Difference between revisions of "Shanghai"
Revision as of 07:43, 1 March 2010
Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930s, and has remained the most developed city in China. In the past 20 years Shanghai has again became an attractive city for tourists worldwide. The world will once again have its eyes on the city when it hosts the 2010 World's Expo , where nearly 200 countries and 70 million visitors are expected.
Shanghai is split in two by the Huangpu River (黄浦江 Huángpǔ Jiāng). On the west bank is Puxi (浦西 Pǔxī), the older city center, while the newer sky-rise development on the east side is called Pudong (浦东 Pǔdōng).
Inner districts of Puxi
Pudong and outer districts
Shanghai is a fascinating mix of East and West. It has historic shikumen (石库门） houses that blend the styles of Chinese houses with European design flair, and it has one of the richest collections of Art Deco buildings in the world. As there were so many concessions (designated districts) to Western powers during the turn of the 20th century, at times the city has a cosmopolitan feel. From classic Parisian style, to Tudor style buildings that give an English flair, while the 1930s buildings put you in New York or Chicago.
In the beginning of the 1990s, the Shanghai government launched a series of new strategies to attract foreign investments. The biggest move was to open up Pudong, once a rural area of Shanghai but now a business center countries the world over may envy. The strategies for growth have made tremendous gains and now Pudong is home to many of the duties which used to take place across the Huangpu in The Bund, housed in numerous skyscrapers - including the 3rd biggest in the world - the World Financial Center.
Citizens have a saying, "Shanghai is heaven for the rich, hell for the poor," which reflects the resurgence Shanghai has made since the new government was put into place more than 60 years ago.
Today, Shanghai's goal is to develop into a world-class financial and economic center of China and Asia. In achieving this goal, Shanghai faces competition from Hong Kong, which has the advantage of a stronger legal system and greater banking and service expertise. Shanghai has stronger links to the Chinese interior and to the central government in addition to a stronger manufacturing and technology base. Since the return of Hong Kong to China, Shanghai has increased its role in finance, banking, and as a major destination for corporate headquarters, fueling demand for a highly educated and cosmopolitan workforce.
Shanghai is one of the least polluted major cities in China, although the degree of pollution might be more severe when using international comparisons. For this reason, coupled with a lesser degree of focus placed on national politics, visitors will find a much difference experience than visiting Beijing.
Shanghai is one of China's main travel hubs and getting in from pretty much anywhere is easy.
Shanghai has two main airports , with Pudong the main international gateway and Hongqiao serving mostly domestic flights. Be sure to check which one your flight is leaving from, and allow at least one hour, preferably 1.5 hours, to transfer if needed!
Domestic airplane tickets are best booked in advance at one of the many travel agencies or online, but can also be bought at the airport on the day of departure. Fares are generally cheap, but vary depending on the season; figure on ¥400-1200 for Beijing-Shanghai. When backpacking, it may often be cheaper to book a flight along a big traffic line (Shanghai-Beijing, Shanghai-Guangzhou, Shanghai-Shenzhen, etc.) and travel the rest by bus or train.
Pudong airport is one of several airports serving destinations to Taiwan.
The city of Hangzhou, about a 90-min train ride from Shanghai, should also be considered if having a difficult time finding tickets to Pudong or Hongqiao.
Pudong International Airport
Pudong (浦东机场, IATA: PVG, ) is Shanghai's main international airport, 40 km to the east of the city. Arrivals are on the first floor, departures on the third, and the airport has all the features you would expect. There are two gigantic terminals (T1 and T2), so check which one you are going to. A free shuttle bus service connects the two in case walking a few minutes (or using the conveyor belts) are too cumbersome.
To the city center by taxi
The most convenient but also most expensive way to get to central Shanghai is by taxi, expect ¥150 and about an hour to get to the center of the city (People's Square). The rate increases by around 35% during night time, so expect to pay even more if it is past 11PM-5AM. There are taxi queues just outside both Terminals 1 and 2 on the first floor.
Often, you may be approached by a driver on your way to the queue. These drivers tend to be untrustworthy and will either take you to your destination via a longer route, or they have "adjusted" their meters. You can try agreeing on a price beforehand if you insist on riding with them.
To the city center by Maglev
Depending on your final destination, it may be just as quick as, or even quicker, to use the Maglev train. Since the Maglev has only one stop, Longyang Road Metro Station (龙阳路地铁站) which is significantly short of the city center, the journey usually requires a combination with walking, public transport or a taxi. Practicalities aside, if you are a visitor in Shanghai, the Maglev is in an attraction in itself. Using magnetic levitation technology, the Maglev is currently the worlds fastest operating commercial train service, traversing 30.5 km in as low as 7 minutes, hitting a maximum speed of 431 km/h. During non-peak hours, the train only goes to 301 km/h, and will cost you an extra minute.
It currently operates from 6:45AM to 9:30PM daily and costs ¥50 one way (¥40 if you have a flight ticket) or ¥80 for a round-trip ticket (good for up to seven days from date of purchase). You can also opt to pay double for "VIP Class", which gets you a soft drink and bragging rights but no different environment. Trains depart every 15-30 minutes depending on the time of day.
The Maglev station is between Terminals 1 and 2 along the second floor walkway that connects them. Note that between the baggage claim and the Maglev station, people may tell you the Maglev is "broken" or "shut down because of weather" but they may just be trying to get you into their taxi. Pay them no attention, upon arriving at the station you will see the trains are running.
From Longyang Rd as you exit, the escalator on your right goes down to the Metro Station (Line 2) and another escalator on the opposite end to your left will take you to the taxi queue. A taxi to Puxi city center will cost you another ¥30-50, while a ride to Pudong's Lujiazui should only be about ¥20-25. Taxi drivers seldom speak any English so have your destination in writing (or use an airport attendant's how-to) and fare estimate before agreeing on a driver. Estimates are also posted near the exit doors on the first floors near the pick-up area and bus station area. It is not advisable to use a driver outside the queue unless there are two of you and someone speaks good Shanghainese or Mandarin. Use caution and double check the charges as some drivers may try to scam you, but not many. It is against local law to pick up other passengers not affiliated with your party so reject this if attempted by the driver.
If your destination is conveniently located on a subway stop (People's Square, Jing'an Temple) and your baggage is light, it would be cheaper and maybe even faster to hop onto Line 2 located just parallel to the Maglev station. You will need to go down the escalators on the opposite side of the taxi queue. Subway fare ranges from ¥2-5 all across the city.
To the city center by bus
Buses are cheaper (¥15-30) but take up to 90 min (to city center) and operate less frequently starting at 11PM. Additionally, your final destination may require use of mass transport or a taxi to get you there. They are incredibly convenient, however, if the route runs close to your final destination (but sadly not as convenient if wanting to go from the city to the airport, for the pick-up locations are far fewer).
There are a number of routes, but two particularly convenient ones connect to the City Air Terminal (Jing'an Temple) (#2) and People's Square (#5, ¥22) and like all the other routes, any stops between Pudong Airport and final stop. Budget travelers may also consider buses stopping at Longyang Rd (1#/#5, ¥12) from where you may transfer to Metro line 2. For a link to Metro lines 3/4, #6 (¥20) goes to Zhongshan Park station (actually a few blocks off, change to the local 947 bus and take it one stop or walk the distance).
If arriving at Pudong airport after 11PM, there is only one late night shuttle offered and this may be your only affordable option into the city.
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport
Shanghai's older airport Hongqiao (虹桥机场 IATA: SHA)  services domestic flights, the only exception being the city shuttle services to Tokyo-Haneda and Seoul-Gimpo. 12 km away from the city center, a taxi can manage the trip in 20 minutes on a good day but allow an extra 30 minutes for the taxi queue, especially when arriving after 7PM.
The 'Hongqiao Airport Special Line' bus (机场专线) goes directly to Jing'an Temple every 10-30 min for ¥4. Due to the long taxi queues this is by far the quickest option, albeit at times crowded. There is no sign posting in English so it is advisable to print out the Chinese characters and then consult one of the airport staff, or look for one of the buses without a bus number (only Chinese Characters). Tickets are purchased inside the bus shortly before it departs, once departed there are no stops until arriving right in front of Jing'an Temple Metro Station (Line 2).
Bus: Although Hongqiao airport has fewer airport bus lines than Pudong, more public bus lines are linked to Hongqiao.
Shanghai has a few major train stations including:
Self-serve automated ticket booths are prevalent and would likely be the easiest mode of purchasing tickets and checking train schedules for those without an ability to utilize Chinese as the devices have an English mode. Tickets are also conveniently booked in advance at one of the many travel service agencies. There are queues with English speaking staff, although this is not likely outside of Shanghai so it's best to buy a return ticket at the same time (not only because English won't be as easy to find outside of the city, but also seats may be sold out if attempting to purchase at a later date). It is advisable to prepare a paper with your destination displayed in Chinese characters if needed or should an itinerary need adjustment. Not all tickets are sold using the automated or staffed methods. For example, for tickets to Hong Kong (Jiu Long) you would need to go to a similar ticket office near the main ticket office. To get there, exit the main ticket office and go left (towards one of the Metro exits and parallel to the train station), the ticket office is just across the road after the Metro exit. You have to pass through a security check to get to the ticket office.
The new fast (200+ km/hr) CRH trains go south from Shanghai to Hangzhou, west to Nanjing, and north to Qingdao. These are very comfortable and convenient. Train route codes being with D in this instance.
There are several long-distance bus stations in Shanghai. You should try to get the tickets as early as possible.
If you intend to stay in Shanghai for a longer time the Shanghai Jiaotong Card  (上海公共交通卡) can come in handy. You can load the card with money and use it in buses, the metro and even taxis. You can get these cards at any metro/subway station, as well as some convenience stores like Alldays and KeDi Marts. These come in regular, mini, and "strap" size (the latter being made for hanging on mobile phones), with various limited editions available for each. Only regular-sized cards can be loaded at machines (with a few exceptions, mainly at line 6/8 stations which have a special type of recharge machine made to take all sizes of cards) and only in multiples of ¥50 or ¥100 (this applies to the big blue machines- certain smaller machines mostly located in line 8 stations will accept any bills the service counter will as well as most sizes of SPTC). Most likely you will need to go to the service counter to recharge if you have an irregularly-shaped card or you want to recharge in multiples of ¥10 or ¥20.
Also, this card allows you to transfer lines at Yishan Rd, Shanghai Train Station, and Hongkou Football Stadium stations, as well as discounts for bus<->bus and metro<->bus transfer (the fare is discounted ¥1 each time you transfer).
The fast-growing Shanghai Metro  (website in Chinese) network has 10 lines with another 9 under construction (and expansions to existing lines, such as Line 2 which will eventually connect to Pudong Airport), with nearly all lines operating underground (Line 3 operates above ground). The Metro is fast, cheap, air conditioned and fairly user-friendly with most signs and station arrival announcements in English, but the trains can get very packed during rush hour. Fares range from ¥3-9 depending on distance. Automatic ticket vending machines take ¥1 or ¥0.5 coins and notes and have services in English. Most stations on lines 1-3 will also have staff selling tickets, but on the newly-completed lines 6, 8, and 9 ticket purchasing is all done by machine (in both Chinese and English) with staff there only to assist in adding credit to cards or if something goes wrong. You can now transfer between lines freely with a single ticket (except at Shanghai Railway Station, Hongkou Football Stadium, and Yishan Lu where a subway pass/Shanghai public transportation card is required for transfer). Metro rides can be paid for using use Shanghai's public transportation card (non-contact). Be careful; certain stations exist on two different lines with the same name but are located in different places (Yishan Lu- Line 3/9 and line 4 are separate stations- transfer between these stations is only possible with a subway pass; Pudian Lu- line 4 and line 6; go to either Century Ave or Lancun Lu to transfer between these lines; Hongkou Football Stadium, Line 3 and 8- transfer is only possible with a Metro pass).
If there are seats available but more passengers boarding than seats, be prepared to see a mad dash (literally) as passengers wrestle for the available seats. This is the norm so move quickly if you want a seat. Be mindful of pickpockets who may use this rush to their advantage.
The bus system is much more extensive (and typically cheaper) than the Metro, and some routes even operate past the closing time of the Metro (route numbers beginning with 3 are the night buses that run past 11PM). Here is a handy list of bus routes and stops in English. Most buses do not require any conversation with a driver and/or conductor, while others depend on you knowing your destination and the conductor charging you accordingly. For the latter, pay the conductor directly and you'll get a paper ticket (and change, if any). The former bus types do not have a conductor but instead a driver only; there is a fixed price for the route, usually ¥2 and the buses are air-conditioned (¥1.5 on some routes running on old buses without; the signpost at that stop will tell you). Prepare exact change beforehand and drop it into the container next to the driver. It's best to have exact fare or go to a convenience store it needing change, otherwise you may depend on stating your situation to the driver or other passengers. If you change buses with an SPTC you will get a ¥1 discount on your second bus fare (and all subsequent transfers; there is a 90-minute window to do this on so if you're not spending too much time at the destination your transfer discount will apply to the start of your return journey too).
Taxi is a good choice for transportation in the city, especially during off-peak hours. It is affordable (¥12 for the first 3km, ¥2.4/km up to 10km, and ¥3.5/km after; when wheels aren't rolling, time is also tracked and billed but first 5 min. are free) and saves you time, but try to get your destination in Chinese characters or available on a map as communication can be an issue. As Shanghai is a huge city, try to get the nearest intersection to your destination as well since even addresses in Chinese are often useless. If the driver does not speak any English and you do not have the address written in Chinese, there is a phone number displayed in the back of the taxi (you'll need a mobile phone for this). Dial the number and tell the agent where you want to go (English is the only foreign language offered currently). The agent will then, on your behalf, explain where you wish to go. The agent will even find out the address of bars and other spots for you if applicable and this service has very good remarks. (If without a mobile phone, try to get a business card of your destination or of something nearby.)
Drivers, while generally honest, are sometimes genuinely clueless and occasionally out to take you for a ride. The drivers are very good about using the meter but in case they forget, remind them. It's also the law to provide a receipt for the rider but if your fare seems out of line, be sure to obtain one as it's necessary to receive any compensation. If you feel you have been cheated or mistreated by the driver, you (or a Chinese-speaking friend) can use the information on the printed receipt to raise a complaint to the taxi company about that particular driver. The driver will be required to pay 3x the fare if ordered by the taxi company so normally they're very good about taking the appropriate route. The printed receipt is also useful to contact the driver in case you have forgotten something in the taxi and need to get it back.
If you come across a row of parked taxis and have a choice of which one to get in to, you may wish to check the driver's taxi ID card that is posted next to or near the meter on the dash in front of the front passenger seat. The higher the number, the newer the driver, thus the likelihood that your driver will not know where he or she is going. Taxi driver ID numbers between 10XXXX and 12XXXX are likely to be the most experienced drivers (just make sure to match the picture on the ID card with that of the driver). A number of 27XXXX to 29XXXX is probably going to get you lost somewhere. Another way is to check the number of stars the driver has. These are displayed below the driver's photograph on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat. The amount of stars indicates the length of time the driver has been in the taxi business and the level of positive feedback received from customers, and range from zero stars to five. Drivers with one star or more should know all major locations in Shanghai, and those with three stars should be able to recognize even lesser-known addresses. Remember that it takes time to build up these stars, and so don't panic if you find yourself with a driver who doesn't have any - just have them assure you that they know where they are going and you should be fine.
If you need to cross from one side of the Huangpu River to the other by taxi, especially from Pudong (浦东) to Puxi (浦西), you may want to make sure your driver will make the trip, and knows where he or she is going. Some drivers only know their side of the town and will be as lost as you are once they leave their side of town. Taxis are notoriously difficult to get on rainy days and during peak traffic hours, so plan your journeys accordingly. As the crossings between Pudong (浦东) and Puxi (浦西) are often jammed with traffic, taking a taxi may be a more expensive and less time-efficient alternative to using the Metro to cross. It may be better to take the Metro between both sides, and then catch a taxi on the side that your final destination is on.
Taxi colors in Shanghai are strictly controlled and indicate the company the taxi belongs to. Turquoise taxis operated by Dazhong (大众), the largest group, are often judged the best of the bunch. Another good taxi company, "Qiangsheng" (强生), uses gold-colored taxis. Watch out for dark red/maroon taxis, since this is the 'default' color of small taxi companies and includes more than its fair share of bad apples. Also private owned taxis (You can recognize them easily as they have an 'X' in their number plate and may not be the standard Volkswagen Santana used by most taxi companies) are among them. The dark red/maroon taxis will also go "off the meter" at times and charge rates 4x-5x the normal rate - especially around the tourist areas of the Yuyuan Gardens. Bright red taxis, on the other hand, are unionized and quite OK, furthermore there are more 3-star and above taxi drivers working for this company. The dark-green taxis cover suburban areas only and are not allowed within the "city" area, but their meters start at ¥9 so they're somewhat cheaper if you're not trying to get downtown (rule of thumb- if you're trying to go somewhere within the Outer Ring highway, don't get one, but if your journey ends just within it you may be able to find a driver willing to bend the rules).
Always try to avoid using ¥100-bills to pay for short rides. Taxi drivers are not keen on giving away their change, and it is not uncommon to get counterfeit smaller notes for change. Taxis are very hard to come by during peak hours and when it's raining so be prepared to wait for a while or walk to a busy pick-up location. Foreign visitors might be surprised at the "lack" of courtesy or lines while waiting for a taxi, so don't be afraid to "jump in" and get one--it's first come, first serve. There are some taxi stops where attendants maintain a well-ordered line; this may be the fastest way to get a taxi in a busy part of town, but there are not very many of them, so expect to walk a ways to get to one.
By sightseeing bus
There are several different companies offering sightseeing buses with various routes and packages covering the main sights such as the Shanghai Zoo, Oriental Pearl Tower, and Baoyang Road Harbor. Most of the sightseeing buses leave from the Shanghai Stadium's east bus station.
Shanghai is a good city for walking, especially in the older parts of the city, such as The Bund, but be aware this city is incredibly dynamic and pavements can be obstructed or unpleasant to walk through when near construction areas. Look for subway tunnels when needing to cross busy streets as these are usually open despite the roadwork. Given the population demands and constant maintenance thus required, add extra time to allow you to arrive on time. Be sure to bring an umbrella for rain (available throughout many stands and stores for ¥15).
Be advised that during the run-up to World Expo 2010, many streets and pavements have been dug up and are being re-laid. It's not that pleasant walking around due to dust and noise from the work. Construction is proceeding at such a pace that often a tarmac on a street can be completely re-laid in one day, resulting in chaos for 24 hours and then total calm.
A useful ferry runs between the Bund (from a ferry pier a few blocks south of Nanjing Road next to the KFC restaurant) and Lujiazui financial district in Pudong (the terminal is about 10 minutes south of the Pearl TV Tower and Lujiazui metro station) and is the cheapest way of crossing the river at 2 yuan per person. The ferry is air-conditioned and allows foot-passengers only (bikes are not allowed except for folding models). Buy a token from the ticket kiosk and then insert it into the turnstile to enter the waiting room - the boats run every 10 minutes and take just over 5 minutes to cross the river. This is a great (and much cheaper) alternative to using the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel.
For locals, bicycles are slowly being eclipsed by electric scooters but they still remain an easy means of transportation for visitors who may be hesitant to communicate with drivers or board crowded mass transit--or simply to soak up some sunshine. Go to Baoshan Metro station and get a vintage bicycle for approx ¥300; they are also easily found for sale on the street around Suzhou Creek or in the residential part of the old town. Beware of the driving habits of locals: the biggest vehicles have the priority and a red light does not mean you are safe to cross the street. Note: a few streets are not allowed for bicyclists and signs will designate this.
Driving is definitely not recommended in Shanghai for a variety of reasons, even for those with driving experience in the country. Not only do you have to cope with seemingly perpetual traffic jams, but also Chinese driving habits and ongoing construction. Bicycles, scooters and pedestrians are also all over the place--a city with a real metropolitan feel. It is also not unheard of for cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians to suddenly dash in front of a car without any warning. In short, do not drive if you can help it and make use of public transport instead.
See also Driving_in_China.
Vintage motorbikes with sidecars are used by a limited number locals, including artists, military personnel (for private usage),expats and may be of some use to tourists. Changjiang sidecars were used by the Chinese army until 1997. There are a few sidecar owners club in Shanghai (Black Bats, People's Riders Club), shops (Yiqi, Cao, Fan, Jack, Jonson, Leo) and a tour operator (Shanghai Sideways) which are worth checking out.
See also Driving_in_China#Sidecar_rigs.
By sightseeing tunnel
A bit of a misnomer, as the entire journey is underground and doesn't reveal any real sights of the city. This is the fastest way of crossing between the Bund in Puxi and the Pearl TV Tower in Pudong but also the most expensive (¥40Y one way/¥50 return) and is essentially a tourist trap--but may also be a good bet for the directionally-challenged or those struggling to find a taxi during rush hour. Glass pods running on train tracks take a few minutes to run through a tunnel under the Huangpu River lined with a psychedelic light show and some bizarre commentary in English and Chinese. After arriving you'll be dropped off in a hall full of tourist-trap shops, which should come as no surprise since the entrance is a few meters from the TV Tower and is by no means a practical mode of transportation for locals. Avoid if possible - it's a very tacky experience and unless your prepared to some cash to look at some flashing lights instead of walking 5 min to the south and take the aforementioned ferry or walking 5 min west to Nanjing East Rd subway station and take the Metro.
The language of the streets is Shanghainese, part of the Wu group of Chinese dialects, which is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin, Cantonese, Minnan (Taiwanese/Hokkien) or other Chinese dialects. However, with Shanghai having been the commercial centre of China since the 1920's, Mandarin is understood and spoken fluently by almost everybody, including most of the elderly.
While you are more likely to encounter an English speaker in Shanghai than in any other mainland Chinese city, they are by no means common so it would be wise to have your destinations and hotel address written in Chinese so that taxi drivers can take you to your intended destination. Likewise, if planning to bargain at shops, a calculator would be useful.
Where to go in Shanghai depends largely on your time period and interests. See Shanghai for the first-timer for a sample itinerary.
Shanghai urban development is all about the 'five year plan'. Visit the Urban Planning Museum in People's Square for a fascinating look into Shanghai's colourful past, and learn about development strategies for the future. There is a heavy focus on eco-friendly satellite cities with spacious public centres and loads of greenery. The trip is worth it just for the scale model of Shanghai in ten years. All is located on the fourth floor, including a virtual tour of up-and-coming large scale public projects, which encompasses the World Expo 2010 site. It is located just across from the Shanghai Museum.
Shop until you drop on China's premier shopping street Nanjing Road (南京东路), or head for the Yuyuan Bazaar for Chinese crafts and jewelry not far from the Bund. Nanjing Road is a long street. The more famous part lies in the east near the Bund (Nanjing Road East), with a 1-km long pedestrian boulevard (Metro line 2 at Nanjing Road East station, formerly called Henan Road station) lined with busy shops. The wide boulevard is often packed with people on weekends and holidays. The shops are often targeted to domestic tourists, so the prices are surprisingly reasonable. Local people often look down on Nanjing Road and shop at Huaihai Road (another busy shopping boulevard with more upscale stores) instead.
For the high end boutiques, go to the west end of Nanjing Road West (南京西路) near Jing'an Temple. Several large shopping malls (Plaza 66 aka Henglong Plaza, Citic Plaza, Meilongzhen Plaza, and others being built) house boutiques bearing the most famous names in fashion. No. 3 on the Bund is another high-end shopping center featuring Giorgio Armani's flagship store in China.
For those interested in boutique shopping, head to the French Concession Streets Xinle Lu (新乐路), Changle Lu (长乐路) and Anfu Lu (安福路) starting from east of Shaanxi Lu (陕西路) (nearest Metro station is South Shanxi Rd on line 1). This section of low rise building and tree-lined streets bustles with small boutiques of clothing and accessories, where young Shanghainese looking for the latest fashions shop. The overhauled, cozy alleyways of Tian Zi Fang is also extremely popular and is a bit more elbow-to-elbow than Xintiandi.
Those interested in DVDs of movies and television shows have a wide variety of options. Aside from the people selling DVDs out of boxes on street corners you can also find a good selection of movies at many local DVD shops in most neighborhoods. Perhaps the best way to score a deal with a shop is to be a regular. If you provide them repeat business they are usually quite happy to give you discounts for your loyal patronage. Typically DVDs can cost anywhere from ¥5 for standard disks to ¥10-12 for DVD-9 format disks.
However, if you are short on time in Shanghai and don't have the means to form a relationship with a shop, many people recommend the Ka De Club. An expat favorite for years, they have two shops: one in 483, Zhenning Rd and the other one in 505, Da Gu Rd (a small street between Weihai and Yan'an Rds). While the selection at the Ka De Club isn't bad the downside of this store's popularity is that with so many foreigners giving them business, you tend to get somewhat higher prices than at local shops and haggling and repeat customer bargains are pretty much non-existent.
Antiques, jade and communist China memorabilia can be found in Dongtai Road Antiques Market, where you must bargain if you want to get a fair deal. Yuyuan Gardens is another good option for antiques as well as all manner of cheaply made and priced souvenirs (teapots, paintings, "silk" bags, etc.). There are two basement markets. You will have to hunt for them, but they are worth the effort. As with any market in China, don't be afraid to bargain to get a fair price.
Xujiahui Metro station is the place to go if you're after game consoles (the Wii is available here in relative abundance), computers, computer accessories, or the like. You'll find pretty much everything electronic there, but the cellphone selection is a bit lacking.
The infamous Xiangyang Market was finally shut down for good in 2006. The biggest "replacement" market is in the Metro station (Line 2) at the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum (上海科技馆). The most common name for the market is "A.P. New XinYang Fashion Market." There are a number of variations, and the name really doesn't even matter. The easiest way to get here is by Metro and there you can purchase all your knock-off products. The place is much more overrun by foreigners than Qipu Lu (below), and as such the prices are much higher.
The horrendously crowded Qipu Lu clothing market is a mass of stalls jammed into a warehouse sized building which would take the casual stroller most of a day to look through. You'll find the cheapest clothes in the city here, but even the trendiest styles are clearly Chinese. Bargain hard, in Chinese if you can and make friends with the shop owners. Many of them have secret stashes of knock-offs in hidden rooms behind the stall "walls." Avoid this place on weekends at all costs.
Another option is the Pearl Plaza located on Yan'an Xi Lu and Hongmei Lu as well as the unassuming shopping center located on the corner of Nanjing Xi Lu and Chongqing Lu. Haggling can be fun for those who are accustomed to it, but those sensitive to the pressure might want to steer clear. Not only can it be stressful to haggle, but just walking in to the buildings can bring a horde of people upon you trying to sell you bags, watches, DVDs and all assortment of goods.
But rather than pursuing knock-offs of Western brands, one of the more interesting things to do in Shanghai is to check out the small boutiques in the French Concession area. Some of these are run by individual designers of clothing, jewelry, etc and so the items on sale can truly be said to be unique. Visitors from overseas should expect the usual problem of finding larger sizes.
One exception to the rule is Dutch Items Shanghai. The label was founded by Dutch designer Jolie van Beek in 2006 due to her frustration with the lack of affordable, high-quality clothing that fit her. The D.I.S boutiques carry their own label as well as a selection of imported European clothing and shoes. D.I.S focuses on womenswear and carries EU sizes 34-46, UK 4-18, U.S. 2-18.
Shanghai's cuisine, like its people and culture, is primarily a fusion of the forms of the surrounding Jiangnan region, with influences sprinkled in more recently from the farther reaches of China and elsewhere. Characterized by some as sweet and oily, the method of preparation used in Shanghai, it emphasizes freshness and balance, with particular attention to the richness that sweet and sour characteristics can often bring to dishes that are otherwise generally savoury.
The name "Shanghai" means "above the sea", but paradoxically, the local preference for fish often tends toward the freshwater variety due to the city's location at the mouth of China's longest river. Seafood, nonetheless, retains great popularity and is often braised (fish), steamed (fish and shellfish), or stir-fried (shellfish). Watch out for any seafood that is fried, as these dishes rely far less on freshness and are often the remains of weeks' old purchases.
Shanghai's preference for meat is unquestionably pork. Pork is ubiquitous in the style of Chinese cooking, and in general if a mention refers to something as "meat" (肉) without any modifiers, the safe assumption is that it is pork. Ground pork is used for dumpling and bun fillings, whereas strips and slices of pork are promulgated in a variety of soups and stir-fries. The old standby of Shanghainese cooking is "red-cooked [braised/stewed] pork" (红烧肉), a traditional dish throughout Southern China with the added flair of anise and sweetness provided by the chefs of Shanghai.
Chicken takes the honorable mention in the meat category, and the only way to savor chicken in the Chinese way is to eat it whole (as opposed to smaller pieces in a stir-fry). Shanghai's chickens were once organic and grass-fed, yielding smaller birds offering more tender and flavorful meat than its hormone-injected Western counterparts. Unfortunately, these hormones have found their way to China, and today most chickens are little different from what can be found elsewhere. Still, the unforgettable preparations (drunken, salt-water, plain-boiled with dipping sauce, etc.) of whole chickens chopped up and brought to the table will serve as a reminder that while the industrialization of agriculture has arrived from the West, the preservation of flavor is still an essential element of the local cooking.
Those looking for less cholesterol-laden options need not fret. Shanghai lies at the heart of a region of China that produces and consumes a disproportionately large amount of soy. Thinking tofu? There's the stinky version that when deep-fried, permeates entire blocks with its earthy, often offensive aroma. Of course there are also tofu skins, soy milk (both sweet and savory), firm tofu, soft tofu, tofu custard (generally sweet and served from a road-side cart), dried tofu, oiled tofu, and every kind of tofu imaginable with the exception of tofurkey. There's also vegetarian duck, vegetarian chicken, and vegetarian goose, each of which looks and tastes nothing like the fowl after which it is named but is rather just a soy-dish where the bean curd is expected to approximate the meat's texture. Look out also for gluten-based foods at vegetarian restaurants, which unlike tofu, do not come with the phyto-estrogens that have recently made soy controversial within American vegetarian circles. If you are vegetarian, do be conscious that tofu in China is often regarded not as a substitute for meat (except by the vegetarian Buddhist monks) but rather as an accompaniment to it. As such, take extra care to ensure that your dish isn't served with peas and shrimp or stuffed with ground pork before you order it.
Some other Shanghainese dishes to look out for:
Prices of drinks in cafes and bars vary like they would any major metropolis. They can be cheap or be real budget-busters, with a basic coffee or beer costing ¥10-40. There are internationally-known chains, like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, as well as popular domestic and local java joints to satisfy those looking to relax.
Tsingtao, Snow and Pearl River beer are widely available. Major foreign brands are produced domestically and smaller brands are typically imported. There is also a local brew known as REEB (beer spelled backwards). A large bottle (640 ml) of any of these costs anywhere from ¥2-6.
Shanghai is filled with amazing nightlife, complete with both affordable bars and nightclubs that pulsate with a city energy.
Accommodation in Shanghai can be rivaled by few cities in China, in terms of both variety and services. There are establishments for all types of travelers, from backpacker options for the weary to top of the line hotels and villas for those wishing to be spoiled. Puxi has both new and old hotels with class architectural styles and charm, some of them described in stories when Shanghai may have been the only place in China known to much of the rest of the world, while modern amenities commonly found in Pudong rival many hotels in Asia and beyond.
For clean, safe budget accommodations, three reliable options are the Jin Jiang Star, Motel 168 and Motel 268 chains, all of which have multiple locations in every district of Shanghai.
Shanghai's area code for landlines is 21, adding a "0" at the beginning if calling outside of the city.
Shanghai is a fairly safe city and violent crime is rare. However, the ever-increasing divide between the haves and have-nots has created its fair share of problems. Petty crimes like pickpocketing exist, and sexual harassment has been reported on crowded public transport. Be mindful during the months and weeks preceding the Chinese New Year (in Jan or Feb depending on lunar calendar) as thieves may be looking to make a little money before they have to buy a train ticket home. Also be careful during Chinese New Year as thieves prey shoppers seeking gifts for the upcoming holiday.
Various tourist-oriented scams, long practiced in Beijing, are unfortunately spreading to Shanghai as well. Be cautious if you meet a group of overly friendly students, women or new "friends" who insist on dragging you along to an art gallery, tea shop or karaoke parlor - you're unlikely to be physically harmed, but the bill may well be more than you bargained for. Police can help to recover some part of your money. Art scams can be found around People's Square near the entrances/exits of the museums and art galleries.
Foreign males may attract unsolicited attention from female sex workers at nightspots. Prostitution is illegal throughout all of China.
Be careful of people who approach and offer to polish your shoes, even if they are obviously a type which don't need polishing. Often when you refuse they'll squirt some hard-to-remove substance on them or the agreed upon price will change without warning.
Hawkers are a nuisance, particularly in areas such as Old Town and Science Museum in Pudong where there are shops in the subway selling fake designer goods. The most effective way to deal with them is to ignore them. Shouting a rude bu yao ("I don't want it") may help.
Be wary also of the "booths" at the Bund area (and the new waterfront development on Pudong side) offering photo services. They will offer to take your picture with the scenic background (and sometimes with costumes) for ¥50, but once you have contracted their services, several cohorts will arrive to "assist" the photographer. They may force you to buy all the snapshots and try to gather crowds to increase pressure.
As for passports, it may be best to have your passport at-hand. Chinese law requires that foreigners have their passports with them, but this is rarely enforced. Hotels will often recommend you leave your passport in their safe, though foreigners may want to consider the hotel and how much they trust it to hold their most important documents. Always carry copies of your passport and visa in a separate place in case they are lost or stolen.
Drinking tap water is safe when boiled, however tap water is also said to contain high amounts of heavy metals. When buying bottled water, you will come across a whole range of mineral water brands. Cheaper brands cost ¥1-2.50 and are in all the convenience stores and street stands.
Individuals with asthma or respiratory issues should be prepared when visiting due to the air pollution that plays a role in Shanghai's landscape, as would any city in the world with more than 20 million inhabitants and break-neck construction taking place.
For visitors unused to travel in China the language barrier is likely to be the biggest obstacle, as English ability tends to be very limited in all but the largest tourist draws and establishments that cater specifically to Westerners. Mandarin-learners need to be aware that Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, is the language of the streets and very different from Mandarin, although most Shanghainese under the age of 50 speak Mandarin to one degree or another. The use of Shanghainese as the de facto 'first' language of the city has been discouraged by the government and its use is decreasing both due to the effect of the paramount use of Mandarin in mass media and by the large-scale influx of out-of-town Chinese moving to Shanghai to work in recent years.
In addition, Shanghainese speakers have a particular accent when speaking Mandarin. Mandarin is heavily tone-based and speakers from Beijing can easily be understood (most textbooks are based on their accent or an approximation). Shanghainese speakers, as second-language learners of Mandarin themselves, have appropriated some of the features of the Shanghainese language onto their Mandarin. While in other languages this would not be a problem, given the phonemic and tonal nature inherent to Mandarin, the slightest shift in pronunciation can make it much more difficult to understand. The best thing to do is say "Shuo man yi dian" which means "speak a little slower".
Also, many unskilled laborers from western China, where local languages dominate ("dialect" in government jargon) and Mandarin level is sometimes adequate at best, have moved into Shanghai. They often suffer as do foreigners visiting Shanghai as these laborers ("country-side people, as the Shanghainese call them) have problems with Mandarin, speak little to absolutely no English, and coincidentally, often are in the streets selling.
Rudimentary Chinese and/or pattern matching ability for character recognition will help, as will getting your destination and some simple directions to it written in Chinese characters, particularly when traveling by taxi. Some taxi drivers know English, but not much. Make sure to not waste time with difficult grammatical constructions and pleasantries such as "Oh I was wondering if you could help me find..." It is too confusing. Just say "The Bund" or "Nanjing West". Though it may seem rude to an English speaker, this is EXACTLY how Chinese would say it in Mandarin and is much more effective.
Pushing in subways is the rule, especially the chaotic People's Square Station 人民广场站 where lines 1, 2, and 8 intersect. Just dig in and push, don't feel sorry. Bumping into people in streets is commonplace and should not be a reason to get angry. It is not considered impolite to brush against the side of someone or have feet stepped on (considering the population, this may not be surprising).
If you're after a new cellphone, go to the Shanghai Railway Station. You can find good deals on secondhand phones as well as new phones (the selection is a mixed bag; you'll find Chinese off-brands mixed with reliable big-name brands as well as cutting-edge Japanese phones; if you live in North or South America be careful about buying the off-brand phones as most do not support the necessary frequencies for use there. Also, in the secondhand section of the market some of the phones are of dubious origin; CDMA phones may have their ESNs blacklisted in their home countries, but for GSM/3G phones the only issue is an ethical one. Be careful about prices that are too good to be true.
Consulates and citizen services
Several other major Chinese cities are near Shanghai and conveniently reachable on the new high speed (over 200 km/hr) trains. These are comfortable and reasonably priced and except at holidays, are not too crowded since other trains are cheaper. Look for the separate ticket windows with "CRH" on the signs.