Heading to Shanghai? Add these must-visits to your list
Unique architecture, great food and quirky shops - experience it all in this eclectic Chinese city.
- March 2019
Traditional charms meet modern flavour in China’s biggest city, where you can spend a weekend exploring contemporary art galleries and ancient temples before surveying the skyline from one of the world’s tallest buildings. Here is your ultimate hit-list:
See the city from its skyscrapers
Give in to temptation and cross the Huangpu River to Pudong and ride an elevator up one of the district’s high-altitude skyscrapers. You can (and should) survey Shanghai from the spaceship-like Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower, the 128-storey Shanghai Tower (the world’s second-tallest building) or the monster-sized “bottle opener” that is the Shanghai World Financial Center. But that’s just half the picture. Gaze at both the city’s ultra-modern future and colonial past from the 29th-floor rooftop bar in the new Shanghai Edition opens in new window hotel. Sip an Old Fashioned while overlooking the Art Deco Fairmont Peace Hotel with a forest of steel buildings beyond
Tour a historic temple
Jing’an Temple on West Nanjing Road has a bizarre backstory – it’s the city’s newest Buddhist temple and one of the oldest. Built on the banks of Suzhou Creek some time in the Three Empires Period (220AD-280AD), it was moved to its current site in 1216. During the Cultural Revolution in the 1950s, the temple was converted to a plastics factory before it burned down. In 1983, it was reconstructed as a temple, where today you can listen to monks chant and watch Buddhists light incense sticks and pray. Check out the main hall to see a 15,000-kilogram sterling silver Buddha, then visit the Jade Buddha Hall, where its namesake – China’s largest sitting jade Buddha – holds court at 3.65-metres tall.
Slurp on dumplings
Looking for a ticket to pork paradise? You’ll find it at Fuchun Xiaolong on Yuyuan Road, sitting elbow-to-elbow with locals slurping on Shanghai’s xiao long bao (traditional soup dumplings). Newbies, take note: these pleated packages don’t swim in soup – the soup’s hidden inside each delectable dumpling – and there’s a method to ordering and eating. Look for a paper menu (it has English), order and pay at the counter. Stake out a table and flag down a waitress by waving your receipt. Eat like a local, too – place one of your dumplings onto a spoon, nibble it open and suck out the soup. Then, dip it in vinegar and enjoy.
Hipster shopping becomes a history lesson in Taikang Road’s Tianzifang, where a warren of boutiques has taken up residence inside traditional shikumen (stone-gate) houses. Your goal? Get lost strolling the alleyways. You’ll find treasures such as singing bowls at Joma’s Collection and Feiyue sneakers (a cult favourite here – the local brand harks back to the 1920s) at Culture Matters. If you need to fuel up, snack on skewered cuttlefish and hawthorns or duck into Kommune café’s courtyard for a Tsingtao beer.