City Guide: Shanghai
Tiffany has a passion for travel, adventure and new experiences. After a career in media and marketing, she recently launched her own home and living e-tailer, Cluster-Cluster. With the flexibility of an online business, Tiffany likes to incorporate her product curation with travel to make the process a lot more experiential and fun!
Can you give a big picture view of Shanghai that would help orientate a visitor to the city?
Shanghai is broken into districts, the key central ones being Jingan, Huang Pu and Xuhui. Getting around is pretty easy as the road network comprises of a rough grid system dominated by a number of major vertical and horizontal roads, with a main elevated highway running down the middle. With a map and awareness of compass points, anyone visiting shouldn't have a problem finding their destination as long as you know which specific road junction you're heading to.
What are the best ways to get around the city? Any local tips?
The best way to get around fast is in a taxi, but the most scenic and enjoyable way I prefer to travel is on foot or on a bicycle.
Tell us about your favourite neighbourhoods in Shanghai
Former French Concession
It's a green park filled area of old shikumen housing, mansions, shops and cafes. I actually live in this area and what I love about it is it's a lovely neighbourhood to walk around in and it epitomises the blend of East and West that typifies Shanghai.
I love walking in the parks and observing Shanghai's unique park culture. It's one of the cornerstones of local community where you'll see locals ballroom dancing under the trees, playing Chinese chess or discussing state affairs with friends. It's a bustling place and one of the best ways to observe traditional Shanghainese culture.
The area is filled with cafes and eateries, shops and parks so there's plenty of options but if I had to choose, I would recommend hanging out around Anfu road for its selection of cafes and trendy shops.
Sunflour in Anfu road is a place I like to eat breakfast at for its variety of fresh made breads and pastries, salads and sandwiches. They also have a pretty good English breakfast in a cosy dining atmosphere.
I often head down to Wagas for its selection of healthy eating options and pastries. This is a great example of a local cafe-chain with international standards and comfortable modern decor. An ideal spot for entrepreneurs with a laptop for its coffee and free wifi.
Q-Taro on Fumin Lu is an ultra-authentic hole-in-wall Japanese Yakitori spot owned and run for the last 19 years by a Japanese expat. It's small and personable and feels like you could be in Shinjuku.
Pictured above: Former French Concession, Old Shikumen housing estate, Wagas (credit: Dr Dominic Chan)
Bund/ Old Town
This area comprises of the Bund, People's Square and all the city blocks in between. I love exploring this area as it used to be the business and commercial hub of Shanghai in the pre-communist era, filled with exquisite old office buildings in art deco and neo-classical styled architecture, including old housing blocks left in its original state. At night, the neon lights are switched on and the atmosphere feels straight out of a cliche red-lit seedy China town area, and not to mention its amazing human-traffic and abundant street food options. It's one of my favourite places for street photography.
A must do here would be exploring the streets and architecture, and taking in the views of Pudong on the Bund.
The Rock Bund and its surrounding areas. It's littered with amazing architecture, a museum with obscure modern art, and plenty of charming cafes and eateries.
Grab a youtiao (Chinese donut) on the street and wash it down with a cup of hot Chinese tea or hot soya bean milk on the go.
Tocks located at Henan Zhong road. It's got the best Montreal deli meats and an amazing smoked brisket making the most delicious reuben sandwich and topped with hand-made fries and coleslaw. It's got my seal of approval and about as authentic as any Jewish deli restaurant in the world.
Lao Beijing located at Henan Nan road is one of my most favourite go-to places to eat roast peking duck. High recommended for its bustling atmosphere and tourist friendly staff.
There's a few places I would go to whenever I'm at the Bund. I usually start with cocktails at Sir Elly's terrace for the view of Pudong, followed with tapas and drinks at Unico for the vibe and atmosphere.
Pictured above: People's Square, Rock Bund, Tock's (credit: David Kessous)
Stylish places to stay in Shanghai
This designer flat is a stunning example of art deco Shanghai. Spanning the length of the house, french doors in the living room and bedroom open onto a light filled terrace.
Going to Shanghai? Check out more places to stay in Shanghai on Roomorama.