A Visiting Businessman’s Guide to Shanghai

Food, Things to Do — By Lauren Johnson on June 25, 2010 at 6:07 am

If you only have a few days in Shanghai, you’ll want to soak in as much as possible in the afternoons after your meetings or factory tours. To really enjoy Shanghai’s fast flavor and offerings, you’d naturally want to spend over a weak exploring the city and its surrounding areas, but since we know you are on company time, we’ll keep it to the highlights.

For souvenirs you’ll have to head to Yu Gardens, which was the ancient heart of Shanghai and included government, religious and shopping areas, all of which you’ll see remnants of as you buy your ‘I Love Shanghai’ T-shirts and fake jade chopsticks. Do your best to bargain as much as possible, keeping in mind that if you name a price that is too low the worst that can happen is the seller says no. Bargaining is fun, and it is a cultural must. People will think you a bit thick if you accept any first-quoted price. You’ll find entertainment, food, shopping and history all rolled into this compact area in Puxi. Any cab driver will know the location if you simply say, “Yu Yuan.”

For a taste of real Chinese cuisine you wont want to miss Di Shui Dong, which has great ethnic local Chinese (well, Hunan local). The price is right here as well, and you can find tasty beers to accompany your spicy meal. Because the food is so good, there is often a bit of a wait, which is well worth it. You can also call ahead and book a reservation (they speak English, somewhat). You’ll want to do this if your party is larger than four. Once there, take a look at the menu (which has pictures) and order in English when needed or point to the images you want to consume. The staff are friendly and are used to foreigners visiting the restaurant.

If you’d rather have Western food, Malone’s American Café is the most popular businessman hang out simply because of the location on Nanjing West Road, and because of the live music, sports TVs and drink menu. Everyone here speaks English, and you’ll be surrounded on all sides by other businessmen. However, there is hardly anything Chinese about the establishment.

For a bit more flare to your trip, take a brief stroll through Renmin Park (People’s Park) and then tour the Shanghai Museum. This won’t take long and you’ll have a general understanding of the local history as well as cultural history. Plus, when you get back to your home country you’ll be able to say you did something cultural in addition to shopping and dining for cheap. Of additional interest would be a stroll down Nanjing Road, which is the most modern street in Shanghai covered in flashing neon lights and hundreds of shopping venues. It is a fun walk, and if you are heading from Renmin Park eastward you’ll eventually hit the Bund, which is a great area in and of itself for a stroll along the Huangpu River. This is shanghai’s most popularly visited location and at night the boardwalk lights up, making it a real treat and a must-see for any avid photographer or businessman hoping to get a candid shot while touring the city.

Tags: bund, di shui dong, huangpu, malone's american cafe, nanjing Road, yu garden