Shang’high on Life

Shanghai promo art

Hello everyone!

Here it is, my Shanghai post (did you like my title?)! Check out this video if you’re too lazy to read on! Obviously, all the juicy details are in the actual post, but the video is a neat little summary for when you’re busy commuting or such;)

First off, a gallery of pictures from the trip courtesy of my lovely friend Raissa de Boer and myself.

Enjoy the gallery and don’t forget to read on for the good stuff! After the gallery, you will find the juicy details of my trip to Shanghai this June, and some tips and advice that will be useful if you travel there.

Photo Gallery

Shanghai June 2017

Picture 1 of 19

The History of Shanghai in a Nutshell

Until 1842, Shanghai, now a world-famous metropolis and business centre, was just a modest fishing village by the Yangzi River. After that, Shanghai was named a treaty port by the Brits and opened up to foreign investment.

Many of the city’s residents chose to live in foreign settlements, which caused a mixing of cultures and an openness to Western influence.

By the 1930’s, Shanghai was becoming one of the most important Asian ports and financial centres, due to large trading and banking companies setting up shop at the Bund (I’ll explain what that is later).

The city suffered under the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), as the Chinese Communist state took control of all previously private businesses. However, in 1976, the commercial revival began, and Shanghai started to thrive again.


Today, Shanghai is the 2nd largest city in China with around 23 million inhabitants. It is a modern and cosmopolitan city, known for its commercial and financial prowess.

Read more at the NY Times website and tripsavvy.

Chinese Visa Nightmares

I don’t take any responsibility for the accuracy of this and linked information, as I’m just writing from my own experience.

There are a few types of visas for China, but the ones that I am familiar with from this trip are the China Tourist visa and the China 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit (not technically a visa but you get the gist). I got the regular China Tourist visa from Spain since I didn’t qualify for the 144-hour one. To qualify for that, you have to be in possession of a confirmed seat for onward travel to a 3rd country or region, and be flying into China from a qualifying country (see more here).

Anyway, even though I had to pay €126 for the visa, I could pick it up 5 days after application at the Madrid China Visa Application Centre (bring ALL documents you might think relevant, even if it’s not stated in the description…they asked me for my bank statements even though this wasn’t a written requirement). I got through customs really easily, I just had to fill in an arrivals card, and a departure card when I left. You can change your travel plans after you’ve received the visa, since it doesn’t state your exact arrival/departure dates, nor the place you’ll be staying at.

shanghai century park

However, my friends got the 144-hour layover visa, since they were traveling on to Japan. Even though the application process was straightforward and getting through customs a breeze, you have to register at a police station or at a hostel/hotel you’ll be staying at within 24 hours of arrival. If you fail to do so, you’ll be charged a hefty fine (and who wants that…)!

We went to register, but didn’t know we needed the rental contract of the friend we were staying with. This was kind of our mess, but our friend had lost the rental contract! So we had a very grumpy policeman insisting on obtaining the original rental contract and facing a massive fine if we didn’t produce it. Oh yeah, and my luggage had been lost as well (good job, China Eastern Airlines…)! What a disaster!

In the end, we had a stroke of genius and booked a cheap hostel for my friends to get registered, but they didn’t stay there.

My advice, book a really cheap hostel so you don’t have to go through the police registration. They take care of it, and in the end you don’t have to stay there. Trust me, the money you pay is worth the emotional and physical hassle of the police registration!

Chinese Culture

5 things about China you didn't know infographic HC Lifestyle

‘Nuff said. I’ll be writing a post about cultural differences in social etiquette soon, so keep your eyes peeled!:)

Sightseeing & Shopping

Unfortunately, the weather in June was not the best for visiting Shanghai. There was a dense fog over the city for the whole week that I was visiting. That’s why the photos are all so grey. However, I still had heaps of fun! Don’t be fooled by the bleakness of the pictures. Take a look at my city essentials packing list to see what I could not have done without on this trip!

  1. Bund

shanghai bund

The bund is the riverside of Shanghai. From there, you can see the famous skyline of the city, so don’t miss out on that! I would just advise to avoid the rainy season (June-August). Some local taxi drivers advised that April-May is the best time to travel to Shanghai, since it’s not too hot yet, and rainy season hasn’t started.

Shanghai Bund HC Lifestyle

Walk down the length of the bund from Nanjing Lu (see next section). The tall skyscrapers you see on the other side of the river are very impressive, and the vantage point offers great photo opportunities!

shanghai bund helene choo

  1. Nanjing Lu (Nanjing Road)

Nanjing Lu is THE shopping street of Shanghai. It stretches for 5.5 km and is apparently the longest shopping district in the world!

nanjing lu shanghai

Luxury shopping malls, department stores, chain stores, independent shops, you can find everything your shopper’s heart desires here.

etude house shanghai

In addition to the usual Western brands (Apple, Nike, Zara, etc.), the street also houses Asian brands such as Etude House (South Korean). I guess you’ll just have to explore and see what treasures you can find!

nanjing lu shanghai

ports shanghai

nanjing lu shanghai

Nanjing Lu night shot Shanghai

I was only there a short time, so I didn’t get to do that much sightseeing. Check out my Shanghai Travel Guide for more places to see and things to do!


This was one of the best things about my Shanghai trip! I had so many amazing meals. Mostly I ate dim sum (since dumplings are my favourite, which you probably know by now).

shanghai dim sum

My personal favourite dim sum place was probably the one in the Mosaic Shanghai. I can’t read Chinese, but I photographed the name of the restaurant:

shanghai dim sum restaurant

They do have English descriptions of the food, so don’t worry! It’s an amazing little place, perfect for some casual dim summing (yeah, I just invented that!). 🙂

shanghai mosaic restaurant

They serve a modern twist on traditional dim sum, so they have exotic things such as truffle shrimp dumplings (the black one in the photo). The various shrimp dumplings are worth sampling, because they are the restaurant’s specialty, and they have a little menu detailing what each of them is!! My favourite were the crystal mushroom and truffle dumplings (no shrimp, on the right side of the photo).

shanghai dim sum mosaic centre

Then, I had another few awesome meals: Vietnamese (Pho anyone?), Hotpot, Chinese (non-dim-sum). Check out the wonderful food! P.S. not a pescatarian for this trip (I took a break)!

shanghai vietnamese food

chinese food shanghai

shanghai hotpot

For more about my favourite Chinese dishes and what to try when in China, check out my Shanghai food post!

That’s it! I hope you found this post interesting, and if you have any more questions about my experiences in Shanghai, please let me know, you know where to find me! 😉

And if you liked it, please share so we can spread the love!

Join the HC Lifestyle community!

Tired of searching for the latest food, travel, and fitness guides and trends online? Get it straight to your inbox! And so much more… No spam, I promise!

45 thoughts on “Shang’high on Life

  1. Woah, looks like quite a trip. And the food amazing. I’ve had similar visa troubles in Russia, a real pain, but then, most people from a lot of smaller countries have to deal with that going to the States and the EU, so I’ve learned to be patient.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, glad you enjoyed reading:) Yes, I completely agree with you regarding the visa stuff! It can just get quite annoying when people aren’t very forthcoming with helping travelers out…:(

  2. Wow, it’s changed since I was there 20 years ago! I had a root canal done in the #9 People’s Hospital. It looks a little swankier, but sadly, the air quality appears worse. I’d like to go back someday.

    1. Completely agree with both your points! I think it was a mix of natural fog and pollution… it was a great experience though:) thanks for your comment!

  3. Love the title! And the food looks absolutely amazing! I’ve never been to China at all, but its definitely on my list! Also, I love how you gave the history of the city along with your tips for visiting! Very unique was of sharing your experience!

  4. I´ve been wanting to go there for ages! But this year will be US, hopefully next I can go to Shanghai, it looks like you had a lot of fun!

    1. Yes you should definitely plan a visit to Shanghai if you can:) I did have a lot of fun, thank you!:) have a great time in the US!!

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback, appreciate it:) I did have a great time:) now on to the next adventures!

  5. Before going to China in 2011 I thought everything will be about eating but how disappointed I was when the chinese food I love so much was not serve in Guangzhou. It was totally different what I was use to! But then we had amazing chinese food in Nanning and Yungshou.
    And those dumplings!!! Ahhhh give me!

    1. Hahahahaha yeah the country is so massive, it has so many different types of food! Glad you found what you liked though:) hehe dumpling are the best!

Leave a Comment here, thank you!