Shanghai is a city of contrasts, where you’ll find the Modern and Ancient, Clean and Dirty, Rich and Poor, Impressive and disgusting, and many more opposites sometimes on the same street even! Although Shanghai is an international financial city, you still get a taste of authentic Chinese traditions and architecture.
What to do:
Shanghai is definitely an interesting city, and I’m really glad I came here. There’s a lot I like and hate about Shanghai, so I’ll be covering both. I really like the architecture, especially the view from The Bund! Right near the bund you’ll find Nanjing Road, nicknamed the ‘#1 Shopping Street in China’ and it is very clear why. Walk along this street to see hundreds of people enjoying a stroll, shopping and eating at one of the hundreds of shops and malls. At night, the street feels brighter then during the day, with massive neon signs and lights everywhere! My favorite part of Shanghai is the Old City of Shanghai, where you’ll find authentic Chinese architecture, markets, and some great spots such as the beautiful Yuyuan Garden, and the City God Temple. Another cool place to check out across the river is the massive skyscrapers near Lujiazui Station, including the Shanghai Tower which is currently the second tallest building in the world.
Although I did enjoy Shanghai, there were some aspects that I did not quite enjoy. The first and most obvious one has to be the air pollution and air quality. All around you, you see this hint of gray, and monuments/buildings seem to disappear at an alarming rate, meaning my distance of visibility was much shorter then anything I’ve ever experienced. I also heard many people talking about how great the food was, but I did not enjoy most of the meals that I had in Shanghai. The dumplings were great, but most of the food seemed very weird and foreign to me, and while I generally like this, the smells and visuals were very off-putting. Lastly, I assumed since Shanghai is a massive city with a population of nearly 24 million people, there would be tons of things to do in Shanghai, but then I woke up on the 4th day I was thinking ‘I did everything, what is left to do?'
Where to stay:
Out of the two hostels in Shanghai that I’ve been to, I preferred Blue Mountain due to the better location and more social environment.
I stayed at Blue Mountain Bund Youth Hostel, and I enjoyed the hostel. The location is great, very close to Nanjing Road, and a 10-minute walk to The Bund. The common area was quite social with a very international group of backpackers from Russia, Montenegro, Brazil, Chile, India, China, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, USA, Canada, UAE, and more (most of them talk good English). There was a bar with decent prices (cheap prices, but you can find cheaper in Shanghai), and the staff were very helpful. There’s an awesome rooftop area with pool tables, which is a great place to chill out in the warmer months.
I also stayed at Rock & Wood International Youth Hostel, and it was a decent hostel. The price was unbelievably cheap, and the hostel felt very nice and modern, so much so that I felt like I was in a 4-star hotel! There’s a stunning garden, a grand entrance with a large bar with dirt cheap prices and lots of seating. The location was very far from everything, and you could forget about walking anywhere from here. However, it is only a 10-minute walk to a subway station that connects you to anywhere you want to be in the city, so it isn’t horrible. This seems like a great place to stay if you are in a large group of friends. I didn’t find the atmosphere too social with lots of businessmen typing away on their laptops, however I was there during the quiet season so it may be a different story in the summer.