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Guide to Shanghai: Things to do and how to do business in this Chinese city

Heading to Shanghai? Whether you’re there to do business or travel simply for sightseeing, we have tips from expat Lorna Campbell to help get you through your visit to Shanghai.

Name: Lorna Campbell
Job: Director, Lorna Campbell Consultancy
Nationality: British



One thing everyone ought to know about Shanghai?
It’s a huge city (population of over 23 million), very cosmopolitan, and it has an interesting variety of suburbs, with everything from the old city to crazy shopping and partying. Something for everyone.

How quickly can you get a visa?
I got mine returned within three days on the normal service. It’s S$90 for a British citizen.

Fastest way into and around the city?
Taxi or train. Both are easy. Just make sure you have the name of your hotel in Mandarin to help get you there.

When are the good and bad times to visit?
I’ve been in November and it was chilly! According to the locals, the best time of year is the end of July. Blue skies and warm with stormy clouds blowing through. I would advise packing plenty layers, as if you were going to the UK.

Hotels you recommend.
Crowne Plaza Shanghai Fudan. A little out of town, but excellent facilities, great service and cheaper than in the city. Also Hyatt on the Bund, for the spectacular views and everything at your doorstep.

What’s the dress code for meetings?
A real mixture – smart with suit jackets and casual/quirky depending on your industry. Women can get away with most styles.

Any cultural or business etiquette to be aware of?
The locals like to exchange business cards, and will try hard to speak English as much as they can. A little attempt to speak Mandarin on your part goes down well, and a smile goes a long way too.

You are taking a client to lunch or dinner, where do you go?
For dinner it has to be Lost Heaven in the French Concession. They have an outlet on The Bund but this is the original and best. I have never found Yunanese cuisine like it and the décor is fantastic – dark wood, thick velvet drapes. Very moody but good for all occasions and very reasonably priced. If you’re looking for a good lunch and are vegetarian, or happy to give it a try, the best place in the city (and possibly further afield in my view) is Gongdelin. Amazing creations like ‘fish’, ‘meatballs’ and ‘roast duck’ that could tempt any meat-eater.

Casual bars to go for a drink with clients where you won’t get hassled?
The Hyatt on the Bund has a very chic bar called Vue with a great atmosphere and views. The Peninsula Hotel also has quite an upbeat bar, predominantly full of local expats and travellers. Be prepared for entry fees and Singapore drinks prices so make sure you soak up the view as well!

Any unsafe areas to avoid?
I’ve never felt unsafe in Shanghai but you need to be aware of your belongings at all times, especially anywhere around the Bund. Lots of sticky-fingers around there.

You’ve got some spare time, what’s the must-see?
Make the most of your day by using the metro system which takes you to all the main parts of the city very easily. Go shopping along Nanjing Road, take a wander through People’s Square, stroll through the French Concessions and enjoy the little boutiques, get some culture at Yuyuan Garden, and walk along the Bund at night to get the full effect of the skyline in lights.

Gifts to take home for family and friends?
Head to the Hongqiao Pearl Market – jewellery galore at amazing prices (you can bargain on everything). Great quality pearls but lots of other options too.