What To Do In Shanghai

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Follow me to China!

In September, my MBA program and I took off for Shanghai. We spent a week here touring companies, visiting alumni, eating all the food, and seeing the sights. We spent six days in Shanghai and today I am going to share the highlights with you.

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What to do in Shanghai:

  • Visit the Yu Garden.

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    Built in 1559 (during the Ming Dynasty) and is now a national monument. After paying a small fee (and they do have student prices!), you can spend an hour or two touring the gardens. The prized possession here is the Jade Rock. Despite its size (a five-ton boulder), my group had trouble tracking it down. Hint: it is unpolished jade. This beautiful garden is located in the old city and is near to many markets where you can haggle your heart away.
  • See the Bund. IMG_2486This water-front area faces the modern Pudong Area and offers great views of Pudong’s modern skyscrapers (including the second largest in the world. Be sure to grab a drink at the top!). If you are looking for a place to run in Shanghai, this is a great spot.
  • Hit the shopping districts.

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    TianziafangXin Tian Di, and the French Concession are all fun places to shop around. You can find great souvenirs inexpensively here (remember to haggle!) and tasty (more tourist-centered) food. While in Tianziafang I did a tea service and it was one of the best parts of my time in Shanghai.
  • Relax at People’s Square.

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    This is basically Shanghai’s Central Park (but honestly, it doesn’t hold a candle to Central Park). There a several museums and concert halls to visit, and it would be a great place to rent a bike and ride it around. There is also lots of shopping nearby.
  • Use the Metro. IMG_2411No need for a car in this city. With a metro pass and the ofo bike app on your phone, you are set. The Metro in Shanghai is amazing – second only to that in Singapore, IMO. It comes every two to four minutes and is clean and easy to navigate. While I did not see any pushers, the Metro does get extremely full during rush hour (unsurprisingly with 24 million people living in this city).
  • Try the street food and night markets.

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    The street food might make your skin crawl (just like the live scorpions served on a stick), but it is a cheap and authentic way to eat in China. If octopus tentacles aren’t your thing (don’t worry – they weren’t mine either), grab an eggie for dessert, a waffle topped with ice cream!
  • Although I did not go, the Jing An Temple looks amazing!

Other Things of Note:

  • Compared to Beijing, the smog here isn’t bad (it isn’t good either). We lucked out on weather and had beautiful blue skies the entire trip.IMG_2459
  • Be ready to drop it low. Although Western toilets can be found, squatty potties are extremely popular in Shanghai. There are not so bad as long as you can get all the way down (and all the way back up). Oh, and carry toilet paper with you.
  • There are very few dogs in Shanghai. Not sure why, but they are much more popular in Beijing. But, there are tons of trees! Such a green city.
  • There is rarely litter found on the streets. Everywhere you turn you see people sweeping the streets. The government does an excellent job of keeping people employed. But just because there isn’t litter doesn’t mean Shanghai is clean. This city is pretty dirty for how developed it is. Sewage lines the streets (infant onesies are crotchless…so instead of wearing diapers, babies just sh!t in the streets…) and harsh chemicals wash down the sidewalks (avoid getting chemicals on your skin by not wearing sandals).
  • Meat is the main dish in China, so you might have a hard time being vegetarian. Get ready for pork, duck, and fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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  • Do not depend on others knowing English. English is not widely spoken in China and, even in international Shanghai, you will have trouble. Be sure to have some translation apps downloaded on your phone (and Google apps won’t work).
  • Four or so days here for vacation would be enough to see the highlights. China’s history and main tourist stuff is in Beijing (and that post will be up in a month!).

Shanghai is definitely where I would live if I moved to China (but honestly, I do not see myself ever moving to China). Because of the industry here, it is much more international than Beijing, and after growing up in Los Angeles, I love walking a street and hearing a multitude of languages.

China truly is another world and is worth experiencing. I feel so fortunate that I was able to experience China with my MBA program, but I do not see myself venturing back (too much in the world to see!). It was my first time to Asia and a lot to take on (I mean, there are two billion people living in China!). But you don’t know until you try, so definitely experience it for yourself.

-TM

Have you been to Shanghai? What are your thoughts? Let us know below.

 

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