We decided to book, through Viator.com, a guided full day tour of Shanghai as my husband had business to conduct so only had one day to really see some sights. It would also ward off jetlag, give us a good overview of the city and the guide could teach me how to use the metro for later exploring on my own.
Our guide (Lily) from Sunny Tours Shanghai arrived promptly at our hotel to meet us and we briefly discussed what we would like to see, and I explained to her that I would be exploring on my own in the coming days and asked if she could show me some things about using the metro.
We walked about 15 minutes for our hotel, the Renaissance Shanghai Pudong Hotel to the closest Metro Station, and once there she showed us the ticket machines, and then took me to the information desk to help me buy a 3 day Metro pass, so that I could get on and off the metro for the next few days without having to buy a ticket every time. The metro ticket machines have a button in the top right where you can select English as your language, and you just need to know which station on which line you are buying the ticket to go to. All the Station maps are in English too, which is great! We rode the metro, and the first place Lily took us to was Fuxing Park.
In the mornings Fuxing Park is a hive of activity with many Chinese retirees out enjoying themselves in various ways. We saw groups singing together, many people playing cards, doing Tai Chi, classical dancing in lessons and groups, and men playing with the Diabolo (Chinese Yo-yo).
It was so lovely to see them all being so carefree, social and generally having fun! They were friendly too, talking to us, smiling and if we had wanted to we could have just joined in and danced with them, it was very heart warming to see. There was also a lovely Rose garden to wander through.
After leaving the park, we walked through some streets of what is called the old French Concession area with tree lined streets and European style houses, noticeably different from the usual Chinese houses.
Lily had summoned a Chinese Uber, so next we were going to the Huxinting Teahouse in Old Town. To get to the teahouse we had to go through part of the Yuyuan Bazaar which is wonderful. All traditional Chinese buildings full of shops and restaurants. We went into a shop and up a level to a balcony that Lily knew about which gave us a lovely view over some of the Bazaar buildings with the more modern skycrapers in the distance.
Between the Bazaar and the Yuyuan Gardens is the Huxinting Teahouse which is over 400 years old. To get to it you have to walk over a zig zag bridge which apparently is designed to thwart evil spirits and so Lily said was good luck for couples!
We didn’t stop for tea at the teahouse, but walked past it across the zig-zag bridge of course, and went to the Yuyuan Gardens. Tickets are very cheap for the gardens but well worth it in my opinon, though the gardens really aren’t that big, the paths twist and turn in such a way that if feels like you pass Pavilions, pools full for Carp and shaded alcoves galore.
As you walk around the gardens make a point to look down at the path you walk on, as parts have beautifully intricate patterns, and also up at the walls and roofs as there are many fabulous dragons to see.
From the gardens we walked back through the bustling shops and restaurants of Yuyuan Bazaar. The shops selling Soup dumplings were doing good business and we were getting hungry, so we watched them being made for a few minutes then Lily said she would take us somewhere where we could try them for lunch.
We walked a short way to a shopping area with a restaurant inside called Shanghai Chic. Here we enjoyed a delicious lunch, including some Soup dumplings, which I have talked about more, and posted photos of in my food post for Shanghai. After lunch, our next stop was the Jade Buddha Temple which we traveled to by Chinese Uber car again.
After buying our tickets we entered and the first hall we came to was the Hall of Heavenly Kings with the 4 kings, Knowledge, Growth, All-Seeing and Protector of the Country.
The Jade Buddha Temple is an active Buddhist Monastery and was between 1918 and 1928.
All through the temple you see Monks praying or going about their business and you really do get the feel that it’s not just a tourist attraction and there are pretty red prayer ribbons and coins tied all over the place.
The highlight is the really large green jade Buddha, but no photographs are allowed in that Hall, so I can’t show you that one, but we were able to see a smaller Jade Buddha which for me was just as impressive.
To finish our day, we hopped back in a car and Lily took us to the Bund. The Bund is lined with older European buildings and in colonial days was the Wall Street of Shanghai.
Now it is a hub of trendy restaurants and upscale hotels and a great viewing area for the amazing skyline of Pudong across the river. There is a huge promenade to wander along taking it all in.
Lily took us back to our hotel in Pudong and we said our goodbyes. She was a great guide for the day, full of knowledge and information, but she didn’t over do it and was so easy to get along with. It was a perfect way to start our visit to Shanghai.
Date of visit; November 2017.