Where to stay
If you’ve only got a few days in Shanghai, location is key. I stayed on Nanjing Rd, right on the pedestrian street section. The street is bustling with international shopping, ladies dancing and doing tai chi, and is easy walking distance to both People’s Square and East Nanjing Rd subway stations.
Luxe: Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, No.505 Nanjing East Road, Huangpu District – About AU$200/night
Budget: Jinjiang Inn Nanjing Road, No.680 Nanjing East Road, Huangpu District – About AU$70/night
What to do
The Bund is Shanghai’s most iconic street, walk along it for views of the iconic Shanghai skyline across the Huangpu River and to marvel at the French-inspired architecture. It’s even better at night when everything is lit up!
The People’s Park is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown Shanghai, offering lush green space for you to walk around and watch children playing on equipment, the elderly playing Mahjong or a marriage market…. Wait, what was that last thing?! The Shanghai Marriage Market involves parents of unmarried adults displaying their children’s specs (such as age, height and career) on a placard attached to an umbrella every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is strange.
The Shanghai Museum is also located here, which is well worth a look if you have time.
Dongtai Lu Antique Market
The antique market is great for mementos and souvenirs, and a prime opportunity to practice your haggling skills (they suggest you start at 25-30% of the asking price and work your way up from there). The open market is located on a small street near Xintiandi, and whilst the authenticity of a lot of these “antiques” is questionable, it’s a great place to browse.
To enjoy a sweeping view of Shanghai from up above, pay a visit to the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower, or for a cheaper option, The Jin Mao Tower (which means you can actually capture the Pearl Tower in your photo!).
Yu Yuan Garden
Also known as Yu Garden for short, it is an extensive Chinese garden which dates back to the Ming dynasty, located beside the City God Temple. It is surrounded by Shanghai’s bazaar, a huge number of small streets and lanes offering many shopping and eating options (though it’s very touristy). I highly suggest not going there on a weekend, as the crowds are insane.
Stretching from The Bund to The People’s Park, Nanjing Road is the most bustling and prosperous street in Shanghai – often compared to the Champs Elysee in France. It’s full of big department stores and restaurants, and then randomly, crowds of ladies (with the occasional man) doing synchronised dance moves. Check out my video here. It is also a popular place to practice tai chi!
Shanghai Street Breakfast
Turn off the main drag and go down any alley way between 6-9am to find an array of amazing breakfast foods. Jianbing are pancakes cooked on a hotplate, topped with an egg, hoisin sauce, chilli and coriander and then wrapped up ready to eat on the go. Another breakfast option is dà bǐng or shāo bing (bottom left of the photo) which are crispy and flaky sesame sprinkled breakfast pastries. Most vendors often sell a sweet and salty bing, try one of each!
You can’t go to Shanghai without trying a Xiaolongbao (soup dumpling). Try Din Tai Fung (yes it’s a chain, but their dumplings are amazing and they have several locations around Shanghai) or Jia Jia Xiao Long Bao (90 Huanghe Road, near the People’s Park).
Another popular dumpling is Shengjianbao (pan fried pork dumpling). For Shengjianbao try Dan Hu Chun (71 Yunnan South Rd near Jinling East Rd).
For classic steamed dumplings filled with pork and crab roe, try Nanxiang Steamed Buns located near Yu Gardens. They also offer giant crab dumplings that you drink with a straw!
And then just wander…. Shanghai is a food-lovers paradise and the back alleys are lined with small vendors selling different foods for you to taste.
Have you been to Shanghai before? Do you have any more tips to add?