I Fell In Love With Shanghai

I went to Shanghai a week ago with no expectations. I tried to research in travel sites on must-see places for the city, but I found it hard to plot a definite itinerary because of its vastness. Four days later, I fell in love with Shanghai. I admire it for its beauty and uniqueness. Let me share with you some of the places that I got to visit in Shanghai, and I'm sure this is not even a tenth of all the treasures that the city has to offer.

The Bund. Get there by taxi or take the metro to East Nanjing station (Line 2). It's the closest train station to the area. From there, you have to walk down Nanjing Road towards the riverside. Nanjing Road is actually a shopping capital. You'll find rows of shops, department stores and big malls on your way to the Bund. If walking is not for you, trams make their way through the crowd and you could ride them for only 2RMB. Once you arrive at the Bund, a row of old buildings greet you. Once the financial capital of Asia in the 1920s, the buildings have been preserved and some have been converted to government buildings. This is what they describe the Old Shanghai, because when you look at the other side the modern cityscape with skyscrapers looming at you beckons.

Take the Huangpu River Cruise. We chose to take this cruise at night so that we'll enjoy the view of the city lit up by lights. It surely did not disappoint. The rates are higher at night time, and we took this cruise for 88RMB. In this cruise, you could see Shanghai divided into two. On the west side is the older town, and the east side houses the modern buildings in Pudong area. Here's a sample of the magnificent view that we enjoyed on the cruise:

Yu Yuan Garden. First built in the 1550s and renovated over the years, this well-known scenic spot houses intricately-designed tea houses and architectural landscapes. It was first a private garden of a government official of the Ming Dynasty before it was opened to the public.

Pudong. Get there by taking the train to Lujiazui Station (Line 2), the next station from East Nanjing. You could also take a taxi and go through the Yan'an tunnel, or if you are a tourist with lots of time to spare there's a special tunnel called the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. They say it's filled with blinking lights, and it costs 40RMB. We didn't get to see this tunnel since we decided to take the taxi. In Pudong you'd get to see the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and the new Shanghai World Financial Center, which was just completed July 2008. Check out Super Brand Mall for Din Tai Fung, a restaurant awarded as one of the Top Ten by New York Times. They serve the famous Shanghai delicacy xiaolongbao, steamed soup dumpling local to Shanghai and its surrounding areas.

Xintiandi. This area has a row of upscale restaurants, cafes and shops located near the French Concession area. To get here, take the Metro to South Huangpi station (Line 1). You could just walk around the area and discover unique shops and big brand names in the streets surrounding it.

Shanghai Urban Planning Museum. The name may sound boring, but this place will amaze you with what's in store for the future Shanghai. Get a peek on the development of the city. To get here, take the metro to People's Square Station, the station where most lines interchange.

Practical Travel Tips for Shanghai
  • Be careful when you're in a throng of people for pickpockets. I almost had my camera stolen while we were boarding the shuttle bus to the ferry. A woman in her 40s stood beside me and started to open my camera bag as the crowd pushed their way into the bus. When I noticed what she was doing, my camera bag was halfway open and she didn't ride the bus anymore.
  • Drink bottled water. The tap water in Shanghai tastes funny. Usually, they put lemon in it when you ask for it in restaurants. It would be best to buy bottled water to be safe.
  • Learn the basics of Mandarin. It's very hard to transact with Shanghai locals when you don't know numbers or basic Mandarin phrases. Very little know English, and they usually talk to you in Mandarin.
  • Have your hotel write down your destinations in Chinese. Always carry your passport and an address to your hotel so that when you get lost, you could easily find your way back.

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Monica said...

Your post made me very nastalgic. I studied abroad in Shanghai for half a year and it was the best experiences of my life. I got to travel all over China and if I could, I would do it all over again. Have you been anywhere else in China?

Unknown said...

hi monica! thanks for leaving a comment. i really love shanghai and i would want to go back there again, but i want to visit other places in China first. your blog is really great! I'll visit it from time to time :)


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