Long weekends are meant for quick trips. I always look forward to having an extra day (or two) added on to my already too-short weekend. Thursday May 5 marked Children’s Day – a national holiday in Korea to celebrate… kids! So when I found out that I would also be getting the Friday off, I was jumping for joy and looking up flights on Skyscanner. Yessss… a 4-day long weekend! Time to check out China!
My bags were packed, ready to go! I headed to Gimhae International Airport for my 1 hour & 25 minute flight from Busan to Shanghai PVG Airport.
Unfortunately, my flight was delayed 3 HOURS (grr, Shanghai Airlines). So I didn’t arrive into downtown Shanghai at my friend’s house until close to midnight! I was pretty cranky, considering that I was supposed to arrive at 6:30pm. This cut into my night time plans of exploring the city and grabbing a bite to eat.
Before you know it, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m boarding my plane back to Busan (which I scored an emergency exit seat, woo hoo!)
So… what can you do on such short time in Shanghai?
Keep calm and head to Yuyuan Gardens (and Shanghai City God Temple, too!)
These two places were on my Shanghai hit list and I am happy I was able to visit on this trip. Yuyuan Gardens is absolutely stunning, with traditional Chinese architecture, a beautiful river with huge koi fish, and winding paths that lead you to majestic corners of the garden. Given it was a Friday, the crowds weren’t so bad. To get to the Gardens you can walk through Yuyuan Old Street – a marketplace filled with lots of restaurants, shops and boutiques. Then you can make your way over a beautiful bridge (don’t forget to stop and take photos!) where you pay 40RMB to enter the Gardens.
Another must-see while wandering Yuyuan Old Street is the City God Temple – a Taoist temple built during the Ming Dynasty. I love learning about the history and culture of where I’m visiting and City God Temple provided just that. Admission is 10RMB. It’s cool that the old-style Yuyuan area is in the middle of this booming metropolis.
Check out the Bund
Okay, this is quite obvious as the Bund is one of the most populated tourist areas in Shanghai. The Bund provides a beautiful city landscape, featuring the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, along the Huangpu River. I didn’t get to walk along the boardwalk because the weather was horrible on the weekend. But I went to a get-together and the hosts had an amazing view of the city including the Bund. After the rain let up, I was able to enjoy the views from the rooftop.
See the Propaganda Poster Art Centre
The Propaganda Poster Art Centre is a must-see art museum in Shanghai. It’s a little tricky to find and once you do, you think you’re heading into an apartment complex. But that’s exactly what you’re doing! It’s located in the basement of a basic-looking building near Jiangshu Road Station. The museum is quite fascinating and gives you a glimpse into the changes of modern China from 1910-1990. It has a collection of over 6000 Chinese propaganda posters – some of which are very interesting, amusing, and even sombre. This place is really one of a kind! Admission is 25RMB.
Tianzifang is a modern arts and crafts area near the French Concession of Shanghai. There are tons of shops, cafes galleries, bars, and restaurants that you can check out. I must have been really focused on my surroundings because I barely took photos! It’s so unlike me… but sometimes you just need to put down the camera and see the beauty through your own eyes!
Ride the Metro
The Shanghai Metro System is the easiest and most efficient way to get around the city. With 12 lines and counting, the metro can get quite crowded – especially on the busy lines near East Nanjing Road. But it beats sitting in traffic in the hot heat!
I purchased a 3-day metro pass which was perfect for the amount of time I was visiting. The card costs 90RMB and you can ride the subway for as many times as you’d like.
Hit up a hot pot restaurant
When my friend heard that Hai Di Lao Huo Guo was one of the best places in the city, he just had to take me there for my first hot pot foodie experience. Similar to Korean BBQ, you cook the raw meat and vegetables at the table, dip it in ‘make-it-yourself’ sauce, wrap it in lettuce and chow down! I liked that you can make your own concoction of sauce for the meat, with soy sauce, oils, garlic, onions, pepper paste and more. I can’t wait to eat some hot pot again!
Have a shot of Baijiu…if you dare!
Or if you’re like me, only take a sip of it. Baijiu (sounds like “bye joe”) is a
nasty strong alcoholic beverage made from grain. I’m not sure how the Chinese can drink it regularly because once I took a whiff, I couldn’t stomach the thought of taking a full shot. It’s like fire down your throat. No way, no thank you! So I stuck with Chinese beer (Tsingtao) when we went to the bars. If you’ve tried Baijiu before and you LIKE the taste, a) you’re crazy; b) let me know your thoughts!
By the way the nightlife is great in Shanghai. We went to a few popular foreigner locales, including one that played tons of retro hits and old school jams!
Although the weather was crappy and I had limited time, my weekend was fun-filled and never a dull moment, especially the nightlife! I still have lots to see and do on my next long trip to China, which will include Shanghai, in the summertime.
What are some of your memories of China? Comment below and leave some suggestions as to what I should do next time I’m in Shanghai (and China in general).