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Shanghai: An Expat’s Guide

In China’s most cosmopolitan of cities, foreign residents have long had a defining role in the culture.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: Multiple days

Overview:  Shanghai is a city layered in symbols, shifting signs, mixed metaphors. The thing is, it can all be a little overwhelming. The sheer... more »

Tips:  Lane 248, a gritty, narrow street now inhabited by artsy cafés and intimate boutiques, is hidden behind Taikang Road.

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Points of Interest

1. Around Space Gallery

Art and photography space hidden away in an old mansion turned industrial building.

Address:
408, Jiang Chuan Bldg., No.294 Si Chuan Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-3305-0100

2. Design Republic

Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu’s modern design and furniture boutique.

Address:
88 Yuqing Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6082-3788

3. Din Tai Fung, Shanghai

Ubiquitous chain with English menus and solid xiao long bao. Various locations.

Address:
Xintiandi, 123 Xingye Rd., 2nd fl.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6385-8378

The city’s famous Cathay Hotel was renamed the Peace Hotel in 1956, and in 2010 was taken over by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

Address:
20 Nanjing Rd. E.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
(866) 940-4914

5. Flair

The bar on the 58th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, with great views and a clubby vibe.

Address:
8 Century Ave.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-2020-1888

Classic Shanghainese food in a French Concession villa.

Address:
1039 Yuyuan Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-5237-1878

The crabmeat dumplings are available at a decadent (for Shanghai) splurge of $14 for a dozen and are thin-skinned with a deeply, sweetly crabby rich broth and meat. The place is one small room with about 30 seats, bright cafeteria lighting, linoleum floors, and a clear view into the kitchen.

Address:
90 Huanghe Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21... More

JIA consists of fifty-two rooms, plus two 1,000-plus-square-foot penthouse suites, both specially designed for high-profile guests (with bodyguards in tow). Space has not been sacrificed to style—even standard rooms clock in at almost 500 square feet. Jia means "home" in Mandarin, and given how frenetic Shanghai is, we loved the property... More

The dark, Deco-y Shanghainese restaurant serves roast duck wrapped in mantou buns, kao fu, a warm, brown, bready, tofu-like rice-gluten substance that is very comforting; and steamed fish head.

Address:
99 Xikang Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6247-0101

10. M on the Bund

On Sunday mornings, young expat families brunch on the terrace of M on the Bund, Shanghai’s first fine-dining Western-style restaurant, framed against the pink TV tower and other kitschy buildings of Pudong across the Huangpu River.

Address:
No. 5 The Bund, 7th fl., corner of Guangdong Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6350-9988

11. Monkey Lounge

Semisecret cocktail bar off a grungy alley with a fun, well-heeled crowd.

Address:
22 Lane 56, Donghu Rd.,
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-15-0218-5992

12. Mr. & Mrs. Bund

Chef Paul Pairet’s lively, modern French restaurant offers all-day people-watching.

Address:
18 The Bund
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6323-9898

13. Number 9

A quiet B&B in a lane house in the French Concession.

Address:
9 Lane 355, Jianguo Rd. W.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6471-9950

14. Old China Hand Reading Room

At this bookshop-café on one of the elegantly shaded streets in the French Concession, coffee addicts linger late into the night amid the Ming-dynasty-style décor.

Address:
27 Shaoxing Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6473-2526

15. One Hundred Families, One Thousand Tastes

The menu features Yellow River bamboo with ham; translucent gooey balls of summer yam with pork and scallions; and lu yu, a river fish with a sour, spicy broth.

Address:
818 Nanjing Rd. W.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6217-7793

When it opened, 1,358 foot-tall the Park Hyatt Shanghai stole the title of world’s tallest hotel (from its sister property across the street, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai). The Park Hyatt occupies the 79th through 93rd floors of the Shanghai World Financial Center, also known as the Vertical Complex City. From a courtyard on the first floor of the... More

17. The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai

Fresh from a $40 million renovation, with Asian elements (such as cabinets inspired by Chinese medicine chests) and a great address. Room to Book: Shanghai rooms have traditional Shanghai design elements and better views than other rooms. Doubles from $350.

Address:
1376 Nanjing Xi Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
(800) 241-3333

18. Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong

It’s almost impossible to actually walk anywhere in the frenetic Pudong neighborhood, so lucky for you that Ritz-Carlton’s second Shanghai property offers plenty of reasons to stay put. Topping off Cesar Pelli’s 58-story IFC Shanghai building, the 285-room hotel places you in a cloud-level fantasy. Guest rooms, with their Art Deco touches, have... More

New contemporary art museum steps from the Bund.

Address:
20 Huqiu Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-3310-9985

On the third floor of the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center there’s a room-size scale model of the city in 2020. The joke about the place is that all the locals are here to see if their house will still be around a decade on, or if they should gear up for relocation to the high-rise burbs.

Address:
100 Renmin Ave., People’s Square
... More

21. Shouning Road Night Food Market

Shouning Road is lined with street-side grills, men kneeling in alleys shucking oysters and throwing shells on alleyway middens, food carts selling roast duck, dessert stalls and grill stands circled with stools and parked motorcycles, and a constant, moving, happy throng of late-night snackers.

Address:
Luwan
Shanghai
China

Fiery Sichuan food on a packed French Concession street.

Address:
30 Donghu Rd.
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-5404-1235

23. Spin

A stylish, contemporary warehouse space with pared-down simple ceramics.

Address:
758 Julu Rd., Bldg. 3
Shanghai
China

Phone:
86-21-6279-2545

24. Table No. 1

Table No. 1 is a pared-back, industrial-chic restaurant, stripped to its unadorned material essence. Situated in the base of the new 19-room Waterhouse at South Bund hotel, which was also designed by architects Neri and Hu, the restaurant is a natural wood, gray-brick, Cor-Ten steel, and exposed-cement space flooded with light. There are cinematic... More

25. The Peninsula, Shanghai

A master of luxe hospitality, Peninsula Hotels chairman Michael Kadoorie spent his childhood in Shanghai. So the March 2010 premiere of his ninth property, the Peninsula Shanghai, was a homecoming of sorts. On a stretch of the historic Bund, the 10-story granite-clad building is a Modernist reflection of its Art Deco-era neighbors, the Shanghai... More

Shanghai hotels tend toward the vertical and voluptuous, but one look at this austere lobby—exposed brick walls; steel beams; stone floors—and it’s clear the Waterhouse has broken the mold. The 19-room hotel is housed in a low-slung 1930’s warehouse on the southern part of the city’s iconic Bund promenade. Guest rooms blend rough concrete ceilings... More

The historic Union Building became “Three on the Bund” in 2004, and the fifth floor houses the 120-seat Whampoa Club. Located inside one of the Financial Street district’s last siheyuan (courtyards), the restaurant has an Art Deco interior with gold and red tones and a lotus pond. The menu is Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine with a contemporary ... More

28. Xintiandi Shopping Complex

Xintiandi was the birthplace of the Chinese Communist Party; now this restored two-block district is defined by upscale shops and restaurants.

Address:
Huangpi Nan Rd.
Shanghai
China