Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 in Asia, China, Travel | 0 comments


Shanghai is like Beijing’s better dressed and more likeable cousin.  Cleaner, warmer and on the surface prettier, many tourists prefer Beijing’s southern neighbour.

We spent four days exploring the city and although I liked it, for me it lacked the gritty authenticity and rich history of Beijing (although I definitely didn’t miss the Beijing smog..!)

While Shanghai wants you to like it with it’s bright lights and tourist buses, Beijing has a real take it or leave it attitude that I have come to respect and admire.

The main street of Xintiandi

The main street of Xintiandi

We stayed in Xintiandi, a great place to be based full of cafes, restaurants and shops.

We rented an apartment through air bnb, which was located down one of the residential alleyways and provided a really authentic experience.

Unfortunately that specific listing has since been removed, but there are plenty of similar ones available.

A subway stop nearby made it easy to get around, including to and from the airport and train station.

The streets of Xintiandi are tree lined with many narrow side streets to wander down and explore.

I could not get enough of eating at Sproutworks, located in Xintiandi as well as other locations around Shanghai.  You choose your own size and combination of salads and protein options, as well as fresh juices and coffee.

My other favourite place to eat was Pure & Whole, a vegetarian restaurant that serves creative, delicious and filling foods.

Soup dumplings (xiaolong bao) from Din Tai Fung are also always a winner.

The serious business of the marriage market

The serious business of the marriage market

Shanghai can be explored via subway or on foot, at night we also took taxis (although they struggled somewhat with my northener accented mandarin!)

There are no real must see sights or historical locations in Shanghai, the beauty of the city is in the everyday happenings.

Take a walk along The Bund, sit in a park with a coffee, get a massage, check out the local markets and window shop the boutiques.

There are several rooftop bars along The Bund that make for a leisurely afternoon spent sipping cocktails, people watching and enjoying the atmosphere.

The marriage market is on every weekend in the People’s Park, where parents try to find a suitable partner for their child.  “Advertisements” have details of each candidate (their age, height, weight, zodiac etc.) and the parents discuss potential suitability.

Shanghai has a vibrant nightlife with plenty of restaurant and bar options, M on the Bund is a popular one (as is Capital M, it’s sister restaurant in Beijing).

All in all a fun city with plenty happening we had an enjoyable time in Shanghai, but it failed to captivate me in any deeper sense.


City skyline from The Bund




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