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Shanghai - modern and vibrant travel destination

The Bund (Huangpu District)

Visiting Shanghai in 2009 reminded me of living in Sydney in the lead up to the Olympics.  No stone seemed to be unturned as the city zizzed itself up for the World Expo in 2010. Disappointingly, the area most affected was the famous Bund. This stretch of colonial buildings along the river has always been a favoured spot for enjoying a nice walk and the area is home to some of Shanghai’s most popular restaurants and bars.  Usually the sidewalks are packed with locals and tourists and contain a lively mix of buskers.

There are some of the cities top bars and restaurants along this strip. They are all interesting including Glamour Bar, Three of the Bund, Whampoa Club.  All are busy and serve good food assuring a great night out with a view.  Check out if there is any live music to spice up the evening.  It’s a very international as we met a Brazilian musician who spent a few months a year in Shanghai. The Hyatt on the Bund has a fantastic rooftop bar called Vue.

The French Concession (XiuHui District)

For perhaps a slightly slower pace head off to the French Concession.  It seems to be where many of the expats are and has beautiful tree-lined streets and lovely (if somewhat faded) colonial buildings.  The boutiques are spread out but it’s worth pounding the pavements and exploring some of the backstreets if you can.  It’s also home to some of the best bars and restaurants in town.  Try the cool but not too pretentious Shintori a minimalist style restaurant that would be at home in any international city.  For a super slick drink head to nearby People 7.  If you can’t work out how to get in wait and follow a local.

Perhaps the best part of this area though is discovering the back alleys and small roads that wind there way in between the main roads. Here you get to see a slice of an older Shanghai that is nearly gone. Local markets offer everything from fresh produce to live frogs. Dumpling makers sell fresh steamed dumplings straight from the steamer and families bustle past. Well worth getting lost in this area and exploring the neighbourhood.

Xintiandi and Taikang Lu Areas

Touted by the Luxe guide as the Shanghai’s answer to Covent Garden is the area of Xintiandi. This is an area of refurbished warehouses that have been turned into shopping, bars and restaurants.  Some of the later being very good.  You’re not going to get a particularly cultural experience but it’s a fun night out.  Try Ye Shanghai for a very modern take on Shanghai food in very cool surroundings.  Follow your nose around here because there are interesting shops, bars and cafes for most people’s taste and budget.

Not far away is the much for boutique area of Taikang Lu.  It’s a little more difficult to find as you have to weave your way through alleys but that’s part of the fun.  We followed the Luxe Guide instructions and had the cab drop us on the corner of Taikang and Sinan Lu.  With the instructions of facing the back and turning right you can’t go wrong.  The alleys are to your right but you should spot a stream of people.  Casa Pagoda is a quirky and interesting store to start your journey and you will be rewarded with many local designers and artists from your wanderings.  We stopped in the Café Kommunewhere you could sit in the courtyard and sip on a cold drink or pick up a sandwich. Wander around and let your nose take you where it does.  Some of the laneways around here are interesting to watch how the locals live.

Xitang – Ancient Water Town

If you have time for a day trip out of town try the water towns which are a short drive away. Xitang is an ancient the water town that dates back to 770-221B.C to the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. The highlight is the ancient houses from the Ming and Qing dynasties and also the waterways and bridges. Old lanes in beautiful stone also make this an interesting destination. While you get the feeling this is really just a tourist town these days it doesn’t detract from the beauty of it. The tourists are mostly Chinese families and we quickly found they were equally interested in us and we appeared in more photographs than we took. The highlight was the Xiyuan Garden and Xue’s House. Both are interesting examples of their

Travel Photographs from the French Concession, The Bund, Taikang, Bars, Cafes. Travel images from a day trip to Xitang the Water Towns.

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