I didn’t stay long in Shanghai and in fact it was a long layover before heading to Indonesia. Nonetheless, I feel that I should share my experience here separately and save Indonesia for another post as there was much to see even in a short amount of time (2 days, 3 nights).
China does have different rules around visas so make sure you are aware of them before heading there. Even Americans with a strong passport have to get a visa. They have a 24 hour, 72 hour, and 144 hour transit visas for short term visits. I went for the 72 hr for my stay. Here is a good source on countries this applies to and any other considerations you may have to take:
Be sure to take a look at the specific ports you can obtain these visas from. Shanghai obviously is on the list. This can be obtained when going through customs. There is a specific line and counter for this so make sure you end up there and not in another lane. It’s good to have your itinerary, saved to your phone and printed, to reference and hand over to the clerk to check over. *** As a heads up *** should your itinerary change within a week or two prior to you landing make sure you have the original itinerary as well as your correct up to date one with you. I had to go through this as China Eastern Airlines (whom my flight was on) is terribly slow at updating things online. As well, their customer service line is a pain to get a hold of, especially if you are English speaking.
In my case, my layover duration changed from one day to two within a two weeks prior to my departure. Of course, I had my up to date itinerary with me, but China Eastern Airlines did not update their flights right away and the desk had no record of my departure date even though my itinerary said otherwise. On top of that, the clerk attempted to contact China Eastern to no avail. He manually wrote in my departure date and sent me on my. Though this did cause me issues on my departure as they took me aside and made me wait while they confirmed with the clerk and contacted whomever else to insure I was no threat. If I had the prior itinerary easily available I believe it would have avoided a lot of trouble and got me on my way faster. Learn my tribulations!
Another thing to be aware of is you do have to report your stay to the local police department. Luckily, if you book at a hotel/resort or in my case Airbnb, they have you taken care of and will report your stay. Otherwise, if you are staying at a hostel or friends house, etc. then you would have to report your stay. I am not sure how strict they are with this but I wouldn’t risk it.
Once you get past the logistics of getting there and being able to stay then there is a lot to see in Shanghai. Just as any other large city there is plenty of shopping, food, museums, and historical sites to see. For me, I wanted to capture that iconic cityscape in front of the water and wanted to do so at night to see all the towers lit up. The area I am referring to is The Bund, famed waterside walkway with city views. The walkway follows Huangpu River and look out towards the city center business district.
This area is used to tourists from all over so there is a ton of food and shopping within the streets leading up to the walkway. During the day it is more reminiscent of any busy city, with people travelling back and forth from work and their daily routines. There is a ton of traffic, but luckily the majority of sights are within walking distance. Here are some of the sights around my Airbnb apartment. These encompass The People’s Square, Nanjing Pedestrian Street, and just the city surrounding.
Now, I only had a couple of days so I flew by these places, but I want to break it down for those of you looking to travel here for a longer stay. The People’s Square is a great central location with a big park to enjoy. If you want to check out some of the museums then there is the Contemporary Art Museum as well as the Shanghai Museum. I would see this as a good place to spend at least half the day if you throw in breakfast and lunch.
Nanjing Street is awesome! A ton of shopping so obviously crowds of people. This street doesn’t seem to sleep as there were crowds from early morning until at least 2 am in the night. Be wary of the street merchants though as they will quickly target any tourist with their questionable wares. Politely tell them no and move along. Nanjing Street is a direct line from The People’s Square to The Bund walkway. What I ended up doing was going there in the morning for breakfast, then over to the People’s Square where I stayed and checked out an indoor mall, then back to Nanjing Street for dinner and more shopping, and then walked over to The Bund to finally capture the city at night!
As you can see it is a light show in Shanghai. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower changes color throughout the night which is amazing. This night was pretty still with no wind so the lights of all the buildings just danced on the water. It was a quick trip, but I believe I made it worth it and created some great memories. Maybe I will make it back one day!