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!
#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.
#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.
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.
#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.
#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!
#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.