Shanghai: Where to go & things to see

shanghai view from the bund

The Bund – a trip to Shanghai is not complete without a visit to the waterfront area of the city. It faces and offers the view of Pudong which every tourist wants to see and as you can imagine it is extremely busy. I recommend going really early in the morning on a clear day.  There are also some historical statues along the bund.  The surrounding architecture which has different influences from Victorian Gothic to  Art- Deco, is very beautiful and a most see at night. One of the most famous buildings around the Bund is Peace hotel (with the Green roof).  I loved my breezy walks along the bund.  The closest Metro is East Nanjing Metro station.

 Shanghai Tianzifang

The French Concession – this remains my favourite area in Shanghai. The area is surrounded by beautiful trees which give it a unique look and makes it easy to identify a specific location as part of the former French Concession. You would also notice the mid-rise buildings with a European style. My best discovery was Tianzifang, which has a combination of bars, restaurants, shops and art. It was a nice place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. I had really authentic Indian cuisine at Lotus Land before wandering around the area.

Xintiandi was also a beautiful area to have dinner. It has one of the best restaurants serving local Shanghainese local cuisine (Din Tai Fung). If you have a foreign craving, Xintiandi is one area with diverse restaurants serving up international cuisines.  My friends and I usually had dinner at Din Tai Fung (best placed for steamed dumplings in Shanghai) followed by drinks at Dr. Bar  after a long day at work.

Yong Kang Lu is a very famous street among the expat community. There are many bars, café and restaurants conveniently located together on one street.  Make sure to check out El Luchador, they are well known for their Tacos (30 RMB each) and Margaritas. I also highly recommend Café Del Volcan for one of the best coffees in the city.  To satisfy my fashion desire,  I walked around the Iamp mall which is located right next to South Haungpi metro station, Exit 6/7. It has a luxurious interior, modern feel and contemporary art exhibits from around the world. My best parts to wander around after dinner in the French concession were Tiaziafang and Xintiandi

 Xintiandi – If you do not have time to explore the whole of the French concession area, then  check out this        energetic eating area.  Amongst its many bars and restaurants, lie shops and a fantastic mall (K11 Art Mall). Not to mention, it is perfect to  wander around after dinner.

 

Nanjing Lu

Nanjing Lu – this street is beautiful at night and most of my evening strolls to the Bund after work started here. It is one of the busiest shopping streets in China and you can find almost everything you want from mind blowing flying toys and selfie sticks on the street sides to beauty, fashion and souvenir stores. Get off the metro at East Nanjing Road on Line 2.

Things to do in Shanghai. Visit Yu yuan garden

Yu Yuan – located in the old city with more traditional architecture. It is home to Yu Market and The Yu Yuan gardens. The Yu Yuan garden has been described as one of the most beautiful places in Shanghai and it leaves up to the description.  I spent some weekend around Yu Yuan because of the ancient feel and Chinese architecture. There are tea houses, famous dumpling shops and local desserts around the area.  The entry into Yu Yuan garden costs about 40 RMB for students and closes by 4:30. Get off at the metro at Yu Yuan Garden on line 10

things to do in Shanghai

Acrobats show – This cultural activity is mind blowing! I have never seen anything as intriguing. From spinning of plates on skinny sticks to crazy bike tricks. It is a must see.

See/have drinks with a view at Jin Mao Tower, the Pearl Tower and the World Financial Centre-  after work on weekdays, my friends and I headed to the tallest buildings in Shanghai to have drinks with a view. we went to Park Hyatt on the 92nd floor of the World Financial Centre, the highest bar in Shanghai for free drinks (look out for ladies night on Wednesdays for free drinks at Park Hyatt).

Here are the things on my list which I haven’t ticked off;

Shanghai Zoo to see some Pandas

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

To discover more places to go, follow my Pinterest account

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Abi’s Shanghai travel journal: My addictive discovery and some travel advice

My addictive discovery – Milk Tea

I never heard of  bubble tea or milk tea before coming to China. I noticed that many locals and most of my friends really liked it so I decided to try it. I got the pudding milk tea from CoCo and literally had it almost every day after.  It was the perfect drink for the hot summer days in the city.

1

A Taiwanese chain which sells very nice tea. I liked the flexibility of this stall where you could choose a specific level of sweetness. I had countless ice green fruit teas from 1 on the hot summer days. The green milk tea is also worth ordering.

Website: http://www.alittle-tea.com/stores.asp?VF=1

CoCo

A famous chain of tea stalls which serves up some of the best milk tea in the city.  If like me you are new to bubble tea and milk tea I recommend trying the ‘pudding milk tea’  at CoCo. I absolutely loved it.   I now understand why I see many people with coco cups around the city.


 

Travel advice

Things to know before going to Shanghai

VPN- you would need to download a VPN on your phone and laptop to access sites that are blocked in China such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Phone: you can buy a China mobile sim and top it up as desired(Pay as you go). To top up your sim, buy credit from a convenience store and follow the simple instructions to top it up. After topping up, all you need to do to activate 4G is to turn it on(on iPhones: settings>mobile data>4G)

When to go

Shanghai is usually humid and gets very hot in the summer and really cold in the winter.  Make sure to bring really light clothes in the summer. There is no central heating in Shanghai, be prepared to wrap up and have many layers  as the humidity makes it feel colder in the winter. Make sure to always have an umbrella in your bag because it pours especially in the summer(June – September), the showers are usually lighter in spring.

Spring (March – May) – This is the best time to visit Shanghai as the average temperature is a pleasant 20°C. (68° F)

Getting around

  • Taxi: are relatively affordable in Shanghai. Avoid dark blue cabs and opt for lighter blue ones as they are cheaper. The taxi drivers in Shanghai don’t understand English so make sure you always have the Chinese address of your destination before getting in a cab. It is also a good idea to always keep the Chinese address of your hotel on you  in case you get lost.
  • Metro: You can buy a metro card at the metro station which you can top up for your transport(it works like an oyster card). You can download the Shanghai metro map on your phone and it will help you navigate your way around town with the metro. The metro closes by 10:30 so you would need to use a Taxi if you are staying out late.
  • Bus: The buses are the cheapest mode of transport and cost about 2RMB per journey. The buses arrive at frequent intervals and you can use your metro cards on them

Travel tips

  • Shanghai is very populated and like with every big city you have to be extra careful and cautious about pickpockets. Always make sure your bag is zipped and held in front of you with your hand over it. China is generally a safe place.
  • Tap water is not safe to drink in China so make sure to drink only bottled water.
  • Fake alcohol is common in China, be very wary about this on nights out. If the drinks are free or rather cheap they could very well be fake.
  • Spitting in public and starring are both very common in China. People stare just because they are curious about the physical differences. Don’t take offence to any of the differences in the culture, rather be very open and adaptable.
  • Getting around is cheap and easy by metro( 3 – 5 RMB). The taxis (starting from 14 RMB)in shanghai are relatively affordable though the cost can add up. I recommend downloading the Shanghai metro map as it is interactive and works without internet connection
  • Websites like  Smartshanghai are very helpful when looking for Chinese addresses to show taxi drivers

Shanghai Eats: Balini and Bali Bistro

Balini and Bali Bistro

Cuisine: Asian. Cafe, Resturant
Location: Jing’An, Shanghai, China
Price Range: ££

Located very close to Jing’an temple, Balini is one to try with friends after exploring the Jing’an area. The café is tranquil with  soft lofty leather couches. You can create a unique cup of coffee by selecting beans sourced from around the world and choosing the press. The beans are impeccably roasted to create fully bodied, smooth and flavorful coffee

Shanghai Eats: Lotus land Indian Cuisine

Lotus land Indian Cuisine

Cuisine: Indian, Resturant
Location: Tiazafang
Price Range: £££

Hidden away in Tiazifang, Lotus Land is the perfect place to satisfy the craving for a spicy meal. The restaurant serves the most authentic dishes and the Indian dining experience is enhanced with dimmed lights, low leveled  tables and bed style couches. The experience is one to share with friends and family,

Website: Unfortunately there is none available, but you can visit Smart Shanghai for more information:http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/directory/lotus-land

Shanghai Eats: Sunflour

Sunflour

Cuisine: Bakery, Cafe
Location: Anfu Lu, Shanghai, China
Price Range: ££

A favourite among expats, Sunflour offers the best pastries in town alongside  salads, smoothies and perfectly brewed coffee. They have an impressive selection of pastries  made with wholemeal flour ( some pastries come in mini portions ) making  them a bit healthier than other cafes in the city. Their croissants  are made with French expertise and are very well-known. The relaxing atmosphere at the cafe makes it the perfect place to catch up with friends and family.

Website: Unfortunately, there is none available. You can find more information here:http://www.smartshanghai.com/venue/6488/aforce

Shanghai Eats: Spread the Bagel

spread_the_bagel

photo credit: my friend Emio ❤

Spread the Bagel.

Cuisine: Bakery, Cafe, American
Location: Xuhui, Shanghai, China
Price Range: ££

 

The staff at this famous  shop put a lot of effort into creating artisan bagels. Located on  Nanchang Lu, it is a short walk away from Yongkang Lu and the Iapm Mall. The award-winning bagels are handcrafted with high-quality ingredients and made daily from scratch. It is small with a counter sitting area making it a great place for a quick lunch.

Website: www.spreadthebagel.com

Healthy Shanghai Eats: Wagas

 

Wagas

Cuisine: Cafe, Resturant, Western
Location: Jing’An, Shanghai, China
Price Range: ££

Wagas is perfect for a  fresh, light and healthy meal.  My long lunch breaks in Jing’An were spent here. The award-winning restaurant serves a variety of healthy salads, wraps, gourmet sandwiches and smoothies. The friendly service and delicious meals are complemented with simple decor and lofty style sofas.

Website: www.wagas.com.cn