Hangzhou is ideally located an hour away by train from Shanghai. We left from the snazzy East Hangzhou train station. It felt more like an airport as it was very modern, full of restaurants, and even had proper boarding gates with ticket checks and security.
For a mere £7 we left Hangzhou in our comfortable economy seats and arrived an hour later in Shanghai. I still can’t quite comprehend the size of the city: 23 million. That’s nearly 4 times the amount of people in Hangzhou and London. Needless to say, only being there 2 days meant we saw a tiny subset of what the city has to offer.
We stayed in a centrally located hostel for a very reasonable price (one of the many highlights of travelling in low season). By the time we got to the hostel it was about 10pm, but with our stomachs growling we headed out for some food. We were in luck as we took a short stroll from the hostel and found an array of local restaurants and some great street food. We ate food and explored the city, marvelling at it’s modernity and size.
We were lucky enough to wake up on Saturday to sunshine and blue skies. It was the last weekend in October and was starting to get a bit cold, but perfect weather for walking around the city.
Our first stop was the Bund. The Bund consists of a street along the river where all the old financial buildings remain from the 1920s. Their architecture is contrasted as you look across the water to the new financial district, with buildings as high as the sky, made of glass, and radiating 21st century architecture. It’s an impressive sight and a great photo spot.
We continued to walk along and headed towards East Nanjing Road. On this Saturday, it was filled with both locals and tourists alike: shopping, eating, and drinking. We buy a coffee and sit down for a while, soaking up the atmosphere, and making a vague plan for the day (we often don’t plan these things much in advance). We continued walking all the way up the road and reached People’s Square and People’s Park. Both of which are lovely for a stroll around on a sunny day. There are museums and other buildings to go in but, in all honesty, we liked being outside and wanted to see what we could while the sun was still out.
Our next stop was the Old Town. The Old Town is home to many market stalls and what I would call some traditional Chinese architecture. The market and shops are bustling but we don’t attempt to use our Chinese haggling skills. Instead, we opt to go into Yuyuan Gardens. The gardens belonged to one of the old dynasties and is a labyrinth of little gardens with water, alcoves, and greenery.
As the evening was drawing in, we headed back towards our hostel (eating an unhealthy amount of fried chicken as we walked), and across to The Bund where the financial district was beginning to light up for the night.
After a nap and outfit change we went across the river to the financial district itself. Shanghai World Financial Tower used to pride itself as being the tallest building in Shanghai but has since been overtaken. However, it does have the highest observation deck so we headed up to the 100th floor to get some spectacular views of the city. Going at night was a great idea as the city lights up in an array of colours, and once again, you can see the new part of town contrasted against the old on the other side of the river.
Due to going up the tower quite late, we were saddened to find out that the bar was closed (why would they close it at 9.30pm!?). Instead we headed back across the river and found a couple of bars to have some drinks before calling it a night.
Shanghai has so much to offer and there is a lot of the city we didn’t see and explore. Given it’s close proximity I have no doubt that we will visit again while here. I have to say though, I really loved it.