Shanghai, China | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Shanghai, China

Shanghai (上海 Shànghǎi) is the largest and traditionally the most developed metropolis in Mainland China.
Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930s. In the past 20 years, it has again become an attractive city for tourists from all over the world. The world once again had its eyes on the city when it hosted the 2010 World Expo, recording the greatest number of visitors in the event's history. 

Shanghai is a fascinating mix of East and West. It has historic shikumen (石库门) houses that blend the styles of Chinese houses with European design flair, and it has one of the richest collections of Art Deco buildings in the world. As there were so many concessions (designated districts) to Western powers during the turn of the 20th century, in many places the city has a cosmopolitan feel. There is everything from classic Parisian style, to Tudor style buildings... Read more

Shanghai, China

Shanghai (上海 Shànghǎi) is the largest and traditionally the most developed metropolis in Mainland China.
Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930s. In the past 20 years, it has again become an attractive city for tourists from all over the world. The world once again had its eyes on the city when it hosted the 2010 World Expo, recording the greatest number of visitors in the event's history. 

Shanghai is a fascinating mix of East and West. It has historic shikumen (石库门) houses that blend the styles of Chinese houses with European design flair, and it has one of the richest collections of Art Deco buildings in the world. As there were so many concessions (designated districts) to Western powers during the turn of the 20th century, in many places the city has a cosmopolitan feel. There is everything from classic Parisian style, to Tudor style buildings that give an English flair and 1930s buildings reminiscent of New York or Chicago.
There is a saying that goes, "Shanghai is heaven for the rich, hell for the poor," People from all over China flock to Shanghai — everyone from farmers seeking jobs in manual labor to university graduates seeking to start a career or wanting to live in a cool up-tempo city. Even well-off people, though, complain that buying a home is becoming impossible; prices have skyrocketed in the last few years.
Most of Shanghai's 6,340.5 square kilometers (2,448.1 sq mi) of the land area is billiard table flat, with an average elevation above mean sea level of just 4m (13 ft). The dozens of new skyscrapers that have been built in recent years have had to be built with deep concrete piles to stop them from sinking into the soft ground of this flat alluvial plain. 


Shanghai's latitude relative to the equator is about the same as New Orleans, Brisbane, or Cairo; the climate is classified as humid subtropical. Summer temperatures at noontime often hit 35–36°C (95–97°F) with very high humidity, which means that you will perspire a lot and should take lots of changes of clothing. Freak thunderstorms also occur relatively often during the summer, so an umbrella should be brought (or bought after arrival) just in case. There is some risk of typhoons in their July-September season, but they are not common.

In contrast, during winter, temperatures rarely rise above 10°C (50°F) during the day and often fall below 0°C (32°F) at night. Snowfall is rare, but transportation networks can sometimes be disrupted in the event of a sudden snowstorm. Despite the fact that winter temperatures in Shanghai are not particularly low, the wind chill factor combined with the high humidity can actually make it feel less comfortable than some much colder places which experience frequent snowfalls.

In between, spring can feature lengthy periods of cloudy, often rainy, weather, while Autumn is generally mild to warm and sunny.

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Shanghai, China: Port Information

Small liners dock at Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal on the Huangpu River close to the Bund. However, it can't handle liners with a tonnage of more than 87,000 GT.

Larger vessels dock at Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Baoshan. It's about 15 miles from Shanghai. There's a free shuttle service in the port. Besides, one can get to a subway station on a taxi.

Get around Shanghai, China

If you intend to stay in Shanghai for more than a few days the Shanghai Jiaotong Card (上海公共交通卡) is a must. You can load the card with money and use it in buses, the metro, and even taxis, saving the hassle of buying tickets at each metro station and keeping change for buses and taxis. You can get these cards at any metro/subway station, as well as some convenience stores like Alldays and KeDi Marts. These come in regular, mini, and "strap" size (the latter being made for hanging on mobile phones), with various limited editions available for each. Only regular-sized cards can be loaded at machines (with a few exceptions, mainly at line 6/8 stations which have a special type of recharge machine made to take all sizes of cards). Most likely you will need to go to the service counter to recharge if you have an irregularly-shaped card.
Also, this card allows you to transfer lines at Yishan Rd, Shanghai Train Station, and Hongkou Football Stadium stations, as well as discounts for bus<->bus and metro<->bus transfer.

By Metro
The fast-growing Shanghai Metro network has 14 lines with another 4 under construction (and expansions to existing lines), with nearly all lines operating underground (Line 3, 5 operates above ground). The Metro is fast, cheap, air conditioned and fairly user-friendly with most signs and station arrival announcements bilingual in Mandarin and English, but the trains can get packed during rush hour.
Transfers between the metro lines can require a long walk like 300m in some stations. You can transfer between lines freely with a single ticket, but except at Shanghai Railway Station between lines 3/4 and 1; West Nanjign Road between lines 2, 12 and 13; Longhua Road between 11 and 12, where a One-day Pass/Three-day Pass/Shanghai Public Transportation Card is required for transfer. Be careful, certain stations exist on two different lines with the same name but are located in different places (Pudian Road- line 4 and line 6; no internal exchange tunnel between the two stations, people have to go to either Century Ave or Lancun Lu to transfer between these lines).
If there are seats available but more passengers boarding than seats, be prepared to see a mad dash as passengers wrestle for the available seats. This is the norm so move quickly if you want a seat. Be mindful of pickpockets who may use this rush to their advantage.

Major usable lines for tourist :
  • Line 1: First and busiest metro line in Shanghai. Connects Shanghai Railway Station, People's Square (center of Shanghai), South Huangpi Road and South Shanxi Road (famous Huaihai Road CBD), Hengshan Road (former pub street, very popular before 2005), Xujiahui (a south-west commercial and shopping center in Shanghai). Shanghai Stadium, South Railway Station, Xinzhuang.
  • Line 2: It's the second busiest line in Shanghai, which connects many landmarks and important places of Shanghai : Hongqiao Railway Station (you can take high-speed bullet train here to go Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, and other China cities), Hongqiao Airport T2, Jing'an Temple (a high-end commercial area in Jing'an District), People's Square (center of Shanghai), East Nanjing Road (the first and most famous pedestrian shopping street in China, you can get off here to go the Bund also), Lujiazui (east of the Huangpu River, heart of the China finance industrial, Oriental Pearl Tower and the top 3 highest building of Shanghai are here), Century Avenue, Century Park (the biggest park in Shanghai), Longyang Road (Meglev train terminal) and Pudong International Airport (Please be noted that going to Pudong airport from downtown must change train at Guanglan Road Station).
  • Line 3 & 4: These 2 lines share many stations on the elevator road. Line 3 connects Shanghai Railway Station, South Railway Station, Zhongshan Park, Hongkou Football Stadium. Line 4 route is a circle and connects Shanghai Railway Station, Century Avenue, Shanghai Stadium and Zhongshan Park.
  • Line 10: It also connects many Shanghai attractions: Hongqiao Railway Station (you can take high-speed bullet train here to go Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, and other China cities), Hongqiao Airport T2 & T1, Shanghai Zoo, Jiao Tong University, XinTianDi (a refurbished Shikumen block, full of bars/shops/restaurants in 1920s Shanghai style buildings), Yu Garden (a 470-year-old traditional Chinese garden, also there's a big market nearby), East Nanjing Road (the first and most famous pedestrian shopping street in China, you can get off here to go the Bund also), Tiantong Road (famous Qipu Road market, full of cheap clothing and textile).
  • Line 13: Connects Shanghai Natural History Museum, West Nanjing Road, Xintiandi, Expo Museum and Expo Avenue.
By bus
The bus system is cheaper and much more extensive than the Metro, and some routes even operate past the closing time of the Metro (route numbers beginning with 3 are the night buses that run past 11 PM). It is however slower in general, and all route information at bus stops is in Chinese, but here is a handy list of bus routes and stops in English. Once inside the bus, there are English announcements. Most buses do not require any conversation with a driver and/or conductor, while others depend on you knowing your destination and the conductor charging you accordingly. For the latter, pay the conductor directly and you'll get a paper ticket (and change, if any). The former bus types do not have a conductor but instead a driver only. Prepare exact change beforehand and drop it into the container next to the driver. It's best to have exact fare or go to a convenience store if needing change, otherwise, you may depend on stating your situation to the driver or other passengers. If you change buses with an SPTC you will get a discount on your second bus fare (and all subsequent transfers; there is a 90-minute window to do this on so if you're not spending too much time at the destination your transfer discount will apply to the start of your return journey too).

By taxi
Taxi ("出租车" chūzūchē or choo-tzoo-chuh) is a good choice for transportation in the city, especially during off-peak hours. It is affordable and saves you time, but try to get your destination in Chinese characters or available on a map as communication can be an issue.

By sightseeing bus
There are several different companies offering sightseeing buses with various routes and packages covering the main sights such as the Shanghai Zoo, Oriental Pearl Tower, and Baoyang Road Harbor. Most of the sightseeing buses leave from Shanghai Stadium's east bus station.

On foot
Shanghai is a good city for walking, especially in the older parts of the city such as The Bund, but be aware this city is incredibly dynamic and pavements can be obstructed or unpleasant to walk through when near construction areas. If there is a subway entry at a busy street, the station can usually be used as a pedestrian underpass to another subway exit across the way.
As with all of China, the right-of-way is effectively proportional to weight: vehicles trump motorbikes, which trump pedestrians. Motorbikes and bicycles rarely use headlights and can come from any direction. They are the main users of curb-cuts for sidewalks, so don't stand at these. Avoid unpredictable movements while walking and crossing streets: the drivers see you and predict your future location from your speed. Also, distances are huge so you will need to use other means of transportation at some point.

By ferry
A useful ferry runs between the Bund (from a ferry pier a few blocks south of Nanjing Road next to the KFC restaurant) and Lujiazui financial district in Pudong (the terminal is about 10 minutes south of the Pearl TV Tower and Lujiazui metro station) and is the cheapest way of crossing the river. The ferry is air-conditioned and allows foot-passengers only (bikes are not allowed except for folding models). Buy a token from the ticket kiosk and then insert it into the turnstile to enter the waiting room - the boats run every 10 minutes and take just over 5 minutes to cross the river. This is a great (and much cheaper) alternative to using the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. However, the ferry stations are not directly connected to public transport so you need to walk a bit.

By bicycle
For locals, bicycles are slowly being eclipsed by electric scooters but they still remain an easy means of transportation for visitors who may be hesitant to communicate with drivers or board crowded mass transit--or simply to soak up some sunshine. Go to Baoshan Metro station and get a vintage bicycle; they are also easily found for sale on the street around Suzhou Creek or in the residential part of the old town.
Bicycles and mopeds are not allowed on many major roads (signs designate this), as well as in the tunnels and on the bridges between Pudong and Puxi (the only way to cross is by ferry).
Beware of the driving habits of locals: the biggest vehicles have priority and a red light does not mean you are safe to cross the street. Bicycle theft is very common. Even locked bicycles are regularly stolen. If buying a better than average bicycle, buy a good lock and lock it to something like a post. Helmets are optional.

By car
Driving is definitely not recommended in Shanghai for a variety of reasons, even for those with driving experience in the country. Not only do you have to cope with a very complex road system and seemingly perpetual traffic jams, but also Chinese driving habits and ongoing construction. In addition, parking spaces are rare and almost impossible to find. Bicycles, scooters, and pedestrians are also all over the place--a city with a real metropolitan feel. It is also not unheard of for cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians to suddenly dash in front of a car without any warning. In short, do not drive if you can help it and make use of Shanghai's excellent public transportation network instead.

By scooter/E-bike
Whilst motorcycle rental is practically non-existent, for long-term visitors e-bikes and scooters are a cheap, fast, practical way of getting around. E-bikes don't require a driving license and are cheaper, but only have a short battery range (about 50 km) and low top speed, and are a frequent target of thieves. A cheap e-bike can be picked up from any major supermarket. Small shops also sell converted e-bikes (motor scooters converted to run on electricity) which are more expensive but are faster, more comfortable and have longer battery ranges. 50cc motorcycles require registration but don't require a drivers license, whilst anything bigger will require a driving license. Motorcycles can be bought from used-bike dealers mostly located in residential working-class neighborhoods. If you plan on riding a motorcycle, stick to automatic transmission scooters as they are much easier to ride in dense traffic than a manually-geared bike.
Motorcycles are expected to use the bicycle lane and cross intersections via pedestrian traffic lights, which is often quicker when car traffic reaches a standstill. Be careful, particularly at night, of people riding with their headlights off or riding on the wrong side of the road - remember that e-bikes don't require any driving license and therefore drivers often flout traffic laws and take creative but dangerous paths through traffic. Parking is easy - most sidewalks serve as bike-parking, although in quiet streets you may risk getting your bike stolen so make sure you have a couple of good locks.

By sidecar
Vintage motorbikes with sidecars are used mainly by expats and tourists. Most expatriates and Shanghainese are too embarrassed to use what many consider a particularly "uncool" form of transport. Changjiang sidecars were used by the Chinese army until 1997. There are a few sidecar owners club in Shanghai (Black Bats, People's Riders Club), shops (Yiqi, Cao, Fan, Jack, Jonson, Leo) and a tour operator (Shanghai Sideways) which are worth checking out.

By sightseeing tunnel
A bit of a misnomer, as the entire journey is underground and doesn't reveal any real sights of the city. This is the fastest way of crossing between the Bund in Puxi and the Pearl TV Tower in Pudong but also the most expensive and is essentially a tourist trap--but may also be a good bet for the directionally-challenged or those struggling to find a taxi during rush hour. Glass pods running on train tracks take a few minutes to run through a tunnel under the Huangpu River lined with a psychedelic light show and some bizarre commentary in English and Chinese. After arriving you'll be dropped off in a hall full of tourist-trap shops, which should come as no surprise since the entrance is a few meters from the TV Tower and is by no means a practical mode of transportation for locals. Avoid if possible - it's a very tacky experience - unless you're prepared to spend some cash to look at some flashing lights instead of walking 5 min to the south and taking the aforementioned ferry or walking 5 min west to Nanjing East Rd subway station and taking the Metro. On the other hand, it is also significantly less packed than either of those during peak hours. 

What to see in Shanghai, China

Where to go in Shanghai depends largely on your time period and interests. See Shanghai for the first-timer for a sample itinerary.
  • Yuyuan Gardens (豫园), (in Old City). For a feel of the China of yesteryear loaded with classical Chinese architecture (the countless vendors just outside the gardens may lead to some frustration, so don't come here thinking 'tranquility'). 
  • Classic (Western) architecture (西方古典建筑). For a taste of 1920s Shanghai, head for the stately old buildings of The Bund or the French Concession--too many to list here! Some of the best sections are along Hunan Rd (湖南路), Fuxing Rd (复兴路), Shaoxing Rd (绍兴路) and Hengshan Rd (衡山路). The area is fast becoming famous for boutique shopping along Xinle Rd, Changle Rd and Anfu Rd (安福路), all of which also have interesting restaurants.  
  • Modern architecture (现代建筑). Some of the tallest and most inspiring structures in Asia and the world can be found along the Huangpu River bank in Pudong's Lujiazui District. Two of considerable mention are Oriental Pearl Tower, one of the tallest structures in Asia, providing visitors with city views (different tours available) or light shows (at night) from below (free), Jin Mao Tower, which is staggering 88-story behemoth, and the Shanghai World Financial Center, which has one of the world's highest observation decks, at 474 m (1555 ft). They still (August 2015) have signs there claiming to be the world's highest observation deck. This claim is no longer true, that honor belongs to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai: 148th floor at 555 m (1,821 ft). Be aware that both the 94th floors and the 100th floors offer similar views and photography opportunities. Discount available for students under 16 and senior citizens, and free if it's your birthday. 
  • Shanghai Museum (上海博物馆), S side of People's Square. 9 AM-5 PM. The Ancient Bronze exhibit is particularly impressive. Audio guides are available. Also, there are often volunteer guides providing free service. Some of them speak English. Free.  
  • Temples. Some of the more popular ones include the Jade Buddha Temple, Jing'an Temple, Chenghuang, and Longhua Temple.  
  • Oriental Pearl Tower. Right in the middle of the skyline+ This is a must see!   
  • Zhujiajiao Water Town (朱家角镇). The picturesque Zhu Jia Jiao is a classic water village, over 400 years old with a signature five-arch bridge spanning the Cao Gang River. Zhu Jia Jiao was an important town for local trade, shipping goods in and out of its manmade canals to the river. After about 40 minutes drive from the city, you will arrive at Zhujiajiao-the Ancient Water Town. Its main street is lined with quaint shops and restaurants serving local favorites. You can stroll the maze of paths and bridges, and take a boat ride to view the residences of this nicely-preserved water village. Zhu Jia Jiao is also home to two impressive temples, which add to the charm and historic significance of the village.  

What to do in Shanghai, China

  • Personal and Free Guided Tours (Shanghai Greeters). Visit their website to register and request a Shanghai Greeter. Greeters are mainly university students and locals enthusiastic in introducing new foreigners to their city. Completely free, however, be aware that if you're going to a fancy lunch or Cafe, the greeters may not be able to afford to join you. It would be a nice gesture to pay for your greeters entry fees and lunch as they are so nice in giving their time freely for you. Free.  
  • Drink at a tea house. Visit Shanghai's many tea houses, including Tang Yun tea house (199 Hengshan Lu, Hengshan Road stop on Line 1, at Exit 4). Tang Yun serves many varieties of tea along with traditional Chinese delicacies. Many of the snacks at the common table are free. Serve yourself. Be careful not to order too much food. Also, beware of tea house scams, see Stay safe below. Alternatively, you can also head to Yu Garden to sample some tea, but not at a dining establishment, rather at one of the many tea shops selling the product. In hopes to make a sale, the store owners will call out to you to sample some of their tea. You may enter - they will offer the best (or most expensive) to foreigners to taste. If you decide to do this, be courteous and purchase a small amount of tea - but be sure to ask the price before you try it.
  • Play Weiqi (the game of Go), ( As a symbol of Chinese culture, with more than 3000 years of age, Weiqi(go) is the world’s greatest strategy board game where a few simple rules lead to limitless possibilities. Shanghai Weiqi Classroom is probably the only place where foreigners can study this game with English speaking assistance.  
  • Take a boat on the river. There are many companies that run river tours. Look for one of the cheaper ones. This is a great way to see the striking Shanghai skyline and river banks and shoot some good photos. A cheaper but less scenic alternative is to take one of the many ferries that cross the river for a couple of yuan.  
  • Shanghai Happy Valley, 888 Linhu Rd, Songjiang (上海松江区林湖路888号). Theme park. 
  • Jinjiang Amusement Park, No. 201 Hongmei Rd (in Xuhui District, Line 1 to Jinjiang Park).
  • Shanghai City Beach. Beautiful Jinshan City Beach is on the north bank of Hangzhou Bay, at the southern end of Jinshan District. The area combines great scenery, points of interest and entertainment all in one strip, and is composed of 2 square kilometers of blue waters, 120,000 square meters of golden sands and a 1.7-kilometer silver walkway. Every spring, Jinshan beach hosts the national kite flying competition and the world beach volleyball tournament; in the summer thousands of visitors come for the Fengxia Music Festival. Sail boating, speed boating, bungee jumping and 4-wheeling activities makes this place a great spot for athletics as well.  
  • Jinshan Donglin temple, Shanghai Jin Shan Qu Dong Lin Jie (Take the Metro to Line 1 to Lianhua Rd Station. Leave the station from the north exit, to the left you will see a bus station. Find the bus 莲金专线空调, 莲花路地铁站-朱泾(lianjin zhuanxian kongtiao, lianhua lu ditiezhan-zhujing) (lianjin special purpose bus (AC), from Lianhua station to Zhujing Town, where the temple is). To confirm the bus is going there, ask, 'Zhe liang dao zhujing ma?'. The final stop is a few blocks from the temple. Ask someone to point the way. Take the same bus back, but towards Lianhua station. One way without traffic should take less than an hour.). Jinshan Donglin temple (金山东林寺), located in Shanghai’s southern suburbs (Zhujing Town) has over 700 years of history, the temple has been renovated, and is a magnificent sight to see. Donglin Temple has large-scale, high artistic value, and three Guinness World Records: The Goddess of Mercy and the world's tallest Buddha Cloisonné—Sudhana (5.4 m) the highest bronze door in the world-qian fo door (20.1 m), The world's tallest indoor statue-- the statue of Guanyin Bodhisattva with one thousand hands and several heads(34.1 m). 
  • Shanghai Propaganda Poster and Art Centre (PPAC), RM. BOC 868 HUA SHAN RD SHANGHAI 上海华山路868号BOC室 (Take a taxi to 868 Huashan Road. The museum is inside the apartment complex here. With any luck, the complex guard will point you in the right direction. The museum is found in the basement of building B.). Daily 10:00-17:00. This private collection is one of the most relevant and uncensored exhibits available to visitors interested in a glimpse of the politics and art of Mao-era China. Posters, memorabilia, photos, and even "大字报" (dazibao: big character posters) can be found in this rotating exhibition. Due to the controversial nature of the historical items stored here, the museum is quite difficult to find and unlabeled from the outside. Well worth the hunt, the museum boasts a wide array of art and political relics from 20th century China. 
  • Navy Shanghai Museum, 68 Tanghou Rd., Wusong, Shanghai, +86 21 56163295. Not open to foreigners. Only Chinese citizens. Easy to find on the north side of town where the Huangpu River meets the Yangtze. Also good signs on the roads leading to the museum. Nothing to see outside. (Qingdao Navy museum can be visited without a problem.)  
  • Madame Tussauds Shanghai, 10/F, New World Building, No.2-68 Nanjing Xi Rd, +86 21 6358 7878. Madame Tussauds Shanghai, a must go for leisure, near people park center, From Nan Jing Road, take walk to West and go to People Park, you can see the building after taking the underground road.

What to eat and drink in Shanghai, China


Shanghai's cuisine, like its people and culture, is primarily a fusion of the forms of the surrounding Jiangnan region, with influences sprinkled in more recently from the farther reaches of China and elsewhere. Characterized by some as sweet and oily, the method of preparation used in Shanghai, it emphasizes freshness and balance, with particular attention to the richness that sweet and sour characteristics can often bring to dishes that are otherwise generally savory.
Shanghai local cuisine or Shanghainese food is also known as Shanghainese cuisine, and authentic Shanghai cuisine, mainly features freshness, especially the fresh fish and shrimps, bright colors, and original flavors. Boiled eel(锅烧河鳗), three yellow chicken(三黄鸡), fried shrimp (油爆河虾), Shanghai drunk crab(上海醉蟹), etc. are the typical local cuisine. 
The name "Shanghai" means "above the sea", but paradoxically, the local preference for fish often tends toward the freshwater variety due to the city's location at the mouth of China's longest river. Seafood, nonetheless, retains great popularity and is often braised (fish), steamed (fish and shellfish), or stir-fried (shellfish). Watch out for any seafood that is fried, as these dishes rely far less on freshness and are often the remains of weeks' old purchases.
Shanghai's preference for meat is unquestionably pork. Pork is ubiquitous in the style of Chinese cooking, and in general, if a mention refers to something as "meat" (肉) without any modifiers, the safe assumption is that it is pork. Minced pork is used for dumpling and bun fillings, whereas strips and slices of pork are promulgated in a variety of soups and stir-fries. The old standby of Shanghainese cooking is "red-cooked [braised/stewed] pork" (红烧肉), a traditional dish throughout Southern China with the added flair of anise and sweetness provided by the chefs of Shanghai.
Chicken takes the honorable mention in the meat category, and the only way to savor chicken in the Chinese way is to eat it whole (as opposed to smaller pieces in a stir-fry). Shanghai's chickens were once organic and grass-fed, yielding smaller birds offering more tender and flavorful meat than its hormone-injected Western counterparts. Unfortunately, these hormones have found their way to China, and today most chickens are little different from what can be found elsewhere. Still, the unforgettable preparations (drunken, salt-water, plain-boiled with dipping sauce, etc.) of whole chickens chopped up and brought to the table will serve as a reminder that while the industrialization of agriculture has arrived from the West, the preservation of flavor is still an essential element of the local cooking.
Those looking for less cholesterol-laden options need not fret. Shanghai lies at the heart of a region of China that produces and consumes a disproportionately large amount of soy. Thinking tofu? There's the stinky version that when deep-fried, permeates entire blocks with its earthy, often offensive aroma. Of course, there are also tofu skins, soy milk (both sweet and savory), firm tofu, soft tofu, tofu custard (generally sweet and served from a road-side cart), dried tofu, oiled tofu and every kind of tofu imaginable with the exception of tofurkey. There's also vegetarian duck, vegetarian chicken and vegetarian goose, each of which looks and tastes nothing like the fowl after which it is named but is rather just a soy-dish where the bean curd is expected to approximate the meat's texture. Look out also for gluten-based foods at vegetarian restaurants, which unlike tofu, do not come with the phytoestrogens that have recently made soy controversial in some countries. If you are vegetarian, do be conscious that tofu in China is often regarded not as a substitute for meat (except by the vegetarian Buddhist monks) but rather as an accompaniment to it. As such, take extra care to ensure that your dish isn't served with peas and shrimp or stuffed with minced pork before you order it.
Some other Shanghainese dishes to look out for:
  • xiǎo lóng bāo (小笼包, lit. buns from the little steaming cage; fig. steamed dumpling). Probably the most famous Shanghai dish: small steamed buns - often confused for dumplings - come full of tasty (and boiling hot!) broth inside with a dab of meat to boot. The connoisseur bites a little hole into them first, sips the broth, then dips them in dark vinegar (醋 cù ) to season the meat inside. Of special mention is Din Tai Feng, an ever-popular Taiwanese restaurant boasting its designation as one of The New York Times 10 best restaurants in the world, with a handful of locations in Puxi and one in Pudong.
  • shēng jiān bāo (生煎包, lit. freshly grilled buns). Unlike steamed dumplings, these larger buns come with dough from raised flour, are pan-fried until the bottoms reach a deliciously crispy brown, and have not made their way to Chinese menus around the world (or even around China). Still popular with Shanghainese for breakfast and best accompanied by vinegar, eat these with particular care, as the broth inside will squirt out just as easily as their steamed cousins.
  • Shàng hǎi máo xiè (上海毛蟹; Shanghai hairy crab). Best eaten in the winter months (Oct-Dec) and paired with Shaoxing wine to balance out your yin and yang.
  • xiè fěn shī zi tóu (蟹粉狮子头; lit. crab meat pork meatballs).
For local eat outs, see below. Do not be too surprised by the cheap prices for the same dishes you may pay for in restaurants, these are where the local gems reside:
  • UnTour Shanghai. UnTour Shanghai helps tourists and new residents of Shanghai get comfortable with the city's dynamic food scene fast. They offer culinary tours of the city, including street food breakfast and night market tours and dumpling-specific tours, as well as Chinese cooking classes.  
  • Jia Jia Tang Bao 佳家汤包, 黄浦区黄河路90号(近凤阳路) (near people's square), 021-63276878. 5 other outlets in Shanghai, the one listed is located near people's square i.e. in a very central location. Although very cheap, the xiǎo lóng bāo 小笼包 hold their own against the ones sold in restaurants in ding tai feng. Be prepared for modest no frill local dining settings. Price range from plain pork to crab meat ones, c.12-25yuan per long of a dozen dumplings. Highly recommended for tourists who want a taste of where the locals go for their dumpling dose.
  • Xiao Yang Sheng Jian 小杨生煎, 静安区吴江路269号2楼 (near nan jing xi lu), 021-61361391. Numerous other outlets in Shanghai. A must try place for the abovementioned shēng jiān bāo 生煎包. 
  • Eating Adventures Shanghai, 86 186 8838 0352. Eating Adventures offers foodie tours with a focus on Shanghainese cuisine in Old Shanghai. Tours offer insights into both local cuisine and culture. Tasting locations include some of the oldest establishments in Shanghai. All guides are fully licensed local Chinese guides.  
For a more upscale and cleaner market go to Cityshop or Ole.
  • Yang's Dumpling, 88号 Huanghe Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China, 200000. One of the best places to try the local bun specialties. Their menu is in English as well as Chinese, ironically except for the famous buns which are listed on the left of the menu in Chinese only.
  • 南翔馒头店 著名小笼包专卖店, YuYuan Bazaar. 南翔馒头店 著名小笼包专卖店 (Nán xiáng mántou diàn zhùmíng xiǎo lóng bāo zhuānmài diàn) is a dumpling take-out window in the YuYuan Bazaar which apparently serves food regardless of the customer’s dietary needs (you are warned!), so if you are delicate, to avoid.  


Prices of drinks in cafes and bars vary like they would any major metropolis. They can be cheap or be real budget-busters. There are internationally-known chains, like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, as well as popular domestic and local java joints to satisfy those looking to relax. Tipping is not required, and while some will appreciate it, many will chase you down the street to return your money, thinking you've forgotten it! Visitors from tax & tip bar culture countries, once they figure in tax and tip that they'd have paid back home, will not find drinking to be expensive in the grand scheme of things, especially with reasonable taxi prices to get you to and fro!
Tsingtao, Snow, and Suntory beer are widely available cold in bottles in cans. Major foreign brands are produced domestically and smaller brands are typically imported. There is also a local brew known as REEB (beer spelled backwards). 711 and Family Mart will also carry Heineken and Japanese beers like Kirin and Asahi. Taiwan Beer used to be readily available but has died off since 2009. Cheers-In and other emerging shops carry a range of delicious imported Belgian ales and American craft beers, but you're better off going to one of three KAIBA in town to enjoy these in a proper environment with some tasty chow to boot.
Shanghai is filled with amazing nightlife, complete with both affordable bars and nightclubs that pulsate with a city energy. A mix of locals and Westerns can be found in Bar Rouge or MINT. However, both clubs are posh, so expect Western prices! For a touch of down to earth drinking & rock'n'roll, head to Danish-owned INFERNO at 480 Yongjia Lu near Yueyang Lu in French Concession 上海市徐汇区永嘉路480号 (021-54666068). Walk down the alleyway once you hit the address, and friendly faces await to take your reasonable requests and serve you tasty booze until 5 or 6 am on the weekends, 2 AM on weekdays.
Warning: Shanghai is a safe place to be, but as in any foreign country, be mindful of drinking to excess and how you will be perceived. The one Chinese guy that you stumble into may not be able to take you down, but his 6 friends might assist. You are a visitor here, and while the feeling of 'anything is possible' pervades at night here, remember to behave yourself and you can have a great night out. Recreational drug use in clubs is not uncommon, but don't think you're immune to being stung for it if you so choose to participate. To the males reading: many beautiful Chinese women are about, but they don't think you're a god because you come from a foreign land. Treat them with respect and maybe you'll make a new friend, but the days of yesteryear where a foreigner impresses locals by virtue of being here, if they did truly exist, are long over.
There are many magazines for Expats that can be found at hotels and other expat eateries that list events and the best bars, clubs, and restaurants in Shanghai. The most popular ones are That's Shanghai, City Weekend, and Time Out.
  • Pub Crawl Shanghai, Various locations, +86 187-2100-4614, 5 PM-3 AM. In addition to a plethora of watering holes ranging from bars, lounges, dives and world-class clubs, there is a pub crawl that arranges transportation to various popular venues. For non-Mandarin speakers or those in town for just a few days, this service takes the guesswork out of finding the hippest, most interesting spots that bustle with expatriates and locals. 
  • Brewery Tour Shanghai, Various locations. 2:30-6:30 pm. An offshoot of Pub Crawl, this one's suitable not only for the backpacking type but also for professionals and even families, if your kids don't mind riding in a minibus. The tour visits three breweries where you'll be supplied with ample beer, pub grub, and plenty of time to chat with the brewmaster. Beer-related trivia on the bus lets you show off your Wikipedia-reading skills. 

Shopping in Shanghai, China

Shop until you drop on China's premier shopping street Nanjing Road (南京东路), or head for the Yuyuan Bazaar for Chinese crafts and jewelry not far from the Bund. Nanjing Road is a long street. The more famous part lies in the east near the Bund (Nanjing Road East), with a 1-km long pedestrian boulevard (Metro line 2 at Nanjing Road East station, formerly called Henan Road station) lined with busy shops. The wide boulevard is often packed with people on weekends and holidays. The shops are often targeted to domestic tourists, so the prices are surprisingly reasonable. Local people often look down on Nanjing Road and shop at Huaihai Road (another busy shopping boulevard with more upscale stores) instead.

For the high-end boutiques, go to the west end of Nanjing Road West (南京西路) near Jing'an Temple. Several large shopping malls (Plaza 66 aka Henglong Plaza, Citic Plaza, Meilongzhen Plaza, and others being built) house boutiques bearing the most famous names in fashion. No. 3 on the Bund is another high-end shopping complex featuring Giorgio Armani's flagship store in China.
For those interested in boutique shopping, head to the French Concession Streets Xinle Lu (新乐路), Changle Lu (长乐路) and Anfu Lu (安福路) starting from east of Shaanxi Lu (陕西路) (nearest Metro station is South Shanxi Rd on line 1). This section of low rise building and tree-lined streets bustles with small boutiques of clothing and accessories, where young Shanghainese looking for the latest fashions shop. The overhauled, cozy alleyways of Tian Zi Fang is also extremely popular and is a bit more elbow-to-elbow than Xintiandi.

Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore (Shanghai Book Traders) at 390 Fuzhou Rd (near People's Square) offers a lot of books in English and other major languages, especially for learning Chinese. Just around the corner at 36 South Shanxi Rd you will also find a small but well-stocked second-hand foreign-language bookshop. If you're searching for computer or business related books, head to the biggest store in Fuzhou Rd: Shanghai Book Town (上海书城). You'll find special editions targeted at the Chinese market. The only difference to the original version is the Chinese cover and the heavily reduced price. Fuzhou Road is also a good street to wander around and find stationery and Chinese calligraphy related shops.

Those interested in DVDs of movies and television shows have a wide variety of options. Aside from the people selling DVDs out of boxes on street corners you can also find a good selection of movies at many local DVD shops in most neighborhoods. Perhaps the best way to score a deal with a shop is to be a regular. If you provide them repeat business they are usually quite happy to give you discounts for your loyal patronage.

However, if you are short on time in Shanghai and don't have the means to form a relationship with a shop, many people recommend the Ka De Club. An expat favorite for years, they have two shops: one in 483, Zhenning Rd and the other one in 505, Da Gu Rd (a small street between Weihai and Yan'an Rds). While the selection at the Ka De Club isn't bad the downside of this store's popularity is that with so many foreigners giving them business, you tend to get somewhat higher prices than at local shops and haggling and repeat customer bargains are pretty much non-existent.

Antiques, jade and communist China memorabilia can be found in Dongtai Road Antiques Market, where you must bargain if you want to get a fair deal. Yuyuan Gardens is another good option for antiques as well as all manner of cheaply made and priced souvenirs (teapots, paintings, "silk" bags, etc.). There are two basement markets. You will have to hunt for them, but they are worth the effort. As with any market in China, don't be afraid to bargain to get a fair price.

Xujiahui Metro station is the place to go if you're after game consoles (the Wii is available here in relative abundance), computers, computer accessories, and many other electronics, but the mobile phone selection is a bit lacking.
  • Bu Ye Cheng Communications Market (不夜城), (Shanghai Railway Station, exit 4 from line 1 side, turn left and it's the large gold building). 10 AM-6 PM. This is one of the best-known open-style markets for mobile phone in Shanghai. 1F/2F for new phones (two-way radios too), 3F for various collectibles. Any reputable vendor that sets up shop here will allow you to try before you buy- if they don't then leave. Best way to get a good or unusual phone at low cost.
There is a giant electronics mart at the Baoshan Road line 3/4 station, which offers a huge range of miscellaneous electronics and mobile phones, however, some are fake. Be sure to bargain hard. If you want to buy a mobile phone here, make sure you have a SIM card before you purchase, and test the SIM card in the phone by making a call, perhaps to the vendor, since some of the phones are non-functional but still turn on. It's best to negotiate as low as possible first, and then try out your SIM card. Note, some of the phones are stolen.

The infamous Xiangyang Market was finally shut down for good in 2006. The biggest "replacement" market is in the Metro station (Line 2) at the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum (上海科技馆). The most common name for the market is "A.P. New XinYang Fashion Market." There are a number of variations, and the name really doesn't even matter. The easiest way to get here is by Metro and there you can purchase all your knock-off products. The place is much more overrun by foreigners than Qipu Lu (below), and as such the prices for clothes are considerably higher. However, there is a wider selection here of other products: software, games, electronics, etc.

The horrendously crowded Qipu Lu (七浦路) clothing market is a mass of stalls jammed into a warehouse-sized building which would take the casual stroller most of a day to look through. You'll find the cheapest clothes in the city here, but even the trendiest styles are clearly Chinese. Bargain hard, in Chinese if you can and make friends with the shop owners. Many of them have secret stashes of knock-offs in hidden rooms behind the stall "walls." Avoid this place on weekends at all costs. Some of the touts here can be very, very annoying. Be prepared for people following you relentlessly through malls, even up and down escalators - if this gets to a point where it's uncomfortable, call the police (English speaking PSB line is 6357-6666). You can get the metro to Tiantong Road (天潼路)on line 10 - the stop is right outside. If you want to see some "old Shanghai" style buildings you can also get off at Qufu Road (曲阜路) on line 8 and walk about 10-15 minutes.

Another option is the Pearl Plaza located on Yan'an Xi Lu and Hongmei Lu (Line 10, get off at Longxi Rd stop, go south on Hongmei Lu out of the station past Yan'an elevated road, on right) as well as the unassuming shopping complex located on the corner of Nanjing Xi Lu and Chongqing Lu. Haggling can be fun for those who are accustomed to it, but those sensitive to the pressure might want to steer clear. Not only can it be stressful to haggle, but just walking in to the buildings can bring a horde of people upon you trying to sell you bags, watches, DVDs and all assortment of goods.

But rather than pursuing knock-offs of Western brands, one of the more interesting things to do in Shanghai is to check out the small boutiques in the French Concession area. Some of these are run by individual designers of clothing, jewelry, etc and so the items on sale can truly be said to be unique. Visitors from overseas should expect the usual problem of finding larger sizes.
  • Shanghai South Bund Material Market: 399 Lujiabang Rd (陆家浜路). 10 AM-6 PM. You can take bus #802 or #64 from the Shanghai Railroad Station and stop at the final stop: Nanpu Bridge Terminal or you can take the Metro Line 4 to the Nanpu Bridge (南浦大桥) Station (exit from gate #1, make a left from the exit and then left again on the light. You will see it to your right after walking about 200 to 250 m. Three floors of tailors and their materials including silk, cashmere, merino wool. Have items measured, fitted and finished within two days or bring examples, samples or pictures. Bargain hard with the friendly tailors.
  • A smaller and less crowded tailor market can be found under the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (Metro Line 2).
Supermarkets and Convenience Stores
Major supermarket chains such as Carrefour, Auchan, Tesco, and Walmart are scattered around the city and have cheap groceries and household products, and are generally crowded at weekends. The most centrally located 'big chain' supermarket is Carrefour located in floors B1 and B2 of Cloud 9 shopping mall (metro: Zhongshan Park Lines 2, 3 and 4). Tesco has a store in Zhabai district close to the main railway station and there is a huge Lotus supermarket in Top Brands mall in Liujiazui (Metro: Liujiazui, Line 2). Whilst there are many stores around the city selling imported products at fairly high prices, Metro Cash'n'Carry (Metro: Longyang Lu; Lines 2, 7 and Maglev; Puxi store located at intersection of Zhenbei Rd and Meichuan Rd, reachable by bus #827 from Line 2 Beixinjing station, Line 10 Shuicheng Rd station, and Line 10 Jiaotong University station or bus #947 from Line 2 Zhongshan Park station and Line 3/4 Jinshajiang Rd station) in Pudong is by far the cheapest place to buy imported goods. As it caters primarily to businesses, you will either need a Metro membership card or take a temporary guest pass from reception when entering the store (Puxi store offers no guest passes but most members are willing to lend their membership card at the check-out line).
Ubiquitous FamilyMart 24-hour convenience stores can be found around the main central districts and inside major metro stations - these stores sell magazines, snacks, drinks, and Japanese-style hot bento-boxes although prices are high by Chinese standards. Chinese chains such as KeDi and C-Store can be found in residential districts and are marginally cheaper and also stock cigarettes. 7-Eleven and Lawson convenience stores are less common but can be found around the Nanjing Road area.

Safety in Shanghai, China

Shanghai is a fairly safe city and violent crime is rare, and the streets are quite safe to walk about at night (provided you're not looking for trouble). However, the ever-increasing divide between the haves and have-nots has created its fair share of problems. Petty crimes like pickpocketing and bike theft are common, and sexual harassment occasionally occurs on crowded public transport. Pay extra caution before the Chinese New Year (in Jan or Feb depending on the lunar calendar), as thieves may be more active in looking for new year money.

BEWARE pick-pockets groups on the main shopping streets. These groups are usually two or more gypsy-women carrying babies whose intention is for a couple of extra Yuan, but make sure your bags are in view at all times. This sight is extremely common on Nanjing West and East road during rush hours, or late nights outside bars and clubs.

Beware of taxi scams - ride inside the illegal taxi to a distant direction. First you agree on price then after some short taxi ride they ask to get out and a group of people says that you need to pay agreed money right now. Then you get transferred to a shared bus where other people cheated like yourself sitting and waiting when the bus will depart, then the bus finally gets to the destination. Although taxi drivers are required to take you to the location mentioned, it's always better to check with the driver if he/she is ok to take you there, rather than getting in and finding out half way that you've been jibbed.

The notorious tea house scam scams, long practiced in Beijing, is, unfortunately, spreading to Shanghai as well. Be cautious if over friendly strangers, who probably dress well, speak fluent English, and look innocent like a student, who invite you to a drink, art gallery, tea shop, or karaoke - you're unlikely to be physically harmed, but they will leave you to foot a large bill. In this case, you should call 110 (emergency hotline). The con artists may tell you that calling the police does not work and claim to have connections with police, but the police in China tend to be helpful in these cases, especially when innocent foreigners are involved. These scams can be found around East Nanjing Rd or People's Square near the entrances/exits of the museums and art galleries. A similar thing can happen if you go with one of the people advertising massages (or more). Don't follow them into any house unless you want to meet a bouncer on your way out who threatens you to pay a huge room fee. If you want a legit massage service, ask your hotel or another trustworthy source.

Another trend is a temple scam which is happening in various big cities and also Tibet. Tour guides may ask you to make a wish and burn an incense which ends up costing a hundred to more than a thousand. Another trick is to ask you how much you want to "donate". After you said ¥10, they will tell you that ¥10 is for a 1-day blessing but the monk has already turned an incense to bless you for 1 year, so you need to pay 365 x 10 yuan. This scam has caused significant backlash because of blasphemy. No legitimate temples in China ever charge followers in this way. Most temples will also include small signage of how much joss sticks or offerings are charged.

Male travelers may attract attention from female sex workers at nightspots. Around Old Town and Science Museum in Pudong, hawkers are sometimes also eager to sell. Saying bu4 yao4 le ("don't want") may help. Also, be cautious of people who approach and offer to polish your shoes. Make sure both of you agree on the price before anything is put on your shoes. The same rule also applies to the commercial photographers at the Bund area. They will offer to take your picture with the scenic background (and sometimes with costumes) for ¥50, but once you have contracted their services, several cohorts will arrive to "assist" the photographer. They may force you to buy all the snapshots and try to gather crowds to increase pressure.

Don't rush into or out of Shanghai metro trains in the last moment. Despite the safety barriers on the platform, the train doors sometimes close before all passengers have boarded; people squeezed between closing doors is a common sight. Apparently, the fail safe that is supposed to block trains from running with open doors isn't stone-proof. However, recently there have been more guards that are making sure that people are not in between the platform and the train. Be sure to lead children away from the edge of the platform, as there are no railings for some trains. Other trains have sliding glass doors that restrict this possibility.

By Chinese law, foreigners are required to show their passports when requested, but this is rarely enforced. Most hotels will help you keep the passport in the safe.

Beware of fake note scams. After paying at a restaurant or shop with a legitimate note, the vendor will bring you back a fake note and claim that you just paid with it. Always note the serial number of the note you pay with, especially with larger notes.

This can also happen at hotels. People will knock on your door and try to sell you something, but once you've paid, the seller will tell you that you've paid with a fake note.

Language spoken in Shanghai, China

For visitors unused to travel in China the language barrier is likely to be the biggest obstacle, as English ability tends to be very limited in all but the largest tourist draws and establishments that cater specifically to foreign visitors. Mandarin-learners need to be aware that Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, is the first language of locals and very different from Mandarin, although most Shanghainese under the age of 50 speak Mandarin to one degree or another. The use of Shanghainese as the de facto 'first' language of the city has been discouraged by the government and its use is decreasing both due to the effect of the paramount use of Mandarin in mass media and by the large-scale influx of out-of-town Chinese moving to Shanghai to work in recent years.

In addition, Shanghainese speakers have a particular accent when speaking Mandarin. Mandarin is heavily tone-based and speakers from Beijing can easily be understood (most textbooks are based on their accent or an approximation). Shanghainese speakers, as second-language learners of Mandarin themselves, have appropriated some of the features of the Shanghainese language onto their Mandarin. While in other languages this would not be a problem, given the phonemic and tonal nature inherent to Mandarin, the slightest shift in pronunciation can make it much more difficult to understand. The best thing to do is say "说慢一点" (shuō màn yī diǎn) which means "speak a little slower".

Also, many unskilled laborers from rural China, particularly Anhui and Jiangsu provinces, where local languages dominate ("dialect" in government jargon) and Mandarin level is sometimes adequate at best, have moved into Shanghai. They often suffer as do foreigners visiting Shanghai as these laborers ("country-side people," as the Shanghainese call them) have problems with Mandarin, speak little to absolutely no Shanghainese and English, and coincidentally, often are in the streets selling wares or cooking up street food. Do not show frustration when trying to communicate, as it will make them even less interested in understanding you. Do your best, use gestures or your smartphone. Many apps now can translate what you want into Chinese and speak it out audibly - important as many of these individuals do not read Chinese characters. Patience is always your best friend in Shanghai, and on a greater sense, everywhere in China.

Rudimentary Chinese and/or pattern matching ability for character recognition will help, as will getting your destination and some simple directions to it written in Chinese characters, particularly when traveling by taxi. Some taxi drivers know English, but not much. Make sure to not waste time with difficult grammatical constructions and pleasantries such as "Oh I was wondering if you could help me find..." It is too confusing. Just say "The Bund" (wai tan) or "Nanjing West" (nanjing xi lu). Though it may seem rude to an English speaker, this is EXACTLY how Chinese would say it in Mandarin and is much more effective. If you want to be more polite, basically anywhere in China, add "shifu" before where you would like to go, i.e."Shifu, The Bund".

However, with the opening-up policy, the situation has been improved. As English is compulsory in Chinese schools, an increasing number of younger people know some basic English. If you are lost, try approaching younger people, such as high school or university students and stick to basic phrases; they might be able to point you in the right direction. Speak slowly, enunciate your words, and if rejected, a polite smile and even an English language "Thank you" will be well received!


4:44 pm
May 19, 2022


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