Our Three Day Shanghai Experience
What better place to start our 9 day trip through China than the City of Shanghai? We only had three days to spend in Shanghai which is definitely not “enough” but we still managed to make the most of the experience. While the city is reminiscent of San Francisco or New York with it’s hustle and bustle, there is a uniqueness to it that can only be found in China.
One can certainly be impressed by the modern skyscrapers and fantastic public transportation as well as in awe of it’s cleanliness, despite the masses of people shuffling through the streets and sidewalks on a daily basis. We didn’t waste a moment in catching all the must see attractions and trying some of the unique foods and snacks found in Shanghai – the most populous city in China (and in the world!).
Shanghai Day 1
Our first day started off a bit late due to the fact that our flight landed around 4am and we were in desperate need of some sleep. By around noon we were up and ready to explore the city. But first, some lunch to get the energy levels up!
We were lucky that our hotel was so conveniently located to Nanjing Road Pedestrian street. Just a few steps out the hotel lobby and we were on Nanjing Road, the walking street that is overflowing with shopping, food, and drinks.
We enjoyed a hearty lunch at Chen Dacheng restaurant which is located on the corner of Middle Zhenjiang Rd. (where we were staying) and Nanjing Rd.
No. 386 Zhejiang Middle Road
People Square and South Bund Huangpu
Shanghai, China 200001
Chen Dacheng restaurant is a no-frills kind of place that delivers on good food, fast. We highly recommend having some soup filled dumplings (xiao long bao) and shrimp dumplings here (with a cold Tsingtao).
After lunch we walked down Nanjing Pedestrian Road and took in the energy of this tremendously busy place. It’s easy to spend a whole day here just popping in and out of the stores, getting distracted by the plethora of Chinese snacks being sold in the small shops, and getting sucked into the enormous shopping malls providing all the Western brands you can spend your money on (and A/C on hot summer days).
While we were meandering through the sea of crowds, mesmerized by this captivating city, we ran into the Hello Kitty Cafe. My sister has a slight obsession with Hello Kitty so we just had to stop in for some coffee and sweets to satisfy her.
No visit to Shanghai is complete without a stroll down The Bund. I had seen photos of this place but being up close to the Huangpu River and looking out at the skyline across the way was nothing short of spectacular. I have been to a lot of big cities with skyscrapers, but this place still amazed me.
After our walk up and down The Bund, we hopped on the Subway to go check out Yuyuan Garden.
This place is a lot fun!
Once again, here you can get your fix of Chinese food and delectable snacks. There is just so much food to try here and all of it looks so good! This is where we tried fried dumplings (shengjian mantou) for the first time.
While we really enjoyed the food here, one thing that wasn’t hitting our taste buds right was the larger dumplings with hot soup inside. These things were so popular that we just had to try them. Interestingly, you drink the soup with a straw and I’m not even sure that the dumpling part is supposed to be eaten, because it was pretty tasteless and chewy.
The Shanghai Metro
We caught the Line 10 back to Line 2 on the Metro to get back to our hotel area. Did I mention how simple and convenient the metro system is in China? All the lines are color coordinated and there are arrows on the floor pointing you to the direction for all each line at every stop. You need not worry about where to go to transfer, just follow the big arrows. The trick is:
- Find a map or get a printed metro map and have it handy.
- Find the destination stop you need to go to on the map.
- Find the stop you are station you are starting from.
- Figure out the fastest route to get to your destination (which line or lines you need to take to get there)
- Follow the arrows in the station to get the train you want.
- Once you find the train, make sure it’s going in the direction you want (look above where the train stops and there is a line with all the stations it stops at. The grayed out ones are the ones the train has already passed, so you want to make sure your destination station is in the colored section)
Not only is it super convenient and easy, taking the subway anywhere is by far the cheapest way to get there! We got around to most of our destinations for only about $1USD round trip (including most transfers!)!
For the evening, we just had to see the awesome Shanghai skyline at night. One of the best ways to enjoy the night scene and relax is to go on top of one of the buildings. You can always pay the $32USD ticket to see the views from the Oriental Pearl Tower. However, we recommend finding a spot that you can have some food and drinks while also enjoying the view of the tower itself.
Our first night, we enjoyed some drinks at the Hyatt in the Jinmao Tower (get off at Lujiazui Station). Their Cloud 9 bar is located on the 87th floor and you have to take three different elevators to get up to it! There is a ¥150 RMB ($22 USD) charge per person, but this can be used towards buying drinks. The views are not bad and you get to enjoy a very high-end atmosphere with great service.
Shanghai Day 2
Our second day was spent mostly at Zhujiajiao Old Town, also known as The Venice of Shanghai. Obviously the waterways through this “Old Town” are the reason for the name. It’s a very charming place to see, full of shops and cafes, and restaurants.
Shanghai Zhujiajiao Ancient Town
Be sure to grab some of the local snacks sold here and enjoy watching the gondolas gliding through the canals.
Once you’ve had your fill of walking around and taking in the sites, pop into one of the small cafes and grab a refreshing drink and meal. We found the food here to be delicious and very authentic tasting. The owners of the cafe were very genuine and friendly.
This is the kind of place you really need a full day to enjoy. It gave us a chance to see a historic side of Shanghai and relax in the calming ambiance it provided.
Getting here on bus was a bit of a challenging (but cheap, ¥12 RMB or $2 USD). We had to stop multiple times to ask for directions to the bus station on Pu’An Road (Hushu Bus). It’s about a 50 minute bus ride and you get off at the last stop. Once you get off at the bus station entrance turn left and then make a right at the light. You’ll notice the wide stony street that leads you right to the first bridge entrance to the Old Town. Be aware when taking the bus back. We accidentally got on a regular bus instead of the express one and the ride took us twice as long!
Our second evening was spent on top of the Radisson Blu (Sky Bar). The city view is just that amazing! We had to take the opportunity to enjoy some live music and drinks with better views of the city. They don’t have a minimum purchase here so one drink (around $10) go us some free wi-fi to post our pictures of the day along with some chill time with a view.
Shanghai Day 3
On our third day in Shanghai we visited a couple of temples. This was a great itinerary for a partial day. Our flight was in the evening so we checked out of the hotel and stored our bags while we were out and about.
Shanghai Confucius Temple
Our first stop was Dacheng Hall (Shanghai Wenmiao) or Shanghai Confucius Temple. The entrance fee is just under $2USD (¥10 RMB) and not very crowded with tourists. We enjoyed strolling through the three courtyards and main buildings for about 2 hours before heading over to the Jade Buddha Temple.
The entrance fee for the Shanghai Jade Buddha Temple is less that $4 USD( ¥20 RMB). It’s definitely worth a visit if you enjoy temples. It was a beautiful temple on the inside as well as the outside. We have been to many temples in Chiang Mai, but Chinese temples were unique and wonderful in their own right. What’s really fascinating is the juxtaposition of these historic temples with the modern skyscrapers of Shanghai in their background!
Well, that wraps up our three-day itinerary for Shanghai. It was a great start to our adventure in China and our experiences were unforgettable!
Have you been to Shanghai? Tell us what you did.
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About the Author
Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!