One item on my bucket list is to travel out of the country ALONE. I’ve already traveled out of the country, but it was always with family or friends. Nothing makes you wiser and spiritually richer than seeing the world. Aside from experiencing a different culture, traveling without depending on your parents or friends (or a man) will give you a sense of independence and responsibility that no blog or book can teach you. So I decided to go for it!
Shanghai, China. Back in the day, the only Shanghai I know was the Lumpiang Shanghai or Shanghai rolls hahaha! Kidding aside, I have always wanted to visit the second largest city in China. I was a bit hesitant at first because of the need to acquire visa but I was encouraged by my cousin, Ate Aming (who’s based in Shanghai) to go for it after learning that acquiring one is actually easy. Who can resist China anyway?
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Shanghai.
Visa was approved. And the most awaited date has come! Unfortunately, Ate Aming already moved back to Manila for some personal reasons. She referred me to Ene, her Mongolian friend. Ene is studying at Shanghai International Studies University, and she’ll be accompanying me through my adventures in Shanghai.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport is the main gateway to Shanghai. It is approximately 4 hours away from Manila. It was past midnight when I arrived, the airport is so quiet and some parts are already dark and eerie. I passed through immigration and baggage claim then I met with Ene outside the airport.
We went straight to the hotel that Ate Aming booked for us. After a series of negotiation at the Charms Hotel, we’re finally checked-in and hit the sack.
Prior to travelling to Shanghai, I have already planned of doing new things, something I’ve never done before. I’ve gotten out here and I’m in a place I’ve never been to, surrounded by people and things that are completely unfamiliar—it’s the perfect time to try something I’ve either always wanted to do, or never even thought about.
Here are the awesome things to do in Shanghai:
1. Stroll at Nanjing Road (in the morning and at night)
It is the main shopping street of Shanghai, China, and is one of the world’s busiest shopping streets. If you want to see Nanjing’s true picturesque beauty, I would suggest going there early in the morning coz in the evening, it’s a lot different. For leisurely walks visit the place in the morning, but if you want to go shopping, the best time is in the afternoon and night coz the stores are surely open (they open at 12nn). Famous boutiques are also found in Nanjing Road (Chanel, Tiffany & Co, Forever 21, H&M Uniqlo, Bottega Veneta, etc).
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Nanjing.
Nanjing is also beautiful at night, but a lot of people go there, making it hard to appreciate.
2. Visit the Bund (Wai Tan)
Bund means embankment or embanked quay. The Bund (Chinese name is Wai Tan) is the most famous attraction and the symbol of Shanghai. Not seeing it is to deny yourself of the Shanghai experience. This is a waterfront area in central Shanghai with the main concentration near Zhongshan Road (East-1 Zhongshan Road). It runs on the west bank of Huangpu River.
Being here is to lay witness to the Shanghai of old and new. And you can’t help but marvel. Welcome to the financial capital of China! The Shanghai custom’s house (which resembles London’s Big Ben) is also in Wai Tan. The clock at the top rings every 15 minutes.
On one side are the famous European Style buildings due to the former Shanghai International Settlement and on the other is Pudong where Lujiazui is located.
The Bund is especially famous at night. This is because buildings on both sides are lighted brightly in technicolor reflecting the dynamism of the city. But it gets really crowded at night. If you want to stay away from the crowd, you have to come in the Morning. Now that means a lot because you can pace yourself while walking the stretch of the promenade. You get to enjoy the view more, and you can snap more photos less the annoyance of photobombs.
If you want to see the buildings light up then come at Night. The mood is different at night, you’ll really enjoy the view. You have to compete for space to achieve that certain mood.
3. City Sightseeing Tour Bus
Yes I have mentioned that I’ll do new things, but going on a city tour in an unfamiliar place is also something that I’ve always wanted to do.
For 50 RMB, you’ll be able to tour around Shanghai while riding in a double-decker bus! Serving people in the same way as public buses, the City Sightseeing Buses run two routes respectively in Puxi area and Pudong area. Audio guides are available in the bus. Visitors can get a free earphone when they are aboard. After they install the earphone into the opening provided, visitors can receive introductions of places of interest in the city in 8 different languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Chinese. Visitors can either have a through trip or stop at any stations at will. The through ticket is valid for unlimited rides in 24 hours. One adult could take one child under 1.4m for free.
4. Appreciate Shanghai’s architecture
Shanghai’s main streets and back roads give an immediate feeling of old versus new. The old consists not so much of Chinese style buildings as European buildings, and while it might seem that temples would be a great place to visit to find older buildings, many of these have been rebuilt in the last forty years. The Puxi side of the river, with the former British settlement, is a preserved historic site, so no new development can happen in a way that cuts the classic buildings off from the river. While strolling the Bund walkway the view across the river shows an amazing contrast of contemporary or even space-aged looking buildings.
5. Fathom the beauty of Flowers around!
Shanghai has a sub-tropical climate, the average temperature is 13 degrees Celsius. The perfect climate to grow flowers and other ornamental plants. You can’t resist the urge to take a photo with this floral view!
6. Binge on food that are not found in the Philippines
You’re already out of the country, why waste your funds on food that are familiar or you’ve already tried? Wait, this doesn’t mean that since you’re in China, you have to eat Chinese food either, hahaha! So what am I trying to imply here? While I was in Shanghai, I was not so up for Chinese food. So Ene and I opted for something different. We ate at Japanese (Ramen girl) and Korean (Seorae) restaurants down a small alleyway in Nanjing road. And the food tasted great and to die for! Hahaha!
7. Explore the city at night
The night is always young in Shanghai. When it gets dark, the buildings and other establishments lit up like everyday is Christmas! A lot of people are up at night too, so you’ll be forced to put aside any fears that something bad’s gonna happen to you coz it’s already night time.
8. Walk the streets under the rain
It was raining on my second day in Shanghai. But unlike here in Manila, the rain in Shanghai is manageable. Ene said that’s already the strongest type of rain she experienced there. Shanghai’s strongest rain is just a preliminary (commonly known as Ambon) to our strongest rain here in Manila. The only con when walking under the rain in Shanghai is that it’s so friggin’ freezing! It’s so cold (12 degrees Celsius to be exact) that you won’t be able to excrete sweat out of your body even if you’ve already walked outside for hours.
9. Take the subway
Like any other developed cities/countries, Shanghai, China has an excellent transportation system. Taking the train/subway is the cheapest and the most convenient.
10. Buy authentic tea
Being a self-confessed tea addict, China is the best place to buy authentic tea. I passed by a tea shop in Nanjing. My only purpose of entering that shop was to buy ref magnets. Nini (the storekeeper) invited us in and offered us a cup of tea. She taught us the health benefits of tea as well.
11. Build a new friendship
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. I may have spent money in this trip, but i gained a lot. Aside from the good times, I also gained a friend. My travel to Shanghai will never be complete without Ene. I’ll definitely come back to Shanghai on your graduation Ene! Thanks for everything.
*All photo credits goes to Lindy “Balongging” Tapdasan
Balongging is a full time bid manager. A part time traveler and blogger. A nurse by profession and a dreamer by birth. A pursuer of dreams. Raised and grew up in a small town of Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur. She loves to visit places, eat something peculiar and challenge every fear she has in her!
THIS IS AN ENTRY FOR THE 1ST YEAR ANNIVERSARY TRAVEL WRITING CONTEST OF TWO MONKEYS TRAVEL GROUP
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