This post is dedicated to Ana, my travel companion for work trips and creative guru. I’ll miss working with you.
China holds a special place in my heart, with all the memories when I was living there. So, DISCLAIMER, my recommendations could be completely bias!
Although I spent most of my time in China in Beijing, and I do consider Beijing kind of like my home, I am also very attached to Shanghai.
My take on these two gigantic cities is that Beijing feels slightly more americanized while Shanghai is a bit more european. Usually that can be noticed on the buildings surrounding the cities, the influence on food and brands as well as overall city vibes. That’s my new theory, I travel to feel vibes and usually my top score is based on whether I can live on that city or not. I have already lived in Beijing, some of my happiest days and I would actually live in Shanghai.
One of the largest and most popular cities in mainland China, Shanghai 上海 literally means above water, it being so close to the sea and with the Huangpuu river diving the middle.
I’ve been to Shanghai several times by now. My first time there was back in 2007 where the crowds in Nanjing road reminded me of how I expected everywhere in China to be, crowded. And then a few times later, in the coldest winter, and the suffocating hotness of July and even in the overwhelming period of Chinese New Year. So here’s my local guide on places where to go, what to eat and some restaurant recommendations.
Where to go
The Bund – probably where all the Shanghai postcard pictures are taken, it’s a good tourist spot to take a memorable picture with the skyscrapers and the Pearl tower in the back
Xin Tian Di – all time favourite area in Shanghai, and I particulalry enjoyed it this year as it was becoming one of the coolest areas in Shanghai. Cool artsy vibes, good food choices and some really interesting shopping options. I would recommend the S. Engine Coffee which was pretty posh and full of fashion bloggers, the Korean make up brand “Too cool for school” and their lunch box foundation kit, Zoo Coffee, dim sum at the world famous Ding Tai fung and spicy food at the Sichuan Maurya 孔雀.
Jing An Temple
Yu Yuan Garden
Nan Jing Road
The ultimate shopping street in Shanghai, well known for centuries.
Shanghai food to try
Xiao Long Bao dumplings 小笼包
What might seem like a good old boring dumpling, has an interesting trick to eat as it has “soup” inside it. So be careful when eating this, as after dipping it in vinegar, take a small bite on the dumpling and slurp all the soup and then eat the rest of the dumpling.
Honey Lotus Root with Sticky Rice 糯米藕
Beef stir fried He Fen noodles 干炒牛河 my favourite noodles of all time, that also come with a funny story. When living in Beijing, I was the one to “discover” this dish among the Albanian community. To this day, everyone calls them Jona’s noodles when they get together, even though it’s been 9 years that I don’t live there anymore.
Res braised pork 红烧肉
Tea eggs 茶蛋 boiled eggs in fragrant tea, staple street food
Cold red tea 冰红茶 found everywhere in supermarkets, great for hot days
Places where to eat
Ye Olde Station Restaurant 上海老站餐厅
Sincerely one of the best food we’ve had in Shanghai. As it usually happens with me, the gold spots are found completely randomly. Just like this one.
What to order:
Tofu skins with vegetables
Spicy beef 水煮牛肉 tender pieces of beef in hot spicy numbing sauce
Wild mushroom with bamboo shoots
Turnip flake cake
Black shrimp dumplings usual dumplings filled with shrimp
Started 2018 at the happiest place on earth! A rare sunny day with a clear blue sky, made the epic castle and the fake little towns look even more surreal. Surprisingly not as crowded as expected, with time for rides at about 40-60 minutes waiting time. I would totally recommend the Photography pack and the option to skip the line. Also, better buy the Minnie ears before the entrance as inside they are exactly the same but ridiculously expensive ( as low at 10 RMB from outside to over 100 RMB inside).
Most people already know by now, but a lot of apps and services are actually banned in China ( including Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Google and more). However, good news if you are traveling and planning to be on roaming, as everything works from a foreign sim. If not, there’s plenty of VPN apps that can help you cross the Great Chinese Firewall.
Whoever is going to China, make the most of it and hopefully I don’t see too many of those pictures, it’s the one place that always makes me nostalgic and wishing I was there!