Shanghai is a fascinating, cosmopolitan city, and a centre of finance, science, and arts. You might be overwhelmed by the city’s vastness, but also the wide cultural and linguistic gap. Shanghai is a great walking city, with wall-to-wall shops, and restaurants, ranging from Michelin-starred ones and corner noodle shops to cafés and tea houses. You will never go hungry. You’ll most likely find yourself in the extensive French Concession, especially between Jiangsu Lu, along Nanjing West, past Xintiandi, through to the very upmarket Bund on the Huangpu River.
The main streets in the French Concession are fronted by global luxury-brand stores. But for shopping, rather head to side streets such as Julu Lu and surroundings in the Jing’An District to find local design in small boutiques. China has moved beyond the stage of imitation and has a growing community of designers and innovators — a visit to Shanghai begs an exploration of art, fashion, design, and technology.
Shanghai residents eat out or order in, but there seems to be very little cooking going on at home. Restaurants come and go, and it often happens that one arrives to find it has closed. Some of my favourites that seem rock solid on the scene are Element Fresh for Asian fusion, Lost Heaven for Yunnan cuisine, and Ye Shanghai.