Shanghai - The 1st of 4 cities
Arrived in the morning from LAX on Air China - 2 meals, inflight entertainment, no issues. Met national tour Guide - Lucy who was great
FP tour took us to YuYuan Garden (which was a place we wanted to see) - The online photos were beautiful, but we were not impressed in person. Maybe it is better in the Spring, when the flowers are in bloom. The gardens & parks in BJ & HK were much more impressive. Then lunch, our 1st "Lazy Susan" group meal. It was actually very good, with a variety of choices. Next, we checked in to Broadway Mansions Hotel, with a Bund view room. That evening, found a place for dinner on our own & boarded a Huangpu River 1-hour Cruise. A great way to see the lights on both sides of the river at night. Walked the Bund/Promenade on our way back to hotel for the night. Although tired,we stayed up until 9PM, to try an minimize the jet lag (it worked).
Day2- Took the Metro Tian Zi Fang, a place where boutiques, shops, cafes & small restaurants are amidst the local residences & narrow alleyways. We found a few interesting souveniers here & had a good lunch. Next, took Metro to the YuYuan Bazaar, which surrounds the YuYuan Garden. This is a fun market place full of small shops, restaurants and a great place for photos and people watching.
In the evening took to the Metro to the Pudong side and had dinner with the best view of Shanghai on the 87th floor of the SWFC, in the Hyatt cafe. Walked to the Pudong Riverside Promenade. You get a different perspective of the bright lights of Shanghai on this side of the river
Day3- Saw people doing Tai Chi on the Bund on way to the Metro.Took Metro to Shanghai Museum in the morning, Afterwards took Metro to Jade Buddha Temple which was very interesting. Then, took Metro to E. Nanjing Rd Pedestrian St. for late lunch. Walked Nanjing Rd on way back to hotel. Went back to Nanjing Rd for dinner, took good night time photos with everything lit up.
Day 4 - Flew to Zian
As you can see, we only spent part of the 1st day with the tour. We wanted to be able to go where we wanted, for how long we wanted & have the flexibility to change our itinerary (which we did). The first two days were clear & sunny, so we moved the shanghai museum & jade buddha temple to day 3, because they were indoors. We got great across the river photos of the skyline & night time lights from the Bund & Pudong promenades, on the river cruise and from the SWFC. On day 3 the smog rolled in pretty heavy.
However, using the tour company (Friendly Planet) did come in handy. They picked us up at the airport, transported us to our hotel & checked us in. This all contributed to us getting off to a good stress-free start to our vacation.
The hotel had English speaking staff that was able to answer questions that we had. The breakfasts were great. And you can't beat the location, on the tip of the Bund and 10 minutes walk to the Metro.
The tour also offered a day in Suhzou (the Venice of the East), which we passed on. We wanted to spend the 3 days in Shanghai. Also, we had already been to Venice and had plans to visit Tai-O, a fishing vilage in HK. FP also offered optional tours to some of the places that we visited on our own.
We had 100 dollars of Yuan in small bills with us and got Yuan from the ATM at the airport. Keep in mind, that ATMs primarily provide large bills. Our hotel also broke down some of the large bills for us. Plus the hotel had a bill exchanger that can convert paper curency to Yuan. They also had an ATM. So, getting money was not an issue.
The Shanghai Metro was the easiest that I have ever used anywhere in the world (including the U.S./Paris/London). The ticket machines are easy, they have excellent signage, English announcements & most impressive are the markings on the floor, which guide you to your train. Transferring lines was a snap. I showed my wife one time and she was able to take over for the rest of the time in Shanghai. We used the Metro during morning & evening rush hour with no problems, no pushing etc.
The weather was in the 70s in the daytime and 60s at night.
We will post reviews (to include how to get there, costs etc.) of the sights in the near future.
-- Xian/Beijing & Hong Kong trip reports will be posted soon