Having spent a significant amount of time in Shanghai, it has become one of my favorite cities in Asia.
I spent a lot of time here circa 2009 when the City was changing rapidly: a clash of old and new (think booming financial capital, international metropolis, with a NY-meets-HK vibe). Companies were moving in from Hong Kong and Singapore, and skyscrapers were shooting up left and right (boasts the world’s second tallest skyscraper). Above all, Shanghai felt youthful, exciting, and full of promise, the opposite of older, more serious Beijing. Located on China’s central coast, it is the country’s biggest city (24 million) and a global financial hub. Its heart is the Bund, a famed waterfront promenade lined with colonial-era buildings, and mere steps away from a cluster of new restaurants and bars overlooking the skyline.
The history of the city gives it an interesting twist: The French Concession was established in 1849, when the French Consul to Shanghai obtained a proclamation which conceded certain territory for a French settlement.
Although this is an incredibly modern city, do keep in mind that in China many websites, such as Google and Facebook, are blocked thanks to the “Great Firewall of China.” If you need access to these websites during your trip, it is best to buy a VPN before you travel. I would also suggest carrying around a card with the name of your hotel in case of language barriers with the taxis.
For a curated intro to the city, hop on a sidecar motorbike for an Insider Experience tour, which can be customized to your interests. Beyond the famed Yu Yuan Garden, check out the Jing’An Sculpture Park, the Shanghai Propaganda Poster and Art Centre, and the Power Station of Art, which is the first state-run contemporary art museum on China’s mainland. Shouning Road offers some great cafes and some of the city’s best street food too.
Family Li Imperial Cuisine, Fu He Hui, Fu1015, Hakkasan, Jing’An Restaurant, Lost Heaven, Mr & Mrs Bund, The Commune Social
Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund, Fairmont Peace Hotel, Hengshan Picardie Hotel, Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund, InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin, Jing An Shangri-La Hotel, Kerry Hotel Pudong Shanghai, Mandarin Oriental, Shanghai, The Peninsula Shanghai, The PuLi Hotel and Spa, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, Waldorf Astoria Shanghai On The Bund