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Something different for a holiday

Shanghai, China

Qibao old town lines a canal and while rather touristy is still worth the visit to view the old buildings and many nice little museums that fill the area.

Shana Kongmun
Most people think to flee to the beach for their holidays but for those who want to try something completely different Juneyao Airlines, a Chinese charter airline, offers relatively decent priced tickets direct from Shanghai. The arrival time is quite inconvenient, getting in to Shanghai at 4 a.m. but at least the return time to Chiang Mai is a more decent 11 p.m., unless the flight is delayed, which mine was. However, the planes seem new, service is fine and they serve a snack on board.
I purchased my tickets through Standard Tour since the site is only in Chinese and the company doesn’t appear to have an office in Chiang Mai. Service at Standard Tour was excellent and the agent spoke English. Ticket prices start at around 15,000 baht depending on how early you book.
You do need a visa to travel to China but the Chinese Consulate General issued my visa quickly, please be aware that you need to have booked the ticket and the hotel before you apply for your visa.
Shanghai itself is actually very livable; far more livable than Bangkok in many ways. It wasn’t nearly as crowded as one would expect and the excellent public transportation system makes it very easy get around. The sights to see in Shanghai are many, from the lovely old YuYuan Gardens. I avoided the tourist trap of shops outside the gardens and chose, instead, to wander through the gardens with its lovely rock formations, bonsai trees and ancient buildings. This part of the city is still considered the “old city” and it shows. The gardens are best visited during a weekday I understand, as it can be quite crowded, like everywhere, on the weekends.
While Thailand is well known for the quality of its’ tailors, the South Bund Fabric Market is not to be missed, a one stop shopping destination for fabrics and tailors who can whip up anything you need in less than a week. Tailor made leather jackets, cashmere coats, suits, silk dresses, and the ubiquitous Qi Pao, the lovely Chinese dress, are all available and made to order. The vendors in the market in general speak very good English but, as with nearly everything in China, be prepared to haggle and haggle hard. Chinese vendors expect you to start low and then you slowly meet in the middle somewhere if you do it right.
Shanghai Museum is another “must see” for those interested in Chinese culture, with exhibits ranging back a few thousand years, the timeline of Chinese culture and civilization is astonishing. The exhibits are well labeled in English and the museum is free. Get there early to beat the crowds and gaze upon a Ming dynasty vase in peace.
The Bund (don’t make the newbie mistake, it rhymes with fund) is filled with wonderful old neo classical and art deco buildings that you can view from the riverside walk or stroll along the sidewalk and view the details up close. The riverside walk on the Bund is a must see at night as the buildings across the river, including the bulbous Oriental Pearl Tower (with skywalk!) and the Shanghai World Financial Center lit up along with many other high rise buildings and hotels. The world’s second tallest building is currently under construction there, the 632 meter Shanghai Tower, even though uncompleted, is a towering landmark. A daytime stroll along the Bund is also important so that you can see the gorgeous architecture of the buildings there.
The French Concession, with its old buildings, leafy tree lined streets and cute boutiques filled with one of a kind clothes from local designers is also a great place to stroll, stop in at the Shanghai Brewery for people watching and great micro-brewery beer.
Finally, there is the slightly kitschy but still lovely Qibao old town, easily accessible from the Metro, a lovingly restored ancient town along the canals, Qibao is a nice morning trek, be sure and pick up some of the lovely textiles locally made which made Qibao famous. Finally, return to your hotel via the amazingly well organized and efficient Metro system which not only has signs and ticket machines in English but even an app for your phone to help you plan your trip and train changes to take you almost anywhere in the city.
Be sure and take the Maglev back to the airport if you can, the 301 kph trip is a brief 7 minutes but great for those of us so used to being stuck in traffic!

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Something different for a holiday