here has never been a better time to visit Shanghai.
Falling airfares and generous baggage allowances make the: “Pearl of Asia,” not only an affordable mini-break, but the ideal place to pick up bargains to sell back home.
Combined with the explosion of online traders, such as eBay and Amazon, it has never been easier to start a small business and have a holiday at the same time.
If you are looking for: cheap merchandise, affordable airfares, bargain hotels, exotic cuisine and a cultural experience – look no further than Shanghai.
Shanghai is a city of contradictions. Avant-garde architecture is a coins’ throw from decrepit housing; bicycle porters with inconceivable loads pass slick new Mercedes; pop-punk youths with wild dyed hair pass elders in silk cheongsam; and, in the world’s largest communist country – commerce is king.
Shanghai has a turbulent past. It was a fishing village until the British arrived after the first opium war in 1841. The French, and others, soon followed. Under international control, it grew into a major: world city, trading port and, den of iniquity. It has been incongruously described as the: “Whore of Asia” and the: “Paris of the East”. The vices of: drugs, prostitution, gambling, gangsterism and corruption were rampant until China’s Communists took over in 1949.
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Photos: Steve Cooke
Today, the vices are still evident, but to a far lesser extent; however, Shanghai’s trade is stronger than ever. Time magazine likened it to: “capitalism on steroids”. Goods worth nearly 300 billion dollars a year pass through its ports.
etting there and fact-file.
China Eastern Airlines fly non-stop and have airfares from £350. They give 30 kilograms baggage on all economy tickets. A travel-visa is required.
A single-entry visa costs £30 for U.K. and U.S. citizens and £20 for everyone else.
Shanghai is a 13 hour flight from London. One pound gets 15 Yuan. The time difference is +8 hours.
The journey from the airport to the city is the first sign Shanghai is special.
The MAGLEV, a magnetic train, levitates above the rails and flies in to town at 431 km/hr. It covers the 30km from the airport to the city’s Longyang Road Station in less than eight minutes. For comparison: if the same train operated between London and Paris, the journey would take about 50 minutes. The train costs 80 Yuan (£5.30) return when you show a same day international flight ticket.
From Longyang Road it is possible to take the metro into the city centre but, as taxis are so cheap, it hardly seems worth the effort. The thirty minute taxi ride to Nanjing Road costs around 50 Yuan (£3.30). It will make things easier if the name and address of your hotel is written down in Mandarin. Ask at the airport information counter.
hat to see and do.
Most people head for Shanghai’s premier shopping precinct, the bustling neon-lit Nanjing Road. However, many of its shops have been turned into up-market western chain stores. A sure sign it is past its prime. Many of the same goods can now be bought for less than half the price at any of the metropolis’ many markets. Although, as a spectacle and a price gauge, it is well worth a visit.
The Bund is a long wide promenade that runs along the edge of the Huangpu River. The open expanse, with a thinner crowd, offers relief from the claustrophobic Nanjing Road. This is a pleasant place to view the neon silhouettes of Pudong’s skyscrapers, crowned by the Oriental Pearl Tower; a cross between Paris’ Eiffel Tower and a hypodermic syringe.
The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, under the Huangpu River, costs 40 Yuan return (£2.70) and is both practical and dazzling. The journey to the other side is accompanied by a blizzard of laser lights and whale wailing sound effects. It’s what London Underground’s Waterloo and City Line would look like if a dodgy European discotheque were added.
here to eat and stay.
The best place to see Shanghai is up-high, and it doesn’t get better than the restaurant on the 30th floor of the four-star Panorama hotel. The Oriental Pearl Tower will give you good views, but why spend 150 Yuan (£10) on a view alone. For the same price, at the Panorama, you can enjoy the superior vista back towards Pudong’s futuristic skyline and have dinner thrown in. Your meal can also be leisurely enjoyed without the company of bus-loads of tourists. From the menu, I tried, and can recommend, the: “Fragrant Little Hot Fat Sheep.” The name says it all. The Panorama has rooms from £50, including breakfast.
Don’t limit yourself to ritzy restaurants. Exotic eateries await. China Tourism says: “There are over a thousand restaurants serving the famous 16 styles of Chinese food, such as Beijing, Sichuan, Guangdong, Yangzhou, Fujian”. Wandering the streets, you believe them. For a few pounds, plate loads of: eels, crabs, squid skewers or even a chicken-foot hot-pot are available from all manner of market stalls and side-walk restaurants. Admittedly, this may be unappealing to the vegetarians among us, but for everyone else: nip down a side-alley for a culinary adventure.
here to shop and what to buy.
Fashion Designer Giorgio Armani called Shanghai: the most exciting city in the world. Enthusiastic praise considering half the Armani worn in the city is likely to be cheap knock-offs. It is here that every brand under the sun can be picked up for a fraction of the U.K. price.
Walking distance from Nanjing Road, on the corner of Henan and Tiantong Roads, is the massive Qipu Lu Market. It is full of: clothes, bags, luggage, food-stalls, boutiques, fashion accessories, original designer goods and rip-offs.
It’s a market for locals which means, with a little negotiation, the best bargains are possible.
“Shanghai has opened a world of opportunity,” said Mia, a travel agent on holiday from the U.K.
She has bought silk cocktail & evening dresses for 100 Yuan each (£6.70) and Vero Moda wool jackets for 130 Yuan each (£8.70). She hopes to sell them on eBay for a 500% profit.
“I never thought about going in to business until I went to Shanghai,” she said.
ow to sell your stuff.
eBay is the world’s largest internet market-place. It’s an auction, the highest bidder wins. It has over 181 million registered users. People can bid for anything on eBay, from: offers to sleep under someone’s stairs, to: Versace gowns. Setting up an account is easy. Simply log-in to: ebay.co.uk and register. In addition, you will be asked to register with PayPal, an online payment provider. The bidding is done through eBay and the payment is processed through PayPal. You can start selling your items through eBay on the same day the account is set-up.
With large potential profits combined with the ease of selling goods, it may be worthwhile booking a ticket to Shanghai.
Just remember – take an empty suitcase.