Bright lights in New York of the East!

Ciaran Mulligan, aka The Fabulous Traveller, explored the bustling city of Shanghai

From the time I stepped off the Hainan Airlines plane from Beijing to this shiny new airport, to the time we left, I fell in love with Shanghai

Shanghai is like the New York of the East. (By the way, rumour has it Hainan Airlines will be launching direct flights to China from Dublin in 2018).

Our Hotel was recommended to me by Steve Williams in MSC Cruises and I can genuinely say I fell in love with The PuLi Hotel and Spa on Changde Street. Based on what can only be described as a Fifth Avenue district with designer shops, upmarket bars and restaurants, the Jing’an area is pretty cool and The Fabulous Traveller felt very much at home here.

The Urban Resorts PuLi Hotel and Spa is one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in, with plush surroundings, relaxing vibes, contemporary design and wonderful friendly staff. If you are visiting Shanghai, take my advice, stay in this FABULOUS hotel.

As well as as a spacious contemporary living space, you also get a complimentary free mini bar and complimentary access to the spa. The spa consists of swimming pool, massage jets, sauna and steam room. The gym is very well equipped for the body conscious and healthy traveller. There is a fabulous bar in the lobby called the Long Bar which also opens out to a really cool patio area over looking a water feature.

The PuLi hotel also has a fabulous Michelin star restaurant called the Pheonix with Chef Michael Wilson and after eating there I highly recommend you dine here. The breakfast in the hotel is in the same restaurant with a large selection of foods to meet every type of hotel guests tastes. The hotel is also right next to all the shopping area and has a metro station Nanging Road, right beside the hotel.

Luckily for us one of my staff, who is originally from Shanghai, was back home visiting and was able to take us around. The best way to travel around Shanghai is to take the metro which is fairly new and really cheap. Approx €0.50 for a one way trip.

We started by visiting the Shanghai Tower 188 storey building (Shanghai’s version of the Freedom tower) and to get there jump on metro line 2 to Lujiazui station. Unfortunately the day we went up it was cloudy so we only got to see down below every now and again. Despite the cloud we had great fun visiting and even tried the virtual reality experience where you are walking off the building… Nerve wracking but fun. Entrance is approx €15 but well worth the visit.

Our next stop was to try a very traditional Chinese lunch and well known restaurant Lvbo Lang that locals go to (normally very hard to get into unless reserved). Lvbo Lang was also frequented by the Clintons during a visit and Fidel Castro himself. The restaurant is situated in the old city guard district near Yu Garden. The decor is very basic inside but the quality of the food is excellent. Try a variety of dishes and experience real authentic Chinese cuisine.

After lunch we headed to the Yu Garden just few minutes away. This garden which is 400 years old is located beside The City God Temple, in the heart of the old city of Shanghai. The garden which is situated on five acres contains historic buildings going back to the Ming Dynasty and is really worth a visit.

When you exit Yu Garden in the old city of Shanghai you will find markets and trade stalls offering all sorts of goods and services. You could quite easily ramble around here for an hour or two.

That evening our host Yihua took us on a boat ride just as the sun set. We boarded our boat at Shiliupu Wharf near The Bund where you will find cool bars and restaurants on the waterfront. Our boat took us up the river for approx 45 mins where we experienced the amazing lights of the new Shanghai buildings in the financial district and surroundings. This was definitely a highlight and I would recommend anyone coming to Shanghai to do this boat trip at a cost of €15.Other places worth visiting is the Jingan Sculpture Park in the Jingan Distict. This park contains massive sculptures spread throughout the park with the largest being an urban fox. It’s free and is really worth a visit if you have some spare time.

Another worthwhile place to visit which is The Jing’an (Peaceful) Temple across the road from The PuLi Hotel which is over 780 years old despite reconstruction from 1984-1990. The gold rooftops can be seen from all around the Jingan temple area and don’t forget to throw some spare coins into the Grand Bell of the Ming Dynasty in the centre for good luck.

With so many new cool buildings popping up it is definitely worth checking out the rooftop bars for the odd cocktail or two. The top three rooftop bars in Shanghai for cocktails are Flair at the Ritz Carlton, The Roof at the Waterhouse Hotel and The Char Bar at Hotel Indigo.

There are so many restaurants to chose from in Shanghai including the Michelin star Pheonix in the PuLI hotel. In fact next door to the hotel is a very food emporium called Reef with five floors of restaurants including a fab Thai restaurant called Urban Thai. Other fab restaurants at the popular Bund Area in Shanghai on the Huangpu River are Goodfellas, Hakkasan, Mr & Mrs Bund and M on the Bund.

Shanghai is a wonderful vibrant city with both old and new cultures. This city will not disappoint and staying in The Puli Hotel and Spa will only enhance your trip here.

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Bright lights in New York of the East!