Shanghai, the scintillating gem of China needs no introduction but it sure does needs an insight. I had an opportunity to explore Shanghai in the best possible way.
“Every opportunity to travel is an opportunity to discover.” First of all, before visiting China brush up on your Chinese or get the address of the place you want to go written in Chinese. Google is banned in China.
Here is a brief guide to explore the city:
Tips, Hacks & Musts:
Maglev train: One of the rarest experience you can have. Maglev train runs at a speed of 300 kmph and is easily accessible from Pudong International Airport. One way ticket costs 50 RMB.
Metro: If you want to truly explore a place, nothing serves better than public transportation. Shanghai is very well connected by metro lines and it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out its functioning. There are self-serving ticket vending machines in Chinese & English languages. There is a map as well where you can figure out your route as well as lines. All major tourist spots fall on Line 2.
Taxi: Of course you will need something to drive you around. Taxis are available easily but make sure you specify the fare. Most of the times they will agree to get paid by metre and sometimes they will agree on a lump sum amount. Never go for a lump sum amount during peak hours. Also, most of the drivers do not understand English (Infact most of the china) so keep an address in Chinese handy.
Eating: For vegetarians, pack lots of food from India. Subways, Mcd’s and KFC’s are available but I don’t think you will like to try any of that.
Sight-seeing: As for sight-seeing, whole of Shanghai is a visual treat (If you don’t have to encounter smog) but there are some peculiar places that stand out. You can take a Hop on Hop off tour but my experience says, exploring it by foot and by metro is an exhiliarting expereince.
Nanjing street: I know the name has tingled a shopping sensation in your brain. Nanjing street is one of the longest streets with lots of attraction. It is divided into East Nanjing & West Nanjing with People’s Square in between. People’s square is a wide open space in centre of Shanghai. There are many branded shops and hotels on Nanjing road along with some window shops. It is well connected by metro and best visited before dusk.
The Bund: The Bund is a waterfront area in Shanghai. A small walk from Nanjing road, The Bund holds a spectacular view of Shanghai Skyline along with some historical buildings. It has some of the most prominent buildings and to name a few, The shanghai club, The customs house, The China Merchant Bank, HSBC Building etc. It is one of the most beautiful place to spend an evening in Shanghai. The captivating view of the skyline and the charming essence of ancient architecture blends an inescapable effect.
Oriental pearl TV tower: This 468 meters high tower is the world’s sixth and China’s second tallest TV and Radio Tower. Its image has become parallel to the name “Shanghai”. It is one of the major attractions of Shanghai with a great view from The Bund. Apart from its height, it’s architecture is also a reason for its fame. You can visit the tower from inside as well and have a look at Shanghai from its top level. There is a ticket window downstairs which offers different packages with access to different levels. It is accessible from Luijazui metro station.
Shanghai Tower: At 632 meters Shanghai tower is China’s tallest building and world’s second tallest building. The Bund offers a magneficient view to this marvel. It has a spiral structure which looks like a crawling snake. Made up of glass and steel, Shanghai tower is a treat to the eye.
Shanghai World Financial Centre: SWFC is another marvel in Luijazui Finance and Trade Zone. It is the second tallest building in Mainland China. Also accessible from Luijazui metro station.
Yu Yuan Garden: Spread over a sprawling 20000 ft area, Yu yuan garden is as tranquil as it can get. A traditional retreat in the modernized jungle, Yu Yuan Garden is a must visit place. The garden is the last stop of this attraction with large number of shops, restaurants, pavilions and ponds coming your way. The garden gets closed at 5:30 pm so better be on time. It offers an unique opportunity to enjoy traidtional chinese architecture and also lots of window shopping with great bargaining. Accesible via taxi from Nanjing Road.
Jade Buddha Temple: The only thing I regret from my trip is not being able to visit this attraction. The temples gets closed down by 2:30 pm and if you don’t hustle you are in for a great loss.
Shanghai Museum: I like history but I am not a fan of museums. Shanghai museum is one of the most prominent place to visit in Shanghai.Located in the center of Shanghai in People’s square, Shanghai Museum is a large museum of ancient Chinese art. Its style and presentation surround visitors with artifacts demonstrating ancient wisdom and philosophy.
Shanghai science & technology center: Nope! Not for science or technology but for the huge market hidden in the metro station of SSTC. There is a huge window shopping market in the metro station where you can shop everything you have on your shopping list for China. From souvenirs to crockery, clothes to bags, first copy purses and watches, toys and footwears, you name it and they have it. Bargain a lot!
Shopping: There are many places for shopping in Shanghai but few stand out. Nanjing road is famous for the shopping opportunities it gives. Apart from Nanjing road, SSTC market was a major find for us. You can bargain like crazy here. Make sure you have an idea of prices in India to bargain there. You can bargain from 850 RMB to 50 RMB! No Kidding! Also Yu Yuan Garden is a home to many shops where you can try out a couple of things. There are high chances you will still feel cheated after bargaining but that’s how it goes. First copy is easily available along with branded shops.
TIP: Never buy from the first shop and don’t hesitate to quote your lowest price.
Night-Life: Of course it exists! There are many high-end clubs, hotels, discos and stuff to make your night a memorable one but make sure to stay safe and out of trouble. Don’t get too carried away by the glitter. If you know what I mean.
Hotels: Shanghai has many hotels as well as appartment and it isn’t very difficult to get an accomodation. Though choosing an area to stay can be tricky.
Saving Tip: Book air tickets and hotels 3-4 months in advance and you can save more than 10k per person. Shop more.
Weather Tip: Check weather is advance and carry necessary things along.
Mobile Tip: Buy a card from India itself for hassle free communication.
Pro Tip: Walk as much as you can and discover..!!