After our first day in Shanghai, we were joined by my parents and my sister’s family for the rest of the week. Here are some of the “must see” spots we hit up!
Old City— We love visiting old towns and old cities because it gives us a small glimpse into the history of the place. While some parts are restored through the years, there are a lot of preserved areas that gives you some context into what it was hundreds of years ago. In Shanghai Old City, you’ll find numerous shops selling traditional Chinese attire, food, and other knick knacks, and is a great place to spend an afternoon.
Yu Garden—Within Old City is the famous Yu Garden, a beautiful garden from the Ming Dynasty. Admissions is nominal, so it’s definitely worth a visit to stroll around the lovely grounds.
The Bund—No one can step foot in Shanghai and miss The Bund. It’s the waterfront area in Central Shanghai that boasts one of the most remarkable skylines in the world. Indeed, no matter what time of day you’re there, you’re guaranteed to be rewarded with a spectacular view of Shanghai’s skyline. Even though the air quality was very low when we went, the view was still beautiful to us!
There are a few other places in Shanghai for really amazing views of the city. One is the Pearl Tower and the other is the Shanghai Tower Observation Deck. Unfortunately for us, it was so rainy and gloomy on most of our trip that had we gone up there, we would’ve only seen smog.
Xintindai—this area is one of the more affluent areas of Shanghai, filled with high end shops, restaurants, and entertainment. We didn’t spend too much time here, but it did have some cool shops that felt more like a museum than a retailer!
Zhujiajiao— this is an ancient town located in the Qingpu District of Shanghai. Traveling to this water town requires a day trip if you want it to be leisurely, as it’s in the outskirts of Shanghai and takes about 1-1.5 hours by car (one way). It was probably one of my favorite parts of our trip because I love these small ancient towns where there are a lot more traditional and cultural elements to be found. We really enjoyed perusing along the canal, surrounded by bridges and willow trees, stopping every now and then to look at the shops. There were also some delicious local eats along the way, like sugar spun in the shape of animals!
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai—Before the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo opened up in February, this Starbucks Reserve in Shanghai was the world’s biggest, so ofcourse, we had to check it out while we were there. It happened to be quite close to the Ritz Carlton Portman, where we were staying, We went mid day, on a weekday, and it was crowded! The place was huge, 29,000-square-foot space staffed by 400 employees. I have to say though, it was quite confusing to be in there. Everything is kind of scattered, with certain desserts on one end, tea service on the second floor, and then a central area for coffee and selected pastries. We had no idea where to place our order, but then eventually realized that the staff just rotate around asking you for your order, and then placing it on an ipad. However, you still have to go to the central area to pay, and then wait for your order like a normal Starbucks.
While the place was definitely impressive, it was also ridiculously expensive. I think we paid something like USD $60 for a coffee, 2 teas, and 2 pastries.
We enjoyed some awesome food during our week in Shanghai, like the best sheng jian bao at Da Hu Chun, amazing hairy crab roe at Wang Bao He, and lots and lots of delicious dumplings all around!
Overall, Shanghai is a fun place to visit, with so much to see and to experience. There’s no shortage of good food either, so be prepared to walk a lot to walk off all the deliciousness! However, January was a super cold and rainy month to be there, so perhaps the Spring and Fall months would be a much nicer time to visit.
Now, onwards to Suzhou for the next few days to explore a part of China that we’ve never been to!