Alone and only with my thoughts, expectations and a big suitcase I stepped out of the Pudong International Airport. My Chinese friends recommended
to take Maglev (at that time I had no idea what this Maglev can be), because it’s the fastest way to reach the city.
For budget travelers or for those who want to save money and are not really into experiencing the fastest train in the world, I will suggest to take the subway/metro line that is also available from Pudong International Airport.
I don’t remember what was the difference in price between these two means of transportation, but I recall that with the Maglev the same distance takes about 8 minutes and with the subway 1 hour!
Because I stopped for more time in Shanghai, I decided to rent a room in a shared flat than living in a hostel for 3 months!
Shanghai has many things to offer, from high-end fashion boutiques to fake items, from luxurious hotels to shabby hostels and motels, from fine dining to street food. It is only up to you to decide what you want to try and experience. I will warn you though, that if you want to try street food, is better to go with a local friend, that knows where is safe to eat or ask the personnel from your hostel/hotel what they would recommend. Be aware that in some of the Asian countries, you need to take immunization before you go, especially Hepatitis A and B and Tetanus/ Diphtheria. In order to have a better image of what to expect, you must talk with your family doctor or the physician you’re used to go whenever you felt sick…oh, in Netherlands they have a special hospital or something like this where you can take the immunization you need before going to a country that requires specific immunization. There are some airline companies (such as KLM) that have travel clinics where you can take your immunization before you go in vacation. Just check it out!
I have to say that I ate street food in China, many times. But NOT from the first day and not every day! One of my selection criteria was to look for cleanness and how many people eat there. If it was clean and the food was cooked on order, then I had no problem in having a lunch or some fried noodles. Another rule, under any circumstances DO NOT buy cold food!!! Unless you’re not in a clean restaurant or in a restaurant that is in one of the malls with a long queue, then never order/ eat cold food! Buy drinks in bottles and buy them only in supermarkets/ shops or machines that sell drinks (7eleven, Fam Marts, Carrefour, etc).
One thing that tourists, visitors and travelers should be aware of (and is valid for all Chinese territory) is the real danger of being raped off!
The scams of all sorts, such as:
- Taxi drivers (that will take you around) – it is better to have on a piece of paper your address written in Chinese and show it to the driver. Also, if you have the chance, ask one of your Chinese friends to help you with this.
- All sorts of “FREE” things, like : cosmetics, perfumes, beauty services, etc. Once you accepted to try something for ” free”, rest assured that at the end of the whole thing, you’ll be asked to pay or forced to buy something you just have tried.
- People that speak fluent English and are trying to be nice to you. They can be of any age : from high school students to older people!!! They will offer you many things, such as: teach you Chinese for free, they’ll say that they are doing it just to practice English with you. The trick here is that, they will pursue you to buy books, take you to different touristic spots (they will teach you some of the Chinese history and culture) where you’ll have to pay their entrance tickets as well, and of course their meals!
- Some other people will offer other kind of services, such as ” FREE” guides! Never accept these kind of things, because they’ll just walk about 5-10 minutes and then ask you to have a lunch, dinner or a tea (sometime they use exotic names or ingredients to make it sound more catchy) at a “VERY NICE” place. At that place you’ll have to pay a lot, because those places are, usually, expensive even for local middle-class. The trick here is that if they are women/ girls then they’ll ask you to be a gentleman and pay for her/them as well….or pretend that they have forgotten their wallets! If it’s a couple, then most probable, they “won’t have enough money” to pay their share and in this case you’ll end up covering 2/3 of the bill!!! These people, as a rule, receive % of your consumption and this is why they are the most interested that you spend as much as possible!!!!!
Thus, ignore ALL the nice smiling people that might come your way in the streets!!!! Never accept what they are offering and go your way.
One place that I like in Shanghai is the Bund! It’s a wonderful part of the city with old, built by different countries, as they occupied Shanghai. The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 26 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance. Also, don’t miss the “lovers wall”, a 1,700-meters long flood-control wall. If you want to go party and have no idea where, you should go to Bar Rouge! The view from this place is AMAZING! Go on their page to check for the upcoming events 😉
East Nanjing Road and West Nanjing Road are shopping streets, with different brands, from local to international brands. Don’t expect to pay less for an international brand!!!! Even if the items are made in China, they will cost you about +50% sometime even more than what you’ll pay in your home country!
People’s square is nice and not far from the Starbucks (exit from the green line or line 2) there’s a mall, not very big (Chinese standards) and at the 4th floor there’s a food court with very nice food at reasonable prices 😀
Jing’an Temple, old parks around Shanghai, Yu Yuan Garden -crowded but very nice!, Dongtai Road (antiques and curio shops off Xizang Road) If you’re lucky and the air is clean and the weather is nice then you may want to see experience the panoramic view over the city. To do this you can choose from the Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center or the newest spot the Jin Mao Tower (88 Century Blvd, Shanghai 200121). The entrance in these towers isn’t for free, therefore expect to stay in line and buy a ticket. If you want to attend a performance, then you should check the program of the Shanghai Great Theatre – it is a very and very beautiful theatre!
Two things before I go:
- If you decided to stay longer in Shanghai, I will strongly recommend you to buy a transportation card! Besides that you’ll use it everytime you take a bus or metro, it will save you time and money too! Tip: Carefour busses are free of charge 😉 just check if there’s a bus stop around your place and do some of your groceries there. Some Chinese use these buses to travel in the city 😀
- Another exciting place is Shanghai Film Shooting Base is a theme park aimed at reproducing what Shanghai looked like during the beginning of 20th century. You can take a tour (attendance fee is 50RMB/ person) and learn more about the old Shanghai. By taking this tour you can also, besides visiting the place and taking pictures, ride a horse. On “Nan Jing Road”, you can take the rail car or a rickshaw, popular means of transportation almost a century ago.
- Stay safe and be careful, not all smiling people are being just nice! Some people smile not at you, but at the real chance to make a profit on you!
I will post more about Shanghai sometime next year 😉
Travel safe and wise!