With 45,000 taxis flying around the city, finding a cab won't be a problem and is probably your best option at night. Be aware that language barriers can cause a few frustrations so always carry the details of your destination and accommodation in Chinese on a card. Taxis in Shanghai are relatively expensive compared to other mainland cities and you'll be charged extra between 11pm and 5am.
Foot-friendly areas like the French Concession district are fabulous to wander through, exploring the city's fascinating and eclectic architectural history. Discover unique stone structures from ancient civilisations, elegant European colonial period buildings to the glamorous Art Deco mansions of the 1930s. A guided walking tour is recommended to see the best that this amazing city has to offer.
Shanghai's metro network is one of the fastest growing rapid transport systems in the world. The city has a population of 23 million, which is increasing every year. For foreigners, using the metro is not as terrifying as you might expect. Clear signposts in English direct you around the metro's 13 transport lines and bullet-speed trains get you back and forth in astonishing times.
Shanghai's road network is growing at an extraordinary rate, due to the increase in the car ownership. The astonishing scale of traffic means that you must be very confident to take to the roads yourself. Instead, opt to travel stress-free and in style by hiring a private chauffeur to ferry you around in air-conditioned comfort. Most hotels can help arrange this for you.
Locals have enough work trying to conquer their own regional dialects without having to learn foreign languages as well. Be prepared for very few people to speak English. Also be sure to ask the hotel to prepare a card for you with the location of where you are going and your hotel details written in Chinese.
Travellers flock to Shanghai throughout the year, so don't expect any quiet periods. Try to avoid the 40° heat of summer – July and August – when locals camp outside to cool down. September boasts the best temperatures but coincides with hundreds of conferences, so the city is bursting. Your best bet is to go in early November for bearable temperatures and less traffic.
Chinese currency – Renminbi (RMB) – can only be purchased if the exchange is conducted at airports, hotels or banks, and at the official rate set by the central government through the Bank of China. Avoid temptation by private individuals loitering in the streets offering better rates – you could end up with fake bills and in a lot of legal trouble.
Shanghai's roads are teeming with buses, bicycles and cars all determined to reach their destination in record time – even if it means jumping red lights and not swerving for pedestrians in the process. The green man might be illuminated but be very careful: approaching traffic might not stop and there doesn't appear to be many legal repercussions for flouting the rules.
Flights to Shanghai leave daily from Sydney. Fly direct to Shanghai's Pudong Airport onboard China Eastern Airlines in 10 hours, 20 minutes.
Fly with Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air to reach Pudong Airport in 11h 20m with one stop in Hong Kong.
The fastest flights are onboard China Eastern, flying to Pudong Airport in around 11 hours.
Maglev trains run from Shanghai's modern Pudong Airport to Longyang Road every twenty minutes from 6.45am to 9.40pm every day. The journey takes around eight minutes. Travelling from Hongqiao Airport, take subway lines 2 or 10 to various city stops. Shanghai rail is convenient, affordable and probably the easiest option if you're on a budget.
If you've booked your hotel in advance, they might offer to arrange a private driver to meet you at the airport and whisk you to the front door. Remove the stress of language barriers or potential frustrations working out train tickets. Alternatively, book and pay online for your own private transport in advance. Several operators offer varying comfort levels and prices.
Travelling by taxi to People's Square takes fifty minutes from Pudong Airport. From Hongqiao, the journey takes half an hour. If you've booked a hotel, make sure you ask them to send you a ‘taxi card' with details of their address. The last thing you want after a long flight is to get lost in translation – and heavy traffic.
Buses run from Pudong and Hongqiao to various central stops and other long-distance destinations. This is your cheapest and most authentic option, but it won't be easy. You might have to stand and the journey from Pudong to the centre takes an hour. If you go by bus, hold onto the railings and your belongings – pickpockets have been spotted.
Spend an evening with the death-defying Shanghai Acrobatics School and Troupe. Watch them leap through the air and form towering human pyramids at breakneck speeds. Afterwards, cruise Shanghai at night in a luxury coach, with a final stop in Xin Tian Di, where you'll grab dinner at a local hip hangout. The 3.5 hour experience costs AU$75 per person and is suitable for all ages.
Suzhou is the ‘Venice of the East' and one of the oldest settlements in Shanghai. The intricate network of waterways framed by charming historic buildings is exquisite to explore by boat. In peaceful Zhouzhuang, the magnificent gardens and the silk factory will provide welcome relief from bustling city life. This private tour is a family friendly way to spend the day and costs from around AU$125 per person.
Cover the bright lights of the city and the serene fields of rural China. Start at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai's symbol of modernity and stroll along the Pudong Riverside Avenue, which showcases Shanghai's evolution. Afterwards you'll be whisked to Chongming Island to discover local farm life and sample authentic cuisine. With so much covered, the prices are reasonable at around AU$300 per person.
Shanghai is a modern metropolis and dazzles at night. Cruise the Huangpu River and marvel at the spectacular kaleidoscope of colours and lights of Pu Dong to the west and Pu Xi to the east. At the end of the cruise you'll stroll along Shanghai's Bund waterfront and stop in Xin Tian Di to experience the city's trendy nightlife. Prices start from around AU$75 per person.
Lost Heaven pays homage to the lesser known flavours of Yunnan Province. Embark on an exciting new culinary adventure with delicious dishes from fish cakes – which are recommended – to exotic chicken salads. Lost Heaven is spread over two floors of a colonial villa in the popular French Concession district, offering patrons the chance to relax in the bustling bar before heading upstairs to feast.
Minimal signage and a beautiful bamboo forest creates an enchanting entrance, but it won't prepare you for the astonishingly spacious interior of one of Shanghai's best Japanese restaurants. The decor provides minimal distraction from the stunning fare, exquisite attention to detail and presentation. The grilled cod comes recommended - pair it with a rock and roll salad mixed in front of you.
The former address of the British Consulate, The Yongfoo Elite retains an air of colonial grace and refined charm. The 1930s French villa is surrounded by exquisite gardens. Inside, a glamorous blend of Chinese artefacts and floral wallpaper continue an eclectic theme. Popular consensus rules the food does not live up to the decor, so visit The Yongfoo Elite for its beauty over its banquets.
You don't get named in the top 50 world restaurants by Conde Nast for nothing. T8 is in the buzzing tourist hotspot of Xin Tian Di, and boasts a comfortable, rustic decor with exposed brick floors and an open kitchen. Marvel as some of the top chefs in Shanghai cook up imaginative Asian-fusion dishes that you'll talk about for days afterwards.
Alchemist takes pride in being one of Shanghai's first specialist cocktail bars. Imaginative mixologists shake things up behind the bar with flare and fervour while glamorous young professionals mingle over exotic blends of bell peppers and cloves. This sophisticated little operation draws in the weekend crowds for a reason.
A New York-style loft bar with different ‘apartment' rooms to suit your mood. Choose the glass dining room if you're in the mood to indulge or chill out in the luxury bedroom. You'll be finger clicking to live piano jazz in one hand and balancing a perfectly blended cocktail in the other.
Shanghai's glitterati swarm to Bar Rouge to listen to house music by the city's top DJs. The outdoor area boasts magnificent views over the Bund area and across Pudong. This is an upscale bar, so expect the prices to match. A chic dress code is a must – no sneakers, no t-shirts.
Cloud 9 is the world's highest bar. This ultra-modern venue is located in the super-sleek Grand Hyatt Shanghai, which also happens to be the world's tallest hotel. Look out in awe across this mesmerising city in all its 360° splendor with a glass of champagne, and toast a truly amazing experience.
Take a guided walking tour of the city, exploring the street mazes and experiencing the thrill of a city bursting at the seams. At lunchtime, head to Din Tai Fung and taste the exquisite flavours of one of China's national dishes: the soup dumpling. It might be a restaurant chain in a Westernised mall but it boasts the city's best xiaolongbao. That night, take a cruise along the Huangpu River and marvel at the city by night. After your cruise, stop off in Xin Tian Di for dinner and a nightcap.
The fresher, gentle air of Shanghai's ‘Venice of the East', Suzhou, will provide some peaceful relief and give you an insight into life at a gentler pace. Spend the day exploring the tranquil waterways, historical buildings and green parks, stopping for lunch at local eateries and tasting authentic Shanghai cuisine. With a sufficient dose of serenity, liven your night up by heading to Cloud 9, the world's highest bar. The jaw-dropping views will be unforgettable – unless you have too many champagnes to toast it, of course.
Spend the morning exploring the gardens of Fuxing Park in the French Concession district. You'll be treated to opera and theatrics by local performers, from the very young to the very old. Around the corner, continue your walk past beautiful period mansions and stop off at the former residence of Sun Yat-sen, modern China's founding father. That afternoon, make your way to Shanghai Museum in heaving People's Square. An impressive range of historical artefacts from the country's ancient civilisation are on display. That evening, take a thrill trip with the Shanghai Acrobatics School and Troupe.
China's ancient civilisation dates back thousands of years and has produced an exquisite array of priceless antiques loved by collectors the world over. On Dongtai Road there is an incredible store that is packed with ancient artefacts. Spend a full morning exploring this treasure trove of antiquity and purchase some souvenirs. That afternoon indulge in a Chinese massage – another famous export. Don't expect it to be soothing, the aim is to provide long-term relief through pressure, so expect your eyes to water a little.
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