Shanghai, China: an elite hybrid where East meets West. In 1842, Shanghai became a treaty port & developed into an international commercial city. Soon after, it was the largest city and the largest port in East Asia therefore creating a huge architectural and cultural influence on an ancient city, giving it a unique vibe. Point: it was very cool and met my expectations entirely. You’ll need a visa to get to China and you can see how I got mine here. Then, here’s a list of things I suggest you do once you get there:

Confucius Temple:
-On Sundays, there is a book market in an old temple of Shanghai. Browsing through the books, posters and magazines before we reached the historical center of the temple was a true treat.

-Another thing to check out is the 100% free private tea ceremony you can have conducted at the temple. The ceremony was approximately 30 minutes long with 4-8 different tea samples. It was highly informational and a customized, unique Chinese experience.

To get to the temple, take metro line 8 or line 10 and get off at Laoximen Station. Get out from Exit 7 and walk forward along Zhonghua Road, turn east at the cross to Wenmiao Road & you’ll soon arrive.

YuYuan Market/Garden:
This was my favorite area in Shanghai. There were HUNDREDS of places to shop and eat, all with stunning Chinese architecture. You could spend hours shopping and eating here, even though it’s crowded but you should. It’s a must do and I honestly could have spent more time at the market. To get here, take Subway Line 8 and get off at Dashijie Station, walk along Huaihai East Road and Renmin Road, and you will find Yuyuan Garden.

Try all the food you can! It’s delicious. Luckily, we befriended someone who spoke Mandarin and they hooked us up with the goods. We got all the following photos for approximately $8USD at a local dim sum stop: Kung Pao Chicken, pork dumpling soup and Dim Sum.

Shanghai Disneyland:
Honestly, I loved it and if you have more than two or three days in Shanghai, I wouldn’t skip it. Read about my experience here

Shanghai Circus:
This is without a doubt, one of the coolest shows I have ever seen! Buy the “nosebleed” seats for around $20USD & it definitely was not worth it to buy anything better than that. With our seats we had a phenomenal view of the two hour show that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat for most of it. Please go. You won’t regret it. To get there, take metro line 1 to Shanghai Circus World Station.

The Bund:
The Shanghai skyline is famous due to the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower. Make sure you get to the bay before 10pm to view the lights. After 10pm, they turn the lights off, but it is still a sight to see. To get there, take metro line 2 to Nanjing East Road Station and walk for about 15 minutes.

At daytime, although the surrounding architecture
is much better, the Bund itself was unfortunately covered in pollution when I visited in the winter.

This leads me to the things I would skip in Shanghai:
-Don’t pay the approximately $25 to go up the Shanghai Observatory tower unless it’s a great day. The entire weekend I was in Shanghai (and also, when I was in Beijing in the Fall as well), the entire skyline was covered in pollution. I got a great view of the skyline while crossing the bay and standing on the pedestrian bridge. It reminded me of the High Line in New York without the charm and foliage, but with a superb view.

I am on the border about the following…
Tian Zi Fang: Reading about it online, it seemed magical. There are small mazes of alleys in Shanghai filled with unique shops and vendors. The charm was alluring so we took a trip. The realty is that it was SO CROWDED we could not shop or pay attention to any of the vendors. It was so crowded that I couldn’t get a solid photo of the sign to enter the complex! If nothing else, it provided the reality of the overpopulation of China and was a cool experience. We did leave after fifteen minutes of being pushed and yelled at in foreign languages and recording it on our snapchats. I leave the decision up to you. If I could go back, I’d honestly probably experience it for another fifteen minutes so I could laugh again at the chaos.

Things to consider:
-Download the “Explore Shanghai” metro station app. It’s very user friendly and will help so much when navigating the city.
-Even if you unlock your phone & get a temporary Chinese SIM card to use during your stay, you still won’t be able to access many different apps which are banned in China: Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many more. My advice is to download maps to your phone beforehand and screenshot a lot of your research before your arrival.
-Finally, a lot of the taxi drivers are not great at English so if you plan on using taxis while you’re visiting, it’s always great to have a list of destination addresses in Chinese. It’s such a simple concept but it is really SO worth it. It saves so much time when you show a taxi driver where you’re trying to go in his or her native language instead of hoping or expecting they speak English.

SHANGHAI was incredible. Try to immerse yourself in the city’s fascinating history while you’re in the area and enjoy as much food as you can! The people of Shanghai were so warm & welcoming and the city was a clean and modern marvel. Enjoy, thanks for reading & happy traveling! Xoxo