Shanghai is a flourishing international metropolis, one of the largest in China, renowned worldwide for its highly developed manufacturing, commercial and financial industries. Situated on an estuary of the Yangtze River, Shanghai is one of the largest ports on the planet and has connections to more than 400 ports worldwide. Obsessed with the latest fads, fashions and technology, Shanghai is developing at lightning speed.
This ever-morphing city has a multicultural feel, with European-style cityscapes, eye-popping modern architecture, gleaming shopping malls and a pulsating nightlife. Look carefully, though, and you will glimpse the old Shanghai in temples tucked down alleys, traditional street markets and classical Chinese gardens.
Getting to and from the airport
Shanghai Pudong International Airport is east of Shanghai, about 30 km (18 miles) away from the city center. The best (and most exhilarating) way to reach downtown is via the magnetic-levitation (maglev) train, which can run as fast as 431 km/h (267 miles per hour) and has a journey time of 8 minutes. A single-ride costs 50 yuan (US$7.90 at 6.33 yuan to the dollar). Other options to reach downtown include taxis (which should cost no more than 200 yuan) and shuttle buses (20 to 30 yuan).
Hongqiao International Airport is west of Shanghai, about 13 km (8 miles) from the city center. The airport has links to downtown via the metro (Lines 2 or 10 costing between 3 and 7 yuan); taxis (approximately 50 to 60 yuan for a 30-minute journey from Terminal 1 or 60 to 70 yuan for the 35-minute journey from Terminal 2); and buses, which vary in destination and price.
Getting around Shanghai
The sheer size of Shanghai means you cannot navigate the entire city on foot. Your best option is to take the metro, which is fast, convenient and cheap. If possible, avoid peak times from 7-9:30 a.m. and 4-6:30 p.m. More than 1,000 bus lines operate in Shanghai city, and about 50 bus lines are opened, adjusted or lengthened every year.
Taxis are inexpensive, although flagging one down during rush hour may not be easy. If you don’t speak Chinese, have your destination written down in Chinese characters or take a business card for your destination.
If you’re staying in Shanghai awhile, it’s worth investing in a transport card (jiāotōng kǎ) which can be purchased at metro stations and some convenience stores. These cards can be topped up with credits for use on the metro, most buses and in taxis.
If you want to incorporate a little exercise into your agenda, join millions of cyclists and pedal your way around the city. You can rent a bike from companies such as www.bikeshanghai.com, which charges about 100 yuan per day to 300 yuan per week.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of options when it comes to places to stay in Shanghai. For luxury accommodation try the Pudong Shangri La (33 Fu Cheng Lu, Shanghai 200120; Ph:+86 21 688 28888), Hilton Shanghai Hotel (250 Hua Shan Road, Shanghai 200040; Ph:+86 21 624 80000), Gran Melia Shanghai (1288 Lujiazui Ring Road, Shanghai 200120; Ph: +86 21 386 78888) or the Fairmont Peace Hotel (20 Nanjing Road East, Shanghai 200002; Ph: +86 21 632 16888).
You’ll find upscale options at the Courtyard Shanghai-Pudong (838 Dong Fang Road, Pudong New Area, Shanghai 200122; Ph: +86 21 388 74500) and Wyndham Bund East Shanghai (25 Ning Guo Road, Shanghai 200090; Ph:+86 21 652 08999). More affordable options include the Days Inn Hanglou Shanghai (1 Puzhao Road, Songjiang District, Shanghai 201600; Ph: +86 21 378 27878).
What to do and see
Explore the waterfront area on the west bank of the Huangpu River, called the Bund, which houses grand colonial architecture. Across the river, the modern skyscrapers and buildings of Pudong make a striking backdrop.
Spend a few hours poking around the shabby yet chic Moganshan Art District – a complex of studios and galleries that makes up the city's biggest arts scene. One of the largest and oldest galleries is Eastlink (www.eastlinkgallery.cn). Pop into the Bizart Centre (www.biz-art.com), which promotes Chinese and foreign contemporary art.
For a glimpse of old Shanghai, visit the 400-year-old Yuyuan Gardens. Its serenity leaves the hustle and bustle of the city behind. Close by is Shanghai's bazaar, where you’ll find vendors of all kinds lining the small streets.
If you’ve got shopping on the agenda, Nanjing Road is the place for you. The 5.5-km pedestrian street is full of shops, department stores and malls. If you prefer browsing for antique treasures, then head for Dongtai Road, a chockablock stretch of antique and curio shops.
After seeing the sights, unwind with a massage using traditional Chinese acupressure. Green Massage (www.greenmassage.com.cn) offers professional massages in relaxing surroundings.
Where to dine
Eating out is a favorite pastime among residents of Shanghai, and that’s not surprising with options including American, Cantonese, French, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Shanghainese and more. In general, cafés and bars tend to be expensive – you can to pay up to 40 yuan for a coffee or 30 yuan for a small beer.
You’ll find more value for your money at popular and bustling dim sum joint Baoluo, where the wait can be up to two hours. The extensive menu includes options such as twice-cooked lamb wrapped in pancakes, braised mushroom with crabmeat and the tasty but fatty braised pork belly. Find it at 271 Fumin Lu near Changle Lu; Ph: +86 21 627 92827.
Lost Heaven offers Yunnanese and Burmese cuisine with ambiance. A wine bar and Yunnan gallery are on the first floor, and on the second floor is the restaurant, themed around the Ancient Tea and Horse Road, a historic trade route. Lost Heaven is popular for its elegant setting and exotic regional spice-and-flavor combinations such as Burmese tea leaves salad, Da Li style chicken with chili and green onions and Dai tribe pork wrapped in lettuce. You can find it at 17 Yan’an Dong Road, Shanghai 200002; Ph: +86 21 633 00967; www.lostheaven.com.cn.
For a modern, relaxed French eatery, check out Mr and Mrs Bund, which serves up classics but allows you the freedom to mix and match ingredients. On the menu you'll find temptations such as pan-roasted veal with morels, asparagus and cream; turbot meunière; beef Béarnaise; and fois gras. You can find it at Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Shanghai 200002; Ph: +86 21 632 39898; www.mmbund.com.
For spectacular 360-degree views of Shanghai from giddying heights, head for Cloud 9 bar on the 87th floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in the Jin Mao tower. One of the highest bars in the world, Cloud 9 offers creative cocktails, a great collection of champagnes and sparkling wines by the glass, tapas and a divine dessert menu. It’s at 88 Century Avenue, Pudong, Shanghai 200121; Ph: +86 21 504 71234.
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