Shanghai Travel Blog: Table of Contents
Shanghai on C&C
Best Time To Visit Shanghai
Where to Sleep
Let’s Go For a Drink
What to See and Do
Tipping in Shanghai
Common Scams & What to Avoid
C&C’s Google Map of the City
Shanghai Travel Blog: Where, How?
Shanghai, China, East Asia, Asia
Currency: Chinese Renminbi (¥)
Pudong International Airport (PVG), Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)
Airport Notes: Shanghai’s main international airport, Pudong, is a big and modern airport. It has two enormous terminals connected by a free shuttle service. Some of the major airlines that service it include Air France, British Airways, Air China, Emirates and Air Canada.
Hongqiao is a smaller airport that mostly hosts regional routes. The airport is adjacent to an important train station. It’s also connected to the city by the metro.
Transportation to-and-from the airport: From Pudong, for an unforgettable experience, catch a Maglev Train at the station between terminals one and two. If you are willing to spend extra for convenience, hail a taxi from the taxi queues just outside the terminals. There are buses to-and-from the airport as well that are best used during off-peak hours. Otherwise, you are better off using the metro, which is much slower but cheap and convenient.
The metro is probably your best bet as its announcements are broadcasted in English as well. In addition to being quite user-friendly, it is swift and easy on the pocket. For something that costs less and covers more ground, opt for the bus system. They are a lot slower though. Taxis are reasonably priced and generally a good way to move around the city on off-peak hours. The ancient parts of Shanghai are best explored on foot. The air-conditioned ferries are the most reasonable way to cross the river. You could also opt for a bicycle if you want to avoid having to deal with communication barriers. Sidecars are popular amongst expats and tourists. It is not worth it to self-drive in Shanghai.
A Note on Taxis: Ask someone to write your address down in Chinese for easy communication with the taxi driver. Always ensure they use the meter! Avoid using large bills to pay for short rides.
Just like anywhere, Uber is cheaper and safer. If you don’t already have an account, use this link and get 15 dollars off your first ride!
Huangpu in downtown Shanghai basically consists of parts of old Shanghai. Pudong is where the Pudong International Airport is located. Hongqiao and Gubei districts are where most expats reside. Xujiahui, Shanghai’s shopping precinct, has malls filled with shoppers at any point in time. The Bund found on the bank of Huangpu River is Shanghai’s most famous sightseeing spot. Nanjing Dong Lu is at its best at night and the ideal place to take a look at local life.
Navigation tips: There a couple of signs written in English. If you are good at reading maps and have a good sense of direction to boot, you will not get lost. Subways are also pretty easy to navigate with announcements broadcasted in English too. There are several apps that are meant to make your stay as smooth as possible. The Explore Shanghai app for example has all you need to know about how to move about the city using the metro. Shanghai Taxi Guide and Pleco on the other hand make it easier to communicate your destination to your taxi driver.
More About Shanghai on C&C
Best Time To Visit Shanghai
Average Monthly Minimum And Maximum Temperatures
Average Monthly Hours Of Sunshine
Average Monthly Rainfall Or Snowfall
Shanghai Travel Blog: Personal Notes
What’s This Place About?
Shanghai is the largest city in China and also one of the largest in the world. It’s a crazy, beautiful, hectic and exotic place. Essentially, it’s the center of the world. It’s strange and difficult to comprehend to the western mind. It’s definitely a stunning place.
Shanghai Travel Blog: What’s Great and Fun?
Exploring the food scene is one thing. There are a lot of restaurants and street food stalls with a lot of different foods. All the food of China can be found there, and the most represented is the Shanghai style, of course. One of the great things about the city is finding hidden jewels in back-allies, basements, or even in gigantic maze-like shopping malls. There are a lot of things happening in shopping malls in Shanghai; life is lived in a shopping mall over there. Of course, if you like futuristic architecture, you’ll find it there. It’s also a place where money will buy you pretty much anything.
I stayed and lived in Shanghai for a few months, a few years ago, and I really enjoyed the way of life there. It was mostly because it was so exotic and different that I really enjoyed observing it.
There are a few things that completely shocked me, like the way you have to fight your way out of the metro because people try to get in before you can get out.
The way people treat commodities and how they don’t hesitate to flaunt what they have was also an intense revelation when I noticed it. Anybody that has money at a restaurant will order way too much food and basically leave it there to waste because that’s the way they do it over there. So if you have money, you have to show it off – that’s the way people live!
The obvious feeling of the city is one of a hectic economic rat race. Everybody is about money and work; they all want to go as fast as possible. It’s fascinating and completely disorienting.
On top of that, history buffs and literature fans should read the novel Man’s Fate by André Malraux before going there. It really changes one’s perspective of the place because Shanghai has a very long history and it used to be divided among different countries that controlled the place. One of them are the French who had a pretty big chunk of the city to themselves. You can definitely see it in the urban planning of the old French concession, where you have big boulevards with giant trees in the middle – just like in Paris.
Shanghai Travel Blog: Where to Stay in Shanghai
The best locations to sleep in Shanghai generally depend on what you would like to do or see. But regardless of where you choose to stay, getting around is easy thanks to Shanghai’s extensive metro system.
The best accommodation in Shanghai is found in the eight urban districts.
If you a want a short answer to the question of where to stay in Shanghai, consider this: The Puxi side is generally preferred by travelers because it is where most touristic spots are located. From it you are able to view the Bund Area and the People’s square area.
You have to also consider another thing about the question of where to stay in Shanghai: The Pudong side is not recommended unless you are in town for business. All you will have in your view are skyscrapers and shops.
The Bund Area should be number one on your list of prospective places to stay. There are plenty of hotels in this area including The Bund Hotel that offers great views of the river and beautiful architecture. You can also easily access Xintiandi(for the nightlife) and Nanjing Road (for shopping) on foot. This makes it a favorite of many tourists when it comes to the point of where to stay in Shanghai.
Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund and Central Hotel Shanghai are mid-range hotels that I recommend in the downtown Shanghai area.
If you a want quick fix to the query of where to stay in Shanghai, this would be it.
If you are looking for tips on specific hotels as answer to the question of where to stay in Shanghai, I have to disappoint you. Most hostels in Shanghai aren’t great, so I wouldn’t advise staying in one if I were you.
There are far too many options on where to stay in Shanghai. All you have to do is keep eyes and ears open.
If you are looking for high end hotels in where to stay in Shanghai pages, there are some good options. The major chain hotels that are present in Shanghai include JW Marriott Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai and The Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai.
And the final tip on where to stay in Shanghai: Just like everywhere, Airbnb is a very interesting option. If you’re not already a member, you can use this Airbnb link to get $40 off your first reservation.
Shanghai Travel Blog: Let’s Eat!
Famous Foods and Specialties
- Da Zha Xie (steamed crab)
- Pepper duck (fried marinated duck)
- Sheng Jian Bao (pan-fried dumplings)
- Shansi Leng Mian (eel noodles)
- Cong You Bing (scallion pancakes)
The Best Drunk Food
- Mystery meat skewers!
Shanghai Travel Blog: Our Suggestions – Dishes And Restaurants
Listen, Shanghai is a gigantic city – the largest in the world by most estimates – and it’s one of the best places in the world to have dinner. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface and suggest the best places to eat. So I’m going to do you a great favour and simply give you the link of the Michelin guide in Shanghai. I’m sorry and you’re welcome.
There are tiny eateries, back-alley street food stalls and spectacular restaurants in shopping malls across the city. The best example is a simple garage door in a residential street near Hengshan Road station. The unmarked door would be closed unless it wasn’t. And when it wasn’t, two people with a wok and a long tower of bamboo steamers would sell handmade dumplings from the sidewalk by the plastic bag for people to go home with and eat. And they were some of the best I’ve ever had.
Here’s a suggestion that might surprise a few: there’s a chain restaurant in Shanghai that serves “grandma food” that’s actually really really good! It’s called The Grandma’s. Try the red pork. It’s giggly-fat-slippery great. If you want to make a right choice on where to stay in Shanghai, be aware of the food and dining options in the city.
As is written in the first section of this guide, remember that Google Maps isn’t used as much as other maps options in Shanghai because of China’s strenuous relationship with Google. Because of that, not everything’s identified and located on GMaps which means that I ended up eating in a lot of places without being able to take notes. Sorry…
One last thing: the best chain restaurant on Earth has a few locations – 8, to be exact – in Shanghai. So when in town, I suggest you visit Din Tai Fung. Be informed of the locations of eateries before selecting where to stay in Shanghai.
Shanghai Travel Blog: Let’s Go For a Drink
What Do the Locals Drink?
Baijiu or shaojiu (vodka-like distilled alcohol beverage). And beer. Lots of beer.
Drinking in Public
Public drinking is accepted. There are no laws against it.
Shanghai Travel Blog: Our Suggestions – Bars and Pubs
Shanghai is the fastest growing city in the world. Its night scene grows equally as fast with hang out joints opening and closing each day. Barflies therefore have more than enough to choose from.
Don’t look for where to stay in Shanghai far away from a crowd favorite bar.
Funny thing: my favourite place in this city is a basement cocktail bar with diluted booze and dirty walls. It’s called C’s. Sometimes you find comfort in the strangest places. Always check these info too when you are deciding where to stay in Shanghai.
As regular readers of this column know, I don’t know anything about clubs. And Shanghai is club-town. So this is the only recommendation I’ll give you. Sorry!
Shanghai Travel Blog: What to See and Do
Start off as soon as you land by getting aboard the Maglev Train. This train literally levitates as it does not touch the tracks as it moves. Furthermore, it moves so fast it has been named the fastest train in the world.
Explore the Bund’s sky scraper-filled skyline while on a ferry or boat ride cruise on the Huangpu River.
Visit the glassy Shanghai Museum for a lesson on modern Shanghai and to see what it is expected to look like in 2020. It is always better to decide on where to stay in Shanghai after checking the connectivity to the places that you want to visit in the city.
Take a break from the bustling city and take a walk along the decorated bridges and colorful pagodas of the beautiful Yuyuan Garden.
Get atop the World Financial Building to get a bird’s view of Shanghai from the world’s highest observatory.
Go for a bite on the revolving restaurant at the magnificent Oriental Pearl TV Tower on the bank of Huangpu River.
Nanjing Road has been compared to New York’s Fifth Avenue. Walk along it and admire not only the attractive architecture but the wares displayed on the streets by Chinese retailers.
At Zhujiajiao/Qibao, get a feel of what it’s like to live in a Chinese dynasty surrounded by alley ways, ancient buildings and waterways.
Shop for handmade crafts and souvenirs at Yu Yuan & Cheng Huang Miao and have a taste of Shanghai’s steamed soup dumpling while you are at it.
French Concession is the city’s style district and the place to go and splurge.
Find a central locations with respect all these places when you make up your mind on where to stay in Shanghai.
Tipping in Shanghai
Just like in most of China, tipping is not expected. In fact, locals may even find it offensive if you tip them so avoid doing so to be safe.
Shanghai Travel Blog: Common Scams & What to Avoid
There are plenty of scams targeting tourists in Shanghai. The famous tea ceremony scam and its many variations originate there. Remember, when a stranger comes and talks to you out of the blue using any excuse at all, ask yourself if they might have something to gain from this conversation. They might even offer tips on where to stay in Shanghai or something similar. Don’t follow a stranger anywhere, that’s true everywhere but especially in Shanghai. Before putting anything in your mouth, before eating or drinking anything, always ask for the price first. Because if you take it in your hands, then the price is going to jump. If you eat it or drink it, the price is going to jump even more. If you go to pay after you’re done, you can be sure that you’re going to be scammed and the price is going to be gigantic. There are a lot of counterfeit bank notes in China, so be careful about that. In fact, there is a lot of counterfeit anything in China: fake police, fake food, fake tea, fake old jewelry, fake vintage products… Be very careful about counterfeit things in China and in Shanghai.
There are not really many pickpockets, but be careful if someone asks to take a picture with you. Usually this means that somebody else is coming behind you to see if there is anything loose in your pockets.
There is a lot of petty crime, but there is not a lot of violent crime in Shanghai. So solo travelers are fine, you just need to keep your wits about yourself.
Be extra careful. They can be quite dangerous. Always use your GPS. Be careful to not argue too much with them, and don’t get loud with them because they really don’t like that. But be firm, that’s for sure. Always double check that you have the right change. They’re going to try to pass you small bills instead of big bills because there needs to be extra zeros on there. If you forget to count or you don’t count it properly and think you have the right change, then they have just stolen $10 off of you. Things like that happen. Also, be very careful of counterfeit money. Taxis can be quite dangerous in Shanghai.
Surprisingly enough, most of the scams and other things to avoid happen around Nanjing pedestrian street which is basically the heart of the touristic quarter, so be careful of that. Keep that in mind when you choose where to stay in Shanghai.
You might also encounter some scammers who try to talk to you on The Bund during the day. Be careful if someone wants to talk to you for no reason just like that. China is a very conservative society, so people don’t generally show up and come to talk to you just like that without being introduced first. Be careful of that.
It is always a good practice to decide on where to stay in Shanghai away from these places.
How to Stay Safe and Where to Stay in Shanghai: Tips and Tricks
READ MORE: Travel Canada Advisory for China.