Shanghai is the shiniest gem in modern China’s jewel box. It’s a hip, contemporary city that’s charging into the future with all the energy of its famous Maglev train. Yet if you veer away from the sleek highways and glitzy shopping streets you can still stumble upon a more traditional Shanghai, with all its character and flavour. In the tiny back streets, wet-market vendors peddle their wares - buckets of bright green vegetables, fish flapping in shallow plastic bowls and heaps of crayfish crawling over each other. In the parks at dawn, hordes of locals practice tai chi, sword movements and ballroom dancing.
Renminbi (RMB, also known as yuan), 1 RMB = 10 jiao
Shanghai Daily: Local English-language daily
China Daily National English-language newspaper
Most offices are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or 6pm. Some bank branches open on Saturday mornings. Shopping centres and department stores are usually open seven days a week until 8pm or 10pm.
The Shanghai Tourist Information and Service Centre has branches throughout the city. Main branches can be found at:
Room 410, 2525 West Zhongshan Road
Tel: +86 21 6439 9806
1699 West Nanjing Road
Tel: +86 21 6248 3259
561 East Nanjing Road
Tel: +86 21 5353 1117
127 South Chengdu Road
Tel: +86 21 6372 8330
Zhengda Guangchang,168 West Lujiazui Road
Tel: +86 21 6887 7888
Shanghai’s most famous attraction is the Bund. This was where the colonial merchants of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries built the headquarters for their trading firms and banks. Still today, these vast, august edifices boom of power - but now the roofs are topped with the red and yellow flags of the People’s Republic and the buildings below house designer clothing shops as well as banking headquarters. Across the Huangpu River, there’s a greater transformation still. 30 years ago, this was sleepy farmland - now, Pudong is a booming financial and economic district. Just back from the waterfront lays the old city, a tangle of tiny lanes where the locals still live as they have for decades. Even in these traditional lanes, though, the wrecking ball is wreaking its havoc: walk around them now before it’s too late. Further west lays the French Concession, where large colonial houses are being rapidly converted into high-end bars and restaurants.
For shoppers, Shanghai is still a kind of heaven. Markets are regularly being uprooted and rehoused as part of the urban planners’ mission to make the city better and brighter than ever before. There are still fabulous deals to be had at the fabric market, wonderful trinkets and antiques in Dongtai Road and good-value custom-made furniture for those with a shipping crate to spare.
Shanghai really is a delightful city to explore. See skyscrapers alongside surviving colonial buildings, visit the Shanghai museum to get an insight into the city's past and just how rapidly it has changed within the last decade. Early birds must visit one of Shanghai’s many parks, where thousands gather daily for morning exercise.
Nanjing Road Pedestrian Walkway
Jin Mao Tower
Shanghai Circus World
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
Jade Buddha Temple
Shanghai Science & Technology Museum
Museum of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party
Shanghai World Financial Center
Bund Tourist Tunnel
Oriental Pearl TV Tower
Urban Planning Museum
The Chinese like to eat, and Shanghai is a city where this characteristic national trait finds its ultimate reflection. From chic and elegant international restaurants to local dumpling joints, Shanghai is where you can easily eat your way around the globe. Whether you like your portions exquisitely presented or prefer a tangled mountain of noodles, you’ll find it all here. A note on tipping: it’s officially prohibited in China. While it has become usual to tip tour guides on organised outings, it is not common to tip taxi drivers or the staff of bars and restaurants.
M On The Bund
CHAR bar and grill
Haiku By Hatsune
The coffee culture is not deep-rooted in Shanghai, however, dozens of cafes have sprung up all across the city in recent years. While locals tend to go for western coffee chains and bubble tea sold at hole-in-the-wall take-away shops, foreign visitors may rather gravitate towards a traditional tea house and experience the Chinese tea culture.
Antique Garden Shanghai
Abbey Road Café & Bar
Little Sheep Hot Pot
Baker & Spice
Some cities simply never sleep, and Shanghai is certainly one of those. In Shanghai, the party lasts till daylight - and then starts over. Like everything in Shanghai, the bar scene is developing fast with new venues opening every the month. Gone are the grey days when fun was frowned upon as a bourgeois pursuit. Contemporary Shanghai is making up for lost time with everything from pulsating house music to sultry jazz.
House of Blues and Jazz
Boxing Cat Brewery
Drei Kronen 1308 Brauhaus
If you like things made to measure, Shanghai is a shopping Mecca. The Fabric Market has recently been pulled up from its down-at-the-heel roots and relocated to 399 Lujiabang Road. Meanwhile, Tai Kang Road features more upscale boutiques selling jewellery, pottery and leather wear, while Xintiandi has everything from clothes to cushions to cocktails. And then, of course, there’s the Bund.
Three on the Bund
East Nanjing Road
No 1 Food Store
M50 Creative Park
Propaganda Poster Art Centre
Tianshan Tea City
Shanghai Old Town
Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Shanghai has two airports one of them is the international airport in Pudong, 35 km from the city centre.
From the Pudong Airport, the most enthralling way to travel is on the Maglev (the high-speed magnetic-rail train) to Longyang Road in Pudong. Purchasing a round-trip comes with a discount. There’s an underground station and a taxi rank at Longyang Road for onward travel.
Metro Line 2 is available when departing or arriving Pudong International Airport. Operating Time 6 am 10 pm and leaves every 8.5 minutes. Hotline: +86 21 6437 0000, www.service.shmetro.com/en
A taxi from Pudong Airport to the city centre takes up to an hour. Make sure you have your destination written in Chinese.
The airport has regular shuttle buses to many areas in the city and the major hotels have desks at the airport and will arrange transfer.
Address: Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Phone: +86 21 96990
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport
Another airport called Hongqiao Airport, which handles domestic flights, lies 15 km from downtown.
Both Metro and buses run from this airport.
A taxi from Hongquiao Airport will take 30-45 minutes. Make sure you have your destination written in Chinese.
Hongqiao Airport has regular shuttle buses to many areas in the city. The major hotels have desks at the airport and will arrange transfer.
Address: Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport
Phone: +86 21 96990
One of the best ways to travel is by the rapidly expanding Metro network, which is reliable, good value and easy to navigate (all directions are in English as well as Chinese).
You can buy your ticket at the ticket office at the Metro station or the automatic ticket selling machine.
Phone: +86 21 643 70000
Buses are usually busy and the network can be complicated to negotiate for non-speakers of Chinese. The 911, which runs along Huaihai Road, can be useful.
Keep some loose change when travelling with the bus, coins need to be placed in the slot at the entrance.
The traffic in Shanghai can be heavy, but taxis are easy to flag down. Be aware that most taxi drivers only speak Chinese and may not understand English. A great solution comes from a set-up called Guanxii: you text the English name of your destination to 885 074 and back it comes in Chinese characters. Just show your phone to your taxi driver.
The main post office is at 276 Sichuan Road North (between Tiantong Road and Beisuzhou Road, but there are branches all over town. The Shanghai Centre branch (1376 Nanjing Road West) and the branch at 212 Xinhua Road have staff who speak some English. Post boxes are green.
Pharmacies are not hard to find in the city, just look for the green cross.
The Shanghai United Family Hospital and Clinics Pharmacy works 24/7, year-round. It is located at 1139 Xianxia Rd, Changning Qu, Shanghai (+86 21 2216 3900).
Parkway Community Pharmacy is an international standard professional pharmacy. They emply English-speaking staff who are licensed pharmacists.
Address: 9-B101A, Green Garden 333 Bi Yun Rd, Shanghai
Phone: +86 21 3382 1382
Country code: +86
Area code: (0)21
220 V / 50 Hz, three-pin plugs