- Designer dockyard digs
- Riverside by the famous Bund
- Contemporary-Chinese crossover
- Bund-side beauty
- Luxe urban apartments
- Shopping-central Nanjing Road
- Flash in the Han
- Perched by Jing'An Park
- Contemporary carbon-neutral cool
- French Concession quarter
- Concrete, glass, neon
- City life
- Flamboyant consumption
Skyscrapers, shopping and sensuality: this is Shanghai’s decade, and it wants to make sure you know it.
Celebrated in its Twenties’ heyday as the Paris of the East, Shanghai is now a dazzling showcase for 21st-century China. Despite its Communist legacy, this is a consumer society to the core, from the grand temples to Capitalism on the Bund to the bustling markets and endless restaurants. Refuel on delicious dim sum, stroll among Tai Chi enthusiasts at dawn or hit the extravagant bar and club scene – whatever path you choose, you’ll be electrified by this high-watt city.
The Yu Gardens are a fine example of Ming Dynasty design. This haven of pagodas and carp-filled ponds and can be a welcome respite from the helter-skelter streets of Shanghai. Once you've got your breath back you can plunge into the neighbouring shopping alleys around Fangbang Zhonglu, or sample some of Shanghai's best xiao long bau (soup-filled dumplings) at Nan Xiang.
- Cheap and plentiful. Get your hotel to write down your destination - most drivers only speak Mandarin and Shanghainese. Shanghai streets are long so get the cross street too. Don’t try and exit from the driver’s side rear door.
- Tipping culture
- Tipping is never expected.
- Packing tips
- Leave room for your purchases. Take your favourite clothes to get copies made. During summer, bring your lightest outfits.
- Recommended reads
- Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday; Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang; The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran; People’s Republic of Desire by Annie Wang. The Great Wall: China Against the World 1000 BC–AD 2000 by Julia Lovell. Phantom Shanghai, photographs by Greg Giraud.
- Specialist Shanghai food is nanxiang mantou – stuffed steam buns, sucai baozi – steamed buns with vegetable stuffing, leishatuan – meat and rice balls. Shanghai is also known for its hairy crab (which is hairless). Fans flock from far around during the crab season in October/November. Yuyuan Lu and Haining Lu are great streets for all kinds of dumplings, crayfish and other inventive snacks.
- RMB (aka yuan aka quai)
- Dialling codes
- China: +86; Shanghai: 21.
- Do go/don't go
- Best times to visit are April to June, or September to November. Summer is hot and humid. Winters are wet and cold.
Don't go home without...
Stepping into a pair of chichi satin slippers from Suzhou Cobblers (Room 101, 17 Fuzhou Road, www.suzhou-cobblers.com). These handmade flats are seriously swoon worthy.