Top Ten Places to Be in Shanghai
I loved being in Shanghai. The people, the food, the sights…everything was, to quote one of my travel companions “amaaaaaazing”. I know I already wrote a quite lengthy, two part account of my time there, but I also know not everyone likes a novel of a blog. In case you are planning a trip to Shanghai, or would like an abridged version of my adventures there, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten things to see/do in Shanghai. Here they are, unceremoniously and in no particular order:
- Yuyuan Garden: This is a Shanghai must. The promenade that surrounds the garden alone is a sight to behold, and the garden itself is completely enchanting. The history behind this area is so rich. If you have time, go to the tea house towards the middle of the garden and enjoy a traditional tea ceremony, definitely do it. There is a fee to get into the garden, but not a very large one.
- Jing’an Temple or Jade Buddha Temple: One, or both, of these gorgeous temples really need to be on your Shanghai to-do list. I did both of these Buddhist temples in the span of a few hours. However, if you are working with a limited time frame, Jing’an Temple is much easier to reach using public transportation. Both temples require a small admission fee, which was a little less than $10.
- Water Towns: There are quite a few water towns within two hours of Shanghai. The one I visited was called Zhujiajiao, which was about an hour away from our hotel on The Bund. We took a private tour there, but it’s also possible to take public transportation there as well. Zhujiajiao was breathtaking and there was much to do there, including boat rides, shopping, history tours and eating!
- Nanjing Road/People’s Square: This is another must see. During the day, this crowded, tiled pedestrian walkway is a shopper’s paradise filled with independent stores and malls to explore. At night, it almost looks like the Vegas strip with its neon lights aglow. It also is a hub of restaurants to meet all tastes (most of the great ones are on the higher floors of the malls). People’s Square, at the South end of Nanjing Road, is a public park and hub of activity, including dancing, karaoke, and Chinese Moms comparing pictures of their children in order to find their soulmates.
- Oriental Pearl TV Tower: The Oriental Pearl is one of the most recognized buildings in the Shanghai Skyline. It’s gorgeous from a distance and from within. You do have to pay to get into the tower, but once you were in, there was much to see. There was a normal look out at the top, as well as a glass-floored one. There is an arcade, a roller coaster, and a mall at the bottom. If you are coming from the Puxi side of the HuangPu river, I’d recommend taking the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to get under the river to the PuDong side, where the TV Tower is located.
- Tianzifang: Tianzifang is a hip, fun labyrinth of shops and restaurants located in the French Quarter. The shops are a combination of artsy, chic stores, cheap souvenirs, and fun knickknacks. There are many restaurants, bars, and snack shops to keep you nourished as you navigate your way through the twists and turns. Tianzifang is easily reached by public transportation or by taxi.
- Xintiandi: An area similar to the last mentioned, Xintiandi is like Tianzifang’s sophisticated, older cousin. The stores there are more fashionable (aka: expensive) and the restaurants are more of the sit-down variety. This area is beautiful and definitely worth a walk through, if not a night out. If you do find yourself in this area for dinner, try Din Tai Fung for their delicious dumplings.
- Yang’s Dumplings: The home of the best pan-fried dumplings I’ve ever tasted. The noodle soup (mung bean noodle with curry beef) was superb. It’s hard to get a table there, but even to eat them standing up (a clumsy task at best) would suffice. The location I visited was off of Beijing Road, a short walk from The Bund. I would literally take the 16 hour flight back to Shanghai just to have Yang’s Dumplings again.
- Confucius Temple: Though for some this may serve as a religious space, it’s meant more for wisdom than spirituality. This stunning area is a brilliant look into Confucius’s teachings. Though it had to be rebuilt after the Cultural Revolution, it is now beautifully maintained and can be toured with student-guides who volunteer there. The temple is also reachable through public transportation.
- The Bund: I’m very partial to the old European architecture of The Bund, because it’s what I called my home base for my two weeks in Shanghai. I frequented its perfect view of the skyline almost daily, and enjoyed the Chinese New Year fireworks standing on its solid stone walkway. Either way, it’s a piece of Shanghai that shouldn’t be missed.
Please take these as one traveler’s look into the big picture that is Shanghai. If you find yourself in this magnificent city in the near or distant future, give it my fondest greetings. Happy #wanderlustwednesday !
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