We all love the chance happenings that occur when traveling. Oftentimes the best moments are brief exchanges with a stranger, a group of ladies dancing in traditional garb or the perfect bowl of noodles in a back alley.
To truly make the most of every moment though, in Shanghai, a little planning goes a long way – you don’t want to be wasting time lost because you didn’t have a Chinese address or lose an afternoon because you didn’t realize that art museum was closed on Monday.
So here’s our guide to the perfect pre-trip planning checklist and resources to make your life easy, fulfilling and fruitful, whether you’re here for 6 months or on a 72-hour visa layover.
If you want to access your favorite social media and news sites, you’re probably going to need a VPN. This piece of software lets you access the unblocked internet from any wireless hotspots, and sometimes works on cell phones through data plans. Facebook, Youtube, New York Times, Le Monde are all regularly blocked in the mainland. The catch? You need to set it up before you touchdown in Shanghai.
We recommend Strong VPN and Astrill. For around$7/month, you’ll get unlimited access to all your sites while you’re in China. Definitely worth it.
Domestic Travel and Hotels:
The best deals are often found on China-based websites, especially if you’re looking for domestic plane tickets, high-speed train tickets, and more.
We recommend: Elong & Ctrip -These websites provide good customer service and plenty of peace of mind should changes occur to flights.
To eat like a local, you need to not just know where to look, but often times need to know what to order in Chinese – the best eateries in the city and greater China are still usually Chinese-only menus. And the pace of the city means that new restaurants come and go in lightning speed.
We recommend: Culinary Backstreets Shanghai for authentic hole in the wall eateries like we go on all of our food tours. Smart Shanghai will also provide you with bilingual taxi directions and up to date information on if a venue is now closed. Check their ‘Radar‘ column for the newest openings.
Taxis in the city are still quite cheap -starting at just 14rmb during the day and 18rmb at night, they’re a steal – if you can find one. Unfortunately, with rising incomes and more and more people in the city, sometimes its darn near impossible to find one.
We recommend: Uber arrived on the scene to much funfare – with the push of a smartphone button you can call a black car to your exact location with constant updates of when it will arrive (usually about 10 minutes). To sign up, click here of follow this link to sign up and download the free app: http://uber.com/go/UnTourSH
Unique Events and General Listings:
Of course TripAdvisor is a great resource to get a general feel for what other travelers think is worthwhile. But sometimes checking with the expat news websites pays off with unique events, shows, gallery openings, concerts, talks, etc. that happen to be on while you’re in town. It’s definitely worth a few minutes to check it out.
We recommend: That’s Shanghai, SmartShanghai and TimeOut Shanghai – Both are written by reliable staff who have their pulse on the beats they cover, be it art, style, dining, etc.
If that’s STILL not enough, the Shanghai sub-Reddit has more links that long-term visitors might find more useful, including subway maps, bus maps, air quality apps and more. Check it out here.
If you have any questions on planning out your time in Shanghai or on any of our culinary tours, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
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