Today I am going back to my Shanghai Blogs – you can read the last one here
Today we had a free day with a driver, Kirsty our guide had told us we would have a different driver today, so we picked out a few key areas and she wrote them down in Chinese for us as the driver would have limited English.
The Driver met us on Time at 10am. Our first stop was Shanghai Tower. This is the 2nd tallest building in the world – there are 128 floors and the observation deck in on the 119th floor – although they are constructing an observation deck higher up. They boast that the elevator is the fastest in the world – well the fact that you travel smoothly to the 119th floor in around 1 minute you know its fast. Before you get to the elevator there is a museum type area with information on skyscrapers – comparisons etc – its really interesting and I could have spent longer there – BUT we were on a tight schedule having agreed a pick-up time with the driver.
The views over the city are nothing short of spectacular and was well worth the 180RMB (around £20pp) entrance fee. You can really get the feel of what a sprawling metropolis the city is. The building is essentially an office building, however on the lower floors there is a shopping Mall with restaurants – so you could spend half a day here really.
When we had finished at the tower (in fairness we reluctantly left) The driver picked us up and we headed back to Old Town (China Town) – we had briefly seen it yesterday but didn’t have time to really explore. Here you can haggle with the small stall owners (I say stalls they are all housed in traditional style buildings) – start 50% lower than they ask Kirsty said to me the day before, and it worked. We grabbed some street food here as many people were eating what looked to be chicken on sticks (we hoped) – so we went with what the locals were dining on and it was delicious!!
Next up was the Jade Buddha Temple – I had 2 listed down but the driver said this one was closer. The Temple itself is actually really modern in terms of the buildings and walkways although the many Buddhas and artefacts housed there are historic. It is an amazing place of calm although when we went there were many sectioned off areas with work going on. It was great seeing it although on reflection I feel we should have gone to the bigger Jing’an Temple.
Next, our driver picked us up to take us to the pedestrian area of Nanjing Road the famous shopping area. We had a wander round and again bought some street food – there are many western stores here – H&M, Zara, Gap etc then the up market designer stores.
After a long day, our driver picked us up to take us back to the hotel. Again this evening we dined at the food court – however, the stall we went to for dumplings (we were craving them at this point) had no English menus and limited pictures so I really struggled to order noodles and gave up and just ate dumplings plus more dumplings which I didn’t complain too much about.
We called it a night early as we were being picked up at 07.30am for our flight home
Kirsty met us and was travelling with us to help check us in at the airport. It was around a 45-minute drive to the airport and Kirstys help checking us in was invaluable. Directing us where to go and speaking with the check-in staff. Now, this was where her help was appreciated even more – My hold luggage wasn’t accepted after a pre-scan and I had to go to a room to open it – slightly worried at this point but the girl had explained to Kirsty that it was because there was what looked to be a lighter in there. Yes, there were 2 – silly me I had thrown them in after we left a Bar one night. So panic over they were removed and I checked in as normal. Kirsty walked us to the gate and we said our goodbyes after leaving her with her well-earned tip.
so that’s it what a fantastic trip – I definitely fell in love with Shanghai and hope one day to return.
Notes / Tips
o Cash Machines are only located in some banks and some limit international cards to small withdrawals. Security is taken very seriously and Cash Machines are in cubicles that you must lock.
o Many shops/stores do not take western Credit/debit cards.
o Restaurants: small restaurants take cash only – with lots of others not always taking western cards – the preferred payment method is by Phone App using a QR scanner.
o Driving in China is rather erratic – be careful crossing roads and look out for the almost silent Electric Scooters – especially of an evening where they conserve battery by not switching in lights !!
o Whilst walking around shopping areas there are many touts that will approach you trying to sell handbags / Rolex watches etc – they do not have goods with them just a small card with pictures. It is illegal to street trade – but what they will do is to take you to a back ally shops (or makeshift shop) and try to sell goods (generally fake goods) – they can become aggressive if you do not buy. A simple firm no when approached sees them on their way and there are no hard feelings at this point.
o Shanghai Tower was not on our itinerary but I think it is definitely a must.
o A refundable deposit is due at most hotels – whether as part of a tour or not.
o Wendy Wu the tour supplier we used advises Tips of between 80 to 100 RMB per day for your guide and the same for the driver. (about £10 to £12 per day each for the guide and driver).