Having been a blogger of Shanghai for quite a numbers of years, the most frequent questions I get from my readers and friends is “What is there to do in Shanghai ?”.
Years ago, in the run up to the World Expo in 2010, I attempted to answer this perennial question once and for all by writing this Top 10 list for National Geographic Traveller.
Though it has been several years since then, my list of “classics”, though still remains largely relevant, are meant for an audience with a bit more time on their hands whilst they are in Shanghai.
Now, just before we end 2014, I shall attempt to answer another variant of the question on what can one do in Shanghai, albeit using a more abridged itinerary.
I would share with you my ideal weekend getaway in Shanghai. I hope, through my own interpretation of this “ideal” weekend, readers who have very little time in Shanghai, be it for a layover or an extended business trip can use this as a useful reference, for an off the beaten path experience to the experience the best of Shanghai in a relaxing and affordable way.
Here is what you can do on a Shanghai weekend :
The humble Xiao Long Bao is perhaps the food most representative of Shanghai.
Small in size, it packs a flavourful punch in your mouth.
No experience or trip in Shanghai is complete without trying this.
Though perhaps no longer the best around, the Xiao Long Bao at Nanxiang is still a must go and worth visiting especially for first timers.
I would suggest for you to start your day in this metropolis and have your Xiao Long Bao fix there.
Once this is off your list, I can confidently say 50% of your Shanghai experience has been achieved.
If you are a photography buff, there are no lack of photography themes to shoot there.
Address: Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou, 85 Yuyuan Lao Road, near Fuyou Road
豫园老路85号, 近福佑路, + 86 21 6355 4206, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
If you have never tried Xiao Long Bao, here’s a tip:
Pick up the Xiao Long Bao gently with your chop ticks. (I mean really gently! The skin is very thin and if you are too rough on the edges, you break the skin which holds the delicious soup inside).
Dip it in the vinegar / ginger sauce provided, pinch off a bit of the skin with your mouth, suck out the soup, before nibbling it off the rest of it bit by bit.
After breakfast, hail a cab and proceed to Monganshan Road. This place is converted from an old industrial area and is home to the works of hundreds of contemporary artists and their studios. Most of the studios are open to the public.
You can perhaps pick a nice and cheap piece of artwork there as well as seeing the creativity of the artists based in Shanghai.
Even a non art lover like myself enjoyed touring the premises. As I went around, I saw many photographers using the location as venue for portrait shoots.
Saturday Tea Break
Rest your feet at my favourite café in Shanghai.
The Cottage is small, quaint, cosy and comfortable. This is an ideal place to get away from the city crowd drink some coffee and catch up a bit of email on your iPad.
Address: 25A Taojiang Road, near Hengshan Road, Xuhui district
Late Saturday Afternoon
Get measured up, tailored and fitted at a fraction of the prices outside China.
With a rich tailoring heritage, Shanghai is one of the best places around for custom wear.
The best price to go for tailored wear in Shanghai is the Shanghai Fabric Market at Lu Jia Bang Road.
Prices start from:
Suit -700 RMB
Shirts -120 RMB
Trousers - 350 RMB above
Cashmere overcoats 700 RMB and above.
My personal favorite stall is :
Da Shanghai MJ Dress (大上海服饰)
399 Lu Jia Bang Road
Disclaimer: I have not tried other stalls before. I have no comparison to make.
Remember to haggle !
If it is in the season, do try the hairy crabs, most “decent” Shanghaiese restaurants serve them. Eating them is another art and technique itself.
Its absolutely decadent but it is well worth the cholesterol (and price) !
After dinner plans
For after dinner drinks, cross the HuangPu River and drop by the roof top bar at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Pudong.
Look at the view! Nuff said
Drinks for two are reasonably priced. My bill for two was about 250RMB and seats are readily available.
I never sleep early in Shanghai on a weekend.
Go for a foot massage. You would sleep better. This is especially welcoming in winter.
Plenty of options around in Shanghai.
Sleep in on Sunday morning. After a late night out, you deserve it!
Take it easy.
Have Brunch at Bao Luo (Paul's) for a taste of authentic Shanghai cuisine in an informal and bustling setting. There are many star dishes in this restaurant but my favorite is the gigantic pan-fried buns. This is also the spot for supper after a long day of work or after some late night partying.
Rumoured to be started by an ex taxi driver who started the establishment as a small eatery, he hasn’t look big since. Even with it commodious settings, this place attracts long queues most time of the day.
Address: 271 Fu Ming Road, near Chang Le Road.
After brunch, make a side trip to Zhu Jia Jiao.
ZhuJiaJiao is an ancient water town located about 30 km from Hongqiao with a history of more than 1000 years. It is a good place for a trip for those wanting to get away from the city for just one day.
To get there, you can take a bus from Shanghai Stadium. Just ask at the ticketing booth and a variety of packages are available for your picking. The bus journey is slightly more than 1 hour.
This is what you can expect to see:
Visit Tian Zi Fang at Tai Kang Road (Art Street). Tian Zhi Fang, which is at the heart of Tai Kang Road, consists of many art studios and galleries embedded in a mixture of old brick houses (shikumen) and old Shanghai alleys. These studios feature many works of design, painting and photography.
A great way to experience a slice of Old Shanghai amid an artistic setting.
So there you go. An ideal quiet, low energy but action packed weekend tour of Shanghai.
For more things to do in Shanghai, visit : http://www.clubcarlson.com/feature.do?feature=Shanghai