10 Things You Should Know About Shanghai

Shanghai is famous with rich of culture, booming economy and many interesting tourist destinations. Not many people know about Shanghai and many didn't know what to do in Shanghai too. I will try to compile a simple list of things you should know.

1) Shanghai is a direct-controlled municipality.

Direct-controlled municipality is the highest level of classification for cities used in China. In another word, it is a city or a province by itself. There are 4 direct-controlled municipalities in China which are Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing and Shanghai. Shanghai has the second largest population among all after Chongqing with a staggering number of 24 million for a city alone.

2) A luxurious of architecture design in one city.

From an old Chinese dynasty...
to the futuristic building which it can move by itself.
From an old residential...
...to the modernized high rise condominiums
From an old walking streets...
.. to the new pedestrian's street.
You name it, they got it. Those you cannot imagine it, they got it too. Simply an amazing city. You would be thrilled by taking lots of photographs especially if you are into architecture.

3) Do not buy single ticket entrance

There are a lot of tourists spots around Shanghai for you to choose from and just too many to be named. My only advice to you is make a wishlist where you want to visit and do not make any online purchase or advanced purchase or walk-in to their counter to purchase their ticket. You would be surprised that travel agencies are selling combined tour packages which are way cheaper than you thought.
Believe it or not. Usually we are afraid of tout ticket so we would rather purchase it through their respective counter directly. To my surprise; after I got off from Lujiazui station by using their Subway Line No.2, there are a row of tour agencies selling different kind of packages in their respective booths. They didn't come out to drag us to their booths (which is the good thing because I hate this). We will just compare prices and combined among my own wishlist to go to make the most affordable one. I can assured you that it is safe and legal. I can save about up to 20% off from buying at the counter.
You might think there must be a gimmick such as reduce the trip time, or skip some important sections and all kinds of other tricks. I can't be 100% sure as well (since there are so many operating tour agencies, you might not know there are some turned out to be a bad egg) but from my experience, I am enjoying the same thing I will be enjoying like a normal ticket holder.

4) Not worth to visit any of their skyscrapers

In the 90s, they made the Oriental Pearl Tower as the tallest tower in Shanghai for 13 years before being replaced by Shanghai World Financial Center Tower for just a mere 24 meters taller. After 6 years, again another tower has emerged with staggering height of 632 meter ranked as the second tallest building in the world by height behind Burj Khalifa, Dubai.  
In April 2017, their viewing deck is finally opened to the public with a price at CNY180 (adult) and CNY90 (kids). Just to experience the world's fastest elevator at 74km/h and world's highest observation deck at 561.25m. You can stay at the deck as long as you want. Is it worth it to you? If you have money to spare, of course it is one of the experience you should not have missing it.
Personally, I would not. I have been to so many towers in different countries and it is about the same thing. If you really feel that you should at least visit one of the skyscrapers in Shanghai in order to be considered as being here, I would recommend their old skyscraper which is the Oriental Pearl Tower. There are three sections with different kinds of things to view. At the bottom ball, it is the Shanghai History Museum. A museum that is located 78 meter above sea-level is quite cool to be honest especially it surrounded by dynamic ring multimedia show. At the upper ball, it is a glass-bottom seeing floor which is at the height 259m where you get to challenge yourself if you an acrophobia. Lastly, the top ball which is also known as the space capsule is the main sightseeing floor where they will present a futuristic showcase to you. 
The price is CNY220/pax for all sections. However, you can purchase separate section with the tour agency for a much cheaper price. Of course, do remember to choose the evening session so you can see the day and night view at the same time.

5) Hop onto a city sightseeing bus is a must!

There is no better way to explore Shanghai than taking a city sightseeing bus. It is really cheap at CNY30/pax for 24 hours ticket and CNY50/pax for 48 hours ticket. If you purchase from the tour agency at the booth for a package deal, you will get about CNY20-25/pax for a 24 hours ticket.
Even it is stated 24 hours but the operating hours is only 9.00am - 7.30pm (May to October) and 9.00am - 5.30pm (November to April). There are some lines only operate until 4.00pm throughout the year. They have 4 different routes which you can check it out more at the picture link here. You can hop on and hop off at any dropoff point for unlimited times with a waiting time of 30 minutes. Please take note, there are a number of bus companies operating such service. They are categorized by color or the name of the company. So you only can ride the specific bus company that you have purchased your ticket with.
The bus taking through the busy street of their central business district area, Pudong district and the temple route. The views are amazing and there is a multilingual electronic tourist guide that you can listen if you have an earphone or you can purchase from the bus driver at CNY20. It will introduce the buildings, history and economy of Shanghai throughout the years. 
The bus driver will also promote cheap ticket to certain tourist spots such as Shanghai Tower, Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, Maddame Tussauds, Huangpu River Cruise and many more. The ticket and the discount are legit. They didn't purposely mark up the price and give you the discount later. You should purchase it from the bus driver if you wanted to go to at least one of those places.

6) Huangpu River Cruise is a trip you would never forget.

Huangpu River is an important river in Shanghai which has bring this city prosperous as you can see it today. You will definitely be rewarded with extremely beautiful and extravagant view of the city at the both side of the river.
The price is CNY120/pax regardless which time you plan to board the cruise. The price is not included food and beverages. You have to decide the boarding time slot before purchase the ticket. Once decided, changes are not allowed. As I have mentioned earlier, you can always combined this kind of trip in a package to get a special offer price. The bus driver at the city sightseeing bus is selling at CNY100/pax. The boarding time started from 11.00am till 9.30pm. At the morning, the frequency is every 1 hour. After 2.00pm, the frequency has shorten to 30 minutes per ride. After 7.00pm, the frequency has become every 15 minutes per ride.
There are all kind of cruises offering different kind of services on their cruise. Some ships are very unique and beautiful but they are definitely costly. The price I have quoted previously is the most basic common cruise package price.
The best time is to catch between the sunset and the night view where all the buildings started to light up. The time would be 6.00pm and 6.30pm. This is my recommended time to get the best view of both world.
Our cruise has 3 levels, where you can enjoy at the open air top deck with 360 degrees view or sit in their air-conditioned floor with cozy sofa but limited to less than 180 degrees view and with glass window that is going to blur your shots.
If you can't make it for the 6.00pm or 6.30pm session, you should just enjoy the night scenery. The same price but a better view nonetheless. Personally I love the night view of this beautiful Shanghai and enjoy with a cozy breeze of weather and away from the sun. The ride will take approximately about an hour.
One of the reason I recommend the night ride is because the dirty river water looks acceptable during at night.

7) Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street is the real shopping experience

There a lot of malls at Shanghai but nothing can beat the crowd who prefers to shop under the sun at the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street. The long stretch of 5.5km street selling all kinds of things from food to apparel and many more. The best part of all is it is open 24 hours a day. However, there are some shops prefer to close after 10.00pm.
China's premier shopping street, starts at the Bund in the east and ends in the west at the junction of Jing'an Temple and Yan'an West Street. Today it is a must-see metropolitan destination attracting thousands of fashion-seeking shoppers from all over the world.
After the Opium War (1839-1842), Shanghai became a treaty port. Nanjing Road was first the British Concession, then the International Settlement. Importing large quantities of foreign goods, it became the earliest shopping street of the city. Over time, Nanjing Road has been restructured, undergoing significant change. For shopping convenience, its eastern end has an all-weather pedestrian arcade. Big traditional stores no longer dominate the market since modern shopping malls, specialty stores, theaters, and international hotels have mushroomed on both sides of the street.
Today over 600 businesses on the road offer countless famous brands, superior quality, and new fashions. KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and other world-famous food vendors line both sides of the street. Upscale stores include Tiffany,  Mont Blanc, and Dunhill. In addition, approximately a hundred traditional stores and specialty shops still provide choice silk goods, jade, embroidery, wool, and clocks.
Open-air bars, abstract sculptures, and lingering sounds from street musicians enhance evening strolls. A trackless sightseeing train provides a comfortable tour of the night-transformed pedestrian street. Flashing neon signs illuminate the magnificent buildings and spangle the night skyline of this lively city.
Small sightseeing buses can be found on the renowned Nanjing Road. Composed of three carriages, each bus can accommodate 20-30 passengers. It goes through the bustling commercial street very slowly so that visitors can take photos.  single trip takes around 15 minutes. It costs CNY 5 per person, and only infants under 2.6 feet (80cm) can enjoy free ride. The service hours are from 8.00am - 10.30pm daily. Some vehicles are decorated with colorful sparkling lights at night that attract more visitors; some are painted with lovely cartoon animals patterns, which are popular among children.
Last but not least, there is no entrance fee for this. Just enjoy! Do bargain at some kiosk like this. They will willing to sell you at your price if your offered price is reasonable.

8) Queue for food is common here.

If you would want to know if a food is delicious, check the queue. I am not kidding. The queue is crazy long. 
If you think it is nonsense to queue for 1 hour to buy a bread, think again about this bubble milk tea because this is not the real queue.
This is the queue that went zig zag outside the mall with 5 mall securities standing by to maintain the order. It is really ridiculous. I am not sure how good is it because I do not want to waste my travel time on queueing up.
Even a simple food stall like this, you need to queue. So my advice is try to eat early or eat late. For example, the common lunch time is 12.00pm - 2.00pm and dinner time is 6.00pm - 8.00pm. So you choose either 1 hour earlier which is at 11.00am or 1 hour later at 3.00pm for lunch. This is to avoid all the unnecessary queue.

9) Luxurious of transportation options in Shanghai.

The common one will be bus, taxi and subway, Their bus service is very frequent throughout the day. You can check the bus route and the frequency at the bus stand. The bus fare is fixed around CNY2 - CNY3 per ride so make sure you have the right change. The bus driver will not change it for you. As for the subway, do travel light because there is a security check at every entrance of the subway. You do not want to waste your precious time queuing up at the security checkpoint. 
Other kind of transportation which may not be too common at your country is bicycle renting service. You can rent bicycle at anywhere and it is very convenient for you to park at the designated bicycle parking area once you have arrived at your destination. It is really cheap about less than RMB1 per hour. Some companies even give free ride for the first hour. The only problem here is you may need to use WeChat phone application and link it to your bank at China or any card with UnionPay sign on your card. If you do not have, it is not possible for you to use this transportation. 
There is no Uber or GrabCar available at China. They have their own car hailing service app which is known as Didi Dache. Once again, it is link to WeChat which is link to your China bank card or UnionPay card only.
Other transportation which brings you to other larger city closer is their High Speed Train. It just take about 2 hours to reach Nanjing and Hangzhou which are located in another provinces. Amazingly fast. At Shanghai, you can enjoy Maglev at the Pudong International Airport. Maglev is a public transport technology that uses magnetic levitation to move vehicles without making contact with the ground or an electrical pickup. Maglev competes with high speed rail and airlines.  It is the fastest commercial high-speed electric train in the world. Maglev helps you to skip 10 stations at 37 minutes faster but you have to pay 8 times more for the ticket fare. I do not find it economical but it is a good experience at least once in your lifetime.

10) Find your accommodation using Airbnb.

Yes, AirBnb is available in China especially at their major cities. Hotels are costly at Shanghai even for a 3 stars hotel. Airbnb is your best option where you just need to spend less than RM150/night for a whole unit, you get a lot of amenities such as wifi, washing machine, dryer, complete kitchen set, air-condition, hot shower and many more. You have to make sure the place you book is near to a Metro Station and near a grocery shop so that you can buy vegetables and meat to cook to save some travel expenses.
Overall, it is a great experience to be in Shanghai. I really recommend to have at least 3 nights in this city to get a touch of everything. Thanks for reading!

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