A city of contrasts, Shanghai has two distinctly different faces, one old and one new, and is evolving at a rapid pace. It is a dynamic place with an extremely exhilarating pace and lifestyle.
Appearing to have leapt straight from its 19th century splendour of merchant's offices, banks and hotels that were built along the famous Bund, to the glass skyscrapers now appearing on the newly reclaimed land of Pudong on the opposite river bank.
The old parts of the city are worth a visit where beautifully designed hidden gardens such as the Yu garden, a typical Chinese courtyard style garden, are tucked away down the many side alleys and traditional street markets still occur where locals trade fresh produce and handcrafts among other more tourist orientated items.
Old and new seem to blend effortlessly in Shanghai, and a day’s travel can include sampling traditional Chinese dumplings from a small street stall to gazing at one of the many magnificent skyscrapers from an opulent restaurant.
Shanghai is a vibrant city with a fabulous museum, ancient temples and gardens, good nightlife and international cuisine including Shanghai's own famed seafood making the city a firm favourite for all who visit. Shanghai is a city that never sleeps.
Close by and easily visited for the day are numerous pretty water towns, crisscrossed with intricate canals and attractive stone bridges. Suzhou is famed for its silk weaving trade and is also home to a number of beautiful traditional gardens. Other water towns include Hangzhou with its tranquil west lake and lavish temples, Zhouzhuang, one of the oldest in the country and Luzhi, often less visited and home to around 41 well preserved ancient stone bridges of different style and size.
When to go to SHANGHAI, HANGZHOU & SUZHOU
Visit when the weather is at its best, either mid-March to mid-June or September to November.
The language seems hard to grasp, is English spoken over there?
Mandarin is difficult to speak and understand and although English is becoming widely spoken throughout the country especially within the cities, never presume you will be understood. If spending a day at leisure in a city we would recommend writing down the name of your hotel and any sites you may wish to visit in Mandarin as a taxi driver or local won't necessarily understand English. In Hong Kong, Cantonese is the official language, with English closely followed. Embracing the local language is all part of the adventure and you will certainly raise a few smiles when you have a go!
What should I take that I may not be able to find over there?
Luckily nearly everything you will need is available in China. We do advise if you require any kind of medication to bring it with you as it can sometimes be hard to find the right one. Toiletries are also something we suggest, such as sun cream, insect repellents and preferred shampoos and moisturisers.
Is the street food safe to eat?
Like anywhere where street food is the norm, we always advise eating at places which appear busy with fresh produce. The food on offer in China is like nowhere else, so trying some of the delicacies on offer will be like nowhere else on the planet and provide new culinary experiences.
Will a guide travel with me on my train journey?
No, your guide would not travel with you for your train journey. Your local guide will leave you at the station with full instructions and directions for boarding the train and you will then be met from the train at your arrival destination. If travelling with a party of 10 or more it would be more normal for a national guide to accompany the group throughout, including train travel.