Shanghai, on China’s central coast, is the country’s biggest city and a global financial hub. It is a global financial center and transport hub, with the world’s busiest container port. Its heart is the Bund, a famed waterfront promenade lined with colonial-era buildings. Across the Huangpu River rises the Pudong district’s futuristic skyline, including 632m Shanghai Tower and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, with distinctive pink spheres. Beyond the crisply cool veneer of the modern city typified by Pudong, you can lift the lid to a treasure chest of architectural styles. The city's period of greatest cosmopolitan excess – the 1920s and 1930s – left the city with pristine examples of art deco buildings, most of which survived the 20th-century vicissitudes assailing Shanghai. And there's more: from Jesuit cathedrals and Jewish synagogues to Buddhist temples. Sprawling Yu Garden is also beautiful with its traditional pavilions, towers and ponds.
Shopping is rarely done in half-measures in Shanghai. Retail therapy is one way of spending new money and the Shanghainese aren't called ‘little capitalists’ by the rest of China for nothing, especially at the luxury end of things. But it's not all Prada, Gucci and Burberry. There are pop-up boutiques, bustling markets, cool vintage shops and young designer outlets. Beyond clothing you're also spoiled for choice, whether you're in the market for antiques, ceramics, art, Tibetan jewelry, you’ll find whatever is on your shopping list.
Thirty years ago, Shanghai's somber restaurant scene was all tin trays and scowling waiting staff, with international food confined to the dining rooms of 'exclusive' hotels. Today the mouth-watering restaurant scene is varied, exciting and up to the minute – and Shanghai has its own Michelin dining guide in 2017, proving just how far the city has come. Food is the hub of Chinese social life. It’s over a meal that people catch up with friends, celebrate and clinch business deals, and spend hard-earned cash. Some of your best memories of the city could be culinary, so do as the Shanghainese do and make a meal of it.
Places of Interest
Shanghai’s picturesque waterfront, known as “the Bund,” is where you’ll find those classic skyline photo ops. With the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center and other skyscrapers standing across the Huangpu River, the view (on a clear day) stuns. And behind you, gorgeous European-style buildings housing restaurants and shops (Nanjing Road is just around the corner) line the waterfront boulevard, affording plenty of activities. Some say the best time is to go at night – the skyscrapers illuminated in different colors create an unbeatable photo op.
Located on the People’s Square near Nanjing Road, the Shanghai Museum is hard to miss thanks to its distinct architecture (a circular building atop a square foundation) and remarkable size. And you really shouldn’t skip this historical gem. Frequently called one of the best museums in China, this expansive museum houses a diverse collection of artifacts (more than 1,000,000 to be exact) that chart the nation’s history. Highlights include ornate calligraphy, exquisite jade carvings, thousand-year-old bronze works and traditional Chinese garb.
Shanghai World Financial Center
Resembling a gigantic bottle opener, the Shanghai World Financial Center stands as one of the world’s tallest buildings, glittering majestically on the skyline. Competing with the Oriental Pearl TV Tower for the best bird’s-eye views, this structure touts an array of digital Shanghai depictions that illustrate the city’s rapid evolution. And that’s just at the bottom floor. Take the 49-second elevator, which is one of the fastest in the world, to the 94th and 97th floors where you’ll be treated to a jaw-dropping urban panorama. However, the true highlight is on the 100th floor. Here, the Sky Walk – the world’s highest observatory – allows guests to marvel at this Chinese metropolis from 1,555 feet above ground.
Dating back to the 16th century, the 5-acre Yuyuan Garden is the city’s most revered green space. The garden took nearly 20 years to completely construct and was initially intended to be the private garden for Ming-dynasty official Pan Yunduan and his family. However, the garden ended up taking some hits, enduring both British occupation during the Opium Wars and again by the French during the Taiping Rebellion. Despite the turmoil, the garden remained largely intact and is today a beautiful retreat loved by many. Here, you’ll find six main scenic areas and 30 pavilions outfitted with ornate structures like decorated bridges and colorful pagodas as well intimate enclaves that are divided by “dragon walls” (partitions with stone dragons lying on top). Highlights include the Heralding Spring Hall, the Jade Magnificence Hall and the Lotus Pool.
Jade Buddha Temple
One of the city’s most popular attractions, the Jade Buddha Temple impresses visitors with its legion of statues. The temple was originally built to house two jade statues brought in from Burma. But over time, its collection of ornate statues grew, subsequently drawing crowds in droves. While you should definitely pay homage to the jade buddhas, there are other figures that merit your attention. In the Grand Hall, three golden Buddhas represent the incarnations of Buddha (past, present and future), while the Heavenly King Hall features four heavenly kings surrounding more buddhas, acting as divine protectors. There’s also the Hall of the Reclining Buddha, which houses the second jade buddha statue, carved from a single piece of white jade. It’s also worth noting that the temple is one of Shanghai’s few active Buddhist monasteries, so many monks call this place home.
Whether or not you have money to burn, consider visiting Nanjing Road to witness the hustle and bustle of Chinese commerce. The Shanghai equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue, Nanjing Road stretches six miles total and boasts retailers from all over the world in addition to local shops and department stores. In the daylight, you’ll admire the graceful architecture of the surrounding buildings. At night, you’ll marvel at the illuminated logos and brand names that line the avenue.
Shanghai had 26 restaurants earning Michelin stars in 2017. Here are a few of the top picks!
Adding to a number of awards, T’ang Court has been awarded the Three Michelin Stars in the 2017 Michelin Guide, Shanghai. As the only Chinese restaurant in Mainland China to attain this accolade for the second consecutive year, T’ang Court offers a unique dining experience for even the most culturally savvy diner. Our Chinese Executive Chef and his culinary masters have adopted the very best ingredients to showcase exquisite Cantonese delicacies. Choose from a wide selection of set menus or order your favorite Cantonese dishes from the a-la-carte menu.
Set on the third floor of Bund 18, L’Atelier is impossibly smart. A menacing red and black theme runs throughout, Robuchon’s way of distancing himself from the white tablecloth ‘formality’ of old world French fine dining. When it comes to food, Robuchon has a few signature dishes. Robuchon is famous for his caviar dishes, which are stunning in terms of aesthetics and price. ‘L’oeuf de Poule’ features a crispy, battered egg surrounded by smoked salmon cubed and topped with a quenelle of imperial caviar. L’Atelier was awarded a Michelin two star for 2017.
Dress code: Smart
Address: 3/F 18 Zhongshan East Road | 3/F Bund18, Shanghai 200002, China
Hours: Lunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm Dinner every day 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm
The Imperial Treasure Group from Singapore has a diverse catering portfolio – this restaurant of theirs at Yi Feng Galleria focuses on Cantonese cuisine. The dining room, a worthy match for the food, is elegantly dressed with plenty of crystal. The kitchen prepares the cuisine in a traditional style, whether that’s something simple like wonton noodles or dishes that require much more preparation such as crispy chicken with glutinous rice.
Spring, the first season in China is from March to May and the days are getting warm with the average temperature of 13°C (55°F) in daytime and 2°C (37°F) at night. In different regions of China, the spring scene is different. June is the beginning of real summer weather in China. Most regions suffer temperature of over 30°C (86°F) in July and harmful sun’s rays in the sunny weather. Influenced by summer wind from the tropical oceans, it is the season with the most precipitation of 40 – 70% of whole year from north to south. During the time, in the northern China, the rainy days may last over one month and along with rainstorm and thunderstorm, called Meiyu period. And in southern China, the typhoon often visits during July to August. From September to November, autumn in China is something worth expecting. With the pale clouds and clear sky, the temperatures throughout the country are milder and warm. Featuring the warmish weather, it is a season filled with change with strong winds and a lot of rain occasionally. Days become shorter and, although it is often warm and sunny during the daytime, it can be cold at night. The ginko trees and maple are especially beautiful in autumn. The leaves are changing into red, bright gold or more and falling down the sidewalk to add some color. Winter is the coldest season in China across from December to February, featuring cold, dry weather and short daytime. January is the coldest month with average temperatures lower than 32°F throughout two thirds of China. The temperature is getting lower from south to north China, caused by the winter monsoon.
There are some cultural dos and don’ts that are important to know as a foreigner when traveling to China or any Asian country. It’s best to know ahead of time what is expected of you before someone accuses you of being rude! Here are a few rules of etiquette that could help you when you are traveling to China.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon. Do not back slap, hug or put your arm around someone’s shoulder, which will make a Chinese feel uncomfortable, since they do not like to be touched by strangers.
Present and receive things with both hands.
Chopstick etiquette is very important in Chinese culture. Under no circumstances should chopsticks be placed upright in your bowl. This symbolizes death. Nor should you tap your bowl with chopsticks.
When greeting others, the oldest person is always greeted first as a sign of respect.
Never write things in red ink. It symbolizes protest or severe criticism.
All foreign nationals must obtain a visa for a visit to China. It is essential that the China visa is obtained prior to travel. China visas can only be processed three months prior to the start date of your tour or tailor-made holiday. Standard visas take on average 9 to 10 working days to process plus return postage time. You must leave a minimum of 3 weeks before your trip to ensure you get your visa on time. Please also ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your planned date of return from China. When applying for a visa you will be required to provide a list of the hotels that you will be staying in throughout your holiday. In order to obtain a visa you will also need to provide proof of your travel arrangements. Your passport must possess at least 2 blank pages and have at least 6 months validity remaining after date of intended exit from China. Please visit your embassy to get the exact list of requirements needed to enter China.
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