Shanghai is hyperactive. Resplendent with sky-scrapers, its development is entirely vertical, in order to take advantage of every available square meter. It is chaotic, but not excessively so considering its 25 million inhabitants (almost half the size ofItaly): and you ask yourself where they are all hidden. The air is heavy with the scent from the temples of yesterday: loved and revered, they coexist in the shadow of today’s modern city. It is full of restaurants, pubs and design hotels and, at their feet, you come across the most amazing street food with traditional kiosks and kitchens on wheels. It is a tangle of luxury shopping malls and enormous boutiques with the most prestigious designer names, which coexist with traditional houses, junks and markets. Is it possible to experience a city like this in only twenty-four hours? Here are some suggestions that will ensure that you do not miss the more charming and authentic corners during the course of a day.
Spend a night at the Urbn Hotel (urbnhotel.com), the first zero carbon hotel in China which has been designed using recycled materials. At least have lunch at the Puli (thepuli.com), if you cannot afford a room there.
Your first stop, and an absolute must, is a visit to the temple of Jing’an (shjas.org/cn), which maintains its traditions in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the city. Have a high fashion cut at DAZ (daz.sh.com), the elegant hair salon in the Jiashan Market area (jiashanmarket.com). Not far away, to taste the local food in well-kept surroundings from other times, try Yin (yin-lgc.com) and do not be put off by the slightly uninviting entrance. The delicious dish of chicken and chestnuts braised in a rich mahogany coloured shanghai style soy based sauce, will not disappoint your culinary expectations. Shop at the concept store Alter Style (alterstyle.com) and at NengMao (nengmaostore.com), which embody the pure Chinese style of the eighties and the Post-Mao era of the working class. From seven in the evening, a stroll around the area of Pudong, the colonial style riverside area of Shanghai. Then dinner at Mr & Mrs Bund (mmbund.com) with its splendid terrace on the skyline of the city. After that, a drink at the Bar Rouge (bar-rouge-shanghai.com).
Finally, you can dance until late at the exclusive Mint club (m1ntglobal.com/club-shanghai) two blocks away, and very popular with Easterners and Westerners alike, with its international atmosphere. And we have already gone beyond our twenty-four hours… Ni Hao Shanghai.
Text and photos by Emanuela Virago