IF you have only two full days in Shanghai and would like to experience the essence of this vibrant city, here is our two-day itinerary to the city's top lifestyle and cultural destinations.
9am - Start your day from the former French concession, the most picturesque of Shanghai's neighborhoods. Grab a fresh croissant and a cup of latte at Baker & Spice on the ever-changing Anfu Road. The cafe is petit but it has become a popular hang-out for expats, locals and tourists. As you begin to wake up, feel the charm of the tree-lined sidewalks, old villas and restored houses along the road.
10am - After your "Parisian" breakfast, it's time to stroll in the best area of the former French concession. Starting from Baker & Spice, pass Wulumuqi Road and head west along Fuxing Road W. for two blocks to Wukang Road. Turn left and continue the walk to the impressive Normandy Mansions (Wukang Building).
Along the road, you will discover an eclectic shop - The Cottage Shop (170 Wulumuqi Road) selling vintage old-Shanghai style furniture and knickknacks on Wulumuqi Road and vegetable and fruit stalls which give a genuine neighborhood feel of the city. When you reach Fuxing Road W., the chaos of Shanghai morning disappears and a tranquil vibe awaits you.
Today's Fuxing Road W. and Wukang Road still remains relatively untouched by the frantic pace of the city. Several new places have sprouted up in this area, including a few clothing boutiques. It's always pleasant to walk and shop a little in Shanghai, then duck into a restaurant for a memorable meal.
Noon - For lunch, a ten-minute walk leads to Lost Heaven (38 Gaoyou Road). It's not a new restaurant but the romantic and exotic ambience makes it always a popular dining choice. The menu is inspired by a mix of influences from Yunnan Province, Myanmar and Laos. Must-try dishes include steamed cod with Yunnan black truffle and Yunnan wild vegetable cakes.
2pm - Head to Taikang Road. Despite it becoming very touristy lately, the road still has much to offer, playing host to fashion and lifestyle shops, bars and restaurants. The lanes which run off of Taikang Road form the popular Tianzifang. While tourists make up the majority of customers, there are actually a lot of hidden treasures making it well worth the squeeze. The maze-like alleyways and artsy ambience make it part of the fun. After touring inside Tianzifang, don't forget check the nearby Taikang Terrace, a complex of restored factory spaces that's shaping up to be an uber-stylish retail and dining enclave.
7pm - It's time to taste Shanghainese delicacies. Yin (2/F, 4 Hengshan Road) is one of the most popular fusion Shanghainese restaurants in town for entertaining guests. The ambience is classic and they have cut down on oil and never add MSG, so that guests can enjoy the flavors of the freshest ingredients.
10pm - After a good meal, it's time for a drink. Avoid the crowds in Bar Rouge or Mint, head to Mardi Gras tucked on the leafy Xingguo Road. The French restaurant has a sophisticated art deco bar/lounge on the second floor by night.
And they probably have the best cocktails in town, created by a dedicated Japanese bartender. Their signature drinks include Moscow Mule and champagne cocktails.
10am - Check one of Shanghai's local markets such as the Cang Bao Antiques Building or the South Bund Fabric Market. Cao Bao Building on Fuyou Road, which comes alive at weekends, features an astounding array of antiques and knick-knacks spread over its four levels. It's best to get there early in the morning and bargaining is expected. South Bund Fabric Market (339 Lujiabang Road) is another popular market as locals and tourists arrive seeking distinctive fabrics and tailor-made garments. The fabric market has a wide range of fabrics and some of the best tailors, all under one roof. No matter if you're seeking a copy of a couture piece found in a fashion magazine or a tailored outfit designed by yourself, they can do it for you within only a few days.
12:30pm - Now head to Pudong New Area for a decent Italian lunch at Matto Bar & Pizzeria (GF50 Super Brand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Road W.). Casually chic in its simplicity, the restaurant offers pizzas, made-to-order pastas, hot grill dishes and a great menu of drinks. The traditional Neapolitan pizzas contain buffalo mozzarella imported from Italy and only the fresh ingredients.
2pm - As one of Shanghai's fashion center, Xintiandi, an area of reconstituted traditional shikumen houses on narrow alleys, offers book stores, cafes, restaurants, shopping malls and galleries. Located on Huangpi Road, between Madang Road and Zizong Road, it is part of the former French concession and close to the busy Huaihai Road. Although this area is famous for its nightlife, wandering here in the afternoon sunshine can be very pleasant for both sightseeing and shopping. You can feel the vibe of old Shanghai through the architecture style and check out the most fashionable brands and western-style bars and cafes at the same time. Hit the place before the crowds arrive in the evening will give you sufficient time to explore the numerous boutiques and shops. After the walking you can indulge yourself at the newly-opened Optime Spa at Andaz Shanghai. Optime Spa offers a wholly personalized experience such as 90-minute Herbalist body scrub.
4pm - After the pure indulgence at Optime Spa, you may like to visit Rockbund Art Museum (20 Huqiu Road) for an art exhibition. At the north end of the Bund area, the former Royal Asiatic Society building has been restored and converted to the contemporary art museum. The Art Deco building itself is a great attraction, which was once the most influential venue for academic exchange and public education in the Far East.
6pm - Go to the Bund at twilight. The area runs along the west bank of Huangpu River on Zhongshan Road E1 is probably the most famous signature of Shanghai. The historical buildings lining the Huangpu River are well-known for their elegant Western architecture style. Get a close look at those fascinating buildings before night descends. You can also go to the riverside terrace to have an over all view of the Lujiazui skyscraper skyline in Pudong. Before a romantic dinner on the Bund, go check Neuhaus chocolate counter inside Bund 18. This luxurious Belgian chocolate brand marries the highest quality ingredients and the best craftsmanship.
7pm - Dinner at one of the fancy restaurants on the Bund. There are several new eateries opening up on the famous Bund. A stylish restaurant Capo inside Yifeng Galleria (5/F, Yifeng Galleria, 77 Beijing Road E.) is worth checking out, which is a modern take on the Italian rustic "cookhouse" concept. It is the latest addition to the JIA collection of award-winning hotels and restaurants. The meat-and-seafood-centric menu features prime cuts, grills, daily-fresh raw seafood, slow-cooked cocotte dishes, gourmet pasta and authentic Neapolitan pizzas.
10pm - A night in Shanghai never ends early and the famous Bund area is full of gorgeous places where you sip champagne and enjoy the ambience. For the glorious views across the Bund skyline, head to Sir Elly's Restaurant, Bar and Terrace at The Peninsula Shanghai. The exclusive terrace with spectacular views is ideal for al fresco drinks.
If you prefer 1930s decadence, step back into the days when Shanghai was the Paris of the East with a visit to Salon de Ning at basement level of this luxurious hotel.
Resembling an elegant drawing room in a private residence in Shanghai in the 1920s, Salon de Ning has an enchanting "clubby" lounge atmosphere, with purple velvet and scarlet leather armchairs, dark timber floors, and an art collection.