China is like no country I have ever been to, an amazing experience that I recommend to everyone to experience for themselves. A country full of challenges, language barriers, ancient traditions and a whole self contained ecosystem, a place that feels worlds away from the West. I ended up being in China for 2 weeks (with a few extra days of being stuck in Beijing with flights issues!) and we spent a couple of days in Shanghai on both sides of our trip and we absolutely loved exploring this massive city with its blend of new and old traditions. I wanted to share some of the gems we found during our time there. China can be extremely challenging so I have included some general tips at the bottom of the blog post too.
Food and Drink
Fumin Road - FUMI, Matcha Matcha
A minimalist cafe in the heart of the French Concession. The speciality is 'Matcha Matcha' a combination of mocha and Matcha latte - and it's awesomeeeee!
This bar is such a gem of Shanghai, amazing views, great music and vibes and reasonable prices for a roof top bar too. Head around sunset and watch the Bund change to bright lights.
Crystal Jade is a chain in China and serves the best dumplings I've ever had. As well as specialised cuisine from Shanghai, Hong Kong and central China. Definitely try the steamed buns with bbq pork and the pan fried dumplings. There is an easy one to find in Xintiandi (subway station of the same name) on the 2nd floor of the shopping mall.
Lost Plate Food Tour
When you are in a place it is always so hard to know what to order and what is the best local cuisine, especially when the menu is most likely to be in Chinese. This tour saves the day and is highly recommended! The tour includes 4 restaurants with lots of treats you would never think of trying (or know how to order). One of our stops was in a random alley which you wouldn't think of going down - and it was some of the best food I've tried. Tour guides are really informative and friendly and make sure you have the best time.
Propaganda Poster Museum
This museum was so interesting and definitely worth a visit, although quite small. A real insight into the communism of China. The museum is quite difficult to find but bring the address written in Chinese so you can show the security guard. It is in the basement of building B, at the end of Anfu Road.
Shanghai Circus World - Intersection of Time
Shanghai is known for its high quality acrobats with plenty of daily shows to chose from. Shanghai Circus World is one of the big theatres and standard of performance was as good as Cirque Du Soleil. You can get tickets on the door and is about 30mins on the subway from Nanjing East Station.
Heading across the bridge to the Pearl Tower is worth a visit, the high rises and bridges feels like a different world! Also home to the Shanghai Museum which gives you an insight into Shanghai over the last couple of centuries. This area also includes Shanghai Tower, although a little pricey is a must if you are into modern architecture.
Like most things in Shanghai its quite difficult to just come across things to explore as it feels like most of the city is still under construction. M50 is an artistic oasis in the middle of a building site. Full of weird and wonderful galleries and lots of coffee shops. Island 6 is definitely a highlight, with thought provoking and interactive art work that combines great writing, artistic flare and skills from tech enthusiasts.
General Tips for China
Bring toilet roll where ever you go
Have cash on you, no where takes credit card
You will need your passport for any long distance travel including the bus
Print your destinations beforehand in Chinese, not many people speak English or recognise key land marks in English
Public transport is super cheap and surprisingly easy to use
If you chose to go for taxis use the term "DD" it is like their Uber over there
Bring both and Australian and American plug adapters - it can be either!
You can easily book your trains in advance using Trip.com app, and simply pick up your tickets at the station