Shanghai offers the traveler as much as any world-class destination, if not a bit more. You'll find old, traditional architecture, coexisting with futuristic skyscrapers, all lit by bright neon lights. It take time to take in everything Shanghai has to offer. Those who enjoy a more picturesque side of sightseeing, will probably go for a gondola ride through a water village, but for city lovers, shopping and partying come first. One of my favorite moments in Shanghai was the attending the art classes at Sip 'n Paint - an interesting concept, combining an art studio and wine bar. The venue offers sangria, Rhône Valley wines, as well as Bordeaux and Veneto selections. There are several painting parties each month, painting classes and other surprises. Another memorable moment was the Shanghai Huangpu River Cruise (Shanghai Pujiang Youlan) which offers the best way to see both old and new Shanghai - ancient and colonial buildings of the west side of Shanghai and new futuristic skyscrapers on the east.
Jade on 36: The gleaming restaurant jewel of the Pudong Shangri-La is this 36th floor stunner, with sweeping views and a dining room by Adam Tihany. Next door is the jewel box-like bar, and both are nearly as breathtaking as the view: a private elevator whistles you to the top of the tower and you disembark in a hallway with ornate Venetian marble floors and eccentric design accents. Chef Paul Pairet’s unique food is the ideal complement to such rarified surroundings, and has been garnering attention worldwide; expect nouveau fine dining with a deft, playful touch. The foie gras lollipop, a creamy foie gras terrine coated in crunchy caramel and served on the end of a chopstick, melts in your mouth, served with a shot of hot spiced tea that is then cooled by a final layer of fluffy champagne foam. The lemon tart, a whole candied lemon stuffed with lemon curd, sorbet and citrus sections with a precarious sliver of sablée for a crust, makes a beautiful finale to one of the four degustation menus.
Its centrally located and if you have not been to The Ritz, you have not seen Shanghai. A lifetime experience which gives you the peace of mind, be it for business or leisure. Its simply cool, pleasant, exhilarating, place for comfort and enjoyment with its diverse range of food outlets. Visiting the Aura Bar offers a breathtaking view of The Bund.
This welcome addition to Bund 18 provides what other bars on the strip categorically don’t: restrained elegance. The demure, airy marble interior with green foliage harks back to days gone by, without resorting to the usual dark leather-heavy deco furniture. DJs and a dance-floor keep Lounge 18 in the present day, albeit with a suitably loungy and soulful house playlist. There is no terrace, but windows look out on to the river, and there is a de rigeur ‘creative space’ with art exhibitions.
The exquisite LAN Club takes up a four-storey neo-classical Baroque building near the Bund, each floor featuring a different yet equally immaculate décor. The European-style seafood restaurant on the top floor is overseen by Michelin two-star chef Yves Mattagne, while the second and third floors are dedicated to Chinese fusion food in a glamorous setting full of traditional Chinese elements. There is also a lounge bar downstairs, perfect for a few drinks after dinner.
Best view in town Ironically, the bar with the best view in town is not located on the Bund or Lujiazui. Instead, Vue Bar in the northern part of the Bund walks away with the trophy. Taking up two floors in Hyatt on the Bund, it has a breathtaking view over both sides of the Huangpu River, which can’t be found anywhere else. The small terrace comes with comfortable beds and a Jacuzzi.
Shanghai Old Street is lined with antique, curio and craft stores. Fuyou Lu is home to a lively antiques market housed on the north side in the Cang Bao Building, just before the pailou, or ceremonial arch, that frames the street. The market comes alive at weekends, and especially on Sundays, with an astounding array of antiques and knick-knacks spread over its four levels. It’s best to get there early as many stallholders pack up mid afternoon. Bargaining is expected.
Nanjing Dong Lu Pedestrian Street has traditionally been regarded as ‘China’s number one shopping street’. While the Bund symbolized British imperial might, Da Ma Lu was always far more egalitarian. Today the road holds little of the cachet it once did and Shanghai’s best shopping is most definitely elsewhere. However, as a spectacle of the crowded, gaudy, neon-lit China of coffee table photo books, it is unbeatable. Evening strollers can expect to be approached with offers of massage and other services from ‘Chinese ladies’, as well as hash and money (rent) boys.
Your Shanghai trip is not complete without a picture taken in front of Oriental Pearl Tower. One of Shanghai’s most known landmarks, it stands 468m high and looks like an otherworldly rocket radiating pink and purple lights at night. There are three viewpoints inside the tower: Space Module (350m), main observation deck (263m) and the 267m high rotating restaurant with passable food. You can have a 360 degree view of the city in each of the places.
From outside, Shanghai Museum looks like an enormous ‘ding’, a three-legged vessel used for cooking meat hundreds of years ago. Inside, there are 11 galleries displaying a treasure of more than 120,000 pieces, from paintings and sculpture to jade and bronzes. There is a restaurant and a gift shop on the ground floor, and a teahouse on the second. You can easily spend the whole day here if you want.
Not far from the Bund lies Yu Garden, a 450-year-old garden built by an influential government official in the Ming Dynasty. It’s divided into six scenic areas: Three Ears of Corn Hall, Ten Thousand Flower Tower, Heralding Spring Hall, Scene Gathering Tower, Jade Magnificence Hall and Inner Garden. With elegant pavilions, zigzagging bridges and imposing rockeries, Yu Garden is truly a jewel in China’s ancient gardens. Go there early (opening time 8.30am) to avoid the crowds.
Also known as “China’s Number One Circus World,” Shanghai’s Circus City is sure to entertain both the young and young at heart! It is over 2,500 square kilometers of sheer fun and excitement! Come prepared to enjoy a great show because this circus integrates magic, dancing and music performances along with the traditional circus acts such as acrobatic shows. It has a huge room equipped for elephants, horses, giant pandas, lions, tigers, and even chimps. Since it has opened in 1999, Shanghai’s Circus City has been the stage for more than 800 performances, and has gained a well known international reputation for delighting the crowds with amazing routines and spectacles!
Named after its charming and innovative chef, Guillermo “Willy” Trullas Moreno, El Willy is a sure bet while visiting Shanghai. The specialty is Spanish Tapas with a contemporary twist, and “Willy” has earned many awards since their opening –including best tapas two years in a row.
M stands for Michelle Garnaut, the veteran Australian chef and restaurateur who also owns M at the Fringe in Hong Kong. However, you won’t be wrong to assume that M stands for ‘magnificent’. Located in a historic building with a view, M on the Bund serves an eclectic mix of modern European, middle-Eastern and North African food. Recommended dishes are crisp-skinned suckling pig and salt-baked lamb. Creamy pavlova is a must-try.
A creation by the Michelin three-star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, this French restaurant is where you can sample some of his ground-breaking contemporary haute cuisine, such as slow-baked salmon with wild mushrooms and sake-ginger dressing, or grilled pork tenderloin with pineapple and aubergine. Completed with an elegant décor, perfect service and a picturesque view, Jean-Georges is no doubt the brightest gem in the crown of Shanghai’s dining scene.