Posted in Travel - China

Shanghai – Financial Capital of China

Shanghai is two hours away from Beijing by plane.  If you are in need of a getaway from Beijing and do not want to rusticate in the countryside, this place is the best for you.  Shanghai is considered as the financial capital of China and one of the municipalities of the country.  It’s a modern and cosmopolitan city with tons of skyscraper and highways.

There are several ways to reach this city, you can plane or train it from Beijing.  If you plan to fly, you have two airports to choose from: Hongqiao and Pudong.  These two airports are located at the opposite sides of the city.  Hongqiao is mainly domestic and is located west of the city.  Pudong airport which has two terminals serves mostly the international riding public is located east of the city.   To train it, there are two stations : Shanghai Main and Shanghai South.  To check the train schedule and prices, browse through my train guide here.  For flight information, you can try http://www.ctrip.com or http://www.elong.com.

Shanghai has a pretty good subway system almost similar to Paris.  Subway fare ranges from RMB 3-6 depending on the distance.  The maglev train or magnetic levitation train shuttles passengers heading to and from Pudong airport at a top speed of 431 km/hr.  Fare costs RMB 50 one-way or RMB 40 for passengers with flight tickets and RMB 80 for roundtrip.  Taxis flag down rate is RMB 11 between 6am to 11pm and RMB 14 between 11pm to 6am.

Top 5 sights:

1.  The Bund (外滩) – A stretch of road overlooking the Huangpu river which hosts buildings that were built in the early 1900s.  It’s pretty nice at night as they light up the stretch of building and gives you a good view of the Pearl TV Tower and the Lujiazui area buildings.  During daytime, if you can enter the buildings and get some stolen shots, make sure you go inside HSBC bank and look up.  However, when we went there, construction was ongoing on the street in front of the Bund.  Nearest subway stop is East Nanjing Road.

2.  Pearl TV Tower (东方明珠塔) – located at Pudong district and is the tallest tower in Asia.  It is 468m high and was completed in 1995.  It has 11 spheres big and small supported by three columns.  It hosts fifteen observatory levels, revolving restaurant, exhibition facilities, shopping mall and a 20 room hotel.  Nearest subway stop is Lujiazui.

3.  Xintiandi (新天地) – is an urban tourist attraction located south of Huaihai Middle Road.  It is divided into two blocks and the architecture reminds me of Europe.  The atmosphere here is relaxing and chic.  Alfresco dining is the norm even during the winter months.  This is a place to go if you want to forget yourself that you’re in China (hehehe!).  Nearest subway stop: South Huangpi Road (Huangpi Nan Lu).

4.  Yu Garden (豫园) – is located in Shanghai’s Old City and houses a market.  Every time I visit this place, it’s packed with people.  There are lots of shops everywhere from tea, food, clothes, souvenirs and jewelry.  The place screams old but painted new.  I didn’t get to enjoy it much due to the throng of people.  Probably in a good day, you will enjoy strolling from shop to shop and enjoy the scenery.

5.  Nanjing Road – it’s a long stretch of road filled with shops and restaurants.  It’s the pedestrian street of Shanghai where no cars are allowed.  If you plan to shop, better head there late in the morning or afternoon.  However, if you’re a tourist, best time to visit this place is at night when the lights are all aglow.  It’s quite near the Bund so you could do a day of both.

Other recommended places to go would be:

  • Shanghai Aquarium – located beside the Pearl TV Tower is home to the longest tunnel travellator.  Ticket cost RMB 120 and it’s worth going to if you have kids or like sea animals.
  • Urban Planning Museum – located at People’s Square gives you a minature version of Shanghai.  Locals say it’s quite a good museum but I haven’t been inside to comment.
  • People’s Square – a smaller version of New York’s central park located at the heart of Huangpu District.  Underground is the main hub of the subway.

Food:

Shanghai is known for their Xiao Long Bao or steamed dumplings filled with soup.  The trick to eat this is either to let it cool a bit or bite a small piece of the bun, drink the soup and eat everything.  It’s a good takeaway food for those on the go.  I can’t point you to the best one but I enjoyed the one at Din Tai Fung.

I think two days is enough for this city for sightseeing.  Nightlife is quite good but the price is higher than Beijing.  Happy travels!

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