Shanghai and Beijing are two of China’s most famous cities, and it’s not hard to see why. Each offer some incredible sights to see, but there’s so much more to China outside of these places.Xi’an, Hangzhou, and Suzhou are three cities. I travelled to Suzhou for work and it was one of the amazng trips I have been on. If you are going to China but don’t speak Mandarin don’t worry you can still have a great time and not get lost. P.S I did get lost once for a few hours, thanks to DiDi(equivalent of Uber in China).
Before your trip
- Setup your phone with apps: Google offline translate with Chinese dictionary downloaded , DiDi, offline maps,Alipay,WeChat(optional)
- Carry cash, AMEX, VISA most international cards just won’t work and it save you a lot of pain. I will recommend carrying around $2000CNY for a decent 3 week long trip, unless you plan to splurge
- If you are vegetarian pack alternate sources of food, dry fruits, rice cakes, nut butters, smoothie mixes, noodles
- Carry a windbreaker, gloves and comfortable shoes
- A good backpack will save you from a lot of trouble if you are like me and enjoy exploring a city on foot
- Have flashcards with addresses of your hotel , work etc written in mandarin and printed out. Keep it handy in your jacket or wallet
- Subscribe for international roaming or get a chinese sim, phone and internet connection is not optional
- Pack some snacks you can carry when you go sightseeing, its possible you wont find anything to eat for many hours
- Plan ahead, don’t just throw caution to the wind, most places are open till a certain time of the day
- Instead of a hotel book a apartment with a kitchen to save yourself some $$$ and enjoy tasty food
What did I do?
I carried food but I didn’t portion it well and ended up finishing it all towards the end of my trip. I stayed at Intercontinental Suzhou , which wasnt the best idea I beleive.I had a luxury stay with a 270 DEGREE view of the Jinji Lake. I also had a revolving futon and automated blinds for night and day.Yes I was pampered. The highlight would be this robot butler that came off quite unexpectedly one night.
Shanghai, the land of lush parks, crazy skyline views, delish dumplings, and cute lantern-adorned backstreets.
On the way to shanghai
While there are MULTIPLE WAYS to reach shanghai I recommend using the bullet train. The experience was really great and it was clean, not too crowded and took barely 30min to reach Shanghai from Suzhou.
The Old City God Temple of Shanghai
Traditional Chinese Evening Tea Talk
In China it is a common practice for people to hang out in tea houses in the evening. Western equivalent of meeting over coffee or chilling with friends.
Tea Pets and the right way to drink tea?
There are two kinds of tea that are popular , one being floral and other being dark or black tea. The darker tea has more tannin content in it and also more flavour. Floral tea is a good pick for someone who is new to tea. Tea is usually served with mochi, qumquat,candy on the side.I felt the qumkuat compliments the floral elements of the tea and ehnaces flavour.Not to forget its a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants. All in all a great evening snack. Tea pets are a cute addition to your tea table and they give our natural seasoned aroma of the tea , absorbed over several days.
You will be so lost if you came here without someone to translate mandarin for you. The staff does not speak English and sign language is all you can possibly do to communicate around here. Google translate fails to convert or even identify Ancient Chinese letters.
Thanks to Joanne for being a wonderful host and taking me around to so many awesome spots in Shanghai for the entire day. I really enjoyed chatting with you and learning about the Chinese Culture.
A trip to Shanghai is never complete without the cruise and a close up view of the neon lights over the skyline. The cruise costs about 100CNY and is about a 60-90min long. Totally worth it!
Carry gloves when you visit China in the winter months, I forgot to and this happened 🙁
Shantang Street, also known as Seven-mile Shantang, is a street in northwestern Gusu District, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China. Largely a pedestrian street which runs to Tiger Hill from Shiliu in the northwest of Suzhou. The southern end is lined with restaurants, fast food joints and shops selling everything a tourist might conceivably want.The night view is unparalleled in beauty and I highly recommend taking out a few hours to be here.One of the best places to buy souveniers.
You can take a boat ride(called Gondola) on the Grand Canal.This little gem is a ancient Chinese street . It was interesting to see some Chinese people live along the canal and not all live in the huge High rise condo buildings.
One travel tip to shantang street, its best if you go during the off hours because it gets crowded. Some of the lanes are narrow and there are lot of people.
China is known for pearl jewelery and I found some of the best collections in old town.
Words can’t do justice to how beautiful and serene old town, suzhou is.Untouched beauty!
Zhonghongxing Noodle Restaurant (Guanqian Street)
Well I am a foodie and I wasnt going back without a bowl of Hefu Noodles 🙂 The restaurant is in a great area for a post-meal stroll around the shopping streets.
Suzhou Museum is a great work of moder art and a must see when you are in the city. What works best is that its close to a lot of garden.You can see a lot in a single day. I covered most of these places over the weekend.
Hope you enjoyed my photo essay on China, stay tuned for more.Share your thoughts in comments or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org