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Shanghai Skyline

From Fast Trains to Fabulous Food: 10 Shanghai Experiences You’ll Love

Adam Ford 03
by Adam Ford

February 07, 2018

5 minute read

First time visitors to Shanghai, prepare to be amazed by what is truly one the world’s greatest cities. This mega metropolis is home to a staggering 24 million people. It’s a fittingly impressive way to end your visit to the Chinese mainland on Collette’s Wonders of China tour.

One of the things I love about travelling with Collette is the combination of included must-see sights and additional bespoke experiences that really do add another dimension to your holiday. That’s certainly the case in Shanghai. Activities such as a ride on the Maglev train, a visit to the Shanghai Urban Planning Centre and a night of acrobatic thrills (and thankfully no spills!) are all highlights I might not have experienced on a different tour.

Here are ten experiences you’ll love in Shanghai - and you’ll get to experience them all with Collette.

1. Step back in time on the Bund

While Shanghai’s soaring apartment blocks and futuristic office towers dominate the city-scape, the Bund remains an enduring and charming link with the past. Step back to a time when this side of the Huangpu River was home to the British Concession. The Bund is lined with magnificent Art Deco and neoclassical architecture. It’s an amazing contrast to the high-tech financial centre of Pudong across the river.

2. Cruise the Huangpu River

Shanghai’s most recognisable structures are located in Pudong, and include the Shanghai Tower (the second tallest building in the world) and the fabulous Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower with its massive red orbs. At night, the Pudong skyline becomes a kaleidoscope of light and colour. You’ll get a great view on an evening cruise on the Huangpu River, which winds its way through the city centre. Look for the historic camelback Waibaidu Bridge which opened in 1908.

3. Lose yourself in the Yuyuan Garden

In a city that doesn’t have an off button, a visit to the Yuyuan Garden is a welcome change of pace. Catch your breath as you explore this exquisite example of a classical Chinese garden, which dates back to the 16th century. Stroll beside tranquil ponds, and admire the traditional architecture of the pavilions and reception halls. Magnificent magnolias provide a shady retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city outside.

4. Experience the wonder of the Maglev train

Collette guests enjoy chauffeur driven transfers to and from the airport in Australia, but it’s done a little differently on arrival in Shanghai! You’ll board the fabulous high-speed Maglev train, which makes short work of the 32 kms from Pudong Airport to the city. The train utilises the principle of magnetic levitation to achieve speeds in excess of 400km per hour. Sit back and relax as the landscape literally whizzes by. The crossing point with a train coming in the opposite direction is quite something!

5. Shop for silk

The production of silk originated in China some 2,000 years ago, and remained a closely guarded secret for centuries. A visit to the Silk Museum in Shanghai will give you more of the backstory and an opportunity to purchase a range of genuine products. There are plenty of cost effective options that will make great souvenirs and gifts.

6. Be amazed at the Shanghai Urban Planning Centre

The challenges of housing such a huge population become clear when you visit the excellent Shanghai Urban Planning Centre. The centerpiece is a huge scale model of the city, which really puts the sheer size of Shanghai into perspective. Once you’ve seen this you’ll never again complain about peak hour traffic at home!

7. Try a delicious xiao long bao dumpling

The cuisine in Shanghai is superb, and with most meals included on your Collette tour, you’ll get to try a wide variety of local dishes and culinary styles. One of the highlights is the xiao long bao soup dumplings this city is particularly famous for. Google it and you’ll find numerous websites that rank the best xiao long bao dumpling houses in Shanghai. Bite into the warm dumpling for an unexpectedly juicy surprise!

8. Watch a thrilling Chinese acrobatic show

China’s acrobatic tradition dates back even further than its silk industry. Circus World in Shanghai is home to a thrilling production that combines traditional acrobatic skills with some modern takes – including a circular metal cage full of motorbikes crisscrossing at full throttle! Enjoy tumbling acts, jugglers, trampolining and performances on the high wire. There’s a generous dash of comedy to glue it all together.

Two recommendations for your free time…

9. Shop until you drop on Nanjing Road

Shanghai is China’s economic powerhouse, and it will probably come as no surprise that shopping is big business here. The city is home to all the big international brands and of course, plenty of Chinese ones as well. Take an evening stroll down the pedestrianised section of Nanjing Road. This thoroughfare is literally a sea of flashing neon signs.

10. Visit the Shanghai Museum

You won’t have a lot of spare time in Shanghai, but if you find yourself with a couple of hours to fill on your final day, make your way over to the incredible Shanghai Museum on the People’s Square. The collection of Chinese cultural heritage on display is staggering and even if you only have time to see a couple of the galleries, it will be well worth the effort. Leave yourself half an hour or so to visit the museum shop, which offers some amazing artwork reproductions. They come at a range of price points and make great souvenirs.

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