Like a Local: Shanghai

Shanghai Surprises

Close the guidebooks and let a local lead the way.

By Lim Hui Sin

I’ve lived in Shanghai for a dozen years and it still surprises me. While the city has changed so much since I first arrived — some parts becoming completely unrecognizable — other features remain exactly the same.

The historical Bund on the western bank of the Huangpu River, where Shanghailanders first sailed into, still impresses. But across the river, some of the strangest-looking and tallest buildings in the world now take pride of place in Pudong. And while the roads seem to have become more congested by day, we’re now spoiled with choices when it comes to wining and dining.

If you’re sailing from or cruising into Shanghai, here are my tips for how to best enjoy all that the city has to offer.

Tourist Tips

The Bund, Shanghai’s famed waterfront promenade, boasts a row of colonial buildings that had been the finest of their era. Originally built to house banks, trading houses, and other institutions, they are now home to some of the finest restaurants, bars, and hotels in the city. Across the Huangpu River is Pudong’s dazzling futuristic skyline, which provides a stark contrast.

From the Bund, you’ll see only the future or only the past, depending on which way you look. But head north along the Bund to the river bend, past the Garden Bridge, and you’ll be able to see both skylines at the same time. Vue Bar at the Hyatt on the Bund provides the best vantage point to see the juxtaposition, especially at night.

The city’s highest observation deck is on the 100th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center, which offers panoramic views from 1,555 feet above, and a skywalk with a floor of glass that is not for the faint-hearted. If you’d rather beat the queues and enjoy a quiet moment while taking in the breathtaking views, a better option would be the lobby bar on the 87th floor of the Park Hyatt.

Shanghai Off the Beaten Path

Shanghai is a crowded city and it’s worth doing your best to avoid getting around during peak travel hours. The leafy streets of the former French Concession provide a charming setting …

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Photo: Andrew Rowat/Getty Images

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