Our trip to Shanghai was wonderful. It felt so different from any other city I have ever been to in China. To boot, I had my favourite travel buddy to share the experience with (Paddy of course).
Day 1: Get to Shanghai
We departed Beijing early on Saturday morning in order to arrive in Shanghai by mid-afternoon. Sadly, something was wrong with the high-speed train we were on and a trip that should have taken 5 hours took 10. Not a great start to our little getaway, yet due to Paddy’s excellent prior planning skills we quickly found our way to the subway, to our stop, and to our hotel. This was very lucky, as unfortunately, I was exceedingly tired, hungry, grumpy and irritable (do not expect apologies or reimbursements from a Chinese high-speed train mishap – apparently they could take a lesson from the Japanese) and I am sure that despite Paddy’s infinite patience, my whining was probably starting to get to him.
We had booked a room at the Bund Riverview Hotel, which was a very close walk to the subway. The hotel staff was exceedingly helpful upon our arrival and we quickly arrived in a beautiful, luxurious room. Side-note for anyone ever planning on making the trip, the hotel rates were relatively high, yet we were able to book at a low off-season rates through Hotel Club prior to our arrival. As it was late and we were tired, we headed to one of the hotel restaurants for dinner. There are a few different restaurants and we chose Shanghainese, which turned out to be delicious! It also meant we didn’t have to face the snow and gale that were beginning to blow. The shower was enormous and hot and there were gloriously cushy bathrobes in addition to a very soft and comfortable bed. I felt incredibly pampered and seriously considered exploring my options and becoming a kept woman.
Day 2: Shanghai Museum and a stroll around the Bund.
Inside Shanghai Museum
Given that Beijing is anywhere between 10 and 20 degrees colder than Shanghai, heading south was wonderful! Due to our hotel’s ideal location, we were just a short walk from the Bund area and headed out in good time. After grabbing a quick street breakfast we headed over to the Shanghai Museum. It was definitely worth the trip!! Hands down my favourite museum in China so far. The main reason is not necessarily the quality and diversity of the collections, but the fact that dates and explanations are provided in English, making it a more informative experience.
By the time we finished with the museum it was already close to 2 o’clock and we were starving.
We found a little hole in the wall restaurant to eat at. It was delicious! We had a serving of roast duck and a serving of pork. Both were served on a bed of rice with a side of vegetables and a side of soup and cost us a grand total of about 46 quai. Seriously – when traveling you have to explore the dives!
It was still a beautiful day when we finished up with lunch, and we headed out for a stroll around the Bund. We were both stunned by the beauty of the architecture and the Shanghai skyline and enjoyed a few hours of fresh air before heading back in for the night.
Both of us at the Bund in front of the Shanghai skyline
Day 3: River cruise and stroll around old Shanghai before celebrating the New Year on the Bund.
We decided that a river cruise was a must-do and took a boat cruise sometime around noon. It was surprisingly pleasant given that it was December 31st. There were hardly any people on it (go figure!), the sun was shining, it was relatively warm and the views were lovely. We still got a bit of a chill from the breeze off the water and decided a walk would warm us up.
Part of the view during the river cruise
Rather than stick around the Bund again, we moved off towards old Shanghai, which had a much different and more rustic feel. We managed to find a noodle place nearby, as well and that definitely warmed us up!
After a lazy couple of hours back at the hotel we braved the cold to head down to the Bund for New Years celebrations! By chance, we found a very good spot and ended up right underneath the fireworks. It was spectacular seeing the whole city lit up in addition to the sky. It was definitely a New Years to remember! The crowds were INSANE! Not only were the streets filled with people, but they were also filled with police officers, trying to control the crowd and blocking off sections of the city. Definitely worth venturing out, though!
Shanghai by night
The crowds at the Bund on New Years Eve
Happy New Year!
Day 4: Get to the train station and head off to Suzhou!
Our last day in Shanghai was short-lived, as we booked a hotel in Suzhou to explore another city before heading back to Beijing. After a lazy sleep-in (post-New Year of course) we headed off to the train station for our next adventure!