Shanghai shines so brightly, I can see it from way up on the Cloud! This city is a mega-metropolis where old and new fuse together harmoniously. Here, you can see the futuristic buildings of modern Asia and learn about the ancient Oriental history that has made Shanghai what it is today.
Shanghai’s modern skyline hides its cool traditional venues
Between the World Wars, it became the most cosmopolitan city in Asia, and no passports or visas were needed to enter. This is remarkable given that they are definitely required today! Since the early 1980s, Shanghai has grown to more than 24 Million residents and is the economic powerhouse of a resurgent China.
Shanghai has two airports. Most foreigners will fly into Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which connects with many major destinations across the world. The airport is on Metro Line Two and takes just over an hour to reach People’s Square in the city centre. If you are looking for a faster way to reach the centre, I suggest you take the world’s fastest scheduled train. It’s a magnetic levitation (“maglev”) system that’s even quicker than travelling by Cloud! The train runs from the airport to Longyang Road Station in 7 minutes at speeds of up to 430km per hour (270 mph). From there, it will take roughly 20 minutes to reach People’s Square.
Shanghai at night is lit like a movie set!
Here’s a Pro-tip: There are two terminal buildings at Hongqiao separated by the runway. If you arrive by taxi at the wrong terminal, quickly take the metro under the runway to the other terminal because a taxi can take a very long time on the congested highway.
Within Shanghai, the metro is the most efficient form of transport. There are English announcements on the trains, and the ticket machines can also be operated in English. There is no Uber in China, and local apps often don’t work with foreign credit cards. However, you can easily hail taxis on the street – just have the address of your destination written down in Chinese. Your hotel can easily help with this.
I know there’s a tower ‘round here someplace!
- I adore the view of the city from the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. It is the sixth tallest TV tower in the world and from here, on a clear day, you have a birds-eye view of the entire metropolitan area.
- The Museum of Shanghai is in the basement of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and is a must-see if you are interested in Shanghai history.
Here’s another Pro-tip: I would recommend timing your trip to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower for sunset – so you’ll be able to see the city both during the day and night.
- The Bund is another favourite place of mine. It is riverside and holds some of the most impressive early-Twentieth Century buildings. Head to the opposite side of the river for the classic photo of Shanghai’s modern skyline that has become representative of the city.
- While you are visiting Shanghai’s modern attractions, strolling around People’s Square and Nanjing Road is a must for shopping.
- For an authentic Shanghai experience, check out Yu Garden. This peaceful garden is nearly 500 years old and today acts as an oasis from the busy city.
- Another ancient place to visit is the last preserved area of the Old City. This beautiful neighbourhood offers a look at life in Shanghai before industrialisation.
U will love Yu Gardens!
For shopping, check out Tian Zi Fang, a mishmash of stalls and small stores set amongst multiple crisscrossing alleyways.
- For luxury goods, head to Xin Tian Di. This is an open-air modern luxury mall with a difference – at its centre is a museum where Chairman Mao hosted his first communist party meeting. It may seem incongruous for a luxury mall to compliment this museum but that is Shanghai!
- Other museums worth visiting are the Chinese Propaganda Poster Museum, which the owner runs out of his basement, and the former residence of Sun Yat Sen’s wife, Soong Qing-Ling.
Here’s another pro tip: Google doesn’t work in China nor Google Maps, so I recommend downloading Maps.Me to explore Shanghai. You can download offline maps with this app, so you won’t even need WIFI to obtain directions.
Shanghai is a foodie’s paradise! While a lot of Shanghai’s restaurants focus on fusion cuisine and more modern Chinese food, you can still find authentic dishes everywhere. One of the traditional foods to try in season are the “Hairy Crabs”.
Dim sum great Xiao Long Bio!
- For some other Shanghai staples, enjoy Golden Time Shunfeng Restaurant, famous for local, Sichuan and Cantonese food. Try the braised pork, deep-fried preserved tofu, and other classics in this local restaurant.
- Lost Heaven is a great place to try some food from the southern Yunnan province.
- I love M on the Bund for its modern menu and fantastic views!
Shanghai’s eclectic mix of cultures makes it one of my favourite places to party! There is a cool mix of all cultures at venues throughout the city.
- The Bund is a fantastic place for sophisticated clubs and bars – my favourite is Bar Rouge at number 18 on the Bund. As the name implies, the decor is totally red – it also has a fantastic view of the city from its patio!
- If you fancy speakeasy-style drinking, check out the Japanese-inspired cocktail bar Speak Low, which is hidden behind a store’s bookcase. It has been on the list of the World’s Best Bars for many years!
- Or, on a budget, I love LCDS, which is run by French residents and has fantastic happy hour deals.
As you’d expect from a city as urban and compelling as Shanghai, there are plenty of hotels to stay for every budget.
- When I come down from the Cloud, I love to check in to The Puli Hotel and Spa. One of the most high-end accommodation options in the city, the staff pull out all the stops to ensure an unforgettable stay.
- Hua Ting Hotel and Towers offers affordable luxury with Shanghai style.
- Chunshengjiang Hotel has great budget rates in the city centre.
There is nowhere in the world like Shanghai! It is a fusion of traditional Chinese within a modern metropolis, with lots of influences from all over the world. You’ll love exploring this exciting city!