Short Guide to Shanghai
Shanghai is a testament to the potential for growth in humanity not to mention one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. Only 100 years ago it was just a town, now it is the largest city in the most populated country in the world. If you are flying to Shanghai and arriving in Pudong international airport then definitely use the Maglev to commute into the city. It is the only operational magnetic levitation train open to the public in the world, reaching a mind boggling 420kh. Even if not arriving at this airport you can take it there and back at a cost of RMB 40 each way. Incidentally I would recommend buying a travel card which is incredibly handy. It can be used both on trains, buses and taxis as well as the ferry.
The must see attraction in Shanghai is the Bund (walkable from east Nanjing road) which is the path along the river which looks onto the imposing Pudong skyline and is backed by some wonderful older architecture. The main points of interest are the pearl tower, Jin Mao tower and the Shanghai world financial centre. The Shanghai tower is still under construction but has already overtaken the SWFC in height. The bund is especially beautiful during sunrise where the sun rises between the buildings. You will also find people practicing tai chi and flying huge kites at dawn. At night it can be crowded but the view is mesmerising as the buildings light up. If you continue walking along the Bund you will find yourself at the “cool docks” which is a brilliant place for food and evening entertainment. Remember to buy tickets beforehand. A ferry can also be taken from the Bund to the Pudong side at a hefty price tag of RMB 2! From here you it is definitely worth climbing one of the main towers to get a panorama of the whole of Shanghai. Most of them have a ticket price of RMB 150 with discounts for students and seniors. I would also recommend a visit to the 56th floor of the Jin Mao tower where the Hyatt lobby is situated which has a spectacular view upwards! The bar Cloud 9, on floor 88 is also very pleasant and offers spectacular views.
A visit to the urban planning exhibition is a must early on in the trip. The exhibits are impressive themselves but the main purpose I found was to decide what I wanted to see in Shanghai. You will gain a feel for the immense size of the city and the plethora of attractions on offer. The exhibition is situated near people square station. It is worth popping over to the Shanghai museum while there and also taking a stroll through Peoples Park.
Next on the must see is Yuyuan garden at night although the city god temple nearby closes at 4.30pm. This is a wonderful concoction of Shanghinese food and tourist nick knacks. All packaged in pleasant to the eye old style buildings which are lit up beautifully. This is a great place to pick up small souvenirs and shop in general. For clothes shopping head to Qifu near Tiantong road for a bargain or maybe the IFC or Superbrand mall in Lujazui for a more standard selection. Nanjing road can also be an excellent place to shop; almost everything is available here. I found the best place for electronics is Xujiahui which had 3 big malls dedicated to electronics. As ever be prepared to bargain hard! There are a number of temples dotted around Shanghai which are worth a mention the Jade Buddha, Jing’an, and the oldest Longhua. I personally preferredJing’an which is located very centrally and has beautiful towers of gold. It is a new temple built on the ruins of the original but there are still practicing monks. For any vegetarians there is a lovely vegetarian restaurant to the back of the temple called Jen Dow which is Taiwanese but offers both Chinese and western dishes.
Nearby water towns
There are a number of nearby water towns but the easiest to get to Qibao which boasts a metro station. It has beautiful water ways where a boat can be hired. Walk along the thronging alleyways and pick up some souvenirs. I found it to be very touristy and crowded but looking past that it is still quite a beautiful town. If you have more time in Shanghai consider taking the high speed to Suzhou and Hangzhou which warrant a travel guide of their own!
This is just a rough guide to Shanghai and if you are there for any considerable amount of time it is worth investing in a guide book. I found despite all the advice in the world the best way to see the city is to simply get lost!