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Shanghai City Guide

Make the most of your stay with a hotel room complete with million-dollar skyline views, xiaolongbao dumplings and a night of karaoke at Fame KTV.

Where to Stay  /  Where to Eat and Drink  /  What to Do  /  How to Get Around

Where to Stay

Le Royal Méridien Shanghai

Photo: Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts

Le Royal Méridien Shanghai

Luxe and modern, the 66-storey hotel is located at the heart of the city, making it the perfect base for shopping haute (and basse) couture on Nanjing Road, walking along the scenic Bund or visiting nearby museums.

789 Nanjing Rd. E., Shanghai

Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

Fairmont Peace Hotel

For the historic charm

Lording over the Bund since 1929, this art deco beauty has welcomed world leaders and writers like Noël Coward, who penned Private Lives in room 314. Sip on a signature gin cocktail at the Jazz Bar, where the average age of the musicians is 80. There’s been a band playing here since the 1930s, with only one hiatus, during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

20 Nanjing Rd. E., Shanghai, 86-21-6321-6888, fairmont.com

URBN

For an eco-friendly stay

Located near Jing’an Temple, this carbon-neutral hotel comes complete with a bamboo garden and reclaimed wood furnishings. The 26 rooms are fitted with low built-ins and platform beds.

183 Jiaozhou Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-5153-4600, urbnhotels.com

The Waterhouse at South Bund

For the architecture

Neri & Hu, one of the country’s best-known architectural design firms, outfitted this former warehouse on the South Bund in concrete and Corten steel, stark white walls and peek-a-boo windows between guestrooms. Rub elbows with the fashionable set at Table No. 1 on the main-floor or find cheap eats in the nearby restaurants.

1-3 Maojiayuan Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-6080-2988, waterhouseshanghai.com

Hotel Indigo

For the nightlife

Guest rooms are comfortable and bright and come with million-dollar skyline views. The indoor pool overlooks the river, though most guests can be found at the rooftop steakhouse and terrace lounge.

585 Zhongshan East 2nd Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-3302-9999, hotels-indigo.com

The PuLi

For the tranquility

By day, the hotel’s common rooms are black lacquered odes to calm, sheltered from the city by copses of evergreens; by night they’re low-lit and sexy with major buzz. In the spacious guestrooms, you can block off cozy nooks with floor-to-ceiling silk screens. The spa and glassy infinity pool are legendary for their tranquility.

1 Changde Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-3203-9999, thepuli.com

The Langham

For the shopping

Stay at this hotel in the thick of Shanghai’s shopping district and you won’t have to walk far to drop your bags. This distinctive building is an architectural triumph, and the rooms do it justice with floor-to-ceiling windows and marble bathrooms. Afternoon tea, served on fine Wedgwood china, features outlandishly decorated cakes.

99 Madang Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-2330-2288, langhamhotels.com

Where to Eat and Drink

Photo: David Leo Veksler / Creative Commons

Guyi

For the heat

Hunanese is right up there with Szechuan for mouth-numbingly spicy shredded pork and steamed fish. Here, it’s all about the chili-and-garlic-flecked ribs. Take a number (and a beer) and sit outside on the steps while the tables turn.

87 Fumin Rd., Shangahi, 86-21-6249-5628, guyi2001.com

Photo: Context Travel / Creative Commons

“Old Jesse”

For the authenticity

This location is the first and truest of the Jesse restaurant family, which serves hand-me-down Shanghainese recipes. Try the Jishi pork (tender glazed pork belly) and the Jishi Chicken Chicken (“drunken chicken”) in a cramped split-level townhouse.

41 Tianping Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-6282-9260

Photo: Hyatt Hotels

Xindalu-China Kitchen

For the Peking duck

Shanghai is not a duck town, but this Bund-side Hyatt brings the tradition south. Juicy, crispy birds come from an open oven at the centre of the room and arrive with thick sauces, spices and sugar (for dipping the roasted skin), to be carved tableside in ceremonial fashion.

Hyatt on the Bund Hotel, 199 Huangpu Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-6393-1234, shanghaithebund.hyatt.com

Photo: Gary Stevens / Creative Commons

Fu Chun Xiaolong

For the quickie dumplings

The menu at cafeteria-style dumpling house is printed in Chinese only. Use your charades skills to order the specialty xiaolongbao, tidy cases of dough with a soupy filling that seeps onto your tongue when devoured in a single bite.

650 Yuyuan Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-6252-5117

Crystal Jade

For the dim sum

Sit at the communal table at the centre of the restaurant and you’ll get a front seat to your neighbours’ choice dishes. Point if you want what they’re having, or simply scroll down the menu for dim-sum favourites. The kitchen also does a roaring trade in deep-fried Mandarin fish, a traditional Chinese dish.

Xintiandi South Block Plaza, 2/F, 123 Xingye Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-6385-8752, crystaljade.com

Hai by Goga

For the view

Enter the Shanghai Education Hall and take a tiny elevator to the seventh floor; then step onto a covered rooftop terrace with just 36  seats and a view of the Xuhui district. The pork belly was rated one of the top three in Shanghai, and the seared scallops with crushed cashews are a must.

1 Yueyang Rd., Xuhui, Shanghai, 86-21-3461-7893

Sumerian Coffee

For a caffeine fix

Single-origin coffee beans are roasted in-house at this laid-back café in the Jing’an District. Slurp your way through a guided tasting session on Saturday and Sunday mornings, or grab a java to go and explore the surrounding neighbourhood: To the north is a century-old synagogue; to the south, luxury fashion flagships abound.

415 Shaanxi N. Rd., 86-135-6475-5689, sumeriancoffee.com

Bar Constellation

For the Japanese whisky

This location is the more atmospheric of this small chain of Japanese speakeasies. Deep crescent-shaped booths accommodate parties of wild-haired creative types dressed in duds from the surrounding boutiques. Grab a stool at the backlit bar for the best service.

86 Xinle Rd., Shanghai, 86-21-5404-0970

What to Do

Shanghai First Foodhall

Photo: Algirdas Bakas

Shanghai First Foodhall

This famous four-storey emporium features everything from fresh fruit and mooncakes to dried mushrooms and duck tongues. The black sesame, scallion and pork sheng jian bao from Yang’s Fried Dumplings, tucked away in the far corner of the top floor, are to be missed at your peril.

720 Nanjing Rd. E., Shanghai

Photo: Jonathan / Creative Commons

Yu Garden

For the ancient history

Leave the chaos of the surrounding market streets for this 16th-century Ming sanctuary shaded with magnolia and gingko trees. Temples and tea houses with classic swooping clay roofs perch on rocky outcroppings, and the famous “crooked bridge” zigzags across a koi pond. Give the official restaurants a pass; you’ll fare better strolling to the Zhaozhou Road hawkers near Xintiandi.

218 Anren St., Shanghai, yugarden.com.cn

Photo: Raphaël V / Creative Commons

Xintiandi

For the café culture

This community of traditional shikumen houses was rebuilt then leased to new-generation boutiques and fine-dining restaurants. On warm days, head to the bustling cafes and wine bars that line the piazzas. Head to Danshui Road, at Xintiandi’s western edge, for cocktail joints, microbreweries and snack bars that are mash-ups of Asian and Western tastes.


Photo: hjw223 / Creative Commons

Former French Concession

For the art deco vibes

Explore Shaanxi South Road metro, where hawkers tow wood carts past upstart boutiques like Culture Matters. Duck into the shady streets behind the Shanghai Library and peer past iron gates to deco manors. Behind stone walls on Wukang Road, Ferguson Lane claims some fine cafes, galleries and boutiques.


Photo: Patrick Rasenberg / Creative Commons

Tianzifang

For the souvenirs

Locals teamed up with artists and crafters to save this maze of residential alleyways from developers, opening makeshift galleries to pay the rent. Homegrown fashion labels are popping up along Taikang Road, outside the gates of the enclave.


Fame KTV

For a night of karaoke

KTV is what the Chinese call karaoke, and it’s practiced without irony deep into the night. The private party rooms are lined with leather banquettes and wide-screen TVs. Servers keep you lubricated with champagne, spirits and nibbles as you belt out the standards.

Luwan District Industrial Rd., Lane 123, Xintiandi South Lane Shopping Center 3, Shanghai, 86-21-6384-9995

Long Museum (West Bund)

For the contemporary art

Homegrown architects Atelier Deshaus paid homage to the dour concrete of mid-century Shanghai with this soaring, light-filled sanctuary, commissioned by two billionaires for their private collection. The vast main gallery shows a wealth of vibrant paintings. Get a closer view of this striking collection from the mezzanine balcony.

3398 Longteng Ave., Shanghai, thelongmuseum.org

Photo: UnTour Food Tours

UnTour Food Tours

The best food tour

Take a three-hour all-you-can-eat breakfast excursion around the Former French Concession and sample fare from the tried-and-tested pancake-flippers, bun-steamers, egg-scramblers and dumpling-fryers. The CNY472 fee is reasonable, considering the constant flow of coffee and insider tips. A similar night-market tour includes bottomless beer.

untourfoodtours.com

How to Get Around

Getting from the Airport

Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport is about 45 kilometres outside the city centre. High-speed Maglev trains (CNY50) take you to Longyang Road Station, east of the centre, in eight minutes, but you’ll likely have to connect to the subway. Splurge for a taxi (around CNY131) from a designated stand outside each terminal for the half-hour drive into town.


Public Transportation

Shanghai’s 14 Metro lines are cheap, clean and well marked in English for easy navigation, though they are best used outside peak hours. Prices range according to distance, from around CNY3. Buy a three-day pass for CNY45 at any Metro station. Download the Explore Shanghai app for maps and directions, or visit travelchinaguide.com for more information.


Taxis

Designated cars with roof lights abound in Shanghai – look for the driver’s license hanging over the back of the seat to make sure it’s legitimate. You can find them waiting outside most hotels. (There’s no guarantee they’ll stop if you try to hail one.) Be sure you have your destination address in English and Chinese; the Shanghai Taxi app helps translate most public destinations into Chinese characters. Shanghai taxis have proper meters and cost between CNY13 and CNY21. If you’d like a receipt with your change, ask for a fapiao. There is a local version of Uber called Didi Chuxing, but registering requires local bank details.

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CITY GUIDE     HOTELS     SHANGHAI