After living in Shanghai for a few months in 2012, I’ve gotten to know the city quite well. Shanghai is an enormous city with its 24 million inhabitants, and it has a lot to offer for visitors! Here are my Shanghai favorites.
♥ The bund: From the bund you can see the coolest skyline in the entire world, and I guess this is the first place to visit when you arrive Shanghai. Should be seen in both daylight and at night!
♥ Nanjing Road: This is the main street in Shanghai, where you will find numerous shopping centers, international clothing chains, luxurious hotels, high-end brands, souvenir shops and much more. You also find famous People’s Square here. It’s a really cool place to go at night because of all the advertisement and shop signs.
♥ Yuyuan Garden: A beautiful, traditional and old Chinese garden. Also, if you take a walk in the area around Yuyuan Garden, you will see a real sample of the “old Shanghai”, how regular people actually lives – and it is far from what you see in the tourist areas.
♥ Tianzifang: This is a small, artistic area, which is very different from the rest of the city. It houses several interesting bars, restaurant, cafes, shops and galleries. If you are looking for something unique, this is the place. If you are not, it is still worth a trip just for the atmosphere and the cute architecture.
♥ Pudong: This is the “new” area in Shanghai, with all the skyscrapers you see from the bund.
♥ Jing’an Temple and Jade Buddha Temple: Two Buddhist temples located in the center of Shanghai. Shanghai is more than skyscrapers and fancy shopping – you can easily spot old Chinese culture, if you are interested. These are some examples!
♥ French Concession: As it names reveals, the area was built by the French between 1849 and 1943. It is a beautiful district worth a visit for the architecture. Today, the area is very trendy, and houses many cool bars, restaurants, shops etc.
♥ Visit a park an early morning (6 am) to watch older locals to exercise Tai Chi and other types of activities. I went to Fuxing Park, and it was a very special experience.
Eat & drink
I haven’t been in Shanghai in more than two years, so I can’t say what are the best clubs and restaurants at the moment. But, what I can tell is that going out in Shanghai is amazing!
♥ Ladies night: Every Wednesday, the girls drink for free in many bars & clubs. The bar on the 92nd floor of the Shanghai World Financial Centre is definitely worth a visit – free sparkling wine and the most amazing view in the world!
♥ Find out what’s on: When I stayed in Shanghai, we used Time Out Shanghai and SmartShanghai all the time. So much is going on in this city!
♥ Eat like a local: Don’t be scared to try new, exotic food or eat food from a small stall in an alley. It’s very cheap, and usually good as well (I never got food poisoning in Shanghai). If you see someone selling what looks like a pancake from the back of his/her bike, I really recommend trying this – the best breakfast in the world!
♥ …Or eat like an international – you will always find something good to eat in this city. I suggest Blue Frog for the best burger in Asia (seriously), or Judy’s for Mexican (at least they were the best in 2012!)
♥ Food deals: Shanghai is the city of great food deals. Almost every weekday, there are some great deals, for example a dinner and drink for a specified price. These are real bargains – especially on western food, which usually is quite expensive in Shanghai.
♥ Qibao Ancient Town: This is a lovely town some subway stops from Shanghai city center. Built more than 1000 years ago, it shows traditional Chinese architecture as you imagine it. Some might tell you this is a tourist trap, but I really enjoyed my trip here, so I recommend to go if you have the chance. And try the street snacks – it looks scary, but is delicious!
♥ Suzhou: Take the bullet train to this amazing city Suzhou; it’s not a long ride. We were told that this was “a small town”, but it actually has around 10 million inhabitants (twice the size of Norway!). The atmosphere here is completely different than in Shanghai, and the city seems so quiet and peaceful.
♥ Hangzhou: This is another “small town” (almost 9 million inhabitants…) you can reach by the bullet train from Shanghai. Famous for its beautiful lake and several historical sites, the city is worth a visit.