Next up in our city guide series, we’re featuring one of our favourite places in China – the country’s biggest city, Shanghai. A sprawling mix of old and new, and also a global finical hub, the city has so much to offer, and with a population of over 24 million, there’s lots to see and do.
We had a chance the visit the city and see a lot of what it has to offer, including some of the best new restaurants (and some older yet popular staples), streetwear shops, as well as some museums and sights. Below are some of our favourite places we visited a few months back.
Doe Shanghai, No.78, Tongren Road, Jing’an District
If Instagram has taught us one thing, it’s that coffee and sneakers go together perfectly. Doe Shanghai is one of the cities coolest emerging brands and their two-floor space on Tongren Road perfectly showcases that. They’ve got a coffee shop brewing local pour overs and cortados downstairs where you’ll find sneakers from a curated range of brands as well as hats and sweats from their namesake label while upstairs a wider range of products are featured including pants, jerseys, varsity jackets, custom bikes, and more. Definitely worth a drop by.
Shanghai might be land of xiaolongbao but there are also quite a few excellent modern cafes including Commune Social. Open for lunch, brunch, and dinner, this romantic spot in the Jing’an District serves up beautifully plated (not to mention tasty) modern tapas with excellent cocktails on offer as well. Definitely leave room for a couple of desserts – this is an area they excel!
We found so many great cafes in Shanghai, but at Egg Shanghai, toast is king. If you’re a little bit jet lagged and you missed breakfast, you’re in luck, because they’re always serving a slew of amazing breakie options here. From ricotta and avocado toast variations to breakfast tacos and shakshouka, you can pretty much put an egg on anything at this cute cafe.
The Backroom, 144 Fumin Road Shanghai
We fell in love with The Backroom’s amazing window display before we even walked inside. Inside you’ll find a heap of super cool girl accessories including Building Block bags, Joomi Lim jewellery, as well as apparel and a handful of footwear. Head upstairs to their cafe for a quick coffee and browse through their curated selection of ceramics and home goods.
Tailor Bar, Fourth Floor, 2 Huashan Lu, Jingan
There’s no menus here, as the name suggests, the bartenders tailor each drink to the specifications of their customers. Located on the fourth floor just across from Jing’an Temple, you enter this bar through an unmarked elevator on the street which seems shady, but what’s any good cocktail bar without some kind of secret entrance amiright?
Farine Bakery, 378 Wukang Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi
When you’re tired of Chinese food, this super popular cafe in the Former French Concession is an absolute godsend. Get your French pastry and cortado fix around lunchtime and take in some sunshine on their outdoor patio.
Yu Garden, 218 Anren St, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi
Take a trip down to the Old City of Shanghai for the day to stroll through this extensive Chinese garden. While you’re there head over to Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant for your daily dumpling fix on your way to the City God Temple.
WIYF, 202 Wukang Lu, near Fuxing Lu
We stumbled upon this little ice cream window last summer when we needed a quick cool down from a day of wandering the steamy streets. The name stands for What Is Your Flavour, but with funky menu items like peanut and black currant and apple tartine, you might as well add an F in there too (what the fuck is your flavour). This craft ice cream stand only has a few options on offer and locals line up for hours to try them. If you happen to walk by and there isn’t a line, definitely stop and grab a couple scoops. You will not be disappointed.
Dong Liang, 184 Fumin Rd, Jingan Qu, Shanghai
If you’re looking to browse Chinese designers, Dong Liang is the place to go. This impressive multi-level concept shop is home to a wide variety of emerging local brands sure to impress any international fashion lover.
Yang’s Dumpling, Huangpuhui, 269 Wujiang Rd, Jingan Qu
If there’s one food we think about most when we think of Shanghai, it’s dumplings. Different than the delightful steamy delicate baskets you’ll find at most dumpling houses, Yang’s Dumpling’s are made in a large hot pan. They’re perfectly juicy and crunchy at the same time and come filled with all kinds of fillings including pork and shrimp.
Speak Low, No.579, Fu xing zhong Road Shanghai
Shanghai is not without its hidden bars and Speak Low is probably the most fun. Hidden behind a secret door in a bartending equipment shop, is a four-floor Japanese-style speakeasy each with its own distinct concept. Work your way up with a few drinks to the fourth floor for the most intimate experience. Try to get a seat at the bar so you can watch them prepare each drink and ask questions and often taste each ingredient (if you’re lucky). Fun fact, Speak Low is named after the cocktail mixologist Shingo Gokan used to win the Bacardi Global Legacy Cocktail Competition.
NikeLab, 58 Xinle Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi
No trip around the world is complete without a visit to your local NikeLab (that is if the city you’re visiting has one). The Shanghai iteration of NikeLab stocks only limited edition products and collaborations, and also houses an event space as well as a NikeiD consultation area.
This might be the most fun restaurant in Shanghai. Deceptive from the outside, Daliah’s has everything including a slide, (yes, A SLIDE) ever-changing decor, and super friendly staff (English-speaking is a bonus). Their menu is adorned with cats with lasers for eyes among other entertaining graphics and the food is super yummy. They have amazing smoothies, seasonal juices, power bowls, burgers and sweet potato fries and avocado toast to balance things out.
Little Catch Poke Cafe, 247-6 Wulumuqi Middle Rd, Xuhui Qu
If you need a break from dim sum head over to the Former French Concession for a fresh and delicious poke bowl. This perfect summer meal is great to take on-the-go or eat it out front with a frosty beer or soda. Be prepared to line up for this yummy bowl at peak times.
Shanghai Power Station Of Art, 200 Huayuangang Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi
One of the only contemporary art museums run by the state, the Power Station of Art is, as you’d suspect, housed inside a former power station. Inside you’ll find cool and often unsettling installations that intrigue and make for some great photo opps thanks to the super high ceilings and industrial vibe of the space. When we visited there was a giant castle made from hot pink cubes, a fry related installation, and much more.
If you’re looking for a design hotel that intrigues and invites, look no further than The Water House. Located on the water overlooking the Huangpu River, this converted warehouse dates back to the 1930’s and features a totally boutique experience. Gorgeous rooms and suites feature exposed brick walls, balconies, glass enclosed bathrooms and touchscreen control panels.
Be sure to visit their highly sought after restaurant even you aren’t staying there as well as their rooftop terrace for incredible views of the Bund.
Shanghai World Financial Center, 100 Century Ave, LuJiaZui, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi
Looking for staggering views of the city? Than look no further than the Shanghai’s World Financial Center in the Pudong district, which is the 8th tallest building in the world. While it’s a mixed use building with hotels, offices, it also has an observation deck on the 100th which has a 360 view of the city. Plan your visit on a clear day with good air quality for the best views and photo opps.
A lovely place to spend an afternoon strolling, People’s Park totally expansive. Located near one of Shanghai’s main shopping districts, the park is home to two art museums (Shanghai Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai), a breathtaking lotus pond, expansive winding gardens, an amusement park and even a weekend marriage market.
Gracie’s Ice Cream, Changle Road 613 Long No.25, 204, Xinzhuangzhen, Xuhui
Housed behind a cute little diner, Gracie’s Ice Cream is the perfect place for a sweet break while waundering around after a day of shopping. They’ve got cool flavours like Balsamic Strawberry & Buttermilk, Miso Caramel, Black Sesame & Honey, as well as other more traditional options available in cups or a variety of cone options like the black sesame one pictured above. If you look in the right place you might even to be able to find pints of Gracie’s flavours around the city in gourmet shops and restaurants.
Juice Shanghai, 832 Julu Rd, Jingan Qu, Shanghai Shi
Juice is one of Shanghai’s coolest streetwear shops, yet it maintains its cool factor by staying safely under the radar (no photos allowed inside please!). The three-story space houses apparel, footwear displayed inside converted lockers, accessories and much more.
Din Tai Fung, various locations
While this Westernized chain is actually Taiwanese in origin, the dumplings (called xai long bao), at Din Tai Fung are straight up additive. It’s no wonder this popular chain has so many locations around the world. Definitely make sure to visit this spot.
Blackbird, 2/F, 1 Wulumuqi Nan Lu, near Dongping Lu
This is probably one of the most instagrammable spaces in Shanghai, located on Wulumuqi Lu. The western inspired menu is a mix of bar food and tapas, as well a heartier breakfast dishes. Head over for lunch, brunch, or dinner and be prepared to wait (the bar is first come first served, so if you’re hungry be sure to hover there).