Visiting Shanghai will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression, thanks to the city’s multifaceted nature, diverse history and unique culture. Whether you choose to explore Luijazui’s gleaming skyscrapers, or venture to Shanghai’s old historical center along the Bund, the charm of China’s financial hub remains undeniable. Perhaps Shanghai’s magic is owed to the city’s unique blend of old and new, where ancient and modern lives seamlessly together. Read on to discover our favorite places to stay, eat, explore and play.
Stay: Choosing where to stay in Shanghai is no easy task if one wants to avoid traffic and long travel times. If geographic convenience and luxury are key, stay at Pudong Four Seasons Hotel. This hotel perfectly blends in with Shanghai’s modern character. Sample Michelin-starred bites courtesy of Shàng-Xí (one of the hotel’s own restaurants), or make like James Bond in Skyfall and swim laps in the 18-meter-long indoor pool which overlooks the beautiful cityscape and the Huangpu River. For something slightly more boutique and curated, venture to Capella Hotel in the Xuhui District. Entering the property is otherworldly, thanks to the hotel’s secret gardens and courtyards hidden just moments from the hustle and bustle of the street markets outside. Once inside, relax and enjoy the hotel’s unique interior design that blends French colonial with traditional Chinese styles, or enjoy Auriga, the hotel’s own spa inspired by the lunar calendar. For a budget-friendly option head to Shanghai Null Set Bund Youth Hostel on the East Jinling Road. Relax and unwind in the hostel’s very own retro coffee shop, or watch a movie in the cinema, which ensures a communal and friendly atmosphere.
All images courtesy of ©Moyu.
Dine: Shanghai’s gastronomic scene is diverse and integral to the city’s culture and identity, especially given a rise in unique fusion cuisine popular with locals and visitors alike. For something truly delicious try The Canton Table, where the essence of traditional Cantonese cuisine is served using both innovative and age-old techniques. If you have a sweet tooth, sample The Canton Table’s dessert offerings, which include custom sugar sculptures and local treats like red bean ice-cake with black sesame. For something truly decadent head to the Dadong to taste the famous roast duck that supposedly stunned the Prime Minister of Japan (it’s that good). Dadong not only curates the best in terms of taste, but also infuses Chinese culture, art and philosophy into each dish, making the Michelin-starred experience a must.
Coffee and Cocktails: Shanghai’s vibrant coffee culture is definitely something worth taking advantage of and exploring, particularly if you’re into lazy afternoons and great people watching. Check out % Arabica’s newest location in Rockbund to enjoy a truly immersive experience complete with custom blends. If Flat White’s are your favorite, don’t miss S. Engine Coffee for a seriously tasty cuppa. In the mood for cocktails? Check out Bar Lotus on Julu Road. Designed by Office AIO, this charming Art Deco space transitions from a daytime coffee shop to craft cocktail bar come sundown. For a nightcap, visit Revolucion Cocktail – a frontier of craft cocktails and spirits and a well-loved Shanghai institution.
Explore: Shanghai’s storied history and micro-culture means exploring the city can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Plan your days accordingly, and start by walking through Shanghai Old Street, an area rich in history and home to the city’s first banks, wineries and local businesses. Continue walking through Old Street to Town God’s Temple and Yu Garden (31.2272° N, 121.4921° E), also known as Yuyuan Garden, an ancient garden built over 400 years ago during the Ming Dynasty. Take in various local attractions including the infamous Nine-Turn Bridge, a staple feature in many traditional Chinese gardens. Looking for something more active? Take a bike ride through the Columbia Circle residential neighborhood on West Yan’an Road to enjoy the architecture and buildings designed by Hudec, among others. There are also several art museums to explore in Shanghai. Long Museum, located along the West Bund, is one of Shanghai’s many architectural marvels. The building, an art piece itself, was constructed using fine concrete composite to create a soothing sense of calm, all while effortlessly blending into its otherwise industrial surroundings. The Shanghai Museum shouldn’t be missed, especially if you’re interested in ancient Chinese art. First founded in 1952 and rebuilt at its current site in 1996, the museum is home to numerous cultural treasures which are continually added to via a stream of government purchases, private donations, and on-going archaeological finds from sites all across China.