable and graceful "shadow-boxing" exercises, which tens of thousands of Shanghainese practice every morning before work, and Wu Shu, the martial arts forms developed in China, can be learned at the Shanghai Wushu Center (Wushu Yuan), Nanjing Xi Lu 595, Huangpu (tel. 021/6253-3120), or at the Longwu International Kung Fu Center, Maoming Nan Lu 1 (tel. 021/6287-1528; www.longwukungfu.com).
You can now practice your sun salutations at a number of places, including Karma Yoga in Pudong (Pucheng Lu 172, third floor; tel. 021/3887-0669; www.karmayoga.com.cn), one of the largest studios in the city with everything from hatha to hot yoga, and Y+ Yoga Centre (Fuxing Lu, Lane 299, no. 2; tel. 021/6433-4330; www.yplus.com.cn), offering ashtanga, bikram, and prenatal yoga, as well as Pilates.