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Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

Seattle
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Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

My husband & I recently spent 6 days in Shanghai after we had spent 6 days in Beijing. You can find my Beijing TR here: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294212-i2147-k445…

In addition for anyone interested, you can find more details, pictures & several short videos on our travel blog: travelpod.com/travel-blog/mjoeroy/2/tpod.html The Shanghai part of our trip starts at entry #13 on the blog. I apologize in advance, some of the info on the blog & on this TR overlaps. But I'm putting a shorter version here so that if future travelers do a search for certain things on the forum they can find answers here.

A few or our observations:

- We were there for 6 full days but we felt we barely scratched the surface of what is to see/do in Shanghai. Same in Beijing.

- The Subway is very clean, easy to use, & only 3-4rmb (about $0.45-$0.60) depending where you are going. Instructions are in Chinese & English. Orient yourself the same way you do in any other cities. Find what the last stop is on the line your destination is. That's the train you want.

- Taxis are cheap & really easy to find in Shanghai. Maybe I was just lucky. Beijing was a whole different story. Drivers drive crazy here even more so than in Beijing but I never saw any accident.

- There are no Laundromat in Shanghai. Laundry service are outrageously expensive. If doing your laundry is important to you & you don't want to pay a fortune plan to stay at a service apartment that has a washing machine. I hear some Hostels have them too. Not sure which though. I guess you can also bring some soap & use the sink in your room.

-I haven't gone to all shopping areas in either Beijing or Shanghai but, from my experience, the shopping was better in Shanghai than in Beijing.

- Shanghai is like New York on steroids. High rises & high prices (food & drinks) but also lots of excitement.

Seattle
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1. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

We flew with Shanghai Airlines (FM) from Beijing . No complains there. The flight was on time, seats were comfortable, the service & food were good. Hongqiao Airport was really easy to navigate. They have a really neat system for the Taxi Line there. It moves very rapidly but there's no confusion at all. We had the name & address of our Hotel in Chinese character in hand. Within less than 1hr we had retrieved our bags & had arrived at our Hotel.

We got an amazing deal for the Hilton by bidding on Priceline for $80/night. You can refer to my review for more details tripadvisor.com/…CHECK_RATES_CONT

First thing on our minds was to get some laundry done. The Hotel prices were outrageous so I adventure myself with our laundry bag to a laundry service 10-15 min walk away. Once I got there I found out w/sign language that each underpants & each pair of socks would cost $1, T-shirts, shorts & pants much more. That was if we waited 2 days. If we wanted the service the next day it would be double. Ouch! We had just spent a week walking around in dusty & warm Beijing. Needless to say we decided it would be cheaper to buy new ones. So I left & walked back to my hotel with my laundry bag.

We didn't do much on the first day. We were tired from all the excitement we had just experienced in Beijing & from waking up so early that morning. We got to bed early so we could get a fresh start the next day.

Seattle
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2. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

I forgot to mention that just like in Beijing many restaurants close in the afternoon. For some reason during our trip we often found ourselves trying to have lunch around 2:30pm. on the first day, we had the Concierge call around & we were in luck, Di Shui Dong would let us come & eat. Understandably because of the time, the place was empty. We had the famous ribs & some duck. The ribs were a bit dry for us & the duck too bony. Please don't rely on our experience as we were a bit "out of kilter" that day so we probably would not have appreciated the best of dishes.

Seattle
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3. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

The first thing I wanted to do the next day was to go place my order to have one of my favorite dress copied. SoBeSparky had recommended Ms Shen Yue Mei at the South Bund Soft-Spinning Fabric Market in booth #380. I didn't know there were more than one Fabric Market. I told the Concierge I wanted to go to the Fabric Market. He wrote it down in Chinese character for the Taxi. It took us a while to realize we were at the wrong Fabric Market. Thankfully there were no booth #380 otherwise I might have used the wrong person. I'm still glad we went to this one as there was a very nice booth on the first floor close to one of the corner exit with lots of great souvenirs. It's easy to recognize, I think it's the only shop that doesn't offer fabrics & tailor made clothes. Make sure you read all the advices on bargaining from this forum & follow them. BTW, I used the bathroom at this Fabric Market. The good thing was they had private stalls with doors. The bad think was that I had to squat over a trough that ran from one stall to the other, yikes!!! That's the first & only time I saw a trough in a bathroom in China.

We took a short taxi ride to the South Bund Soft-Spinning Fabric Market. The correct one I was looking for this time. I found Ms Shen very easily. She was really nice. She had the sweetest young girl working with her that spoke a bit more English than her. I showed them my dress. It's not the usual straight line dress, it was a bit intricate w/a special collar & an invisible zipper in the back. It also needed lots of fabric to make. We picked 2 fabric from her shop & she brought me around to pick another fabric I was trying to describe to her. We agreed on 400rmb/dress. I thought it was a bit pricey at first but I couldn't get her to come down more. It was Friday, she guaranteed I would get them by Tuesday & that they would be perfect. I gave her a deposit & crossed my fingers. I won't leave you in suspense & will tell you that they fit like a glove & they are perfect! They were worth every rmb I paid. I highly recommend her for any tailored made dresses. You can see pictures of Ms. Shen, her assistant & my dresses on my blog, on the entry titled "our last day in Shanghai".

We went back to the Hotel to drop our packages & had lunch at Piro's near our Hotel. It’s a Bistro that plays awesome jazz music & serves Chinese & American food. The owners are actually American citizen of Chinese decent. We loved the place. They had the best burger we've ever had & we try burgers everywhere we travel. Theirs is the best. For the wine lovers, they also have a nice Cabernet by the glass.

I then lead us on a wild goose chase by trying to do the "90 minute walk through the Old City" from my DK Guide Book. I don't know if the instructions were wrong or if I was just confused that day but I was lost, the street we were on was not pleasant & neither my maps, my compass or anyone I would ask for help were helpful on getting us back on track. My husband had to take charge & flag a taxi to get us out of there. We headed to the Bund. Although the weather was pretty gloomy, the views were amazing. We loved that area.

We went back to the Hotel & had dinner at Bi Feng Tang. The food was excellent & not expensive at all. We ended the night with a drink at Piro's. Drinks were cheaper there than at the Hilton's lounge, the music better & the service much friendlier. So we decided to make this place our official hang out spot after our days of touring around Shanghai for drinks, relaxation & a few game of cards.

Edited: 12 May 2011, 07:25
Seattle
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4. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

On Saturday we decided to go visit Tongli. After reading lots of advices on TA I decided to take the bullet train to Suzhou & catch the bus to Tongli from there. We took a taxi to the Shanghai train Station. It was pretty easy to orient ourselves. The machines to buy the tickets had instructions in English & Chinese. Unfortunately we had to wait 1 1/2 hr for the next train that had available seats. For those that might be interested they are very neat machines at the train station where you can charge your cell phone ($0.15/10minutes). You can see a picture of them on my blog on the entry titled "Our adventure to a 1000 years old town".

We finally got on the train. The ride was very smooth despite the fact that the train went up to 325km/hr. I was very fortunate to have a seat next to a nice young lady that spoke a bit of English. Without her we would have had a very hard time finding the bus. Things have changed & you can't really walk across the bridge to take the bus anymore. I don't know if it's because they changed the location but you have to take a shuttle for $0.15. The Concierge at the Hotel had actually warned me when he saw the instructions I had printed from TA that things were not the same anymore.

Once we got to the bus station I bought the tickets for Tongli. When the lady handed me the ticket she said 2:30. What??? It was only12:30!!! I tried to explain that we needed an earlier bus but either she didn't understand or there were really no earlier bus. She sjust kept showing me 2:30pm on my ticket. We almost gave up & got back on a train to Shanghai. But I had already paid for the tickets. I suddenly realized that the price she charged me was the entrance fee to the town & the bus was free. We decided to forget the bus & try to find out how much a taxi would be. We couldn't find the Taxi line. As we were asking people for help, a man came up to us & showed us a 100rmb & made signs that he would drive us. We felt a bit desperate so we said yes. We followed him & got into his car. We rapidly realized that it might not have been the best idea. Where was he taking us? Would we end up in the middle of nowhere fighting for our lives? The guy seemed nice & although he was the wildest driver we ever had he seemed to know what he was doing. I reassured my husband that I had never heard of anyone being kidnapped in China & that people were constantly saying how safe China was on the Forums. We mostly kept silent. We tried to act calm & pretended all was fine but we both admitted to each other later having lots of sinister thoughts during the ride. After nearly 35 minutes I started seeing "Tongli" on some signs so I began breathing normally again :-).

los angeles
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5. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

Hi! Was tongli worth the visit? We are in Shanghai for 3 full days and I was if we should go to tongli or not?

Seattle
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6. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

Sanjali22, Tongli was so worth it! We wish we could have spent more time there. We left the Hotel at 10am. We had to wait for a train until 12:45pm & waisted some more time in Suzhou. If I had the opportunity to go back I'd leave earlier. I would buy my train tickets in advance if I could so I don't have to wait for an available train. I would catch a Taxi for Tongli directly from Suzhou's train station. For $15 for the Taxi ride it's really worth it since it gets you there faster than the bus, Anyways here's the rest of my TP for that day:

By the time we got there we were really hungry. We were immediately approached by lots of pedicab drivers. We kept telling them that we needed to eat first. One of them said he would bring us for 10rmb. We were kind of disoriented & couldn't see a restaurant nearby. We got on & he ended up bringing us to a tea house. We wanted to eat not drink. Because it was later than 2:30 by then the lady didn't want to serve us food. Our driver insisted we get back in & he brought us to another restaurant across from the performance stage. The lady was very excited about seeing us & said she would serve us food. The pork shank was delicious but the fish just so so. It was expensive also. We realized later that there were a lot more restaurants by the canals just a bit further. We would have preferred eating there. But we were so hungry that we didn't want to keep looking for other places. The driver didn't try to scam us. Although he drove us for about 10-15 min before we finally got to the restaurant he still took only 10rmb. After our meal, he was outside hoping we would hire him again. We didn't have much time to see the town & my husband was having problem with his feet (blisters). So we negotiated 100rmb/1 hr. He accepted. Tongli was fantastic! I highly recommend it. We're sorry we couldn't spend more time there.

After the pedicab ride, we shopped a little. Some stores had fixed prices & some you could bargain way down. Lots of shops had really unique things. After a couple hours we decided we should start heading out as we didn't know how easy it would be to get back to Shanghai.

We easily found an official taxi. We were catching the train in Suzhou. It’s a big City, 6 million people, so we needed to make sure he brought us to the train station. I had taken a picture of the Bullet train. We showed him the picture & the name of the City in Chinese characters from my guide book. When we asked him how much, he pointed at the meter. That meant whatever the meter will say. That’s the recommended way to ride cabs so we hopped in. This driver was not so wild but he got us there in the same amount of time & the meter price was 87rmb. So the previous driver had not scammed us after all.

We had several nice Chinese people guiding us in getting our tickets, finding toilets & finding the right train. We had to wait about an hr for the first available train & even that one had only first class seats available ($9/person). We didn’t want to wait any longer so we took those. After trying both economy & first class it's definitely not worth paying extra for first class if there are economy seats available. It's only a 30 minute ride & seats are really comfortable also in economy.

We got back to the Hotel around 8pm. After all the excitement of the day we didn't want to experiment anymore for the day so we went to share our favorite burger & a steak at Piro's.

Seattle
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7. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

Sunday was Easter. Understandably there were not many signs of people celebrating that Holiday in Shanghai. We decided to head back to the Bund. We spent a while walking around & soaking in all the views. We decided to do the touristy thing & take the underground Tunnel to cross the River. It was much more expensive than the subway & a bit corny but it got us on the other side really fast. We wanted to go have lunch at AiWanTing on the 8th Floor of the Superbrand Mall. It was a fancier restaurant than I expected but we went anyways. The views were great & the food although expensive was pretty good too.

We walked a bit around the Mall & headed out for the Starbucks by the waterfront. This was a really nice area. Lots of people enjoying their Sunday afternoon. We spent quite some time in that area walking around & socializing with others. We interacted with locals, Expats & other tourists. Originally we had planned to go up one of the observation decks but we changed our minds. My husband had ran out of cigars & since they were a vital component of his vacation ;-) we had to go back to the Hotel to get more (he had brought plenty from home). We took the subway back to the Hotel. On the way to the Subway station we saw the big traffic circle by the Superbrand Mall with the pedestrian ramp going all around. We were fascinated by that. We spent some time there to soak in all the views before taking the subway.

This was our first experience on the Subway in Shanghai. Not much different than the one in Beijing or any other big city. Although it was crowded we didn't experience any pushing or shoving. People again were really pleasant to be around.

After dinner we took a taxi to the docks for a 1 hr Hangpu River Cruise. I highly recommend this. We paid 100rmb/ea but it was worth every rmb. A funny thing happened here. We asked a man at the entrance where to buy the tickets. He stopped another man walking by & grabbed tickets from his hands & handed them to us. Neither of them were in uniform. We gave the tickets back thinking he was trying to scam us. We went to a lady in uniform at the gate. She seemed annoyed that we didn't have tickets. She called out to the previous man to bring tickets. He actually was not trying to scam us, he was trying to help us as the boat was just about to leave, LOL. Again this was awesome! Don't miss it. The hour went by like a flash.

Raanana Israel
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8. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

Laundry in Shanghai - I faced problems when I was looking for laundry based on KG (and not on item). After many questions, I found http://1-clothespa.com/ 021- 6237736. They charged 12 Juan per KG and picked the laundry bag from the hotel lobby and brought it back the following day (free delivery). I strongly recommend

Miami Beach, Florida
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9. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

Many thanks. Hand-washing gets to be a bore after a while when you are on vacation, and in Shanghai it is next to impossible to find a good value in laundry service. Did they deliver to the front desk of your hotel or how did you receive the laundry back?

Sherbrooke, Canada
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10. Re: Trip Report - 6 Days in Beautiful Shanghai

Good report. Locals are always happy to help and it is always possible to manage with no mandarin.

When I travel I usually bring clothes made of synthetic fabric that are easy to wash and can dry overnight. But, as you say, in China it is often cheaper to thrown away your clothes and buy news one. I certainly do this for socks.