What should I do during a 12-hour layover in Shanghai?
November 28, 2015 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Me and one girlfriend have a layover at Pu Dong airport (yuck yuck yuck) from 7:00 PM to 10:30 AM. We're wondering what to do, and whether it's safe to roam around Shanghai all night.

We're into wandering in and out of shops, especially bookstores, reading in coffee shops, Instagram-worthy weirdness, eating big meals, and drinking in super-chill bars. So we were thinking Nanjing Road, and then maybe the French Concession at dawn, via taxi before taxi-ing back to Pu Dong. But that itinerary is totally based on Googling.

So do any current or former Shanghai MeFites have any better ideas? What do you guys think?
posted by everythingyoudoisaballoon to Travel & Transportation around Shanghai, China (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Shanghai is definitely pretty safe at night.

I visited many times throughout the years, though never lived there. not really into the bar/club scene, but there's a pretty big scene for that there and that's probably your best bet for stuff to do in the middle of the night that will be open. Check out a website like www.smartshanghai.com for current listings in English.

As far as bookstores go- there's not much if you don't read Chinese (from when I used to go there, may be more now), and the few English bookstores there are are pretty limited unless you want to look through books about studying Chinese language, or specifically about China (they'd have bigger collection that your average bookstore in the West). There's a pretty decent one on Fuzhou Rd. which is near the Bund (the riverfront) which is also worth a visit- not sure how late the boat rides go but those are pretty cool at night.

Most "traditional" Chinese shops and restaurants will not be open all night, though Nanjing Rd. will be worth going to and lots will probably be open late there- it's near the Bund. Not sure how much luck you will have with the French Concession late at night in terms of stuff being open.

I would also go to People's Square early in the morning (also in area of Nanjing Rd/the Bund) to see tai chi and exercises and maybe dancing- also the China awakens early, with breakfast stalls and activity starting around 6, and it will be pretty fun to walk the streets then for a bit before getting back to the airport.

some of my info may be a little outdated, but have fun!
posted by bearette at 2:36 PM on November 28, 2015

I left Shanghai three years ago, but a lot of my friends are still there, so I think I'm mostly up to date. My recommendations are: 10 minutes to gawk at Nanjing East Road, 10 minutes to take a skyline photo at the Bund, then to the French Concession area for dinner and drinks. Smart Shanghai is good for bar and restaurant reviews. I was never into the club scene, but it's my understanding that Amber Lounge is the current after-hours spot. Stumble out in the morning, get a real "egg roll," watch people doing tai-chi in the park, then taxi back to the airport.
posted by bradf at 3:12 PM on November 28, 2015

I spent some time in China last year, including flying in and out of the Pu Dong airport, and really enjoyed it! Your layover actually sounds like a really cool opportunity to get a tiny taste of Shanghai. I'd make sure to create a plan well before you go since; while public transportation is awesome, it can take a while to get places with long distances and lines at the train station or into the subway were very long. In a different city, we had to wait over an hour for a cab in a line of hundreds.

As you probably know, you'll need a visa even for a short visit. If you already have one for China, you're set. However, if you don't, you can get a permission for 72-hour visa-free travel. You can read up on the requirements and process here.
posted by smorgasbord at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2015

Plenty of good food etc if you can get across the river to The Bund
posted by eusebis_w_adorno at 9:08 PM on November 28, 2015

... which you can, easily, from the airport via the metro.
posted by Rash at 10:01 PM on November 28, 2015

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