China was always top of our bucket list and it really is an exciting place to visit. Once you get over the fact that all internet use is censored and there is no access to Twitter or Facebook and even accessing Google Maps can be impossible. Shanghai has to be one of the most interesting cities in the world. It’s superficially high tech and modern yet between the skyscrapers and malls are quaint markets and traditional Chinese temples. The city with a dense population sees flats built high everywhere, even into rock faces.
The Grand Hyatt stands tall in the prestigious 88-storey Jin Mao Tower, spanning the 53rd floor up to the 87th. The Grand Hyatt Shanghai was in the Guinness Book of World Records 2000 as it was once the “Highest Hotel in the World.” It’s conveniently located in the business district however a short walk to the Pearl TV Tower and metro.
Celebrating a birthday at The Grand Hyatt is unforgettable. There’s something rather dreamy about being so high up in the sky, that you are actually in the clouds. In reality it means sometimes you see the glorious views of the skyscapers from your room, and other times it’s just a foggy blur.
The rooms are beautifully appointed at The Grand Hyatt. Celebrating a birthday at The Grand Hyatt was marked with a deliciously, indulgent chocolatey cake which we can only imagine read Happy Birthday in Chinese.
City breaks are great for a celebration however we think a birthday requires a day of relaxation. So a spa day in the Oasis Club in the skyscraper was just what was needed. The spa is sophisticated, all marble from top to bottom, with a lovely pool with glorious views across Shanghai.
Back to exploring the city, The Bund Tunnel takes you underneath and across the river in a train. It’s no ordinary train. It’s a rather bizarre and you won’t really imagine it until you try it. It’s a small pod that whizzes you through a dizzying, psychedelic tunnel of bright lights and strobes.
It has a surreal, hallucinogenic feel with projections and floating clowns. Once you reach the other side, it’s here you will capture the best views over Pudong.
Language can be a bit of an issue throughout mainland China, so we highly recommend carrying a language guide and having the hotel write down addresses for taxis in Chinese. It can be tricky ordering food too. Be prepared to eat creatively with pointing and hoping for the best. It has to be said, the dining options in China are different to what we imagined. The flavours are not what we are accustomed to, and they literally do cook every part of everything. Being vegetarian doesn’t seem to be an option in China. However we did find some great Chinese places which were more suitable to a westernised palate.
Lost Heaven is a modern, stylish Chinese restaurant that’s lovely for any occasion and we found there was one in Beijing too. Din Tai Fung is the must visit spot for some dim sum. The speciality is xiaolongbao. Dim sum with a soupy centres is just so heartwarming. Din Tai Fung is great for dim sum and the open concept kitchen sees bamboo steamers piled high. It is affordable for locals and a popular haunt, that is great for a casual lunch.
There are lots of markets and temples in Shanghai. Interestingly one can contrast the old heritage of the City God Temple and the skyline of modern skyscrapers in the distance.
A day trip to Zhouzhuang Water Village from Shanghai is a must. Dubbed the Venice of the East it really is not to be missed as highlight of our entire trip. Cruising along the winding waterways of Zhozhuang on a Chinese-style gondola was just fascinating, as it dates back to 600 BC.
On route we visited China’s provincial delights of the botanical beauty of Suzhou’s gorgeous gardens.
China is known for the Silk Route, as for over 5000 years China has been renowned for it’s silk production. It’s definitely the best place to pick up beautiful silk scarves. Visiting a silk factory in Suzhou was insightful. Seeing the process of silk worms feeding on Mulberry trees, the harvesting, spinning, and weaving.
Shanghai is an exciting city to visit for a adventurous honeymoon, a birthday or a celebratory anniversary. The Maglev, otherwise known as the bullet train is a rather slick way to get around the country at speeds of over 300 km/hr.
Have you visited China before? What was your highlight?