Meet our writers


Travel Logs July 2012

Compulsive Traveler

Dazzling Shanghai

By Sandra Scott

Shanghai is home to China’s largest stock exchange, the world’s first commercial magnetic levitation train, more than 3000 skyscrapers (more than New York) with 2000 more in the works.

v_scott-0712In the 1920s Shanghai was part of the Roaring 20s – it was stylish, it was decadent, it was international. Today it is modern, stylish, and very cosmopolitan. Shanghai is home to China’s largest stock exchange, the world’s first commercial magnetic levitation train, more than 3000 skyscrapers (more than New York) with 2000 more in the works.

  1. Big Bus Tour: The best way to get acquainted with a city of more than 20 million is to get an overview from the top of the hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus. A two-day ticket is best because the price includes a one-hour boat ride on the Huangpu River, plus entrance to the Jade Museum and the Jim Mao Tower Observation deck with an incredible view of the city.
  2. Stroll the Bund: For years the Bund has been the place to be seen. And, it still is. The strip along the Huangpu River has impressive colonial buildings, a wide pedestrian walkway, a visitor’s center, and the entrance to the multimedia Sightseeing Tunnel under the river to Pudong plus great views of the futuristic Pudong Island with the iconic Oriental Pearl TV tower.
  3. Shanghai Museum: The museum is one of the best, if not the best, museum in all of China. Most of the displays have English labels but next to the entrance of each gallery are explanatory printouts in several languages. There is too much to see in one visit but there is no entrance fee, so pick the galleries that most tickle your fancy – be it jade, bronze, furniture or the ethnic diversity of China.
  4. Park time: Shanghai has some lovely parks with beautiful landscaping. Parks are great places to relax and see the local people at rest and play. People’s Square Park in the heart of the city has hundreds of doves representing peace, plus a musical fountain that puts on a display at various times. Get a takeout lunch and enjoy it in the serenity of a park.
  5. Yu Gardens: The gardens were created in the 16th century to honor the designer’s parents. Every twist and turn is a photo opportunity with pools, rockeries, arches and walkways. On the way to the gardens new shops built in the traditional Chinese style sell just about everything.
  6. Buddhist temples: The Jing’an Temple is located near some high-end shopping and even though it, too, has a new and gleaming look, the original temple dates from the third century. There is a golden statue of the Laughing Buddha, China’s largest seated jade Buddha, and a room devoted to Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy.
  7. Dining: Shanghai is China’s culinary hotspot with everything from restaurants with celebrity chefs, to street vendors hawking local favorites, to international chains. Try dim sum, those small flavor-filled buns steamed in a wicker container.
  8. Shopping: Shanghai is a shopper’s delight. There are the ubiquitous knock-off items which, of course, one should pass on but many do not. There are many malls with high-end stores like Prada and Rolex. Need a suit? No problem – there are tailors just waiting to be of service. Tip: for a proper fit at least three fittings should be scheduled.
  9. Tea at the Peninsula: Every trip should include something very special. The elegant Peninsula Hotel, located on the Bund, offers delectable afternoon teas with live music. Make the visit even more memorable with a massage at their Espa.
  10. Side trips: There are several great trips to visit the nearby towns located on a canal. A day trip to the quiet, quaint towns of Zhouzhuang, Xitang, Tongli offers an escape from the city. Tour buses leave from Shanghai Stadium Metro in the morning and return in the afternoon.

By 2020 Shanghai is expected to be the richest economic region in the world. Most visitors spend three days but it takes at least a week to take in the highlights. Tipping is not expected as most places add 15% service charge. The subway system is huge and inexpensive; taxis are metered and reasonable.

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

Meet Sandra