So, what is there to do in a 24 hour stopover in Shanghai, China?
Shanghai is the world’s biggest city. Not in terms of square mileage, but thanks to its gargantuan population of 24.1 million people, this Chinese municipality ranks above even Beijing (21.8 million) on the world scale.
The beating heart of this mega metropolis is The Bund, a promenade that hugs the Huangpu river and divides the colonial-era buildings in the west from the financial hub of the Pudong district in the east.
From here, visitors can branch out to explore the must-see sights of Shanghai. I highly recommend a tailor-made tour to ensure you make the most of your pre- or post-cruise stay in the city.
OK, well I suggest starting the day with an authentic tea ceremony. At the Yu Shanghai teahouse, tucked away on a quiet rooftop, waitresses in patterned silk jackets elaborately serve a wide range of teas – the skill lies in the temperature and timing. Visitors can taste everything from ginseng oolong and lychee black to green, jasmine and fruit tea. This teahouse is tricky to find without local knowledge, but there are loads of others offering similar experiences across Shanghai.
Yuyuan Bazaar is an assault on the senses. Think paper parasols in all colours of the rainbow, metal sculptors thwacking lion and dragon figurines into shape and wafts of Chinese pastry snacks.
After picking up a souvenir or two, visitors can take the zigzag bridge into Yu Garden to escape the market hustle and bustle. This green space was built in 1559 during the Ming dynasty and provides a peaceful stroll between ancient plants and rockeries.
So, we have reached lunchtime, so I recommend dining at Din Tai Fung, in order to taste what are considered to be the best dumplings in Shanghai. These xiao long bao are steamed parcels packed with minced pork and a soup that keeps the meat juicy. There are two traditional ways to eat these: all in one, or by biting a small hole in the side of the dumpling and sucking out the soup before popping the remainder of the parcel in.
In Jing’an district, where cultural sites meet designer shops, the golden roof of Jing’an Temple stands out among high-rise o ce blocks. Inside, worshippers praise a giant, golden Buddha. The smell of incense sticks floats from the courtyard below and into the temple’s many prayer rooms.
Outside its grounds, visitors have myriad malls to shop in. High-end designers have parked their stores here, so I suggest that travellers come here only if they want to splash out.
While in Jing’an, visitors can rest their tired feet at The PuLi Hotel & Spa. I recommend a glass of wine, or a cocktail, followed by dinner at the 32-metre Long Bar, or a rejuvenating treatment at the UR Spa. From facials, traditional Chinese massages and clay body masks to treatments harnessing oriental medicines, visitors are guaranteed to leave feeling lighter. This hotel is also home to an incredibly peaceful pool, perfect for those wanting to chill out away from the busy city streets.
For the best views of the iconic skyline, why not take a sunset sailing on the Huangpu river? At this time of the evening, buildings switch their lights on to illuminate the city like a Christmas tree.
What you can’t see from photos is that the lights are constantly changing colour. The Oriental Pearl Tower is, of course, the most striking of all, so please don’t board without your camera, as otherwise you will be disappointed.