Shanghai boasts the largest port in the world, one of the largest skyscrapers in the world, and the highest hotel in the world.
All of that makes the city dazzling enough to begin with, but in addition, Shanghai is currently a massive construction site as it prepares to host next year’s World Expo.
The taxi ride from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to your hotel offers an introduction to the city’s majestic scale. Driving over elevated roads, your view comprises towers and apartment buildings. It comes as no surprise that the traffic in a city with 20 million inhabitants is pretty chaotic. Nevertheless, Shanghai offers both bustle and peacefulness.
Get a feel for the city with a stroll along the Bund — the boulevard alongside the shimmering Huangpu River — which is home to exquisite shops and fancy bars. From here you can also see the famous towers with their twinkling lights.
After snacking on a candied apple, it’s time for the heavier stuff. Be sure to pay a visit to Bar Rouge on the top floor of the Bund 18 building.
With great DJs and bottles of champagne being ordered abundantly, it’s a true party atmosphere. On the terrace of the bar you’ll have a great view of Shanghai’s skyline as you dance the night away; www.bar-rouge-shanghai.com.
Looking for a day of rest in this booming city? People’s Square offers a bit of quietness in a green environment.
Sit down and enjoy the sight of children fishing for goldfish, elderly people playing checkers or cards and amorous teenagers strolling along the paths. If you’re in an arty mood during your walk through the park, you can pop in to the Museum of Contemporary Art, where you can see the country’s latest visual artworks.
World Financial Centre
The World Financial Centre is best visited in the evening. This enormous illuminated tower is even more fascinating when it is dark. At 492 metres up in the air, it’s the world’s third largest skyscraper. You can enter the building for free and go up to the 93th floor, where you can have a drink at the bar or have dinner in the fancy restaurant. Drinks are pricy, but with a view over the whole city it’s definitely worth at least one.
The Shanghai Museum is primarily a beautiful building to look at. The museum is shaped like a “ding,” an ancient cooking vessel, of which you can see bronze versions inside. Don’t hesitate to go and take a look inside, since admission is free.
You’ll find ancient wine vessels, decorated ceramic, Chinese paintings, classical furniture and ancient money.
Yu Garden and the City Temple of Shanghai
In the middle of Shanghai is Yu Garden, a beautiful 16th-century garden with classical Chinese teahouses and temples. Over the rooftops you can see the high-rise buildings of the city. Although the garden is very touristy, you can still find peace and quiet here, walking over precious little bridges and enjoying the scenery. The City Temple of Shanghai is also definitely worth a visit. Here, people pray to large statues of Buddha and burn incense.
After this spiritual experience, you can try one of the Chinese snacks that are sold in the bazaar.
Shanghai encompasses both extreme luxury and poverty. If you’ve just won the lottery, you might opt to stay at the Marriott Hotel, where you can look out over the city from your bathtub. If you have less money to spend, you should stay on the other side of the river, in a budget-friendly hotel like the New Asia Hotel. It’s not luxurious, but the rooms are tidy and a room for two costs only 25 euros a night.
Food and drinks
Tired of walking around all day? Grab a taxi — which are very cheap —and tell the driver you want to go to Xintiandi, which is a refurbished “longtang,” or little lane of traditional Chinese houses.
There you can sit at an outdoor café and relax while you take in the cosy surroundings.
After that you don’t have to go far to fill your stomach. There are plenty of mid-price restaurants with Chinese, French and Italian cuisine.
For a day of shopping, try the area around People’s Square. At Nanjing Road, you’ll find lots of shops and department stores. The large department stores sell expensive Western brands, but think twice before you load your shopping cart because prices are no lower than at home. For cheap souvenirs go to the bazaars near Yu Garden. In Shanghai Old Street there are lots of souvenir shops, where trinkets cost next to nothing.