I mentioned this in passing in part one, but VUE Bar at Hyatt On The Bund is a contender in my opinion, for most breathtaking view of Shanghai as you look out at Pudong on your left and Puxi on your right. I took this picture a few years ago using a point and shoot, so imagine how it would look with a better camera!
On the same night, we visited the Grand Hyatt which is housed in what is still my favourite building, the Jin Mao, which was once the tallest building in the city, although that honour now rests with its neighbour, the Shanghai World Finance Centre. The building looks great from the outside, but the real attraction is the atrium which goes from the 54th floor all the way up to around the 88th floor. If you look closely you can see a black grand piano on the left by the lift shaft. I’d be pretty nervous sitting down there having a coffee!
Yes it’s a bit touristy, yes it probably isn’t the most authentic Yunnan restaurant, but no Shanghai tour would be complete without dinner at Lost Heaven at the bund. The place is massive, but always full, making for a great atmosphere. And I’d prefer great food that wasn’t authentic to authentic food that wasn’t great, so for me, this is a no brainer. Book early to avoid disappointment. I only got a table on my second attempt and ended up having to go to Xibo instead on the first night. If you like Xinjiang food without the noisy music and belly dancers and you prefer your “big plate chicken” off the bone, then Xibo is for you!
We dined at some pretty fancy places, but I think Rich and Ben were happiest with the cheap eats, like this Xiaolongbao lunch we had on their first day. Little Shanghainese dumplings, green stir fried vegetables, beef with vermicelli soup, egg fried rice, drunken chicken, garlic cucumber and spring rolls. Quite a feast for the hungry visitors, just off the plane from London. There is a strip of places on Shan Xi road, just off Nanjing road east. Take your pick, they’re all pretty good.
Eventually, the English visitors tired of Asian food and the perfect antidote was a Sunday roast carvery dinner at Glo London, complete with roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.
Tianzifang is somewhere I avoid like the plague … unless I have visitors. It’s basically a highly concentrated area of small alley ways packed with tiny boutiques and shops selling cheap souveniers, along with a few bars and cafes. If you’re with someone you shouldn’t be, you’ll be taking a big risk here, because the place is also full of people armed with cameras taking photos which undoubtedly will end up on Facebook hours, if not minutes later!
I mentioned the fake market in part one, but I’m mentioning it again because, well, we went there more than once. The picture above looks like a rack of ties, but it’s actually a secret door behind which is a tiny room where they sell the fake watches. For some reason, China’s intellectual property rights enforcers are very selective. So while you can see fake Abercrombie & Fitch tops openly on display, the day we went, there were no watches anywhere to be found. Eventually we were lead in to one of these secret rooms, the door locked behind us and the only way to get out again was for the guy with us to call his associate to let us out. Not great when negotiations break down and you want to make a quick exit!
But if you persevere, you can end up with some pretty nice fake watches for a few hundred RMB, depending on your negotiation skills.
As much fun as the shopping and clubbing was, we needed a break from it and go-karting at Stampede is a great way to get away from the aggressive haggling and the unrelenting Shanghai nightlife. Well, I say that, but Stampede is actually a bar / lounge with go-karting, so you can literally drink and drive.
They have tickets for about 80 RMB that gets you about 7-8 minutes or around 10 laps. Or for 100 RMB you can get the faster cars if you feel the need for speed. We of course went for the faster cars and everyone agreed they were as fast as we would want them to be.
And I think that just about wraps up the whirlwind fortnight. Ben and Rich I think went home happy and gave Shanghai a resounding two thumbs up. We did visit a few other places of course (Crystal Jade, Din Tai Fung, Long Bar at the Waldorf Astoria, cocktails at Glamour Bar, Yu Gardens, Sichuan Citizen, Korean BBQ, Japanese whisky at Constellation 3, pork overdose at the Grumpy Pig) but I think these were the highlights.
Anyone have any favourite places to take out of town guests? Please do share so the list can be improved.