Shanghai is the largest city, by population, in the entire world, making it a must see destination for that reason alone. However, Shanghai is worth visiting for many other reasons too, not least of which is the city’s vibrant modernity. Always forward-thinking, the city was the place where China’s first motor car was driven, as well as having the first sewer and railway on the continent.
Direct flights to Shanghai from London will take around 12 hours, a lengthy flight by any measure. You will land in one of Shanghai’s two major airports, namely Pudong International Airport or Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. Travel between the airports is easily achieved on the metro (the local underground train service) and takes around two hours. If you are already travelling in China, you can reach Shanghai by car (there are excellent new bridges, linking the coastal city to many other cities and points of interest), by bus or by train. For travelling around the city there are public buses, trains, the metro and taxis. Taxis are relatively cheap and have the advantage of delivering you to your exact destination.
What to Do in Shanghai
All visitors to Shanghai, even those not particularly interested in transport or modern innovation should take at least one ride on the still relatively new Maglev trains, just to say that they have done it! The magnetic levitation means that the train hovers above the rails, offering a superbly smooth ride at sometimes hair-raising speeds! Take a walk through Fuxing Park, which was designed for leisurely strolls, taking in the sights and sounds of Shanghai residents at play.
Shanghai Museum, unlike many of China’s other chaotic and overcrowded exhibitions (not surprising given their immensely intricate 5,000 years of history), is well designed and thoughtfully laid out – take your time examining one exhibit at a time admiring either the metal work, or the ceramics or one of the other fascinating sections of the museum.
Retail addicts can shop along the Dontai Road. This retail paradise is superb for antiques, curios and souvenirs, enabling everyone to find something that they simple ‘must have’ to bear home in triumph and delight!
Be sure to sample as many of the local delicacies as possible. The soup dumpling (which is actually a Taiwanese import) is very popular in the city and is a thin dumpling containing deliciously juicy meat (pork or crab, in season) and a shot of tasty broth.
If you are looking for a central Shanghai hotel from which to explore and get to know the city, try the Hyatt on the Bund. This high quality hotel is excellent for people-watching and is home to the Vue Bar, some 33 floors up and offering exquisitely vertiginous views out over the city. For those wanting to stay close to the Bund, but need something a bit cheaper, there is Captain Hostel Fuzhou Lu, a backpacker’s favourite! Shanghai is packed full of hotels catering to all visitors from those in search of ultimate luxury to those on a strict budget wanting nothing more than a basic bed and bathroom to call their own for a few days.