For many years, I had been told about how amazing Shanghai was. Shanghai is the most populous proper city in the world with over 24 million residents. It is the busiest container port in the world, a global financial center and one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of China. It is located in the Yangtze River Delta in the east of the country.
I had never set foot in the Republic of China, so in 2015 I set out on a mission to visit. Finally in December of 2015, my father and I headed to Shanghai for a real estate fair.
We spent six full days in the city, three of them at the fair, and the other three we spent sampling the food, exploring the main attractions and gazing at the incredible skyscrapers! Now here are 5 reasons why you should visit Shanghai now!
The first thing I research before visiting any city is the safety situation. Shanghai is extremely safe! The people are friendly, and if you make an effort to learn a few words, they will always smile and thank you for trying. I recommend you download the ChineseSkill app to have basic words and phrases on hand.
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One example of how safe it is came when my father lost his phone in a taxi. The cab driver drove over an hour back in traffic to return the phone to us! All he asked was that my father would pay the taxi fare but he would not accept a tip! Maybe we got lucky, but in my experience I think it’s part of the culture to be kind.
China is not always known for the cleanliness of its cities but if you look around Shanghai you won’t be able to believe that 24 million people live there. Every sidewalk and street are kept clean. In the Chinese culture, they have an aversion to throwing things onto the street, so this is a big part of it. Remember, though, if you see people spitting on the street, this is normal in China and you shouldn’t be offended.
Thanks to deflation the Yuen is currently at 6.8 to $1. Taxi rides start at 14 Yuen and don’t increase dramatically. The maximum I spent on a one-way trip was 33 Yuen and this was for a 30-minute ride. In comparison to NYC, London or any Scandinavian country this is very inexpensive. i even treated my dad to a much-needed half hour foot massage for only $10.
There are so many things to see and do so in Shanghai that I would recommend 4-7 days if you really want to explore the city. It is a place with a combination of ancient history and modern buildings, which means there is something for every taste. The history of the city goes as far back as the 1st century BC, although significant development began in the 12th century AD when it became a market town.
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The weather isn’t always sunny and dry so it is always advisable to have more time, in case it stops your plans for a day or two. Some of the must-see sights include The Bund, Shanghai Acrobatics, City God Temple, Shanghai Tower, Jade Buddha Temple, Nanjing Road and the many water towns.
The food in Shanghai is amazing! You can eat for as little as a dollar on the street or up to $200 per person at some of the best restaurants. No matter what you you’re in the mood for, you will really enjoy it. Remember that if you go to a local restaurant it won’t be as clean as you might see in other parts of the world. And expect to see some things on the menu that you don’t normally see in the western world.
It might be a little difficult for most people to eat street food in China but I guess I am more adventurous than most. Also, if you see someone spitting at their table, remember that they are spitting out bones. They tend not to use their hands and rather spit to get them out. Some people spit into a napkin and others directly onto the table.
The Skyscrapers! Shanghai is dubbed as the ‘skyscraper capital of the world’ with over 8,000 buildings over 400 feet high. It now has Shanghai Tower, which is the second tallest building in the world. And they show no sign of stopping!
If you have never been to China, I suggest that the first city you visit be Shanghai as it is the most modern. Once you go to Beijing, and other tier cities, you begin to step into a more traditional China. I would suggest this order; Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Xi’an and so on!
I would also recommend you download any VPN app before getting to China or you won’t be able to access most emails and all the main social media sites. Also, you should download WeChat, the Chinese version of WhatsApp. It is a combination of a social media and messaging site so once you meet friends, clients or just anyone in general, you can say “hey what’s your WeChat?” Everyone gets super impressed by this.
Here are 5 amazing tours I recommend in Shanghai:
- Shanghai by Night with Huangpu River Cruise
- Shanghai Acrobatic Show Tickets and Evening Tour
- Half Day Private Tour: Shanghai World Financial Center
- The Bund and Oriental Pearl: Half-Day Shanghai Tour
- Wuzhen Private Full-Day Tour from Shanghai
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