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Where to Go, What to Do in Shanghai

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

GETTING THERE: The major airlines offer connecting service between Washington and Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. Fares start at about $870, but most average about $1,200 round trip.

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WHERE TO STAY: For hotels with history, stay near the Bund. The 130-room Astor House Hotel (15 Huangpu Rd., 011-86-21-6324-6388, http://www.pujianghotel.com), the city's first Western-style hotel, has hosted such guests as Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein. Nightly rates from $88, or pay $117 if you prefer a celebrity room. Broadway Mansions Hotel (20 N. Suzhou Rd., 011-86-21-6324-6260, http://www.broadwaymansions.com), built in 1934, is a bit more updated and has appealing lobby-level shops; a fitness center; French, Japanese and Chinese restaurants; and a British pub. Rates from about $89 a night. To be in the middle of modernity, book a room in Pudong. Opened in 1999, the Oriental Riverside Hotel (2727 Riverside Ave., 011-86-21-5037-0000, http://www.shicc.net/english) is steps from the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the riverside promenade. Rates from $150.

WHERE TO EAT: Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (85 Yuyuan Rd.), in the Yuyuan Bazaar, has been rolling out dumplings and other Shanghai specialties for 100 years. Don't be scared off by the long line; the soup dumplings filled with meats or veggies are worth the wait. The bazaar also has outdoor concessions serving street food from around China. Dine along the historic quay at M on the Bund (5 Zhongshan Dong Yi Rd.), housed in an old shipping building. The menu caters to discerning Western palates with such dishes as mussel soup ($13) and suckling pig with sauteed potatoes ($38). In Pudong, the food court at the Super Brand Mall (multiple entrances, including 168 Lujiazui Rd.) is leaps beyond Sbarro. Options include New Age Veggie for meatless dishes, Ajisen Noodle for Japanese ramen, Fu Jun Korean BBQ and Banana Leaf for Southeast Asian dishes and, if you must, McDonald's and Pizza Hut.

WHAT TO DO: Stroll along the historic Bund, the scenic esplanade along the Huangpu River, then walk up East Nanjing Road toward the pedestrian plaza. Shop to your wallet's content. The street eventually leads to Renmin Square, a green space dotted with cultural institutions, including the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre (100 Renmin Ave.; admission about $4.40), which contains photos of the city from earlier centuries and a floor dedicated to Expo 2010. Other notable sites on the square include the Shanghai Museum, the Shanghai Art Museum and the Shanghai Grand Theatre (the show to see: the acrobats). In Old Town, find Taoist gods and rituals at the City God Temple (249 Fangbang Zhong Rd.; less than $1), which abuts the Yuyuan Bazaar and Yuyuan Garden (about $5), a 16th-century sanctuary covering five acres. For tea and pearls, go upstairs to Chen Shen Sheng's second-level store in the Yuyuan Souvenir Centre. 50 Moganshan Road Art Centre, on the street of the same name (near the Shanghai train station), features contemporary art galleries housed in warehouses. M97 Gallery (No. 97) specializes in photography and, through June 18, is showing works by Sun Ji, who focuses on the changing urban landscape. One of the stalwarts of M50 is the ShanghART Gallery (Buildings 16 and 18). On the Pudong side, see the sights from the observation deck of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower (Lujiazui Road). Price varies depending on decks visited; I paid $22 to go to the top.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration, http://lyw.sh.gov.cn/en; China National Tourist Office, 888-760-8218, http://www.cnto.org; Expo 2010, http://en.expo2010.cn.

-- A.S.


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