Shanghai is one of those cities that pleasantly bends the mind. It does this by folding ancient Chinese history with modern sky-scrapers, classic street food with Michelin star quality, and pockets of calm and natural beauty with the population of Australia. For visitors with a free day, here’s an itinerary that includes the best Shanghai has to offer in less than 24 hours.
Forget your Weetbix, there’s only one to start the day in Shanghai and that’s with some shengjianbao or pan-fried pork buns. About the size of a kid’s fist, there’s nothing like biting into the golden crust on the bottom and the fluffy white top, releasing the juicy chunk of pork inside, along with a teeny-tiny sip of delicious soup. Get to Yang’s (the most famous bun slingers in the city), shove eight of these in your belly, and you’re ready to conquer the day ahead.
Yang’s Dumpling: B1, 930-947 Huaihai Middle Rd
With China transforming from old-world culture to modern superpower faster than a speeding bullet-train, a visit to the Shanghai Museum is the perfect way of exploring the country’s long and beautiful history. Home to one of the most impressive collections in the land, you can easily blow a few hours walking around all the sculptures, ceramics, paintings, jade, coins and traditional costumes.
Shanghai is littered with old-school Chinese diners, which aren’t too far removed from Chinese restaurants in Australia, except they offer a much broader range of yummy dishes. Take Yu Shan Feng for example, which has over 200 options on the menu! A big space with friendly staff, the food is cheap, with six dishes and a bottle of beer costing around AUD$25. Plus, the menu comes with colour photos and English captions, making it a stress-free way to order lunch.
Yu Shan Feng: 15 Baoqing Lu, on the corner of Fuxing Lu.
the goal here is nothing more complicated than walking and looking at the city skyline as it transforms from old to new to futuristic
Time to work off that last feast with a stroll along The Bund waterfront. Built on the banks of the Huángpǔ River, the goal here is nothing more complicated than walking and looking at the city skyline as it transforms from old to new to futuristic. Feet getting sore? You can always take a river cruise instead with options lasting from 30 minutes to three and a half hours.
Hanging around the French Concession part of Shanghai is a delight in itself – combining it with a good meal is sublime. Once designated as the area for the French, this district, with its gorgeous tree-lined avenues, and cool cafes and bars, is the perfect place to end your Shanghai adventure. Keep it local and grab some spring-onion pancakes from Ā Dà Cóngyóubǐng, which is nothing more than a hole-in-the-wall spot, but one that gets long queues of hungry locals, so you know it’s good.
Ā Dà Cóngyóubǐng: 2, Lane 159, South Maoming Rd.
Image: The iconic city skyline as seen from The Bund waterfront.