Hotspots in Shanghai
Formerly known as the “Paris of the East,” today it is on its way to becoming the world capital of the 21st century. In vibrant Shanghai, everyone is looking to the future and no longer to the past. The city is constantly on the move. Its motto is “What’s there today didn’t exist yesterday and will be gone tomorrow.” Indeed, there is no new beginning in Shanghai without destruction! Shanghai, the city above the sea on the banks of the Huangpu River has many epithets: City of elegance, of hustle and bustle, of dynamism, of unlimited possibilities, of contrasts… Decide for yourself which epithet you will give to the city by traveling there as soon as possible.
As usual, I will propose you a daily program. So you can travel to Shanghai – spontaneously or just for a long weekend – and you don´t waste time planning a visit to the best sights in Shanghai.
I recommend a leisurely stroll along the famous Bund, the 1,5 kilometers long waterfront promenade on the western bank of the Huangpu river, just across the Peninsula. There you can admire the 52 historic buildings of diverse architecture like, Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Colonial or Chinese-Western. Opposite the Bund, on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River, you can see the new financial district of Shanghai with the modern skyscrapers, such as the landmark of Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl Tower. You get there by following the sign Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. Go down the steps or take the escalator and you will find yourselves in a designer train station that has to look for its own kind. This five-minute computer-controlled, high-tech subway ride with multimedia effects is really a memorable experience. This river crossing ride lasting 646.70 meters in total.
The Oriental Pearl Tower, the landmark of Shanghai, is a television and radio tower with a revolving restaurant and a piano bar, built in 1995. The tower measures 468 meters and its three pearls symbolizes the purity of the people´s Republic of China. The viewing platform is 90 meters high, the glass corridor around the middle pearl is 259 meters high and the supposedly famous Space Capsule is enthroned at a height of 351 meters. For me, this capsule was nothing special. But decide for yourself!
The 420,5-meter high Jin Mao Tower, built in 1994, initiated on 28.8.1998, has 88 floors and symbolizes the “Gate to Heaven”. The number 8 is a lucky number in China. The Grand Hyatt occupies the top 38 floors. A must-see in the city! Opposite this glass and steel palace, the Shanghai World Financial Center rises imposing 492 meters. This elegant building glitters in blue / green neon light in the evening. The observation desk offers spectacular views from 474 meter above ground level. It is also called a bottle opener due to its shape.
The 632-meter and 121-level Shanghai Tower never escapes from your eyes. He is China´s tallest and the world´s second tallest skyscraper and symbolizes the dynamic emergence of modern China.
After visiting two of these impressive skyscrapers, stroll through Pudong, but don´t forget to visit the only house, that shows the face of the former Pudong in the middle of the skyscrapers.
In the late afternoon or early evening the high-tech subway will bring you back on the Bund and after a few minutes one of the Peninsula´s bellhops will open the hotel door for you with a smile.
As a suite guest you can hire complimentary for up to three hours per day from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm one of the two Mini Cooper S Clubman with great interior. So, let yourself be driven by an expert chauffeur to Chinatown.
There you find the old China. Just let yourself drift through the Yuyuan old street! You must pay a visit to the Yu Garden (Yuyuan). It is the only existing Chinese garden in Ming style in Shanghai with stunning dragon walls, bizarre rocks, zigzag bridges and ponds and a good place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
After your visit in Chinatown, your driver will take you to the Jing´an Temple, a Buddhist temple located on the West Nanjing Road. It has over 780 years history. Today it sits between skyscrapers and shops and it is an insider tip. Don´t miss this temple with a golden roof and ornately decorated with wood carvings. And don´t forget to visit the famous Longhua Temple, located in the north-west. Inside, this temple is really spectacular!
Further your driver will take you to the Yufo Si, also called Jade Buddha Temple. The temple houses three jade Buddha statues. The sitting buddha in the Jade Buddha Hall is carved out from a single piece of Burmese jade and sets with jewels.
If you have the desire, energy and mood, you can visit the Shanghai Museum, a museum of ancient Chinese Art situated on the People´s Square – the largest public square of the city – or the Rockbund Art Museum, a contemporary art museum, located a 2-minute walk from the Peninsula.
An very special experience is a ride in a side-car (www.shanghaiinsiders.com) through the French concession with the renovated Shikumen-houses and through the narrow, paved, centuries-old streets, the so- called hutongs in Beijing and lilongs in Shanghai. But you have to hurry, because these quarters are in danger of being demolished and will soon give way to ultra-modern skyscrapers, bright neon office centers or huge shopping malls.
Since tonight has something extraordinary and unprecedented to offer, I recommend a swim in the pool or a treatment in the Spa and a visit to the hairdresser.
UltraViolet by Paul Pairet
Since opening on May 18, 2012, you must book this multi-sensory dining experience at a secret location in Shanghai three to four months in advance. Your adventure begins at 7:00pm at Paul Pairet´s other venue Mr. & Mrs. Bund, only an 8-minute walk from the Peninsula. All the ten guests meet here for a glass of champagne and receive the night´s menu. The French chef Paul Pairet alternately serves from Tuesday to Saturday menu UV A, UV B, UV C, UV A+, UV B+, UV C+ or a special combination from the three menus called UV8888. All the menus include (prestige) wine pairings.
The ten guests with the operation manager take place in a black van and the driver dressed in black take you through Shanghai to a secret location. The driver stops in a gloomy and shabby courtyard, everyone has to get out. The operation manager knocks several times at a large steel door. At some point the door will open and silent figures show you the way with flashlights. Finally, a large door opens leading into the main dining room with a single-table for only ten guests and your name is illuminated on your seat. Also, the ten well-choreographed waiters in this three Michelin starred multi-sensory restaurant are unique. Paul Pairet uses lights, sounds, smell and much more to enhance each course of the 20-course dining experience. He calls this concept “psycho taste”. You can believe me, dear readers, your culinary journey will be beyond your wildest dreams and everything is enhanced by imagination.
Daytrip to Suzhou
Suzhou is the city of gardens and an UNESCO world heritage site. You can reach the city with the G-Train, a high-speed train in only thirty minutes or with a driver from the Peninsula in at about an hour with the advantage that the driver takes you in Suzhou from a garden to the next. The philosophy of all these gardens is “recreating natural beauty in miniature”.
I recommend the Lion Forest Garden built in the Yuan Dynasty as well as the Lingering Garden. They are all classical Chinese garden with bricks, stones, rockery, delicate pavilions, zigzag bridges, bamboo groves, fragrant lotus ponds and lime-carving.
The Master of Nets Garden with impressive waterscape and aesthetic design is also worth a visit. It is a pocket-sized garden and the Peony Study in the main garden is replicated at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
Of course, the Humble Administrator´s Garden is the number one in Suzhou, but it is always crowded.
You will find that the time goes by quickly, but you may still have the opportunity to visit the silk factory. The silk industry brought prosperity to Suzhou 500 years ago.
For a short trip, I would fly again from Frankfurt or Munich to Shanghai with Lufthansa on First Class (as long as it still exists). Let´s hope that the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt doesn´t fall victim to the Corona crisis! Thanks to the night flight, you arrive well rested in the morning in Shanghai and you can enjoy the whole day. If you have more time, I recommend the Emirates First Class Suites.
Traffic control system:
Green means free travel, yellow indicates traffic obstructions and red indicates traffic jams.
April and May as well as October and November are great months to visit Shanghai. Do never forget that in August and September at typhoon can haunt the city.