At the markets I am often asked by those travelling to Shanghai (often for the first time) for suggestions on what to do and where to go. So Noemi & I sat down and drafted up a list of our favorites, enjoy!
Shanghai, the Pearl of the Orient
Shanghai is the embodiment of exoticism, and the honorary and unofficial capital of China. Dubbed “the Pearl of the Orient”, the city has a troubled history with invasions and misdeeds, with establishments where opium consumption and gambling were among the main activities. All this decadence ended with the communist regime, but Shanghai still keeps that aura of forbidden things. The Huangpu River divides the city: East and West, past and future, between extreme modernity and Chinese traditionalism.
What to visit?
My favorite spot, what used to be my local park in Shanghai
The Yu Yuan Garden is located in the old city center. It was a private retreat, opened for the public 50 years ago. Still in the old center, you can see the Old Wall. Here, you can see a glimpse of what was the old defense line of the city.
If you decide to just wander throughout Shanghai, you will discover that the city is filled with local parks and gardens. Early morning finds people up and about practicing their Tai Qi, or on more than one occasion, I have come across ladies working on their sword dancing routines. Watch out they really swing those swords about!
The Famous Bund!
For a little architectural history, visit the Bund and sample one of the many restaurants, M on the Bund being a personal favorite.
The Shanghai Museum is worth a visit because it recreates the Chinese house interiors from different eras in history. Here, you can learn a lot about the Chinese lifestyle in the past and present. You can also see antique cars and commercials from the early advertising period of China.
Which brings us to…what to eat?
Head to Yuyuan gardens, swing by the teahouse, and the long queue you see trailing around the ornamental pond – join it, to sample some of the best dumplings Shanghai has to offer! On the flip side, the local delicacy “Stinky Tofu”. Unless you love the scent of two week old smelly socks, you might want to give it a miss!
Xiaolongbao is a bun filled with meat, dipped in vinegar. You should also taste the Shanghai Mao Xie, crab food, best accompanied by red wine.
Cottons in Xinhua road, another local haunt!
I love Cotton’s! I love spending summer evenings in its gardens sipping on a Bloody Mary. The old house was renovated, but kept many of the old features that made it special. In winter they light the fire to give you a real warm and toasty experience!
For something a little more spectacular…Vue! Situated at the 32 and 33 floors of the Shanghai Hyatt, West Tower, it has a Jacuzzi on the terrace, and the bartending is as legendary as the view!
Leave a comment