Skip to content

charmaine ng Posts

An Unconventional Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai

Sick and tired of the same ol’ guides to Shanghai you’re coming across on the internet? Why do they all recommend the same cheesy places anyway, do they all copy each other or something?

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - The Bund

The first time I went to Shanghai was back in 2012 for a university exchange program. I stayed in the city for more than three months.

But when I returned this year, I realised the Shanghai I knew is now a completely different Shanghai to the one today. What do you do then when you return, but have already seen all the tourist attractions?

I mean, honestly, these tourist attractions have now boomed into cash cows. Think Tianzifang, which was filled with genuine artists four years ago. Now? It’s a street full of big brands that have multiple stores scattered on every corner of the once authentic alleyways.

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Tianzifang
A chain store selling Moomin products in Tianzifang.

However, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t visit the major locations. By all means, please do, especially if you haven’t yet! Head to The Bund, check out the Oriental Pearl Tower, dance with the locals in Yu Garden.

For this particular guide to 24 hours in Shanghai, though, we’re gonna play it unconventional and trendy. So without further ado, here’s the Unconventional Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai.
 

8:00AM: Rise and shine

Good morning! It’s 8AM, the sun is bright and… my description ends here, because there is only one 8 o’clock in the day for me.

However, you’re on vacation. Stop wasting your time, whether you’ve just arrived at the airport after an overnight flight or have had a full night’s rest. Get out and explore the stunning city you’re now in.

In this guide to 24 hours in Shanghai, I’m going to begin with two recommendations for places to stay in during your visit.
 

AirBnB

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Minimalist AirBnB

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Minimalist AirBnB

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Minimalist AirBnB

Wake up in your perfect AirBnB – because who still stays in hotels today anyway? Your grandfather? Plus, you can pick your budget, your location, the type of design you like. This is the perfect minimalist AirBnB I stayed in, just minutes away from the town centre.

The AirBnB I stayed in can actually accommodate up to four people. How, I don’t know, because there is only a double bed and a smaller, side bed. But I only went with my boyfriend, so it was more than enough for us.

If you’re looking to save up, make sure your AirBnB has a kitchen space to cook. It’s always cheaper to eat in than out, though who’d want to make their own food in Shanghai? The streets are lined with dirt cheap grub.

Read more: Minimalist AirBnB in Shanghai for White Addicts
 

The Waterhouse at South Bund

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai

If you do have the money though, I recommend staying at The Waterhouse at South Bund. The stunning architecture of this boutique design hotel will get you up bright and early every morning. Guaranteed.

A former dockyard building and warehouse, The Waterhouse at South Bund has a history tracing back to the 1930s. Shanghai-based architecture firm Neri & Hu Design and Research Office restored the old constructions and transformed it into a truly unique space.

Read more: Forget AirBnB, You Need to See This Design Hotel
 

8:30AM: Morning fuel

But first, coffee. Oh, and food. Because what guide to 24 hours in Shanghai would be complete without food recommendations, given the affordable abundance of restaurants and cafés? If you can’t choose, I’ve narrowed it down for you.
 

Baker & Spice

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Baker & Spice Café

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Baker & Spice Café

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Baker & Spice Café

Known for its pastries, Baker & Spice stays true to its name and serves up a delicious, affordable brunch. And most importantly, it’s trendy as… ahem. It is a chain café run by Wagas, so you’ll have to make sure you visit the original branch on Anfu Road, which is arguably the most photogenic of their shops.

Baker & Spice has fresh baked goods made daily which you can buy for takeaway if you’re in a rush. But you’re on vacation, so sit down, grab a coffee, and people watch from your very Instagram-worthy seat.

Read more: 3 Instagram-Worthy Cafés You Must Visit in Shanghai
 

9:30AM: Visit a museum

“Culture is the air we breathe all around us.” – Josh Fox

Okay, I just googled “culture quotes” and picked the best one to sound smart.

There are two routes down this cultural path I’d recommend: seeing an exhibition at an art gallery and going to a museum. It all depends on what’s on and what you’re interested in!

I visited the Long Museum West Bund while I was in Shanghai. I was strapped for time, so my primary goal was to check out the architecture of the museum building itself. But you, you should get a ticket and explore the exhibition that’s on inside!
 

Long Museum West Bund

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai

Not to be mistaken with the museum of the same name in Pudong, the Long Museum West Bund is a stunning restored coal transportation wharf that houses one of the largest private collections in China. You can be assured you’ll be seeing quality art inside, as the founders handpick their exhibitions with the aim to promote cultural education in mind.

The bonus of visiting Long Museum West Bund as opposed to other museums in Shanghai is the stunning architecture. The project was shortlisted for the Design Museum’s 2015 Designs of the Year awards, making it the ultimate paradise for photographers.

Read more: Why You Must Visit Long Museum West Bund
 

12:00PM: See an art exhibition

When it comes to art, where else to dip into your inner artist than an art gallery?

My gallery of choice was very specific. I visited the Magda Danysz Gallery with the goal to see Charles Pétillon’s photography exhibition. It blew my socks off (and was very Instagram-worthy).
 

Magda Danysz Gallery

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Charles Pétillon exhibition at Magda Danysz Gallery

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Charles Pétillon exhibition at Magda Danysz Gallery

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Charles Pétillon exhibition at Magda Danysz Gallery

Magda Danysz has three galleries worldwide: in London, in Paris and in Shanghai. Charles Pétillon rotated his installation and photography exhibition, Invasions, through the three locations. Shanghai was the second stop, and at the time of Invasions’ showing, I was in the city.

It was everything I wanted in an art exhibition. It had a mixture of media featuring built structure and photography, demonstrated a deeper meaning tied to humanity and nature, and most of all? It was photogenic.

Read more: 3 Essential Ingredients for a Balloon Takeover
 

2:00PM: Go café-hopping

Oops, you’ve missed lunch now. But it’s fine since millennials and trendy people don’t eat anyway.*

Plus, you can grab a light afternoon snack at my next recommendations.

In continuation of getting cultured in our guide to 24 hours in Shanghai, what better way to experience the atmosphere of Shanghai than to visit their most trendy cafés? After all, coffee is an art. Step into a local youngster’s shoes and head on to these top three Instagram-worthy cafés in the city.

* I’m joking, I don’t advocate fad diets in any way. Please eat.
 

Aunn Café

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Aunn Café

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Aunn Café

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Aunn Café

Legend has it that Aunn Café offers one of the best cuppas in Shanghai. I can’t confirm that legend for you, unfortunately, because I’m not a coffee drinker. But if anything, the architecture of the café is enough to make you go there.

Spread over two floors, furnished with 3D printed chairs and designer lighting fixtures, the minimalist coffee shop is rarely empty even on weekdays. Hear it firsthand from me that a seat is worth fighting for just to enjoy the ambience of Aunn Café. Instagram to your heart’s content.

Read more: 3 Instagram-Worthy Cafés You Must Visit in Shanghai
 

Seesaw Coffee

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Seesaw Coffee

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Seesaw Coffee

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Seesaw Coffee

Wasn’t Aunn Café delightful? Well, there’s more to see at Seesaw Coffee. Opened by the same founder, this coffee shop is really something altogether when it comes to architecture. Make sure you visit the branch at Yuyuan Road. Seesaw Coffee has both an indoor and outdoor area for your choosing, but if it’s not raining or sweltering hot, you must choose to sit in the courtyard.

The main character of beautiful space is an unmissable spiral staircase that brings you upwards to the rest of Jing’an Design Centre, where Seesaw Coffee is located inside. It’s undoubtedly one of the most trendy spots in Shanghai for Instagram photos.

Read more: 3 Instagram-Worthy Cafés You Must Visit in Shanghai
 

4:00PM: Enslave your Instagram husband

In the late afternoon of our most upcoming guide to 24 hours in Shanghai, what better thing to do than to take advantage of the brief break between tea and dinner to take photos for social media? I mean obviously, you ain’t trendy until the whole world sees it.

Go grab your Instagram husbands, grab your Instagram wives, and let’s get snapping. If you’re travelling solo, a tripod does wonders. *wink*
 

SOHO Fuxing Plaza

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - SOHO Fuxing Plaza

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - SOHO Fuxing Plaza

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - SOHO Fuxing Plaza

When I visited the city, I took the time to visit two very unconventional spots that put the U in our Unconventional Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai. Two commercial buildings. Say whaaaat? Well, these buildings aren’t just office buildings. They’re sleek, modern and definitely contemporary when it comes to design.

SOHO Fuxing Plaza is my favourite of the two. Located at the Li Long-inspired site of SOHO Fuxing Road in the Huaihai central business district, the building stands tall and unmissable. You’ll know where the jaw-dropping photography hotspot is as soon as you enter the office tower. The lift lobby is really something altogether. Don’t I look like I just stepped into a sci-fi movie in the photos above?

Read more: 2 Photogenic Commercial Buildings in Shanghai You Cannot Miss
 

The Exchange SOHO

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - The Exchange SOHO

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - The Exchange SOHO

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - The Exchange SOHO

The second place to drag your Instagram husband to with your remaining time is The Exchange SOHO. Like SOHO Fuxing Plaza, The Exchange SOHO is also an office tower. The skyscraper is conveniently located in the core of West Nanjing Road’s central business district. No excuses for not going.

Again, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled to the future as soon as you enter the building. The designated photo spot is a few steps in. It’s a large-scale spiral staircase that reaches up to the banquet floors. Check out the location tag on Instagram for ways you can frame your photo. My snaps above don’t do the staircase justice because unfortunately, the guard wouldn’t let me up when I visited. 🙁

Read more: 2 Photogenic Commercial Buildings in Shanghai You Cannot Miss
 

6:00PM: Time to grub (again)

What’s that? Did I hear your stomach rumble? No wonder, serves you right for skipping lunch just to go café-hopping. Kids these days.

It’s six in the evening, so let’s move quickly before the office workers rush out for their evening drinks. Leave the traditional xiaolongbao for another day. Tonight, we’re going to eat good and feel good at the same time at a vegetarian restaurant that is all the rage right now.
 

Pure & Whole

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Pure & Whole

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Pure & Whole

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Pure & Whole

Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai - Pure & Whole

Post-dumpling guilt is no more at Pure & Whole, a plant-based restaurant in the Jing’an District.

Vegetarian or not, this healthy destination has been a hit with locals and tourists alike since its opening. The eatery has three branches spread around Shanghai, making nutritious dining within a modern setting a convenient option.

I went to the Yanping Road shop and spent ages going through the menu because everything sounded scrumptious. It was lunch time when I visited, so my Instagram husband and I both got set meals with drinks and appetisers. Our vegetable paella and detox salad were so good. Even though there was no meat in our food, we left the restaurant fully satisfied – stuffed, actually. We couldn’t finish our meals and had to grab the leftovers to-go!

If you’re still hankering after those dumplings, Pure & Whole does offer a vegetarian jiaozi. It’s filled with a plethora of vegetables wrapped in rice paper and served with cashew sauce. Much better than the streetside fake pork meat, am I right?

Pure & Whole
98 Yanping Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai
+021 5175 9822
http://www.pureandwhole.com/
 

9:00PM: Night night, sleep tight

So that’s about it for this guide to 24 hours in Shanghai. Walk off your food baby from dinner on the beautiful streets of Jing’an and have a safe return to back to your AirBnB, or back to The Waterhouse at South Bund. Get to sleep early. The real trendy youngsters may still be out clubbing or whatnot, but that’s enough unconventional activities for the day. For now, let’s play it safe and rest up for what’s to come tomorrow.

—–

Thank you for sticking by and reading this Unconventional Guide to 24 Hours in Shanghai! It’s longer than my usual blog posts and took forever to piece together, so I hope you enjoyed it. Please go through my entire Shanghai series (links below) for more details on each of the locations I’ve covered. If you have any further questions, feel free email me at charmainenyw@gmail.com or comment down below – I’m a quick replier!
 

Shanghai series:

FIND ME ELSEWHERE:
facebook / bloglovin' / twitter / instagram / pinterest / youtube

108 Comments

Fool-proof Lazy Winter Fashion Secrets from Me to You

Winter is approaching Hong Kong. While the cold has yet to settle, I’ve been gearing up for the chill that is to come. I get cold very easily and began using my heater weeks ago when it was still 20ºC! It goes to show over the last few years, I’ve developed a fool-proof outfit formula to counter the cold while looking halfway fashionable in the process. Today, I’m going to share my lazy winter fashion secrets with you.

Lazy winter fashion secrets

The outfit I wore to Opendoor Café + Courtyard is a typical example of my lazy winter fashion formula. The best thing about this simple set of rules I adopt is that it’s so versatile. Whether you’re glamming up for a sophisticated night out or tackling a morning hike up Dragon’s Back, my lazy winter fashion recipe is sure to fit.
 

1. Throw on an oversized jumper

Lazy winter fashion secrets

Pick a snuggly jumper or sweater. Throw it over a long-sleeved undershirt. Done. It’s that simple. Your jumper can be any colour you want, any material you want (preferably one that keeps you warm, though!) and any length you want.

I’m wearing a H&M baby blue jumper that is casual with a touch of girliness. When choosing a colour, I go for anything from subdued greys to bright yellows, though I tend to lean towards the duller shades. Anything works and best of all, you can adapt it to your clothing style!
 

2. Throw on a pair of leggings

Lazy winter fashion secrets

Step two: comfortable bottoms. You can always pull on your favourite pair of denims, but we all know that jeans hardly ever feel comfy. Plus, you want to even out your oversized jumper with form-fitting leggings.

If you’ve got on a patterned jumper, slip on some plain leggings. If you’ve got on a plain jumper, go for a crazy pair of statement leggings! And don’t feel the need to stick to black, you can experiment with all sorts of colours.

Also, feel free to go casual or go sporty. For my look, I wore a pair of black sport crops from Topshop’s IVY PARK collection. I got them at a huge discount during Cyber Monday and they are absolutely the best.
 

3. Throw on a pair of trainers

Lazy winter fashion secrets

The last step to our lazy winter fashion guide is to put on a pair of your favourite sneaks. If you’re dressing up for a glitzy girl date, you can swap them out for a pair of heels or flats. Similarly, you can exchange them for booties.

I always prefer comfort over style and I count my blessings every day that the trainer trend is still in. I’m wearing my trusty pair of Adidas Superstars. It’s a classic model that goes with any outfit.

—–

And that’s it, there’s my formula for lazy winter fashion. Stick to these three simple steps and you’ll never be panicking about what to wear. My favourite thing about this recipe is that there’s no need to even accessorise, which is perfect for lazy people like me – though you can certainly do so if you want!

Do you have your own dressing guide or your own set of rules for the cold season? Let me know in the comments!
 
See the outfit in action: This Is the Café to Go to for Fast and Reliable Wifi

If you enjoyed this post and want to check out my outfits before they even hit this blog, make sure to follow me on Instagram and subscribe to charmainenyw.com’s mailing list!

FIND ME ELSEWHERE:
facebook / bloglovin' / twitter / instagram / pinterest / youtube

20 Comments

This Is the Café to Go to for Fast and Reliable Wifi

Despite its close proximity to the University of Hong Kong, where I spent my undergraduate and postgraduate years at, I’d only been to Opendoor Café + Courtyard twice. I didn’t do a review the first time I went but you can find a photo I took there hidden in a blog post I published earlier this year. Recently on a whim, I decided to visit again. This time, I went with the aim of writing a blog post.

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

I’ve had plenty of experiences at cafés with poor wifi signal. The internet breaks constantly, the pages take forever to load, and some seats of the café aren’t even in signal range. But I knew for certain that Opendoor Café + Courtyard has always been praised for its reliable connection. What’s more, I was delighted when I sat myself down in the outdoor area. It was the end of November but already, Christmas decorations had been set up all over the café. The outdoor area even had a large Christmas tree. Everything looked super festive. It’s never too early for Christmas, right?
 

The Architecture

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard is located just a minute away from MTR Sai Ying Pun Station, facing Sun Yat Sen Park. The café frequently tunes in to Hong Kong’s community, beginning with the homey touch of the interior with artwork by local artists decked on the walls. It also rents out the two floors of its space for private events such music gigs, film screenings, birthday parties, office gatherings and my favourite, dog adoption days! The second time I went, there were puppies wandering all over the café and it was cutest thing ever.

The indoor area of Opendoor Café + Courtyard isn’t huge, but the layout of the tables makes for great seats. Private working spaces you wouldn’t expect to find are slotted into tiny corners of the narrow floor plan, for example, a tiny bar table facing the street. I personally really like this setup because when I work outside, I feel so self-conscious that other people are judging what’s on my screen (which I hate to admit that more often than not, is Neopets). The seating arrangements of Opendoor Café + Courtyard ensures total screen privacy, which is perfect for me.
 

The Courtyard

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

My favourite area of the café, though, has got to be the courtyard. After all, that’s what the coffee shop is named after! Like I’ve already mentioned, the outdoor space was decorated with festive ornaments when I went. But even when it isn’t all set up for Christmas, the courtyard is an attractive spot. It’s not only opened to fresh air, but it’s also covered, making it possible for visitors to chill on the deck even on a rainy day. And the best thing about the courtyard is the gorgeous mural on the walls which gives you something to admire while you chat away to your friends or have your tea.
 

The Food

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard in Hong Kong

Opendoor Café + Courtyard promotes its cauliflower fried rice heavily and does a whole range of cooked dishes, but as usual, I went in the afternoon so I decided on some lighter options for tea. For some reason, I really felt like tuna that day, so I ordered a Tuna Mayo Sandwich and a Nicoise Salad. The presentation of the food was nothing special as my orders were ready-made, but I’ve seen pictures by others of Opendoor Café + Courtyard’s cooked food and they looked much more spruced up. If you want something Instagrammable, get a hot dish.

While the sandwich was nothing special, the salad portion turned out amazingly generous despite its budget-friendly price tag. I swear, there was a whole tin of tuna fish in it! I have to applaud Opendoor Courtyard + Café for this. I hate portions for ants. There was also plenty of veggies in the salad to make it a full meal and not just a snack.
 

The Verdict

Like a lot of cafés I’ve been to, I wish Opendoor Café + Courtyard wasn’t so far from where I live. I can’t believe I didn’t visit more when I was still in school at HKU. That’s a total of four years I’ve missed for potential visits to this place! The coffee shop might be nothing special in terms of food but I do love the space for its hidden working areas. I mean, I really hate playing Neopets in public but I’m addicted to that website, never mind the fact that I began frequenting it when I was nine in 2003. Old habits die hard, okay?

Back to topic, though. If you’re looking for a working spot with fast and reliable Wifi – which by the way, not all cafés have – Opendoor Café + Courtyard is your place to go. Another café that gets a thumbs up from me!
 

Check out more in the Sai Ying Pun area:

If you enjoyed this post and want to be in the know about trendy cafés before they even hit this blog, make sure to follow me on Instagram and subscribe to charmainenyw.com’s mailing list!

FIND ME ELSEWHERE:
facebook / bloglovin' / twitter / instagram / pinterest / youtube

16 Comments