If you are planning on visiting China, one place you can’t miss off your itinerary is Shanghai. Easily accessible from Hong Kong and Beijing by air, this is the jewel in modern industrial China’s crown and a mesmerising city to visit.
Located on the east coast of China on the Huangpu river, Shanghai is more than just a city, it’s a metropolis! They say there are more cranes in Shanghai than any other place in the world and I can believe it. Shanghai isn’t just big, it’s enormous! Down have come the traditional Chinese dwellings and up have gone skyscrapers and metro stations.
There are a million and one things to do in Shanghai, I spent 4 days there and didn’t feel like I had seen everything so you will easily need a few nights to get a true appreciation of it.
So here is a round up of what I did in the city.
1. Take the MAGLEV – The Maglev runs from Pudong International airport to Longyang Road Station in Pudong. It costs around £5 for a single journey and takes 8mins to cover the 30km of track, travelling at a top speed of 431kmph. Depending on your geek levels you may want to ride it even if you are not heading to the airport as it is an amazing experience. It takes around half an hour on the subway to reach Longyang Road station from the centre of the city.
2. Visit Pudong – This area of the city has only been around for 10 years and is a mix of skyscrapers and shopping malls. I went up the Park Hyatt, which is the tallest building in Shanghai and nicknamed the bottle opener. You can grab a cocktail in the Hyatt bar and get an incredible view over the Bund (and it costs less than going up the observation deck of the building).
3. Buy some fakes at the Science and Technology Museum Market – this is a fake hypermarket, there are hundreds of shops offering every type of ‘reproduction’ bag – jacket, t-shirt imaginable. Be warned you will need to haggle hard for anything – and don’t pay anything more than between 10% – 30% of the original asking price! The shopping mall is inside the metro station – just head to the science and technology metro stop.
4. Visit Yu Yuan gardens – one thing you will notice is a lack of anything particularly old in Shanghai. Yu Yuan gardens is in the heart of Shanghai and is a little sliver of peace and tranquillity – you pay around £4 to get in but it is well worth the visit. Outside is Yu Yuan gardens shopping centre which has loads of tourist tat to haggle over.
5. Eat at a Dim sum restaurant – eating is a big deal in China and in Shanghai you are tripping over great places to eat. There are loads of Dim sum restaurants, I went to one in Yu Yuan gardens shopping centre and had a truck load of food for about £5.
6. Ride the Bund the sightseeing tunnel – a mix between being on an acid trip and something from Austin Powers the Bund sightseeing tunnel runs from Pudong to East Nanjing road. Whether it is value for money at £5 for a trip when you can get across the river on the underground for 20p remains open to debate – but it is unique…
7. Visit the French Concession – Shanghai was split into different concessions at one point with the British and French making their mark on the city. The French Connection is now home to hip little shopping boutiques, trendy cafes and bars and tree lined streets. For a moment it is possible to forget you are in China at all.
8. Get a massage – literally everywhere you turn you will see a spa in Shanghai, where you can get anything from a full body massage to a foot massage. I tried a couple of treatments in a nice spa which ended up costing about £8 for the hour which is a total bargain and a necessity after a day of pounding the pavements.
So, if you intend to pack your luggage to travel to China, you should visit the city of Shanghai, a place where I'm sure you will have an enjoyable experience.