Shanghai, with more tang

GUY WILKINSON
Last updated 08:14 19/12/2013
Shanghai
Silver John

SHANGHAI IS: Best experienced by getting in amongst it rather than just working through a checklist.

Shanghai
House of Travel
EAST MEETS WEST: It may sound clichéd, but the juxtaposition truly needs to be experienced to be believed.

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Known for its skyscrapers, ritzy cocktail haunts and sprawling shopping malls; China's most populated city also offers a host of less obvious attractions.

Here are some of the best.

WHAT Take a ferry ride.

WHERE For a local experience, catch the ferry leaving from Fuxing Road on the Puxi side.

Essentially Shanghai's version of Hong Kong's Star Ferry, it's a scenic jaunt taking in the ultra-modern skyline of Pudong and there's no time limit on how long you can stay on board.

For an affordable rock star moment, bring a bottle of champagne and a couple of glasses to the upper deck as night falls.

The iridescent blaze of neon creates a wondrous spectacle well worth the minor investment of a ferry ticket.

See shanghaiferry.com.

WHAT Visit an architectural wonder.

WHERE Once a slaughterhouse, 1933 is an art deco marvel recently converted into a cultural precinct in the Hongkou district. it was also used as a pharmaceutical company and storage facility before eventually falling into disrepair.

Renovations began in 2008 and the building now houses a collection of high-end stores, art galleries, restaurants and design and exhibition companies.

Constructed entirely from solid concrete, its central atrium contains a bizarre series of concrete air-bridges, once used as cattle ramps.

Like Communist Russia meets dystopian sci-fi, it's worth the visit for the building alone. See 1933shanghai.com.

WHAT Drop in on sneaker heaven.

WHERE A mecca for shoe fetishists, Culture Matters is the best place in town to snap up a cool pair of retro Chinese sneakers.

Located in the trendy French Concession area, there are more than 50 different brands on offer, including Warrior and Feiyue, firm favourites with expats and local hipsters.

For an extra RMB50 ($10) you can even have your own custom-made design emblazoned on your new pair. See fromsh.com.

WHAT Cozy up in a vintage oasis.

WHERE A short stroll from Jing'an Temple, L's Book Cafe and Wine is the former residence of famous 1930s Shanghainese writer, Eileen Zhang. Said to be her favourite writing venue - she completed many acclaimed novels here, including Love in the Fallen City - much of the stylish retro feel has been preserved.

Shelves are stuffed with books on photography, art and history - most of them for sale - while Chesterfield couches, antique chairs, delightfully kitsch wallpaper and a functioning gramophone in the corner complete the ambience.

A perfect spot for escaping the humidity with a good book and an iced coffee. 195 Changde Road cross West Nanjing Road.

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WHAT Unleash your inner Warhol.

WHERE Hands down, the city's most thriving arts district, 50 Moganshan Road (M50) is home to more than 120 artists, many of whom have opened their galleries, workspaces and studios for the public to explore.

Once a textile mill, its current incarnation took off in 2000 after local acclaimed artist Xue Song took up residence in one of the old warehouses. Peruse the galleries, pick up some artwork or just enjoy checking out the only remaining remnants of street art in Shanghai around the neighbourhood's surrounding walls. See m50.com.cn.

WHAT Pop in for a brew.

WHERE Until recently, Shanghai was virtually unknown on the craft brewing scene but all that is set to change. Inside the Kerry Hotel Pudong, The Brew House is an on-site microbrewery fast establishing a reputation for an award-winning range of beers.

Spearheaded by Kiwi brew master Leon Mickelson, the bar serves six specialty brews (and one cider) including an outstanding IPA and a spicy, orange-peel infused, Belgian-style wheat beer.

With the tanks displayed inside the bar itself, it doesn't feel like a sterile hotel set-up and if it's not too busy, you can ask for a tour.

See shangri-la.com/shanghai.

WHAT Take a psychedelic trip.

WHERE Instead of crossing the Huangpu River the traditional way, the psychedelic tunnel between the Bund in Puxi and the Oriental Tower in Pudong presents an unusual alternative.

Cruising inside a glass portal car, you can relive the '60s as a series of whirling projected lights depict anything from underwater scenes to volcanic lava or outlandish vortex patterns.

It's a little overpriced for the brief ride but kids will love every second. 300 Zhongshan Dong Yilu, cost 50RMB.

WHAT Be stirred (not shaken) by a view.

WHERE For a martini with a view, head to Char Bar on the top floor of Indigo Hotel, south of the iconic Bund area.

Overlooking the dazzling skyline of Pudong, Yu Gardens and the Bund, the outdoor terrace is the piece de resistance while inside; works from local artists complement the sleek decor.

Resident DJs host weekend nights and the adjoining restaurant and grill serves a mean wagyu eye-fillet steak imported from a sustainable Australian cattle ranch. See char-thebund.com.

WHAT Shop for vintage treasures.

WHERE Not far from the trendy Xintiandi district, Dongtai Road Antique Markets is arguably the best-known hotspot for vintage wares with more than 200 stalls peddling anything from art deco gems to deep-fried fish and insects.

Foyou Road stages an interesting Sunday morning flea market, chock-full of paintings and ceramics while Green Antiques, a 9000-square metre showroom is packed with rustic gems.

For quality vintage clothing head to William the Beekeeper or Lolo Love Vintage.

Green Antiques, 4877 Jiasong Middle Road; William the Beekeeper, 84 Fenyang Lu, near Fuxing Lu; Lolo Love Vintage 2 Yongfu Lu, Wuyuan Lu.

The writer was a guest of the Kerry Hotel Pudong and Jing An Hotel.

TRIP NOTES

 

STAYING THERE Kerry Hotel Shangri-La Shanghai, rooms start from RMB1850 ($367) for two people, plus 15 per cent service charge. 1388 Hua Mu Road, Pudong, Shanghai. See thekerryhotels.com.

Jing An Shangri-La, Rooms start at RMB1880 ($373) a night including breakfast. 1218 Middle Yan'an Road, Jing An Kerry Centre, West Nanjing Road, Shanghai. See shangri-la.com.

MORE INFORMATION cnto.org.

- FFX Aus

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