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What to do in Shanghai this week?

Brian US

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I've spent the last week trying to get a standby ticket to Beijing to no avail. Looks like my best bet is to go to Shanghai first and possibly take the train up. My school starts up next week, so I only want to spend 1-3 days in Shanghai.

Any suggestions on a place to stay for 150-200 kuai?

I'm not into bars/clubs, so any festivals or sights to see in a day?

What Shanghai dishes should I look for?

Any tips for the train to Beijing? I heard I should splurge on the soft sleeper.

I'll probably fly in Thursday and if the airline finds my bag then I'll be carrying a lot. They lost my check-in bag Sunday after having it for only one hour! Didn't get on the flight, so I imagine it didn't go far...

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I try to stay at the Home Inn when I travel in China. The chain has simple but clean rooms in good locations. Other similar chains include Motel 168, Hanting, and 7 Days. The rates are all about 100RMB to 250RMB per day, depending on the location.

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I think Google and/or a guidebook could answer most of your questions. If you have a niche interest or more specific requests, please let us know.

For the train trip, don't bother with a soft sleeper unless your really value your privacy or you're carrying wads of cash. Try to get a bottom bunk 下铺 ticket, which your neighbors will share with your during the day but which has more headroom and is easier to get in and out of at night. I usually just buy dinner on the train, but if you're still getting used to real, generic Chinese food then stock up on KFC (there's one inside the main Shanghai Railway Station) or instant noodles before you board.

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A link for trains from Shanghai to Beijing, the times they leave, estimated time to get to Beijing, and prices. It's in Chinese though. http://search.huochepiao.com/chaxun/result.asp?txtChufa=%C9%CF%BA%A3&txtDaoda=%B1%B1%BE%A9&x=43&y=18

But there are still cheap tickets available depending on how long you want to wait. 03-04 and 03-05 have tickets to beijing for 515 kuai, 03-06 have tickets for 410 kuai, etc. Your best bet is to check elong or qunar.

I'm assuming its your first time in Shanghai so some of the obvious things would be The Bund at night, yuyuan garden, maybe some temples, nanjing lu, and the fake market. Your best bet would be to just look it up online

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If you have a niche interest or more specific requests, please let us know.

I guess I should ask if you had one day to spend in Shanghai, then what would you do? More specifically on March 4-5th. For instance, I would generally recommend seeing the pandas and Tiananmen over smaller temples in Beijing if you only had one day. My google search only brought up the Shanghai International Literary Festival starting on the 5th, which I'll pass on.

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My google search only brought up the Shanghai International Literary Festival starting on the 5th, which I'll pass on.

See, that's what I mean! SILF is a world-class literary festival with top-notch authors flying in from all over the globe; it's definitely on my own personal to-do list but for you it's a no-go. That's a good starting point. Other starting points:

Are you a history buff? Do you like museums? Art? Do you mind walking long distances? Want to see the newer side of the city? What's your budget? An early riser? What research have you done so far? Do you like sports? Do you want just the highlights, or a feel for everyday life? Do you like live music shows? Alternative/hip-hop/dance/opera? How's your Chinese? First time in Shanghai? Any must-sees? Window-shopping or high-roller? Are you a foodie? Are you looking for photo ops? Watch? Bag? DVD? Etc.

For a generic Shanghai itinerary, I googled "3 days in Shanghai" and the first result is a decent 1/2/3 day itinerary from Frommers that I've referred to before for other visitors. Check it out.

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I'm pretty open to anything, but I'd rather stay away from shopping and temples as I've had my fill in Beijing. I think I'll try out the museum and The Bud at night. I was also wondering if there was a certain attraction I should see now, which travel guides might have left out or are simply outdated. For instance I didn't enjoy seeing all the construction at temples leading up to the Olympics in Beijing. Understandably the Beijing zoo only has a few animals out during the winter months. I also find Tiananmen Square closed periodically if say a head of state shows up. Anything like this that I should look out for at the main destinations pointed out at Frommer's?

My budget depends on how many days I'm in Shanghai. I don't mind paying for 1-2 entrance fees. I've had friends recommend the Shanghai noodles that I don't mind dropping 10 kuai on a meal. Depending on the jet lag I'll try to get up early and get a feel for the subway lines. I do enjoy rock music, but find some of the venues in Beijing (30 kuai+) too pricey. It'll be my first time in Shanghai and my Chinese is good enough to get around, but I definitely won't engage in a conversation about the Ming dynasty at the museum.

I'm looking at more of the must-sees as I plan to show friends/family around China in the future. I'll get more generic information from other travel websites, but I'd like more tips that only a resident would know. Any recent construction or closures I should worry about?

Thanks for all the advice and replies!

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The "must do" touristy things include:

Yuyuan/Chenghuang Temple:

Don't be put off by the fact that this is a temple. In fact, the temple is only a very small part of the complex, which you don't even have to go to. The temple itself requires an entrance ticket, as does Yu Garden, but the surrounding alleys are built in traditional Chinese style. I'm not sure how much of this is authentic, and anyway, it doesn't feel authentic as this is a 100% tourist trap, but nevertheless, something that most visitors to Shanghai will see.

Nanjing Road/The Bund:

Well, these are really two different things, but since they adjoin each other, if you do one, you might as well do the other. Nanjing Road is the main commercial road in the centre of Shanghai. If you don't like crowds, or shops, then perhaps it is not your cup of tea, but again, this is one place that any visitor to Shanghai is likely to see. As for The Bund, for the last several months (over a year in fact), the side overlooking the water has been closed for reconstruction. Whether it has reopened yet or not, I'm not sure.

Shanghai Museum:

This is pretty good, and free to enter. It is located at People's Square, so is also easy to reach. This contains a lot of old Chinese relics, as you'd expect, so if you are interested in this kind of thing, then it's definitely worth a visit.


There are many water-towns around Shanghai, which are fairly distinctive of the Jiangsu/Zhejiang/Shanghai area. Qibao is perhaps not one of the most well-known ones, but it is certainly the most convenient to reach from the city, as metro line 9 has a stop there. If you want to see what a water town is like, then perhaps this place is worth a visit.

Actually, Shanghai is very popular amongst expats because of the nightlife, but if you are more into day activities and culture, Shanghai is not the most interesting city. But if you are only staying for a couple of days, then the places mentioned above should be enough to keep you busy.

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Anonymoose's list is pretty definitive for a 1-2 day visit.

I'd try to do the Bund before sunset, then hop over to Pudong and get a sunset view from either the Jinmao tower or the World Financial Center, then a stroll down the Nanjing road when it's all brightly lit.

I haven't visited Qibao, but I've been to Zhouzhuang, which is similar, and a possible alternative.

If you're into live music, check out Yuyintang. A bit expat-heavy, but most live music places are.

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Well I didn't get a chance to stay in Shanghai, yet I will definitely be prepared the next time I go. I didn't get the standby ticket Sunday to Beijing, so they lost the bag. It was found a few days later and I was told it would be put on the flight to Shanghai. They lost it again and at that point I just wanted to get back to Beijing for the last day of school registration. I guess the bag finally showed up in Shanghai and will be flown to Beijing tonight.

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