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13 Ways To Conquer Shanghai Like A Local

Eat, shop, and own the city. Book your next flight to Shanghai with American Airlines, nonstop from DFW Airport.

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Ricky Qi / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: rickyqi

1. Rise early for a morning stroll through the city. You'll see plenty of people practicing tai chi...

Wilson Hui / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: wilsonhui

2. ...as well as engaging in basically every other Shanghai pastime.

Courtesy of Angela Meiquan Wang
Courtesy of Angela Meiquan Wang

Chinese chess, mahjong, flute practice, dancing--Shanghai's public spaces truly are public.

3. Stop for a breakfast of jian bing.

AKA giant egg crepes stuffed with all kinds of glory, including deep-fried crisps or Chinese crullers, plus savory sauce and plenty of scallions and cilantro. They're found at street stalls everywhere and typically only cost 2 RMB ($0.30 USD)!
Aaron May / CC BY-ND http://2.0 / Via Flickr: acaaron816

AKA giant egg crepes stuffed with all kinds of glory, including deep-fried crisps or Chinese crullers, plus savory sauce and plenty of scallions and cilantro. They're found at street stalls everywhere and typically only cost 2 RMB ($0.30 USD)!

4. Or start your day with world-famous Shanghai soup dumplings.

No place on earth does these like the city of their origin. Delicate but springy skins, with incredibly flavorful soup and tender meat inside.
travel oriented / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: traveloriented

No place on earth does these like the city of their origin. Delicate but springy skins, with incredibly flavorful soup and tender meat inside.

5. Ride like a local — take the bus.

It only costs one to two RMB one way, and buses announce in both Chinese and English. Air-conditioned buses (which are beautiful experiences in Shanghai's subtropical summers) can be identified by an asterisk in front of the bus number.
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It only costs one to two RMB one way, and buses announce in both Chinese and English. Air-conditioned buses (which are beautiful experiences in Shanghai's subtropical summers) can be identified by an asterisk in front of the bus number.

6. Shop for trinkets and small necessities in the side streets of Chenghuangmiao.

It may be swarming with visitors, but you'll find plenty of locals shopping nearby. Navigate the side streets and slip into the multistory, crowded bazaars!
gigijin / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: gigijin

It may be swarming with visitors, but you'll find plenty of locals shopping nearby. Navigate the side streets and slip into the multistory, crowded bazaars!

7. Stand in line for mooncakes at Xinghua Lou or Sunya, Shanghai's time-honored Cantonese restaurants.

Courtesy of Angela Meiquan Wang

Mooncakes may be Cantonese in origin, but two Shanghai restaurants in particular have perfected the art of making the pastries over the last century. In the weeks leading up to the Mid-Autumn Festival, locals arrive in droves to await boxes of these delicacies. During other times of year, go to simply enjoy delicious Cantonese food in the dining rooms.

8. Stroll around the leafy streets of the former French Concession...

It's quiet, beautiful, and dotted with neoclassical architecture.
en.wikipedia.org

It's quiet, beautiful, and dotted with neoclassical architecture.

9. ...and window shop along Huaihai Road.

This is basically the Nanjing Road for locals. The 1.4-mile road is lined with hundreds of shops, most of them upscale. Pay attention to all the extravagant bridal shops on this street!
Mike Beltzner / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: beltzner

This is basically the Nanjing Road for locals. The 1.4-mile road is lined with hundreds of shops, most of them upscale. Pay attention to all the extravagant bridal shops on this street!

10. Experience younger, hipper Shanghai at Tianzifang.

Narrow streets crowded with tiny artisan and vintage shops and delicious street food.
Michael Vito / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: michaelvito

Narrow streets crowded with tiny artisan and vintage shops and delicious street food.

11. Snack on another Shanghai favorite: shengjianbao.

They are essentially soup dumplings, but slightly less delicate, and PAN FRIED. Amazing.
Jeremy Keith / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: adactio

They are essentially soup dumplings, but slightly less delicate, and PAN FRIED. Amazing.

12. Take a brief break from the pace of the city by relaxing in one of Shanghai's many green spaces.

Shanghai is home to a number of lush parks, many of which are quiet and uncrowded. Try Shaoxing Park, Guyi Garden, Guilin Park, or Jing'an Park.
Courtesy of Angela Meiquan Wang

Shanghai is home to a number of lush parks, many of which are quiet and uncrowded. Try Shaoxing Park, Guyi Garden, Guilin Park, or Jing'an Park.

13. And ease back into Shanghai culture by stopping by Metro City Plaza.

This is definitely a landmark for locals, and the focus here is once again shopping and food. Metro City's greatest attraction might be the massive food court on the top floor, which serves nearly every kind of Chinese cuisine imaginable. To die for.
Michael Vito / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: michaelvito

This is definitely a landmark for locals, and the focus here is once again shopping and food. Metro City's greatest attraction might be the massive food court on the top floor, which serves nearly every kind of Chinese cuisine imaginable. To die for.