Shanghai, Shanghai. What a chaotic place you were. The city was a vibrant, cosmopolitan gem with everything you could need as a traveler and then some.
The worlds second most populous city with 34 million people (only beaten by Tokyo) is a favourite of expats and international students from across the globe.
From Disneyland, to ancient temples to a Chinese version of Venice and the futuristic skyline, there was plenty to do, see and, of course, eat .
I had two days in Shanghai and tried to fit in as much as possible. I sadly missed Disneyland and the Jade Buddha Temple which are two known highlights to the city, but to be honest I was too busy staring at that incredible skyline to even care.
So without further ado, check out my favourite things I saw/did in the city of the future.
6. Jing’an Temple
I think I was all temple’d out by the time I got to Shanghai after having wandered through temples all across China for the past two weeks, but the Jing’an Temple was really beautiful and a definite favourite. It was very extravagant with shiny mahogany paneling, white railings, golden roofs and trimming and the complex houses China’s largest jade buddha. The temple was still very much used as a place of worship, with incense burning throughout and people throwing coins into or on top of the two storey high shrine in the middle of the courtyard. Apparently getting one in is a sign of good luck.
5. The People’s Park
The park was beautiful in itself but it was the interesting event I witnessed there which had it make the list. I was there on a Saturday and whilst wandering around, I came across an area of the park filled with older Chinese people sitting, lining the edges of the paths with umbrellas fanned out in front of them. On top of the umbrellas were laminated signs with writing. I was scratching my head, confused at what it could be. They all looked solemn so I considered maybe a memorial or they were telling stories of some sort? It had me bamboozled.
After a little research I discovered this is an old school match-making service. Nicknamed the ‘Match-making Corner’, parents of young, single locals head to the popular spot on weekends to ‘sell’ their children in the hope of finding their future in laws. The signs detail their ‘resume’ which will include their gender, age, height, weight, education, career, wage etc and more attention is gained for home owners or people with small families and less elders (the less baggage the better)… Only in China, I tell ya!
4. Zhujiajiao Ancient Town
A short bus ride out of Shanghai will take you to the Chinese version of Venice. There’s even a grand canal inclusive of a Rialto-esque bridge. Wander through the alleyways to venture to the smaller canal and browse through the shops to find unique gifts or better yet, try some weird and wonderful delicacies.
3. The Nightlife
Shanghai is a very young and vibrant city, filled with some pretty cool bars and nightclubs.
I was traveling solo, so decided to join a pub crawl with an hour of unlimited drinks at the first bar and free shots and drinks throughout. It was well worth the money. Check out Pub Crawl Shanghai if you’re in need of a party!
TIP: Make sure to have your hotel/hostel in Chinese readily available to get you home. It took me about an hour to get home, driving all across the city because the driver didn’t understand any english and I was unprepared (and maybe pretty tipsy).
2. Yu Garden & the historic temple complex
This historic area is chaotic, especially on weekends as it’s packed with tourists and locals. It’s not hard to see why. The area is beautiful and winding through the tiny streets lined with ancient Chinese architecture made it feel like a giant historical maze. Finding your way to the Yu Garden, this area is a breath of fresh air and a peaceful haven in the midst of an intense and busy place. The Chinese gardens, filled with pergolas, beautiful big trees, temples and large ponds with coy fish is a real place of zen.
How could this not be number one?! Look at that skyline! (insert emoji with hearts as eyes) I went back and forth to the Bund for the two days during my visit too many times to count. The futuristic skyline’s number one feature is The Oriental Pearl TV & Radio Tower which, come nighttime, dances with lights in it’s own little light show. Spectacular to see day and night!
Have you been to Shanghai? What do you think I missed or what were your favourite parts?