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26/04/2013

The 24-hour Shanghai travel guide I

A single day in Shanghai is nowhere near long enough to experience the city's many sides.

If you've got 24 hours, however, you can squeeze in at least 24 different experiences for your last minute China travel deals.

Morning

1. Breakfast the local way

Breakfast is a big deal in Shanghai and there are many ways to eat it, from fish congee to greasy youtiao (fried dough stick).

The most local way is to munch a jianbing, China's answer to the crepe.

Jianbing are pancakes cooked on a large round hotplate, topped with an egg and fried cracker.

It's all smothered in a sweet hoisin sauce, a smear of chili sauce and a handful of cilantro and then served wrapped up, ready to eat on the go.

Jianbing stalls can be spotted on streets between 6 a.m.-9 a.m. Grab one on Shandong Lu between Guangdong Lu and Fuzhou Lu. This will position you in a good part of town for the coming itinerary.

2. Bund walk

The Bund is Shanghai’s most iconic street and listed as one of top 10 China tours's destinations.

Settled by the British after the first Opium War, it was here that the big trading companies built headquarters, most of them in grand, neo-classical style.

Over the past 10 years, Shanghai has seen an about-face in the street’s fortunes and the riverside boulevard is now (once again) some of the most prime real estate in the city.

The Bund is the go-to place to orientate yourself, with its foreign past on one side and the skyscrapers of Pudong rising up on the other, totems of the city's future.

The Bund, Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu

3. The old walled town

Before foreigners arrived, Shanghai was little more than a fishing village.

The original, oval shape of the walls that ringed the old town is mostly demolished but it can be traced by the shape of Zhonghua Lu, which still encloses a cramped part of Shanghai where locals live in narrow lanes and crowded storefronts.

Avoid the more touristy parts of the old town around Yu Garden in the north and spend your time instead in the narrow lanes that start south of Fuxing Dong Lu.

This is one of the most traditional parts of Shanghai.

Start at the corner of Fuxing Dong Lu and Lingji Jie Lu and head south, wandering down any small street you happen upon.

4. Pearl bubble tea at a tea kiosk

After the sensory bombardment that is the old town, chill out with a cup of zhenzhu naicha, or pearl bubble tea.

Originally a Taiwanese import, pearl bubble tea is a chilled, sweet, milky concoction that bears very little relationship to traditional Chinese tea.

The pearl bubbles are balls of tapioca that bob around the bottom of your cup.

At first, the texture of the chewy, slightly slimy tapioca balls may feel a little strange, but this is one of the most popular soft drinks for young people in China. You should tasted for your popular China tours.

Try it at: Happy Lemon, 82 Xizang Zhong Lu, People's Square, near Yan'an Dong Lu; +86 21 6322 2065; open daily, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

5. Taiqi in the park

People's Square was originally used as a racecourse to provide entertainment for well-heeled foreigners during the early days of Shanghai’s rise to prominence.

After the revolution, the course was flattened and turned into a park, People's Park.

The central green space plays host to some interesting local culture -- the elderly practicing taiqi (often using swords or fans), and a marriage market on Saturday and Sunday afternoons when parents come down to try to match up their children with suitable spouses.

231 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huangpi Bei Lu; open daily, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Midday

6. Authentic fish noodles

It's time for more of Shanghai's number-one pastime -- food. Ding Te Le is a bustling 24-hour noodle shop on the commercial stretch of Huaihai Lu.

The most famous dish here is xuecai huangyu wei mian, which translates as simmered yellow croaker noodles with pickled vegetables.

Sharpen your elbows -- this hole-in-the-wall gets busy at lunchtime -- fight your way to the cash register and order. Squeeze into a seat somewhere and wait for a steaming bowl of fragrant fish stock filled with fresh noodles and chunks of buttery yellow croaker.

No. 22, 494 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Yandang Lu; +86 21 5107 9177; open 24 hours

7. Electronics shopping

Xujiahui, a main shopping area in southwest of downtown, is Shanghai's electronics center with three huge malls stuffed with computer, cell phones and cameras. If you want to buy some souvenirs for your family and friends for China tour packages.

Be aware that some are "gray imports" -- goods bought tax-free in Hong Kong and then smuggled onto the mainland.

There is also "shanzhai" merchandise -- electronics that look a lot like familiar brands but are actually near-identical copies.

Bargain hard and be aware that nothing in these malls comes with a guarantee and, while deals can be found, you shop at your own risk.

Metro City, 1111 Zhaojiabang Lu, near Tianyaoqiao Lu; open daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

8. Pop up the 'bottle opener'

For the other side of Shanghai's high-tech persona, head to the Shanghai World Financial Center, the tallest building on the mainland (for now).

The "bottle opener," as the skyscraper is known colloquially, is 492 meters high and dominates the Pudong skyline.

Park Hyatt takes up the 79th-93rd floors, and there’s a glass-bottomed observation deck on the 100th floor (admission RMB 150, or US$24).

Or head to the Park Hyatt's 100 Century Avenue Bar on the 92nd floor, which serves fine cocktails and staggering views for miles around.

9. Pearl Tower

The strange pink and beige rocket-shaped structure is held in much affection by locals as the 468-meter tower was the first skyscraper built in Pudong in 1994.

Some find it ugly. Some find it kitsch. But no trip to Shanghai is complete without rocking up to check out the TV Tower.

There are 15 observatory levels, the highest at 350 meters.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower, 1 Shiji Dadao, near Lujiazui Huan Lu; open daily, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

10. A walk along the Creek

Running from the north of the Bund westwards all the way through the city is Suzhou Creek.

After the Treaty of Nanjing opened Shanghai up to the trading powers, the Creek formed the boundary between the British and American settlements.

When the Japanese took the city in 1937, it formed a boundary between their concession to the north and the international areas to the south.

In more recent years it silted up and fell out of use, but a major renewal program was launched in 1998 (and completed in 2010) and the route of the Creek now makes a pleasant walk, its banks studded with old warehouses and factories.

Suzhou Creek meets the Huangpu River at the north end of the Bund. Follow the north bank west for glimpses of some of Shanghai’s former days.

11. Moganshan Lu art

On the south bank of the Creek in Putuo District sits M50, the city's largest collection of art galleries.

Most of the complex is housed in the old Chunming Slub Mill, which escaped the wrecking ball and became first artists' studios and then private galleries.

M50 now hosts more than 100 galleries and studios. Work is for sale throughout, from cheap prints in smaller shops up to major works for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

50 Moganshan Lu, near Changhua Lu. Recommended stops: Island6 and ShanghART.

If you want to more about these places, you can contact with China tour agents.

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