Shanghai: The Crown Jewel of China’s Mainland

I’ve been to Shanghai three times now. The first time was right after the New Year’s Eve stampede, so many things were closed and the second time was just for a day. This time, I finally got to experience what this amazing city is all about and I’m completely infatuated with it. Shanghai is where high-end shopping, fabulous international cuisine, fiery nightlife and breathtaking views blend with authentic Chinese culture and two-dollar dumpling dinners.

They don’t call it the Paris of the East for nothing. As one friend put it, “it’s the crown jewel of mainland China.” Here are 8 reasons why Shanghai is awesome.

#1. The Bund, obviously

Attend afternoon tea at The House of Roosevelt from 2-5pm. They have an expansive terrace along the Huangpu River and you can even bring your own bottle of champagne or wine- simply pay the corking fee. The panoramic views are breathtaking. Before 10pm, the buildings along the Bund put on a bit of a light show. Dinner at Vue Bar, Roosevelt Sky Restaurant or Mr. and Mrs. Bund would be fabulous, but a walk along the river would also suffice. Either way, don’t miss Shanghai’s skyline at night!

the bund shanghai

Check out that view!

shanghai bund

House of Roosevelt: not a terrible place to enjoy a cocktail or cup of tea

#2. China’s Best Nightlife

Visit Shanghai’s best club, M1NT, where a tank of live shark welcomes you to the dance floor. Or have a drink at Bar Rouge, where you can dance on a massive terrace overlooking the beautiful Bund. Check out the video from Bar Rouge below. Any American fire marshal would have had a heart attack when they started pouring lighter fluid all over the crowded bar for this display.

shanghai nightlife mint

Baby shark attack?

#3. Insane Architecture

In Pudong, visit the Shanghai World Financial Center, also known as “the bottle opener building”. It’s one of the tallest buildings in the world and includes a pretty cool observatory. I’m not afraid of heights at all, but I definitely felt a little dizzy up there! Check it out at night for amazing views of the city lights.

shanghai observation pudong china

Not ideal if you’re afraid of heights

shanghai city view

Are those cars or ants?

shanghai observatory

World’s Highest Observatory!

shanghai observation deck

View from the bottle opener building

#4. Acrobats

Remember the Beijing Olympics? The Chinese know what they’re doing when it comes to entertainment. I saw the most flexible humans I’ve ever seen in my life at Shanghai’s acrobatic performance.

shanghai acrobatic show

Action shot during the show… this picture makes them look like amateurs

#5. Day Trips Galore

Head to Hangzhou and visit the famous West Lake. Check out the ancient town at Zhujiajiao. Or do what I did and explore the famous rock gardens in Suzhou. We made the (minor) mistake of going in January, but I can imagine how beautiful Suzhou must be when the flowers are in bloom.

suzhou rock garden

Suzhou rock garden

#6. Love… sort of

Visit People’s Square on a weekend afternoon and you’ll witness the real life version of match.com. In China, marriage is probably the most important thing for any 20-something. If there’s an unwed adult child, parents often feel the need to take matters into their own hands by setting up shop and advertising their son or daughter in the park. Talk about embarrassing, meddling parents!

  A video posted by Kate W 魏可兰 (@the_kateland) on

#7. Shop Till You Drop

Take the subway to Shanghai Science & Technology Museum to pick up some fake ray-bans, a new handbag or even buy some of the real stuff at insanely low prices. I now have an entire closet full of REAL Lululemon yoga pants, shirts and jackets that I bought for less than $100. In the US, just one pair of pants from Lulu is around $100! They also sell real Vera Bradley and who knows what else. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the real from the fake stuff. This place is worth a visit!

#8. Yuyuan Garden

Relax in a tea house, feed the massive coy fish, do a little shopping, taste the delicious dumplings and enjoy the exceptional people watching.

shanghai yu yuan garden

Yuyuan garden at night

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