My friend Stacie, this blog’s Editor in Chief, just got back from her biannual work trip to China. This time, she had her husband in tow and some extra time to act as a tourist and see the sights… (When she wasn’t editing my blog posts, which she kindly continued to do even while in China – thank you Stacie).
51 Hours in Shanghai
We arrived in Shanghai at 2:00 PM on Friday and were getting picked up at 5:00 PM on Sunday. My husband Michael and I had just 51 hours to explore this largest city (by population) in China. Before we arrived, I studied the US News & World Report’s list of Things to Do in Shanghai, crossed off the sites that were too far outside the city and made my own To See list. We managed to get to most of my list and we added a walk through of the Tianzifang area, as recommended by my friend from Hong Kong.
Walk The Bund and take in the Shanghai skyline. The bund is the famed mile long waterside walkway along the bank of the Huangpu River, the view speaks for itself…
Visit the Yuyuan Garden, this 5 acre retreat was originally constructed in the 16th century. It was very crowded on a Saturday afternoon in October, but absolutely worth it! Be sure to check out the Zig Zag bridge and Yuyuan Old Street before you enter the garden.
Explore the Shanghai Museum. Go early. When we arrived at around 9:20, there was no line. When we left an hour later, the line was winding around the front of the building. Because we were with a tour group we only had one hour to view the many artifacts – more than a million! I wish we had more time. Plan for 2-4 hours to survey the ancient currencies, learn about history of porcelain, and much, much more.
Nice To Do:
Wander around Tianzifang – a touristic arts and crafts enclave in the French Concession area, now home to boutique shops, bars and restaurants. We enjoyed walking through here. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs!
Go to the top of The Shanghai Tower. It is the tallest building in Shanghai and one of the tallest in the world. AND it has the fastest elevator in the world as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. Amazing views from the top, but don’t go if it’s too cloudy. Michael also enjoyed the history of tall buildings and the info about how the tower was built that is on display in the lower level.
Take the Shanghai Maglev, this is the fastest way to the city from the airport. The train makes the 18 mile trip in just about 7 minutes. I wanted to take a cab, but Michael had never been on a Maglev before (Magnetic Levitating train). I didn’t know it was a thing, but Michael really wanted to check it out. So we took the train to the city, then a cab to the hotel.
Tips for eating out in China: Most casual restaurants have community tables, you will likely sit with people you don’t know. Servers will not come to your table for any reason unless you call them over. This means waving at them, standing if necessary and calling to them if they still do not see you. If the nice Chinese woman (who spoke no English, but recognized we needed help) had not called the server to the table, we might still be sitting there waiting. Oh, and NO TIPPING! Servers will chase you down and give you your change if you try to tip. Trust us, we know.
Getting Around: Our favorite way to explore a new city is on foot, so on Saturday we walked from the hotel to The Bund, with stops at the Yuyuan Garden and lunch. From the Bund, we took a ferry ride across the river to get to the Shanghai Tower. After all that walking, I was ready to find the subway to get back home. The subway was super easy! If you can navigate the NYC subway system, you can figure out how the Shanghai system works. (Find the button in the lower left corner of the ticket sales screen that switches the language to English.) Highly recommend the subway as an easy way to get around the city. Public Transportation in China is super cheap, only 3-4 RMB to get to most places in the city, that’s about 50 cents!
We loved our visit to Shanghai! Of all the places we visited on this trip, it was definitely our favorite city in China and we would go back. So… Grab Your Group and GO to SHANGHAI!