There’s a reason why Shanghai has been known on several occasions as “Paris of the East”. A modern city so rich in its history, culture, and architecture, it stands out on its own from the other cities in China, especially after the Opium War where it became overrun with foreign involvements. The Shanghai today now embraces all of these influences. Below, all the things you can do in a day in this vibrant city.
#1. STAY at URBN Hotel. When night falls, escape the bustle of the city to a stylish boutique hotel, furnished with recycled materials reclaimed from old buildings in Shanghai. The hotel itself, made out of half floors and decorated in an earthy colour palette, is comfortably situated amid a quiet street. Housed in a former factory warehouse, URBN Hotel, a member of the TemptingPlaces collection, is carbon-neutral. Whether you’re soaking it all in with in-room spa treatments or dining and drinking in its courtyard, this is one eco-chic destination Karl Lagerfeld would approve. Tel: 03-2181 7363. www.temptingplaces.com
#2. START your day at Becycle Spinning Studio. Sure, you may have your go-to fitness studio already at home, and did you really come all the way to Shanghai to break a sweat? But wouldn’t it be a unique experience … starting the day off cycling to some blood-pumping music? Becycle is the closest thing right now in Shanghai to SoulCycle. Make your way onto a bike and get going with the rhythm as you picture yourself cycling through different terrains—literally, since a video plays up front during the class, showing the great outdoors. Boost your day with a variety of classes in this sleek, contemporary environment. Studio S4A, Anken Lifestyle Building, 667 Changhua Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai. Tel: +86 186 1695 2975
#3. EMBARK on an extraordinary expedition with Shanghai Insiders Tours, where you are taken on an exciting journey through Shanghai on a Chang Jiang 750, one of the first mass-produced vehicles in China. Think of it as an Airbnb for tours, where you explore the city with a newfound friend in a sidecar. The people taking you on this tour are true enthusiasts of the city, and are all eager to share their personal experiences with you on the one-hour Catchy Ride, two-hour Inside Ride, or four-hour Mighty Ride. www.shanghaiinsiders.com
#4. DISCOVER the spirit of tea culture at Song Fang Maison de Thé. Baby blue tins filled with Chinese tea leaves line the walls of this tea house, situated at a corner in the former French concession. While you’re shopping in the renovated shikumen buildings in Xintiandi and Tianzifang, nip into this tea shop for a relaxing experience. Founder Florence Samson is a Parisian native with a deep passion for Chinese tea and the farmers who work painstakingly to produce the best of them. Converted from a three-storey 1930 lane house, Florence’s tea masters will have you sipping, learning, and steeping in the rustic experience in no time. 227 Yongjia Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai. Tel: +86 021 6433 8283. www.songfangtea.com
#5. INDULGE in Shang Xia Shanghai Maison. Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s vision for this ultramodern, fashion-focused boutique mirrors the house’s own collections and crafts. Set in a typical French villa in Xintiandi, the clean aesthetics of its flagship store draws you into its enclave, enveloping you with its stunning furniture, tea wares, clothing, and jewellery. It’s East meets West done in the most luxurious statement. 233 Middle Huaihai Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai. Tel: +86 021 8017 9777. www.shang-xia.com
#6. DINE at Uo Kura. It may seem counter-intuitive, and even culturally oblivious, to be patronising a Japanese restaurant when immersing yourself in the beauty of Shanghai. But this upscale kaiseki restaurant, helmed by top chefs from Osaka’s Michelin-starred restaurants, introduces the kind of dining-in-the-city experience Shanghainese can relate to. Bonus: the spectacular night view of Sun Yat Sen’s former residence and Fuxing Park. 55 Sinan Road, Luwan District, Shanghai. Tel: +86 216 418 0422
#7. MAKE IT A PERFECT NIGHT at Vue Bar. Anyone who has visited Shanghai will tell you to visit The Bund. As beautiful as it is to stroll along the streets while admiring the landscape and architecture that have come to shape the riverside, the throngs of tourists may deter from that experience. Do The Bund in fabulous fashion at Vue Bar, designed by Japanese firm Super Potato, and located on the top two floors of Hyatt On The Bund. The breathtaking panorama is a given—unparalleled views of the Huangpu River, from the Bund on the Puxi side to the Lujiazui area on the Pudong side. Sip on a delicious cocktail while dipping your feet into the whirlpool bath, or dance the night away and feel, truly, on top of the world. 199 Huangpu Road, Hongkou District, Shanghai. Tel: + 86 21 6393 1234