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Shanghai and surrounding area suggestions?

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Shanghai and surrounding area suggestions?

Old Mar 24th, 2006, 03:25 PM
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Shanghai and surrounding area suggestions?

Leaving for Shanghai in a couple of months with my 27 yr old daughter (I'm her father)for a 5 day leisure trip to Shanghai. We want to make the most of our time and wanted to ask some knowledgeable people about my plan. We really like to experience the local culture and don't mind doing some tourist things but also want to see some places maybe that a lot of tourists don't visit Here are some of the things we are planning to do:

1. staying at the Ramada Plaza on Jiujang road.So plan to spend a lot of time in that area just walking and shopping. Are there any night markets in Shanghai that are worth visiting? If so, are there any nights better to see them than others? We will only be there during the week. not on the weekend.

2. Plan to do the walk along the Bund one day but realize that is probably just a couple of hours.

3. Are there any ferry boats worth taking a trip on across like the Huangpu? Is this worth the time?

4. Want to catch a bus or train for a day trip or two outside the city. I was thinking about:

a. trip to Zhouzhuang
b. trip to Suzhou
c. one that looks really interesting is the train trip to Hangzhou

any advice on these?

5. Best to do buses or trains? Assume the trip to Hangzhou almost has to be by train to do in 1 day?

6. Best to catch a taxi or bus from the Pudong airport to hotel?

7. Any safety issues to watch out for?

Assume the area of my hotel is pretty much a tourist area so would probably want to visit some other parts of Shanghai. Any suggestions?

8. Best way to reach those areas is by city bus or subway? Assume subway is easy to get around on? Buses require a learning curve?

9. What about clothing? Will be there mid-May. Are shorts and t-shirts ok or is that bad form in China? What about jeans out at night in resturants or should we dress up a bit more? No matter what we do we will probably still look like tourists.

10. Weather a consideration?

Any other advice would be appreciated.
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Old Mar 24th, 2006, 10:42 PM
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I'm also going to Shanghai in May. If you are interested in art, there's the Suzhou Creek area which has many galleries in converted factory buildings--Art Scene Warehouse, Bizart, Eastlink Gallerey, Shanghart--a Shanghai version of NYC Chelsea. There are also a few restaurants--Creek Kitchen, and Goulu Gang Kafei Guan.
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Old Mar 25th, 2006, 04:41 PM
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hello, if you like to see tha landscape,hangzhuo is your choice, suzhuo for gardens, and zhuozhuang for the waters, branches, typical houses. usually by bus.
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Old Mar 25th, 2006, 07:29 PM
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hi,
i really enjoyed the gardens in suzhou (we went to humble administrator's & master of the nets) and esp. a small water town called tongli. tongli was really charming and not really too "touristy". just a lovely time walking around the canals.

if you are short on time, taking the ferry along the huangpu at night was really nice, seeing the city all lit up. i would spring for the extra $$ to sit at the front of the boat tho. the exhaust from the back would have made me sick.

i also enjoyed going to yu yuan garden in old shanghai and having tea at huxington tea house. a lovely experience. and after a long day of walking we got massages at dragonfly, a spa in the french concession area.

cabs are plentiful (except during rush hour, it seems) and cheap. a cab ride to the airport was Y150 (less than US $20). a friend said the subway was easy to take, tho they pack people in like sardines.

safety-wise, i would just take normal precautions. i didn't have any problems in shanghai at all. and in terms of clothing, it's pretty casual... unless you plan on going somewhere fancy. i'm not sure what the weather is in may, but i am guessing it will be warm to getting hot.

if you care to read it, i posted my trip report a while back. click on my name and i'm sure it'll pop up.

have a fun time!
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Old Mar 25th, 2006, 07:46 PM
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1. Am not sure about night markets, but one interesting markets if you like to get your own clothes made REALLY cheaply is to goto Dongjiadu Cloth market - all kinds of materials with attached tailors. If you bring in a favourite piece of clothing, they can also copy it. Go early in your trip so you can collect them later.

3. We took a night boat along the Huangpu for about 1 and a half hours. It was really nice to see the 2 sides of the city lit up - but it was also quite crowded! Lots of local tourists bustling around.

4 & 5. I liked Suzhou but I preferred Hangzhou. They are different though. As previous poster has said Suzhou is supposed to be a 'canal' town with some very pretty gardens. Hangzhou has a beautiful lake with various (reconstructed) temples, teahouses etc. We took the train to both - your hotel could probably help you book for an additional fee. If you go 'soft seat' then there is a separate (nicer) waiting area at Shanghai station.
I liked staying o/n in Hangzhou btw.

7. Take care with girls asking if you want to have traditional tea ceremonies - specially on Nanjing Road.

BTW if you like spicy food, try Guyi - a great Hunan restaurant on Fumin Road. If you like good views, you can go to the Jin Mao building on Pudong side - have a buffet at the Hyatt!!
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Old Mar 25th, 2006, 07:52 PM
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I was in Shanghai in May last year. The weather was great! Evenings we wore a light sweater because it was breezy along the Bund. Warm during the afternoons but not hot.

I must suggest the Shanghai museum! That was one of the highlights of the trip. It was raining one day so my husband suggested that. Wow, what a treat! We could have stayed there for hours! We stayed in Old Shanghai. That was fun shopping. They Yuyuan Gardens are very close and the tea house.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 06:24 AM
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these are all really great suggestions-I really appreciate them. Sounds like Hangzhou is definately someplace not to be missed.

1. If I don't use the hotel, it is easy to buy the rail tickets at the train station?

2.What about language: Is English spoken many places

3. The nite scenic boat ride on the Huangpu. Is there only one of these are there many different ones to choose from? Is is best just to go down there when ready to leave and buy the tickets then?

Appreciate the warning on the traditional tea ceremony. Seems I had read something about that on this board.

All of you are giving me some really good ideas.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 12:59 PM
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First off, obtain a tourist map - if you don't mind wearing out some shoe leather, just walking around is the best way to get to know the city. Just west of the Old Town area you'll find the Dongtailu "antiques" market, which is fun just to stroll through and not nearly as touristy as the tarted-up and overpriced Old Town shopping area. Don't expect to find any genuine antiques, and start by offering say 25% of the asking price. I can't say how busy they are at night.

For a 5-day stay I think it's worth investing in a guide book. At the least, run a search on this forum for threads on Shanghai.

English isn't widespread anywhere in China, and unfortunately very often those with the best command of the language are trying to sell you something at an outrageous price. It's not as big a drawback as you might think, though, as the signs you need are bilingual. In particular don't expect to find any English-speaking taxi drivers - ensure that you always have the name of your destination written in Chinese (ask the hotel staff). It would be best to take a cab from the airport to your hotel, so make sure you have its name and address in Chinese before you leave - you may be able to print this off their website, or I'm sure they could fax it to you.

We located a Huangpu boat ride by crossing the Bund near the corner of Nanjing Road to the riverbank. It's worth doing just to view the awesome amount of construction activity in Pudong, and the river traffic.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 02:22 PM
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Neil:

Good suggestions. I have purchased a map an trying to plot most of my walking tours. I found a place on the map just to the south of the Yanan Road east tunnel that is marked "Huangpu River Departures" so assume most of the boats leave from there.

Also had not thought of the Shanghai Musuem until Wanda suggested it.

We plan on doing as much on foot as possible and from the looks of the map, since we are staying in the middle of the shopping district, much of the best attractions are within walking distances.

With only 5 days there we will have to hit it hard.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 06:00 PM
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Hi
it should be ok to buy tickets direct from the railway station, but why not just save yourself the trip (and hassle)? We actually bought our tickets from a travel agent on the street who has direct booking access and gave us the tickets on the spot. But... you need to be able to read Chinese to know where this is available.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 03:21 AM
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bkkmei:

well, reading Chinese wouldn't work for me but your point is good. Perhaps the hotel could book the rail for me or maybe they even offer guided trips with English speaking guide. The cost would be more but it would be a lot more efficient use of time. Anyone have any experience with booking the tours through the hotel? thanks
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 05:12 PM
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If you are going to Hangzhou, you should have the hotel get the train tickets for you. Getting train tickets at the station is a chaotic affair - and you should be able to read Chinese to figure out which window, etc.

In hangzhou, there is a public "surrey with a fringe on the top" type of transportation that goes round and round West Lake. You can buy a complete round trip ticket (really cheap, but can't remember exactly how much) and just hop on and off at the major sites around the lake. This will probably take you all day.

Read a bit about Hangzhou before going. This is one of the most important cities - literary and artistic - in chinese history.

Suzhou is great for its gardens. Again, you need to know a bit of Chinese gardens before going.

Between the two, Hangzhou would be easier to appreciate and understand, although neither should be missed on a trip to Shanghai.

My favorite side trip is to Shaoshing, the "birthplace" of China - at least of mythical China. If you had more time - skip Shaoshing this time and go back some other year!

For something of "local culture" - In Shanghai, in its Old Town, right about in the center of it you will see a line of people in front of a dumpling shop. Stand in line and get some of those dumplings - or go upstairs and be seated and pay a much higher price for the same dumplings. These are the famous "Little Dragon Dumplings" or "Little Woven Basket Dumplings" that are cooked with a spoonful of broth in the dumpling. Eat the dumpling whole to savor the broth, don't poke holes in it!

Have fun! Sounds like a great trip!
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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Easytraveler: thanks for all of the info especially the suggestion about letting the hotel buy my train tickets. I just wasnt sure whether to try it myself or try some organized tour with a english speaking guide. I prefer the do-it yourself but I am going to be at a great disadvantage with the language so your advice sounds good.

Twofortheroad: is the art gallery area near the Bund on the west side or is it quite a ways from where we will be staying. Sounds interesting to check out.

These restuarant ideas are all interesting as well. Do most of the restuarants have the menu written in English as well? I am sure we will be eating some interesting stuff.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 07:12 PM
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Hi
in Hangzhou, there are also boats that take you across the lake to islands in the middle - which are extremely pretty.

Guyi does have menus in English as well as many pictures to help ordering. I don't think they like to take bookings though.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 09:47 PM
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If you look at a map, find the Xinzha Metro stop, one stop from People's Park. From there It's across the Suzhou Creek, about a 5 minute taxi ride from the metro or about a $3 taxi from People's Park. The address you want is 50 Moganshan Road. You'll find a large collection of old factories converted to art space. Check this out with your concierge.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 10:39 PM
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In Hangzhou we ate at a large and very busy restaurant on the lake shore - I can't find my notes but think it must have been the Louwailou (pronounced "low-why-low"). We had three local specialities - beggar's chicken, dong po pork and West Lake fish, all excellent. I don't know if any of the waitresses spoke English as our Chinese-speaking daughters handled the ordering. Wouldn't have mattered, as we could have just pointed to the items on the Chinese/English menu.

Incidentally, we never went to a restaurant in China that served rice as a matter of course - if you want it you have to ask for it. From memory the Mandarin for rice is mifan, pronounced mee-FAHN, i.e. stress the second syllable (happy to be corrected on that, though).
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 10:11 AM
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Hi, Neil!

"mifan" is fine. "mi" is the uncooked rice, and "fan" is the cooked rice. "Fan" has also become the generic word for "food" - such as "chefan" meaning "to dine". (Sorry, my romanization skills are nonexistent!)

If you want white rice, ask for "bai-fan" "white rice".

Otherwise, you can order "chao-fan" which is "fried rice".

Make sure you say "fahn" because "fun" means horse dung!
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 02:24 PM
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Thanks, easytraveler. There are a lot of traps, aren't there? My elder daughter, whose name is Emma, and who is a keen horsewoman, was delighted when someone told her that 'em ma' means 'love horse'. She decided to adopt that as her Chinese name until a Chinese friend explained with some embarrassment that it could be interpreted as 'er - loving horses in -er - the wrong way!'
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Old Mar 29th, 2006, 08:36 AM
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Oh oh, watch out for those Chinese phonetics, the 4 tones are extremely important. In Mandarin, ma- is mother, ma/ is hemp or linen, ma invert the ^ is horse, ma\ is cuss. Sooo don't cuss the horse your mother is riding wearing linen, got it?
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Old Mar 29th, 2006, 12:59 PM
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Neil, hi again!

LOL!

The syllable "ai" or "e" (depending on the dialect) means "love". And as Shanghaiese has said, "ma" could be interpreted several different ways:

Love Mom
Love to scold
Love horses
Love hemp (ump, this is kind of difficult to conceive)

To love horses in the modern form is to use the words to "like horses". "Love" is too strong an emotion and could be interpreted as loving horses to the exclusion of other beings - a stretch of an interpretation, but the Chinese love play on words.

Shanghainese: Of course, there are only 5 tones in Shanghainese - but they shift around so much, unlike Mandarin Chinese which shifts around only a bit! LOL!

Of course, we must all maintain the fiction that these are all "dialects" of Chinese to maintain the fiction of the one-entire Chinese state/empire. It's no use to point out that these dialects are more different one from the other than many European "languages."

Peace!
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