China Travel: What to Do in Shanghai in 48 Hours

China, City Travel, Solo Travel, Traveling Solo & Together — By on September 3, 2010 at 6:00 am

LG Deputy Editor Meghann Foye finds time is on her side as she explores China’s fast-paced business and cultural capital.

When exploring a city’s sights, I’m usually after quality, not quantity. In Paris, for example, I’d rather spend the day wandering around one exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay than try to pack in the whole Louvre. But in China, a country of 1.6 billion people all just trying eat, work, shop and get home at night amid millions of others trying to do the same, no one really “lingers.” So, on a recent trip to Shanghai, China’s center of commerce, I decided to suspend my usual travel m.o. for all-business itinerary, too. In the span of 48 hours, I was able to do the following, thanks to a friendly tour guide and driver and plenty of green tea:

Day 1

10:00 a.m. Visit Old Town area. In Shanghai’s five-hundred-years-old downtown shopping area, I bargained for a silk cheongsam (traditional-style dress), toured the verdant courtyards and koi pools in the Yu Yuan Gardens and checked out the cool, flying-eave architecture on Huxinting, the oldest tea house in Shanghai.

12:30 p.m. Shopping at Tai-Kang Road. Wine bars, hand-made jewelry shops and modern art galleries have turned the formerly residential narrow lanes into a trendy and cute shopping district. I found a leather satchel bag for around 899 yuan ($100) at upscale boutique Yamado. For lunch, there were a number of cafes boasting ethnic food from Thailand, Tibet and Southeast Asia.

4:00 p.m. Shanghai Museum. We got close-up views of all famous Chinese art-forms, such as Ming- and Qing-era pottery, centuries-old calligraphy, brush-and-ink landscape drawings and hand-carved jade jewelry. The newly built museum has an easy-to-navigate four-floor building, and if you’re fast, it should only take you an hour. In fact, at exactly 4:55 p.m. we were amazed to see hundreds of guards pour out of the exhibition areas, herding people out, and at 5 p.m. the entire museum was locked shut, a testament to Chinese efficiency.

6:30 p.m. Drinks and light dinner in Xintiandi. In the past, Shanghai elite would come to this neighborhood in the French Concession to party and drink. Now, students and expats create the same exciting vibe at the outdoor terraces of its European-influenced eateries.

Next Day

9 a.m. Shanghai World Expo. Since winning the bid in 2002, China’s spent almost half a billiondollars on new infrastructure for the miles-wide exhibition park which houses pavilions from all the countries of the world. Two to see: Britain, whose design includes seeds from all the world’s plants to Saudi Arabia’s million-dollar golden sand-dune-inspired structure. USA, whose pavilion resembled an oil tank and was heavily sponsored by brands, was less impressive.

1 p.m. Pit Stop. Shanghai soup-filled dumplings and Magnum ice-cream cones at the World Expo for lunch.

3 p.m. River-tour of the Bund/Pudong. On one side, you can see the high-rise hotels and commercial buildings that make up the Pudong, Shanghai’s financial center; on the other, there are views of the Bund, a stately street of old-colonial era buildings. During the day, the cruises aren’t packed, and it made for a nice, leisurely trip along the Huangpu river.

7 p.m. The Bund at night. Get here right at sundown, because hoards of people flock to this promenade at night, making it impossible to get a shot of the colorfully lit up Pudong. On the other side of the street, check out its grand, European-style hotels, including the newly revamped Peace Hotel, Shanghai’s most historic and prestigious hotel.

8 p.m. Cocktails at Lost Heaven. This dim and sexy restaurant with its outdoor rooftop terrace serves food from the Yunnan region in the South, which has a sweetness almost like Thai food and contains cheese, unlike most other Chinese food.

10 p.m. Music at MaoLivehouse. We caught local rock groups jamming out at this music venue, popular with expats. The LED screens behind the bands make for some hi-fi visual effects, but overall the vibe in the multilevel bar is pretty low-key.

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  • Louisa says:

    Wow you got a lot in in just 2 days in Shanghai. That’s very impressive.

    If you ever go back to Shanghai, I’d recommend going up to the observation deck of the Shanghai World Financial Center if it’s a nice day. It’s the 3rd tallest skyscraper in the world so it offers a very nice view of all of the city.

    For live music, Shanghai has it’s own version of CBGBs called Yuyingtang. It’s one of the city’s first livehouses built for rock music. Worth checking out in my opinion, and it’s right next to this really nice park.

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  • Thanks, that wasvery interesting. Actually,I was born in Thailand in 1980 but my mother and I fled and came here in the UK. To be honest, I didnt care much about my Thai past until my mother died last month, now I’ve been trying to discover as much as I possibly can. Seemed like cuisine was as good a place as any to start from! Anyway, I found a thai food recipe site here that other readers might be interested in .

  • travellyn says:

    Wow! you did well. I did a tour and everything you saw was on our tour just about.
    The Jinmao Building with great view of Shanghai was worth a visit, as was the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. This was an enormous scale model of present and future urban Shanghai, which you could wander through. It was amazing in detail and size on such a vast scale.

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