We arrived in Shanghai late at night from Zhangjiajie and took a taxi from Pudong International Airport to our hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in the downtown area which far exceeded any expectations. Immaculate, spacious and as modern as they come, £55 for 2 nights seems like a steal.
After a long overdue decent sleep we stepped out in the rain to explore the city. The subway system is much the same as that in Beijing, and just as easy to make sense of. One plus of the Shanghai system is that you can purchase an all day ticket for the minuscule price of 18 RMB (£1.80), which you can’t do in Beijing, and as a result makes the metro extremely economical and efficient to use.
Despite being cloudy and rainy, the city centre was booming. We’re pretty popular here in China – so many passers by ask for photos, especially as I’m blonde. On the ground, the variety and volume of shops is hard to believe – there’s definitely something for everybody. Shops seemed to repeat themselves every few hundred feet and still each one was packed, people hurrying around every direction we looked.
In terms of architecture, I’ve never seen anything like what I’ve seen here today. The buildings soar into the clouds, so high its dizzying to even look up towards them. Throughout the central part of the city there’s a link of walkways which give rise to stunning views of the buildings in any direction.
On our second evening we had cocktails on the 93rd floor of the Park Hyatt, part of the Shanghai World Finance Centre. The restaurant and bar is spread across two floors under the name 100 Century Avenue. There are other places in the city where you can pay to stand on an observation deck, but admission fees and standing in a crowded room were overruled by sitting in what was absolute luxury, looking down over the city. There were times the view outside would completely disappear when clouds passed. It was so surreal. I’d highly recommend visiting the bar (or there’s a restaurant) if you’d rather a more peaceful experience. The drinks were pretty overpriced, but we sat in complete tranquillity for two hours, able to watch the entire city and the clouds roll past without being pushed or shoved or told it was time to leave.
On second day we have visited the People’s Square, which is small but hosts some impressive modern art and is at the centre of the shopping district. From there we walked to Nanjing Road and looked around some shops. I’m still struggling to believe the amount of shops that are here – it is honestly heaven on earth. From there we walked a less crowded route to The Bund – the walkway that lines the river and gives you a full view of the Shanghai skyline. Even with the clouds (no rain today, thankfully) it was exceptional. We then took a subway (after some extensive searching for one) to Jing’an Temple – a shopping precinct built into a traditional temple.