I just spent a week in Shanghai on holiday with two others. Grateful for the advice I received here in advance. For what it's worth, I thought I’d post a few things from the hindsight of a first-time visitor.
Transportation – We got stored-value transit cards our first day and they were extremely helpful: use on subways as well as taxis. If you want to use it in a taxi, show the driver as soon as you get in. They have a way of slamming down the meter very quickly when you arrive at your destination, and then you have to pay cash. I spent about 100rmb in one week. Subways are easy, fast and cheap. Taxis are cheap, not always fast. The Maglev was out of the way, but we still did it for the ride. If you have time, I’d recommend, otherwise take a taxi to-from airport.
Guidebook – We brought 3 books – Frommer’s, Fodor’s and DK Eyewitness. Frommer’s was the only one we needed. Good recommendations on restaurants and good practical info, plus every listing is also in Chinese: essential for taxis. Fodor’s is a similar second. DK was of little use to us, other than the pretty pictures, and it has no Chinese names. I don’t recommend.
iPhone apps – I got a few apps to use before I left. The iPhone maps app was great for getting around and I love how it can update your location even when you have turned off data roaming. The explore metro subway map was helpful. Don’t waste your money on Shanghai City Scouter. Limited resources. Shanghai City Guide by Bleum was much better with more listings and for each location a taxi card to show the driver. Helpful. Also a currency converter app is good to have.
Markets – I went to both 580 W Nanjing Rd and the market under the Science & Tech. Same merchandise, for the most part. 580 would have been enough.
Daytrip – definitely do one if you’re there a whole week. We enjoyed XiTang.
Food – Ate consistently well. Try holes in the wall where you just point at the menu. 4 of us ate for 50rmb one meal! Favorite restaurant of the week was the Art Salon. Spicy.
Hotel – we stayed at the Hilton because of points and rewards. Good service, small rooms, good Executive lounge food and drinks.
River Cruise – We did the three hour tour. Unless you’re really into seeing industrial shipping docks, do the one hour. For us, it would have been enough.
A week in Shanghai? We saw everything. We were not rushed. It was enough, but we were never bored. I’m glad I went, but I would honestly not be in any rush to return. Too many other places to see!
Favorites: Jade Buddha Temple; Art Salon Restaurant; Tout-dodging on Nanjing Rd East; XiTang Daytrip; Soup Dumplings!