on 21 Mar 2019
Made in China, but have you been to China, or more specifically Shanghai? Once a playground for adventurers, socialites and opium traders, Shanghai is today a modern metropolis more like Hong Kong than Beijing. No stuffy Imperial palaces. Instead, like a set piece from the film Blade runner, with eye-popping architecture and super freeways, modern Shanghai fuses with the Shanghai of old. Nestled between glass and steel structures of the colossal kind is an architectural heritage like no other Chinese city - temples, Jesuit cathedrals, Jewish synagogues, art deco extravaganzas, classical Chinese gardens, French and British bungalows and the enduring British architectural sweep of the famous riverside Bund.
Getting around in Shanghai is a cinch. Pancake flat, it’s a great pedestrian city, or let the train take the strain. The Metro is cheap and very efficient. And cabs are plentiful and inexpensive Once you’ve shopped and dined your way around the former French Concession, zipped up to the tops of Pudong’s shiny architectural feats, people-watched along the Bund, soaked up the scenery of the Old Town and temples of Jing an, eaten xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) without ruining your shirt and strolled along Nanjing Road, you’ll have covered a little of Shanghai.
And if you’re visiting at the end of May, come along to arguably the AFL match of the year when Port Adelaide Football Club play St Kilda Football Club at Adelaide Arena, Jiangwan Stadium in the heart of Shanghai on Sunday 2 June. There’s no city finer to witness a duel of the AFL kind.
The Bund – a promenade lined with heritage architectural landmarks on one side and some of Shanghai’s best panoramas across the Huangpu River to skyscraper-studded Pudong on the other.
Yuyuan Gardens – known as the ‘garden of happiness’, the gardens were built in 1559. Abuting the gardens is Huxinting Teahouse and the Yu Garden Bazaar – a popular throughfare studded with merchants and food vendors.
Jade Buddha Temple – the unerring attraction of this temple complex is the Jade Buddha Hall, where the absolute centrepiece is the 1.9m-high pale-green jade Buddha, carved from one piece.
JinMao Tower – at 420.5m tall, Jinmao is one of the tallest buildings in the world. Take the express 45 second elevator to The Skywalk, an indoor observation deck on the 88th floor.
Shanghai Museum - Set aside hours to peruse the standout collection of art and antiquities including Chinese landscape paintings, Buddhist statues and Qing dynasty ceramic pieces.
Natural History Museum - a must-visit not only for the impressive exhibits and life-size mechanical dinosaurs, but also for its striking architecture. The museum gardens are home to the Jing'an Sculpture Park, complete with a giant thatched fox and lazing cows on the lawn.
M50 – spend at least half a day exploring the cool studios and galleries set up in disused factories and cotton mills in the edgy subcultural M50 district.
Huangpu River – hop on a dinner cruise and enjoy the city’s illuminations from a river vantage point.
Food, glorious food:
Shanghai’s dining scene is varied, exciting and contemporary - a happy hunting ground for foodies, whether your preference is for street food or haute cuisine.
Mr and Mrs Bund (18 Yanjiang East 1st Rd)– Dine on modern French fare in a relaxed Bund atmosphere.
Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (Huangpu) – Shanghai’s most famous dumpling restaurant at Yuyuan Bazaar draws long queues for its famous xiaolongbao.
Yang’s Fry Dumplings (97, Huanghe Road) – these moreish sesame seed and spring onion-coated shengjian (fried dumplings) hit the spot any time of the day.
Spending some coin:
Tianshan Tea City (518 Zhongshan W Rd) - Taste-test and stock up on oolong, jasmine, you name it, over three floors in West Shanghai.
Old Street – adjacent to Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar is a street called Middle Fangbang Road known more prosaically as Old Street, a busy street lined with all manner of curio shops and tea houses. Perfect for souvenir hunting.
Fake Markets (Xiangyang) near Shanghai Science and Tech Museum – for all your genuine fake goods – Prada, Converse, Moncler, Gant, Miu Miu, Rimowa and more.
Best time to go:
March to early June (Spring) and September to November (Autumn) for optimum temperatures and low rainfall.
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