Shanghai Destination Guide
Shanghai is where China first met the West and it remains a vibrant frontier today, home to more than 23 million. The Old Town – with its distinct architecture and red lanterns and tea houses – abuts a commercial shopping strip, the 5.5 kilometre Nanjing Road, where all the big name brands can be found. The Bund is the colonial riverside rim which once housed numerous foreign trading houses. Opposite The Bund, on the eastern side of the Huangpu River, is a future-facing clutch of skyscrapers in Pudong. They've emerged from what was farmland only a couple of decades ago. Bring your wits and verve on a trip to Shanghai. The city will match every ounce.
Things to do in Shanghai are innumerable but exploring The Bund is one of the city's must-do experiences. Here you'll find a rich collection of neoclassical and Art Deco architecture, thanks to the 1920s and 1930s construction boom. The riverfront walkway here has undergone a major renovation in recent years too. The distinctive 468-metre high Oriental Pearl Tower in Pudong (one of the city's iconic structures) has an observation deck with a priceless view. People's Square park provides respite from the urban jungle downtown and the nearby Shanghai Museum is worth a look. Drinking at a tea house should be on each visitor's list too.
Shanghai's restaurants are reflective of its melting pot past and foodies will delight in this city. With a broad selection of other Asian-style foods accompanying Shanghainese, fusion restaurants, Italian, American, vegetarian and African, you're likely to find something to suit your palate at any time of the day or night. The meat preference here is generally pork (good to know if it's not specified on the menu). Sweet tooths with a hankering for a follow up to their savoury meal will find a small slice of heaven at Visage Patisserie or Whisk Choco Cafe.
Where to Stay
The gleaming amenities found at luxury Shanghai hotels in Pudong are said to rival many in Asia. You'll be well housed in this city though, whatever your budget. Touted as the highest hotel in the world, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai is in the centre of the financial and business district, Pudong. Here you get to enjoy lavish accommodation and views from within the skyline on the 53rd to 87th floor of the Jin Mao Tower. For a mid-range option, try Quintet, a bed-and-breakfast in a typical 1930s Shanghai lane house (longtang). Captain Hostel is a popular maritime-themed, simple and clean budget option just off The Bund – in an Art Deco building.
There's no Shanghai shopping like a trip down Nanjing Road. The 1-kilometre, wide, pedestrianised section near The Bund (the eastern end) is the most famous part and bustles with domestic and international tourists alike. Go to Nanjing Road's western end for high end boutiques, or the French concession streets Xinle Lu, Changle Lu and Anfu Lu. Books, electronics and handicrafts are also on the shopping menu here. For socialist art, try the Propaganda Poster Art Centre; go to Electronics Market for all the gizmos you could want; for a beautiful, handmade silk quilt try the Wangjia Docks Fabric Market. If you'd like to take home a slice of Tibet, grab a souvenir at Paramita – a non-profit to help Tibetans find employment.
Shanghai like a Local
The Shanghai weather is classed as 'humid subtropical' and it's on approximately the same latitude as Brisbane, New Orleans and Cairo. Be prepared for summer storms. If you'll be in Shanghai for more than a few days, consider purchasing a Shanghai jiaotong card – you can load it with money for buses, the metro and even taxis, rather than buy individual tickets for each trip. Know before you go on public transport that crowding and pushing are acceptable here. So is spitting on the street. If you need some respite from the bustle at any time, consider visiting the peaceful Yuyuan Garden in the Old Town: a traditional Chinese garden designed in the Ming and Qing styles.