This time last year I was lucky enough to visit Shanghai. With fellow students from my course we explored the futuristic city for a week.
The reason for visiting was to visit the head offices of brands who have expanded internationally, such as ASOS, Tesco and Marks & Spencer, along with exploring the factories they use for manufacturing.
However, we had a lot of free time and made the most of it by visiting some incredible places, during this amazing trip.
Must See Buildings
The Shanghai Tower is the second highest building in the world, but of course it opened two months after we were there. Bummer. We still got to see the spectacular structure however, although most of the time the top of it was in the clouds.
The building to the right is the Shanghai World Financial Centre (the 6th tallest building in the world) but is also known as the Bottle Opener, due to it’s shape. It also holds the Hyatt Hotel and has an amazing bar on the 96th floor. Certain nights are ‘Ladies Night,’ meaning free entry, and free champagne all night for us girls, so we didn’t spend a penny and got some fantastic views of the city – for free.
The Oriental Pearl Tower is a real standout along the mesmerising Shanghai skyline – the glass floor is pretty amazing too.
We took a cruise down the Huangpu River on our first evening (jet lagged AF), where the buildings come to life with a bright LED light show between 7pm and 11pm, one spectacle not to be missed.
Like many fashion capitals, Shanghai’s two main shopping destinations – Nanjing Road West and Huaihai Road – are lined with some of the best malls brimming with luxury brands and high-street labels. Be prepared, along Nanjing Roads 5.5 kilometers, you will find over 600 shops that on average are visited by a staggering 1.7 million people each day.
Reel Mall is where you’ll find the labels, we’re talking Burberry, Celine, Valentino, along with luxury Chinese designers.
If however, you’re looking for a bargain and want to spend £25 on a Chanel instead of adding two zero’s to that price then head to Nanjing Road East, 580 to be exact, also known as Han City.
Seven floors of fake luxury goods, real pearls, cheap tourist tack and anything else you can think of that China produces. Make sure to ask for the best quality and you’ll be taken into the ‘secret shops’, accessible behind the stalls (think Sex and the City 2). Here you’ll find excellent quality knock offs, where you can bargain down the price considerably – just make sure you’re in a group.
M1NT club is a must see, I mean, real sharks, albeit mini ones, line the walls in fish tanks. Email in advance to book a table, otherwise you won’t get a seat, but in a big group it’s incredibly reasonable, especially when your drinks are topped up without even asking.
The Jazz Bar is a magical experience. Known as one of the oldest bars in Shanghai, the Peace Hotel jazz bar was a hard-drinking, hard partying venue back in the 1920s, when the house jazz band was the hottest thing in town – it now draws more tourists and hotel stayers than flappers and dapper gents. Drinks are a bit expensive but good for some touristy nostalgia.
The sumptuous Glamour Bar on the Bund is a multi-functional space that opens from the early evening through to the early hours of the morning. Serving inventive, tasty and reasonably priced cocktails, with a laid back atmosphere and up to the minute music, mixed with some golden oldies.
Probably the most expensive place we ate but so so worth it – for the food and the views! The restaurant features an eclectic mix of European, North African and Australian flavors and is immensely popular among locals and a destination for diners from abroad, so book in advance!
Finished in 1577, Yu Temple gardens offer a glimpse into Shanghai’s majestic old town. Situated in between skyscrapers and markets, the gardens are a peaceful retreat in the middle of a very busy city!
This epic museum is a must. Free entry and ancient Chinese artifacts, with a great on site cafe, serving beautiful tea and pastries. History and food, what’s not to love?
M50 or 50 Moganshan Road, is a quirky district featuring, art galleries, second hand furniture shops, pottery classes and cafe’s, along with the only legal place graffiti can be featured in Shanghai – there’s some fantastic art to be seen here.
The Bund is a stretch along the Huangpu waterfront featuring wine bars, restaurants and fantastic views. The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 26 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance.
Don’t worry this place isn’t just for budding fashion designers looking for cheap fabric, it is a place where you can pick up cheap and gorgeously handmade, sometimes one of pieces of clothing. I wangled a very high quality, handmade trench down to £22 – less than Primark and it’s still going strong a year on.
Finally, we found getting around the city by taxi was the easiest form of transport. The most we ever paid for a journey was £3 and we traveled miles – so much easier than negotiating the underground and buses. Just make sure you have a picture of the landmark you wish to travel to or ask your hotel reception to write down the address in Chinese and hand it to the driver. And don’t worry about being in an accident, everyone drives like a maniac, but they are all good at driving like manic’s.
Have you guys been to China? Share your favourite places in the comments below.