Advance Planning

Three months before Book a room at popular hotel accommodation.

One month before Book tables for well-known restaurants; check listings on entertainment sites such as SmartShanghai (www.smartshanghai.com) and City Weekend (www.cityweekend.com.cn) for art exhibitions, live music, festivals and shows, and book your tickets.

A few days before Check the weather and pollution index (http://aqicn.org/city/shanghai).

Resources

  • Lonely Planet (lonelyplanet.com/shanghai) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.
  • City Weekend (www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai) Comprehensive listings website of popular expat magazine. News stories can be weak.
  • Shanghaiist (www.shanghaiist.com) Excellent source of news and reviews.
  • Smart Shanghai (www.smartshanghai.com) Quality listings website with forum.

Top Tips

  • The Shànghǎi metro will be your best friend: fast, efficient, cheap, punctual and extensive.
  • Taxis are widespread and great value for short hops.
  • For budget accommodation, stick to Pǔxī, not Pǔdōng.
  • Plan your time – the metro system is excellent but criss-crossing Shànghǎi can eat into your time. Instead, choose just one or two neighbourhoods to explore in a day.
  • If you’ve only a few days, stick to the city’s core districts of the Bund, People’s Square, the French Concession and Jìng’ān, with a foray or two to Pǔdōng.

What to Take

  • Sunscreen and sunhat in summer
  • Insect repellent to keep mosquitoes at bay
  • Good walking shoes – Shànghǎi's concrete distances can become foot-numbing
  • Phrasebook with Chinese characters – English is spoken fitfully
  • An electrical adaptor
  • Any prescribed drugs you may need
  • Earplugs for hotel rooms with paper-thin walls

What to Wear

Shànghǎi is a fairly casual destination, so you can wear what you want most of the time, although more modest dress is required for temple and mosque visits. For fancy dinners, smart-casual should be all that’s required – no restaurant will insist on jackets or ties. Winters are clammy, draining and cold, so warm clothing is crucial; summers are hot, humid and long, with epic downpours. An umbrella won't go astray in either season.

Pre-departure Checklist

  • Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date.
  • Organise your visa.
  • Check airline baggage restrictions.
  • Check your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Get a pre-trip dental check-up.
  • Arrange for appropriate travel insurance.
  • Inform your debit-/credit-card company you’re heading away.