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With a soaring skyline, an exploding population and increased global prominence, Shanghai has become a megacity over the last few decades. But it’s not all fast-paced and chaotic, says resident Emily Chu. There are also plenty of escapes from the city that make it worth extending your business trip for a day or two.
Shanghai’s culinary scene is one of the world’s most diverse, but for the true flavours of the city, be on the lookout for guotie (pot sticker dumplings), cong you bing (scallion pancakes) and the ubiquitous shengjian bao (pan-fried pork bun) on your walks around town.
Detour from Shanghai’s bustling city centre and take a day trip to the ancient town of Zhujiajiao. Here you’ll find narrow lanes, and traditional rice and spice shops lining canals criss-crossed with pretty bridges. Explore the area on a traditional wooden boat and, if you’re staying for the evening, take in an open-air Chinese opera performance (summer only).
The new Suzhou Village is just a 20-minute train ride from Shanghai and is known as the local answer to the UK’s Bicester Village. With over 100 international luxury outlet shops, from leading Asian brands to international high-end favourites, it promises to offer discounts galore.
The Shi Liu Pu cloth market is the place to go for a customised wardrobe. The four floors are filled with shops selling rolls of fabrics, piles of trimmings, hooks and buttons, with tailors ready to craft your bespoke pieces. Make sure to schedule a few fittings into your trip and don’t be afraid to haggle hard for a bargain.
The trio of skyscrapers in Lujiazui – the Shanghai World Financial Center, the Jin Mao Tower and the soon-to-be-completed Shanghai Tower (which will be China’s tallest building) – dominate the skyline of the Pudong New Area. The Shanghai Tower won’t open to the public until 2015, but you can travel up to its neighbours’ observation decks for spectacular views.
Film lovers should take Subway Line 9 to Songjiang Xincheng station, then a taxi to the Shanghai Film Park in Chedun. The studio is one of the country’s biggest, and was used for movies such as Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. Head to Studio No.5 at 10.30am or 1.30pm for a hilarious kung fu performance set in 1920’s Shanghai.
Metropolitan Shanghai will fade when you visit nearby Chongming Island, which is filled with verdant space such as Dongtan Wetland Park. Take a stroll on the boardwalk or rent a bike for a relaxing ride. Stop at one of the local restaurants for nongjia cai (farm-fresh cooking) made with the island’s produce, such as Chinese yam and cabbage.
Join the latest Shanghai dining trend, a private supperclub. The monthly Shanghai Supperclub brings together creative-minded patrons at random locations to mingle over a meal specially designed for the occasion. A great way to meet fellow Shanghailanders and catch up on the city’s latest gossip. Just sign up on the website – and wait for your invitation!