Shanghai, which translates to “above the sea,” was originally a fishing and textiles town. Today, it’s one of China’s biggest cities and a global financial hub. Traditional Chinese culture and modern commerce shape the two sides of the city. East of the Huangpu River is Pudong—the city’s business center—featuring futuristic skyscrapers. West of the river is Puxi, the historic heart of the city. Locals say the different sides of the river represent Shanghai’s future and past.
The city keeps growing. The population is expected to exceed 26 million in 2019. Major industries include manufacturing, tourism, transportation and financial services.
Know before you go
Time zone: China Standard Time (UTC + 8 hours)
Language: Mandarin, Shanghainese
Local currency: yuan (US$1 = CN¥6.75)
Airport: International flights arrive and depart from Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), about 30 kilometers east of the city center.
Getting around: The Shanghai Maglev train runs from Pudong International to Longyang Road Station at speeds up to 431 kilometers per hour, making the journey no more than 8 minutes. Uber isn’t available in China; locals use Didi instead. Taxis and the metro are also good options.
For CN¥168 ($24.82 USD) you can secure a day pass at Agora Space. It’s a co-working office with outdoor space in the heart of Shanghai. Amenities include meeting rooms, printing, video projectors, coffee and tea.
Alternatively, try one of many cafés around the city. Café on Air is central and close to the metro. But arrive early. This popular spot tends to fill up quickly. Seesaw Coffee offers a pleasant workspace with cozy seating and a large outdoor courtyard. Coffee Belt is a stylish café with plenty of seating and coffee to fuel you through the workday.
Places to stay
- Fairmont Peace Hotel, 20 Nanjing Road East; Ph: +86 21 6321 6888
- Radisson Blu Hotel Shanghai New World, 88 Nanjing Road West; Ph: +86 21 6359 9999
- Courtyard Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone, No. 17 Lane 3999, Xiupu Road; Ph: +86 21 5150 9988
- Ramada Encore by Wyndham Shanghai South, 129 Hangtou Road; Ph: +86 21 6093 3888
- Holiday Inn Shanghai Songjiang, No. 83 Middle Zhongshan Road; Ph: +86 21 3785 9999
One thing you shouldn’t miss
The Bund along the Huangpu River is usually packed with locals and tourists alike. Traditional architecture dominates the western side of the river. Look across to the east, and you’ll see the city’s modern skyline, complete with the Shanghai and Oriental Pearl tower. Visit either skyscraper for a bird’s-eye view of Shanghai.
And here’s one more thing worth seeing, especially during Chinese New Year celebrations in February: The tranquil, traditional Yu Garden near the Bund puts on an unforgettable Lantern Festival during the holiday.
Food & drink
Din Tai Fung serves up authentic xiao long bao (soup dumplings). Watch chefs intricately wrap thousands of dumplings before tasting some yourself. There are three locations in Shanghai, all prized for consistently high-quality food.
The Grandma’s has its name for a reason. This spot serves up Chinese comfort food, and the prices are incredibly reasonable. The place is usually packed, so expect to wait.
For after-work drinks and a spectacular view of the city, check out VUE Bar at the Hyatt on the Bund. There’s a cover charge, but a drink is included in the price. The menu is extensive.