After going on a 5-day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, I had a day to spare in Shanghai before heading back to New York. Luckily, I had a great friend who is currently an expat in Shanghai to schlep me around for the day, and hit many of the hot tourist spots. Not everyone is that lucky, so hopefully this post can help you plan if you ever plan on rolling through the city populated with over 24 million people. Note: US citizen need to acquire a visa in order to visit Shanghai. It took me about 4 days to get mine after submitting my application to the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York.
Here's what we did:
1. Lunch at Charlie's
As soon as I arrived at my friend, Marvin's apartment, we dropped my bags off and headed out to get the day started. He was in the mood for burgers. Typically, when I'm traveling, I try to stray away from eating "American" food, but since I was starving, and trusted his judgement, I didn't mind. We stopped at Charlie's Burger Tap Shake. The burgers were fresh, reasonably priced, and were served on soft, fresh-baked buns. We both got burger lunch combos which included a burger, fries and a soda. On the way out, Marvin copped a shake. I wanted a shake so bad, but I know that my intolerance for lactose would have caused the rest of the day to be quite....offensive...
2. Jing'an Temple
Next, we hopped on the metro and headed over to our first tourist spot, the Jing'an Temple. This place was awesome, and though it's a major place for tourists to visit, it's still a place where some come to pray, so keep that in mind as you are walking the grounds. Entry cost: ¥50 (approx $7 USD). When you go in, you can stay as long as you want.
3. Shanghai World Financial Center
Next, we headed over to the Pudong district to visit one of the world's most prominent skyscrapers - the World Financial Center. It was a semi-clear day so we opted to head up to the observation deck to see the city from a bird's eye view. Entry cost: ¥220 (approx $32 USD). Pro-tip: You may want to visit close to sunset, so that you can see the city during the day and then at night. The city really comes to life at night.
4. Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower
While in Pudong Park, we walked over to get a closer view of the Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which is the most prominent landmark in the city. I wasn't too pressed to go in, so we settled for just taking a picture of it from the outside. If you choose to go in, however, there is a restaurant with a rotating floor that allows you to see the city from multiple vantage points.
5. The Bund
While I was on the cruise I mentioned earlier, I was told by some of my friends that I should visit The Bund to get an awesome view of the city. That was my only request to Marvin for the day, so this was the last stop before getting dinner. By the time we arrived there, the sun had fully set and the skyline was in full performance mode. After I saw this, I was tapped out for the day. I was sick of walking, and fighting with Shanghai residents for space on the metro. I insisted we take a cab to dinner!
6. Dinner at Di Shui Dong
This was the moment when I could get my fix of some authentic Chinese food! We arrived and were immediately seated. Marvin was a regular, so he suggested we order the spare ribs and green beans, and I chose the spicy shrimp and beef stir fry dishes. Everything is served family style. Let's talk about this damn shrimp and beef, though! Both of these dishes were spicy as hell! They tasted so damn good though so we couldn't stop eating. I immediately surrendered by asking for cold water, but Marvin was trying to hold out for whatever reason, all the while repeating "Got damn" and wiping his brow...LOL.
For dessert, I'd highly recommend the fried bananas...but make sure you let them cool off for a couple minutes before biting into them.