Shanghai. After a few days in Guangzhou we took the highspeed train for about about seven or eight hours and ended up one of the fastest changing cities in the world. Here is my story. The trip was organised together with Svensk Kinesiska Resebyrån.
The list of places and things to see now are here:
Shopping: Science and Technology Museum Market, K11, Madam Mao’s Dowry, Little Beast, Alter
Eating and drinking: Kagen, Lost Plate Food Tour, Speak Low, Yuxin Sichuan
Art: Tank, M50
Sights in general: Xintiandi, French Concession, Nanjing Road, Shanghai Tower
But lets start with an introduction. Shanghai with it’s skyscrapers and contemporary lifestyle is huge with 25 million people living here.
It’s actually not my first time in Shanghai. I was here 2006. Feels like a million years ago and I tried to look like a Backstreet Boy, NSync guy or something… And look at that old phone… A flip phone. But with camera.
As mentioned above we got here by highspeed train and it is really convenient. More of that in Europe, please.
And since we had been in China a few days, our jet lag was perfectly in order.
First impression of the city was that it had grown. Obviously. We have all read all the reports of change in China. One of the first things we noticed was the level of English. Most people speak a fair amount of English nowadays. 2006 I had to make a reservation to a restaurant on my own, since the staff at the hotel didn’t understand me. Not so this time.
Our first stop in Shanghai is probably the same one for most people. The Bund. This is the strip by the river where you have colonial and old buildings in your back and look at the futuristic skyscrapers. Lots of people, but in the evening there is an amzing light show.
It is really amazing. You can stand by the river, on the actual street – or go to a fancy bar with better view and drinks. For instance the posh hotel of Edition. If you Google, you will find options to this luxury hotel, but wait – you can’t Google. Any of your apps connected with Google doesn’t work, so no search enginge, no maps, no Facebook, no messanger, etc. We could get around it since our phone operator in Sweden worked on it’s own network. Check it our before you go. Or use for instance search enginge Bing.
Somewhere among the top floors of these old buildings we went to a crazy bar in 2006 called Bar Rouge. I think it is still around but we skipped that this year.
Being at the Bund you are super close to Nanjing Road which is basically like Oxford Street or Drottninggatan. Very commercial. We lived just at the end of this street so passed by a few times.
I am not going through all neighbourhoods of Shanghai, but we have covered the Bund, Nanjing Road and now let’s move over to the area of Xintiandi or Former French Concession. Historically this is an area built by the French. People of Shanghai are proud of what the would call “French architecture”. Not so sure it is French, but nice.
2006 this was almost a deserted area with amazing stone buildings. Of course things have changed. The small square we saw, with small shops have now become a piazza with tons of food chains. Not necessarily bad ones but the likes of Wolfgang Puck rather than small unique Chinese restaurants.
It’s really crowded. Not as empty as in these pictures. And very touristic. I hear people from Shanghai refer to this as being too posh and too touristic.
In French Concession you can also go shopping at Shanghai Tang.
Another thing to do in Shanghai is to go up in high building. Like Shanghai Tower. After a visit to Guangzhou, this might seem tiny with it’s 632 meters. But it is actually worth noticing how they work with your senses. The elevator is scented, and cool so the claustrophibia and vertigo is held at bay.
Plenty of photo ops.
When we were here 2006, there was a big focus on the markets. Not so much anymore. The best “fake market” is at the subway stop Science & Technology Museum. Easy to access and pretty quiet. Not as busy as 2006.
We heard a tip to look for stalls with airline logos. That means it is sort of approved by the crew staff. They fo go hear and buy their copies.
Billigare än Ullared.
Subway back and forth.
More shopping. Look for beauty and interior brand store Little Beast. Some of their store are designed by Chinese designers Neri & Hu.
Madam Mao’s Dowry in French Concession is suppsed to have the largest collection of socalist nostalgia.
Looking for unique Chinese contemporary fashion – go to Alter.
One of the most talked about new malls in Shanghai is K11. They want to bring a lot of more art to the mall scene. Worth checking out. But to me it was also extremely interesting to see how they had a whole floor just with activities as jewellry workshops, cooking classes and art. The new way to attract visitors?
Eating out and nightlife. Well, at my age, you really don’t party all night long any more. But I do enjoy a nice cocktail and of course some food. The bar above is from French Concession where you find local craft beer brewery Boxing Cat. You could find the same concept in several parts of the city.
Lunching at Soho Fuxing Placa. Listed as one of the most instagrammable places in the city, the photos were nicer than the food…
A fantastic place was Speak Low – a hidden bar. You had to push open a bookcase to get into the bar. Very secret. And so worth it.
Busy with nice cocktails.
Japanese teppanyaki restaurant Kagen had a fixed price and you could eat and drink as much as you wanted during two hours. Very nice.
One night we went for Chinese cuisine Sichuan. Spicy as hell. Just as many other citites in Asia, you will have to know what floor to go to. The restaurant might not be on ground level. The place is called Yuxin.
And since I have a sensitive stomach… I had fried rice. But extremely nice.
Last part of the food section is this food tour we did. A must. If you go to Shanghai, you have to do it. We were a group of perhaps 12-14 people and we visited five or six places. Restaurants I would never have found myself. And a great guide who introduced us to the Chinese cuisine. Do you know how to eat soup sumplings? I do now. Book your tour at Lost Plate.
We walked around with our guide.
Stopped at amazing fast food places.
Tried local Chinese alcohol. Here with a cool family from New Zealand.
We would eat and talk
We would go to hidden places and have dessert.
It was so much fun. Do it.
Lastly I want to talk about art things to see. I totally fell in love with industrial block of M50. This is a group of houses with galleries, cafées, bars, small shops etc. Extremely nice. Apparently it’s been around for a while and you can find it on other lists as well. But really nice.
For older stuff you can of course pass by the Shanghai museum.
But now. The big talk of town. China is investing a lot in museum. A lot… And when China flexes it’s muscles, you know it will happen. I read somewhere that they want a museum per every 250 000 inhabitant. So there will be a lot. I have of course also read critical views on this. Right now a lot of museums are built – but to be filled with what?
Anyway. A lot of these new massive museums will happen in Shanghai and on the westside of the river. It will soon be like a whole area with just museums.
First one out is TANK. Opened in March this year in old oil cisterns.
It is a beautiful setting – but double check your transportation. Everything here is a construction site right now so it might be difficult to find a taxi back.