Why You Need to Visit Shanghai
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
I spent 48 hours in Shanghai this summer and was totally blown away. Here’s my reasons why I fell in love with the city, tips if you plan on visiting, how to get there and where to stay.
Standing on The Bund looking across at the futuristic skyline of Pudong was incredible and a total ‘pinch me’ moment. I couldn’t believe I was actually there seeing this! A trip to Shanghai is not complete without a walk down The Bund and taking a million photos.
The Rooftop Bars
After a bit of Instagram research I came across Flair Rooftop Restaurant & Bar which seemed the perfect place to go for a cocktail to admire the glittering Shanghai skyline. We put this at the top of our to do list so on our first evening in the city we made our way to the Ritz-Carlton hotel where Flair is located. There was a private party on when we arrived so we couldn’t get photos right in front of the Oriental Pearl Tower but we still had an absolutely amazing view and managed to get some great shots! It cost about £12 a cocktail with service which isn’t much different to cocktails in London plus you get an amazing view and lovely weather.
On the other side of the river on The Bund we also loved Bar Rouge. Sit on the balcony and admire the stunning view of Pudong. It cost around £10 for entry including a drink. We arrived about 10.45pm and at 11pm the lights across the river in Pudong all switched off suddenly (ruining my photo opportunity! haha!). A point to note if you are hoping to get some good photography of the view from the bar.
Considering Shanghai is probably one of the more expensive places in China, especially compared to Beijing, it is still so cheap! It costs 20-40p per metro journey – we paid 40p for a 30-40 minute journey!! It’s easy to visit on a budget, which is what we did. As we paid such low prices for food, drink, transport and accommodation we could treat ourselves to a £12 cocktail at the Ritz-Carlton!!
The local people were so lovely. My favourite moment was in a small cafe we stopped by (it seemed as though we were the only ones in there who weren’t local and they weren’t used to tourists). The restaurant was full and we had a lot of eyes on us so I was really nervous about showing off my chopstick skills! A elderly woman next to us saw us struggling and giggling together and was trying to give us lessons for about 30 minutes and soon the whole restaurant got involved trying to show us and roaring with laughter at our failed attempts! No one spoke English but it was such a hilarious and lovely moment.
The Oriental Pearl Tower
The Oriental Pearl Tower (above) is an incredible building. We went up the tower which is the 4th highest in Asia and the 6th highest in the world. There are 3 main sightseeing floors including one with glass flooring, as seen below. (You can see that I’m sitting directly above the Disney Store, Shanghai Disneyland actually opened the week after we visited when we were in Japan so sadly we didn’t get to go!) We also visited the revolving restaurant inside the tower but the view wasn’t anywhere as impressive as from the sightseeing floors.
You may get given free stuff…
We visited Sephora in Pudong and the staff seemed very excited to see us, following us every direction we went. I found myself running around the store to try to get rid of them hahahaha! I only went there to pick up a blusher and mascara as I can’t get it back home. But the following me around was all worth it as they gave me another full-sized mascara for free, which is pretty handy as it is my absolute favourite mascara, costs about £16 and I can’t buy it at home!
Public transport is great!
Everything appeared to be so efficient compared to home and SO cheap at 20-40p a Metro journey. The moving advertisements in the tunnels of the metro were pretty impressive too.
Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
This takes you under the Huangpu River from the Bund to Pudong and is a quirky alternative to the Metro. Although a bit steep at £7 return compared to the cheap Metro prices, it is quite a fascinating (and weird!) experience. You sit in a train which takes you through the tunnel with garish lighting and sound effects, you can see a video here. It was quite an experience!
As expected the food was amazing. My most memorable meal was at Royal China Club on The Bund. The Honey Roast Pork Puffs are a must have by the way.
Also look how amazing these ice lollies were at the Oriental Pearl Tower.
And look how cute these cupcakes were!
Tips for Shanghai
– People will laugh and stare at you, so don’t be offended! My bright hair and Karl’s height (6ft 9) were definitely not what people in Shanghai were used to. It was a weird (but funny) experience on a packed train being surrounded by people giggling and whispering about us.
– Always carry your hotel information on you, such as a business card which you can pick up from the front desk. It is rare you’ll find someone who can speak and read English, especially a taxi driver, so you can show this when you need to get back to your hotel.
– You won’t be able to access Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter as these are blocked in China. You’ll need to purchase a VPN if you want to access your social media profiles. Hotmail and Whatsapp worked fine though.
– Get practicing with those chopsticks as knives and forks are not easily available!
– A warning for those who like to style their hair. Shanghai is warm and very very humid in June so there was so point doing anything with my hair. It just turned into a damp knotted mess!
How to get there
We originally planned to just visit Beijing and Tokyo during our Asia trip but after seeing Shanghai on Rick Stein’s Taste of Shanghai we knew we had to go!
We’d already booked our flights to Beijing by this point so decided to get the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai. This takes 5 hours and costs around £120 return for a 2nd class seat. We booked on China Highlights a few week before travelling to China. They sorted the tickets for us and sent us an extensive instruction guide so picking them up from the station ticket office was really easy.
Where to stay
We were on a tight budget but luckily hotels in China are pretty cheap. With only 48 hours in the city we wanted a hotel close to everything, especially The Bund (pictured above). Hotels on The Bund can be pricey but we found Elegance Bund Hotel located just behind the larger hotels on The Bund and it was just a couple of minutes walk to The Bund. The rooms are very very basic but comfortable, the location was incredible and it cost around £30 a night for two of us! Sure we didn’t have a window and the hair dryer and TV didn’t work but we only needed a clean and safe place to sleep and keep our luggage. How can I complain for £15 per person a night!? haha!
See my other post on Shanghai here.
See more about my outfit here.