Welcome to Shanghai
For us Canadians we can stop in on a lay over in certain Chinese cities without a visa for a maximum of a 72-hour visit. So, I took advantage of this while coming home from Thailand one winter in February. Upon arrival I waited in the long customs line up and finally got to the front. I was nervous that I didn’t speak a word of Chinese and was worried they would have questions for me. So I get to the guy in the booth and he looks at my declaration card I had filled, then flips through my passport and looks at me and says, “Visa?” and I’m like, “no I’m only staying for 70 hours!” he says in perfect English, “oh you filled out the wrong card.” he hands me another card, directs me to the back of the line and says “come back with this one”. I’m like “okay, my mistake” and thankfully go to the back of the line pleased at how friendly he was with me. I filled out the appropriate card and get back in the now much shorter line. Get to the front and he looks at the card, then asks for proof that I will be leaving the country when I say I am, as in he wanted to see proof of my plane ticket. All I could find was a screen shot of the plane ticket conformation. This not being %100 good enough, he calls his supervisor over. His supervisor quickly assesses the situation and directs me to follow him to the back room where he sits me down and takes my phone to his side of the desk and looks up my flight in his computer. He finds my name on the flight list for 70 hours time and stamps my passport, smiles at me and waves me out the door. There, I’m loose inside China for my very first time ever. Oh, what a feeling.
Being a semi professional traveler at this point, I knew to have my hotel name and address previously screenshotted in Chinese writing before hand such that I can show the taxi driver in his native language. I jump in, he looks at my phone and nodes his head yes. And we take off. I arrive safely and swiftly at Les Suites Orient. My new found 5-star luxury hotel right in the heart of The Bund district.
The Bund is a main District along the Huangpu River front with spectacular views of all the high-rise buildings and city scape. A very long river front walk way for tourists and locals alike. Many people flock here every day. If you decide to visit Shanghai, which you should, I’d recommend staying in this district. it is in the heart of the city, and everything you’ll need is very close with in walking distance. The main Central Business District is just across the river, with many Taxi Ferry’s coming and going every 15 minutes with a small price of 2 Renminbi or RMB. Don’t do what I did and walk up to the token seller with a 50 RMB and make them break it. They don’t like that. The CBD of Shanghai is also very much worth checking out and strolling through with its very impressive skyscrapers and observation decks. Take a tour up to the Shanghai Tower to the 118th floor observation deck for stunning views of the city, or head up to the cloud 9 bar on the 87th floor of the Grand Hyatt hotel for a fancy cocktail which will cost you about 125RMB per drink but definitely worth it for the views and the knowledgeable and super friendly English speaking bar staff. And inside the buildings themselves are also impressively beautiful.
Another option is the Ritz Carlton Hotels Flair rooftop bar on the 58th floor. Also, with stunning views of the city and 125RMB cocktails. But extraordinarily friendly and knowledgeable English-speaking staff. Honestly, they love their job and love talking to tourists.
Another area of Shanghai totally worth checking out is the French Concession. Once an area designated for the French, it consists of Luwan and Xuhui Districts now. A beautiful area for walking, shopping and dining, more so for tourists.
I was in Shanghai during the Chinese New Year and honestly for a city with the entire population on Canada living in it, it didn’t seem that busy. It was busy but, didn’t seem like 30 million people were there. I think all the locals head out of town for Chinese New Year to their relatives in the country side to escape city life for the holidays. The road systems worked great; the infrastructure was very modern. they had what looked like phone booths on every corner, but in fact they were Wi-Fi sharing stations. That’s right, free Wi-Fi to share with every city goer. There were friendly military on every corner such to detour any attacks and they honestly had an army of human street sweepers keeping the city clean. There was not one piece of garbage on the ground anywhere.
The entire time I was walking in the city, I would be bombarded by Chinese teenagers wanting to take selfies with me! It was quite hilarious! I was the only white person in the city it seemed, and I was quite the circus show! ha-ha. They would crowd around giggling as I put my arms around a big group of them and posed with them for the hundreds of selfies! I had only seen 2 other white folks in the city. I was so excited to maybe converse with somebody that spoke English that I snuck up behind them and eavesdropped a bit only to discover they were Russian. But that was fine. I wanted a different travel experience and so I got one.
Overall, Shanghai was an amazingly futuristic clean city. the locals were extremely friendly even though I couldn’t communicate with words I played the old game of charades while giggling and shopping and the locals would laugh with me and help me as much as they could. I would recommend going and checking out this city.
Landscape – 10/10 for city scape
Food – 8/10
Price – $$$
Alcohol Price – $$
Locals – Very rare for a local to speak English unless they work in the Hotel Business but super friendly.