I've pulled together some of my top tips for Shanghai - I've categorised each tip into time periods so that you can pick and choose depending on how much free time you've got.
0-2 hours: Avoid! Bund Tourist Tunnel - 10 minutes
Crossing the Bund can be done by boat, car or underground, but don't waste your time on the rather retro (read tacky) Bund Tourist Tunnel. The name is apt as only tourists would be crazy enough to spend their money on a underground fair ride that is more likely to cause an epileptic shock than any degree of amusement. It is however, the quickest way to cross the river if you are on the banks on the Bund (and it's rush hour so the tunnel is blocked). Give a try... if you really must.
Xian dan di - 1-2 hours
Ironically housed in the former offices of the Communist party, this beautiful refurbished part of town could be accused of being rather faux in terms of its connection with real China life... but it's there and it exists and it is part of Shanghai ex-pat life. The clean streets, the trendy restaurants and the outrageous prices probably tell you that you are in a place for tourists and expats, however, it's worth a look around and for a pitstop.
Go to Starbucks - 30 mins to 1 hour
I kid you not, some would accuse me of sacrilege but there is a reason... please bear with me. A lot of the Starbucks in the city benefit from sitting in the most prestigious and ideally located positions in the city for great panoramic views. My personal recommendation would be the Starbucks situated on the East bank of the river overlooking the Bund just opposite the Shangri-La hotel. Grab yourself a Chinese tea and watch the sunset over the river. The glowing fuzz of the city ahead will warm you before you retreat to your hotel.
Enjoy drinks over the Bund - 1-2 hours
A visit to Shanghai will not be complete without a visit to the historic 'Bund' district, the colonial waterside developed on the west bank of the Huangpu River. Many of the bars/restaurants (I recommend 'M on the Bund' - www.m-restaurantgroup.com/) offer expansive views over the Bund and the tall skyscrapers in the Pudong district. The food's not bad either! English and Chinese menus are available. Other nearby highlights include the old HSBC building (no longer housing HSBC) and Huangpu Park.
Stroll along Nanjing Road (to buy the other half a gift) -
Home to Shanghai's main shopping street so be prepared to be greeted by tens of thousands of people. The shops range from the local to international with department stores dotted along the way. Be sure to stop by one of the many snack stores to take on board some of the delicious buns or dumplings that make China famous. Be sure you check the custom regulations for transporting goods though, be particularly careful with any foodstuffs.
Enjoy a river cruise along Huangpu River - 1-3 hours
One observation you will undoubtedly make whilst travelling in Shanghai is that the river is bustling with life. Container ships, tankers, passenger boats all zip up and down the river at a hectic speed. Board a river cruise boat from the ferry terminal at the south of the Bund district. Here you will be able to enjoy a one, two or even three hour river cruise. Take care though... Shanghai like many other Chinese cities is prone to a spot of smog. Try and pick a clear day. Try Huangpu River Cruise (239 Second Eastern Zhong Shan Road, Shanghai - tel +86 21 6374 4461). Nearest station - Wai Tan
Sleep in the clouds - 8 hours
Nope, I'm not talking about your business class flat bed on the way back home, I'm talking about the ever impressive Grand Hyatt Shanghai. Based in Pudong it's close to the financial centre and closer to the airport. Ask for a room overlooking the Pearl TV tower or over the park.
Any visit to Shanghai would not be complete without tasting the famous Shanghai dumpling (Xiaolongbao). These delicious dumplings are also know as soup dumplings, as the dumplings are filled with (often piping hot) soup. There are different versions to the dumpling but most are filled with pork and soup. It is typically served with vinegar, ginger and soy sauce.The most famous dumpling shop is in Nanxiang Mantou Dian in Shanghai where up to 30 minute queues can snake through this pretty historic site.
Nanxiang Mantou Dian, Shanghai
Ask your hotel to write down the address in Chinese. All hotels (plus locals) will know what you are talking about!
Rather than lug your purchases around with you on your speedy business trip, why not pick them up at Gare du Nord right before Eurostar check-in? As you exit the Metro in the 'Magenta' part of the station, there's a small stall run by a chap from Provence, who dispenses great wine, cheese, pate and meats to those London-bound. Great for picking up some goodies before heading up to the Eurostar terminal.
Gare du Nord, Paris. SNCF says: France des Provinces Niveau -1 (Level -1) sous la verrière Transilien, face au couloir RER E
The understated Wallsé in the West Village is a great location - first-class food (with a Michelin star to boot) and an atmosphere that's convivial without being uncivilised. And once that's over, drinks a block away at the Spotted Pig are always nice.
344 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014 www.wallserestaurant.com
Great Asian restaurant steeped in New York cool, where you have a good chance of clapping your eyes on a genuine A-lister. Food, music and service all first class at quite reasonable prices. Amazing Kobe beef [again, reasonable prices], which is brought to your table with a steaming bowl of Miso soup, which you place the beef in to cook. A very imaginative cocktail menu, which includes the classy looking and tasty Nirvana. An all round great experience!
Madison Ave and 58th St. Manhattan
This restaurant is amazing. It is a mixture of American and Thai food. The best choice of vegetarian and vegan meals in a non-veggie restaurant I've ever seen. Everyone I have taken there has agreed. It is alway the first place I head for in New York.
RICE - Elizabeth Street between Bleeker and Houston and another one on the corner of Lexington and 27th or 28th Street.
When coming from London to NYC it'd be rude not to stay in The London, just to be able to confuse people back home. Lovely new hotel on W54th and 7th, perfectly located for an early morning jog round Central Park before meetings in the day, and real handy for 5th Avenue shopping and Broadway shows. Friendly staff and probably the best concierge in town. They also have Gordon Ramsey's restaurant there, and he does room service... so stick it on expenses and have a real treat.
West 54th St New York
A little hidden gem in Greenwich Village is Prune, a cosy neighbourhood restaurant that does the best brunch in New York, perfect for a Sunday morning in the city (yes some of us go there at weekends for business as well!) I've taken clients to this place a few times, and they're always impressed, as it feels like you really know the area, and feels like a real part of New York. It does get VERY busy for Sunday brunch so the earlier the better (I've arrived there before at midday on a Sunday to be told it was a 2 hour wait) - the wait however is worth it. This tiny little restaurant has a huge list of bloody marys and a delightful selection of brunch items which'll knock your socks off. I'm a big fan of their pear pancake. A little New York experience which may be small in stature but is huge on taste.
www.prunerestaurant.com54 E 1st St
Here are a few vegetarian restaurants in Manhattan that I've found worth the visit. Hangawi is a rather upmarket Korean restaurant serving only vegetarian food. The 'Emperor's Feast' is $35/person, but worth every penny (sorry, cent). The Chennai Garden is a vegetarian Indian restaurant specialising in South Indian food. I've taken numerous non-veggies there and no-one has ever complained. Good value for money, too.
Candle Cafe is a mostly vegan bistro on the Upper East Side. Very reasonably priced, although it can get crowded. Great veggie burgers and sandwiches.
Junior's in Brookyln, New York (Corner of Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue) is home to the original 'New York Style' cheesecake. Famous worldwide, if you are in the area, it's definitely worth a visit. After all, where better to get New York style cheesecake than in New York!
New York City is THE city, it's got its reputation and it's always the one place I'm excited about visiting. Every visit is different and the city is constantly changing, there is so much to do and see!
It's one of those cities that on your first visit can be pretty daunting, so I thought I'd pop together a couple of tips that can help you on your first visit.
Leaving or Departing the City
JFK is normally my airport of choice but there's really not much in it. The easiest way into the city is to jump in a yellow cab, it costs a $45 flat rate, plus tips and tolls. Upon making your way to the taxi line you'll be offered all sorts of bus and limo services, ignore them, it's only the cabs that are properly licenced for this. You can of course also book your own car, I do this for the return back to the airport using Dial 7 who charge a decent rate and use fairly new sedans.
New York has so many hotels, so find one that's close to where you're going to be based. I normally use The London, which is well located on West 54th street, not far from the park and Times Square. It's a lovely new hotel with one of the best concierges in town. It's also home to Gordon Ramsey's restaurant, which is perfect for that dinner on expenses... But if you're paying yourself, go at lunch time, same food, half the price. Yum yum.
You could write a book on the places to eat in New York… in fact, hundreds of books are already out there, but for my money the top places for a business lunch or dinner are: Gordon Ramsey at The London, The River Café in Brooklyn, Prune for Brunch in The East Village and The Spotted Pig in the West Village. The Spotted Pig is probably the best Gastro Pub in New York, and a perfect places for fans of meat! The River Café has a simple but beautiful menu and offers incredible views over the river to downtown NYC… ask for a window table. Gordon Ramsey I've mentioned above and Prune is a delightful little local place that does THE best brunch in the city in my view... Complete with a huge menu of Bloody Marys. Get there early though or be prepared to wait an hour or so. Just down the road from Prune is Katz Deli which is always rammed and a classic NY food experience - give it a go.
If you're not too busy then why not pick up a jogging map from your hotel concierge and take a run round the park to stay in shape. I also love going to the Top Of The Rock at the Rockefeller Building, giving you stunning views of the city and especially usefully in getting to know it in your head if you’re a first time visitor. You can see where everything is and get a rough idea of distances. 5th Avenue is probably your best place for shopping with plenty of places to visit, including the maddening Abercrombie and Fitch which will give you a headache. But you can get your stuff much cheaper from there than in the UK. Department store-wise I find Bloomingdales always serves me best. Don't forget to go shopping in the village as well, Spring Street has some classic locations where you can find the most random of things. If you get a chance to see a Broadway show, rock up to the TKTS half price booth in Times Square and get into a show on the cheap. Spring Awakening seems to be one of the best shows on at the moment. And if you're there on a Friday you can pop into many of the big museums for free, MoMA being a great one to kill a few hours in.
The best thing about New York is that there is always something new, and it's the one place I've never got bored in despite many trips. So make the most of it.
The new place for doing business is the Bandra Kurla Complex; the Grand Hyatt is five minutes away and is very good, with an Italian restaurant that serves excellent pizza. The area’s a bit grungy but the hotel has its own ten-acre plot and once inside it has everything you’d want – including faxes in the rooms and Wi-Fi.
There’s a restaurant called Indigo Colaba, which is just adjacent to the business district of Nairman Point, and it serves very good European food with pan-Asian influences and has a lovely ambience. It’s very popular, so get your hotel to book you a table.
For the best, fresh Indian food, try Mahesh Lunch Home on the Juhu Road. You can choose your own (huge) live crab and have it cooked in whatever way you like. All their fresh fish is fantastic. It's also very reasonably priced. You'll find it 100-200 yards from the JW Marriott, Juhu as you turn left out of the hotel.
Juhu Road, Juhu, Mumbai
Great food (lentil soup is amazing!) and incredibly friendly staff. Ask to meet Nemo, the owner - he can also arrange all your trips for you and if you need any shopping done, he's your man! A visit to Luxor without a visit to Smileys simply wouldn't be right!
Passport Street, Opposite Nile Palace Hotel
If you want to see a quiet and impressive part of the Great Wall, take a taxi to Simuatai (about two hours). Once you entered the Wall area, just before you about to climb on to the wall, walk through the wall and carry on the track for about 300 metres - you will come to the Dongpo Restaurant. It looks from the outside more like a shed but the owner is lovely and the Chinese food fantastic. An English menu is available, the owner will try her best to improve her English while talking to you.
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