Categories
China Travel

Oriental Pearl Tower Shanghai, China

The Oriental Pearl Tower OPT in Shanghai, China, is a television broadcast tower that is also a public tourist attraction.DSC07555

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In July 2016, I went with a group of people on a university trip, to visit the OPT. We got there around 3:30pm. It was the middle of summer and super hot. We spend around almost an hour waiting outside, the line went all the way around the OPT. Some people ended up leaving. When the actual entry to the OPT was in sight, we were relieved. Our group got our picture taken as they do in many tourist attractions, and then to my disappointment although understandable, that the line continued inside. The line was compacted into zig zag barricades.IMG_3496.JPG

In the end we waited from day to night, almost 3 hours (2 hours and 50 something minutes). Originally we were going to meet back down on the ground outside at around 6:30pm (we didn’t get in till then). It didn’t bother me much because I wanted to see the night scenery. From such high up, there really isn’t much to see except city scenery.

A few reasons why the wait was so long:
-July is school holiday time in China
-There were security bag checks inside and only 2 of them for the hundreds and hundreds of tourists
-There are heaps of people in China. HEAPS. Just search up “Golden Week China” online and be warned not to visit China as a tourist during Golden Week (around October 1)out.

So when we finally got up there, I had the opportunity to see the daylight scenery as well as night scenery. I stayed there till about 9 or 9:30pm.

Once we passed the security check, there was another line to one of several lifts. Being a circular layout, the lifts were in the center of the building and everyone lined up around the circumference of the circle, which is also lined with shops. Click here and here for a short video of the interior (filmed without a tripod while waiting so it’s shaky… just telling you in advance).DSC07566

After finally getting to the top, the view wasn’t so clear. This is what you will pretty much see unless it is a super clear day (preferably not in summer where the humidity is high. See how humidity affected night shots in my other post on the Bund or Waitan)DSC07588

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In this picture you can see the circular pedestrian walkway beneath the OPT which is raised above the road below. There were a lot of people strolling on this bridge and taking photos at night.DSC07586

For night photos, see below.

What you do here:
We went up to 263m, it had 360 degree views, minus the metal structures blocking some views. At the top, there are extensive 360 degree views of the city and the Huang Pu River, so people mainly come here to the top for the views and if you are into photography, photography of the city. Click here for a video of the observation level, here for views out during the day from the observation level, here for a (very shaky, gimbal-less and noisy so with incomplete narration) video tour of the inside of the top floor, where I show you the views, walk around the entire deck, and show you the souvenirs sold there.

There was a glass bottomed observation deck (259m) that only allowed people to enter when others leave, ie another line. I was lucky enough to get in without much waiting, probably because of the time. Click here for a video taken from the glass bottomed observation deck.

Apart from the views, there are also restaurants and shops on the lower entry floors as mentioned above, and a gaming level.

A note for photographers:
The tickets are sold depending on what you want access to. You can see the city around the OPT from the top sphere (the more spheres you want access to, the higher the ticket price). I would say this is a good vantage point for photography except that the structures outside the glass blocks the windows a bit, the glare of the glass might be a problem, and fog/smog/pollution might affect the clarity. So for photographers who are keen to come to the top, here is what I recommend:

-Plan your visit on  a clear day. Go soon after a big rainfall (the entire almost 20 days I was there, there was only 1 big rainfall. Actually there was only 1 time it rained.) What you see at ground level, prepare for an even more obscured view at the top if it is a summer and humid day.

-Prepare your equipment before you go so it is ready to go in case you want to leave at a moment’s notice. Bring appropriate equipment (lens, flexible lens hood, tripod …)

Here are some pictures (not post processed) that I took without a tripod, with an ordinary point and shoot:

What a difference night fall and bright city lights make.DSC07598

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This is the same Huang Pu river that you could almost not see through the haze during the day above:DSC07626

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This photo was taken from the glass bottomed observation deck below:DSC07621

There are different lifts for going up and down. The lift going back down takes you to the gaming level (98m) where you need to change to a new lift to continue going down.

DSC07660When I finally left the OPT, I ended up on the circular walkway. This picture taken from the circular overhead walkway around the tower. Click here for a short video taken from the walkway. The walkway is flat and easily navigated with wheelchairs and prams. However to get to street level you need to take the escalator, I don’t recall if there are lifts. Anyone that knows, please leave a comment.

Facilities:
The top sphere/level I first went to had toilets, a gift kiosk, a small information pictorial showing the the construction of the OPT over time, a free phone recharge place (no lockers, the cables are exposed so you need to stay there), pay to use binoculars and a small seating area.

The gift kiosk sold metal models of the OPT, post cards and crystal/glass models as wells as Chinese fans and other typical tourist souvenirs. There is a postal service so you can buy the postcard and send it from there, which is the ‘highest postal service in China’. However living overseas to China, the stamp fee was more than the postcard and ordinary post stamp itself, so I just brought the post card home with me in my luggage.

Note: This high up, the cell phone reception is not good, I had 1 voice call and it was not good. I did manage to receive and send 1 text when the voice call didn’t work.

Wheel friendliness:
There were signs that showed wheelchair friendly lifts and access. However the actual practical accessibility might not be so easy (but not impossible) overall. I have seen wheelchairs in the first level I went to, the path is circular and flat.

When we changed for lifts at the gaming level, we had to go down 1 flight of stairs however I am pretty sure there is a special restricted access lift for wheeled vehicles, like prams and wheelchairs. (Anyone that knows, leave a comment)

Also the observation deck had steps, you step down onto the circular wrap around observation deck from the inside. There are staff on the observation deck trying to sell photos and lots of people.

Recommended stay:
You might be able to get a few good pictures if you have good photography equipment and are lucky it is on a really clear day, if so, as long as you need. Because of the number of people there especially on the observation deck and the long wait, I decided to stay 3 hours. However there might be less people in months other  than July and October’s Golden Week. Also we went on a weekday (12th of July 2016) and there were still that many people. Just sayin’.

Personally I feel there is not much to do at this attraction other than to see the scenery from high up and take photos. If you have seen elevated scenery before (at other towers, or just anywhere) or are not interested in photography, you might not find this to be that special.

Ticket price:
The prices vary according to the level you want to go to, or the number of spheres you want to access. Click here for their official website. As a general guide, access to both spheres plus the space capsule and the exhibition hall cost around ¥220 per person, both spheres and the exhibition hall is ¥160, and ¥35 for the exhibition hall only without access to the tower. (Current as time of posting) The exhibition hall is on the ground floor and I feel, if you bothered to come all this way and line up, why go to the exhibition hall only? Can’t comment on the exhibition hall as I didn’t go.

Also the prices on their website is in Chinese Hanyu only, and it says ticket prices at ticket window prevails, so it could be updated at any time.

Something to note:
If you are a solo traveler like I was (I got completely separated from my group which I did not mind, since everywhere I go, I travel solo anyway and already decided to stay till 9pm), in my experience, people weren’t so willing to take photos for me. The people that did help were the tourists so I’d suggest you go for them, because in China, there are cases of purposely making someone liable for real/fake damage, so I suspect this is the case, as they are afraid they will break my camera and I (speaking Chinese) would blame them for it and make them pay. I actually had people say they don’t know how to use my camera or that they’ll break it. Maybe if you don’t speak Chinese, you’ll get a different response. Let us know if you had a different experience asking people to take photos for you in China, in the comments.

Getting here:
The closest metro stop is Liujizui, but we came by coach. Click here for a locality map that shows where’s what, and here for my guide to the metro in Shanghai. If you have already been here and have extra tips for us, I’d appreciate it if you could leave some in the comments for future travellers!

Click here for more things to do and see in Shanghai, or if you are ready to come visit Shanghai, try these affiliate links (what are affiliate links?)

Flights to Shanghai:
Jetradar.com

Accommodation options:
Hotels Combined
Booking.com

Car rental
Jetradar cars


Whether it is a flight or a hotel, international or domestic, if you travel a lot, or like my blog, or both, please bookmark this page and support my blog by using my affiliate links to make your next booking!

©All rights reserved for all content and photographs, usage on 3rd party sites are forbidden without permission. Photos are taken by author unless otherwise stated.

Categories
China Food Travel

Nanjng East Road and People’s square, Shanghai, China

When I was in Shanghai, I went out strolling/exploring by myself a few times. This is a short post on my experiences in Nanjing East Pedestrian Road and People’s Square/Park, places that I visited.

Nanjing East Pedestrian Road 南京西路步行街
This is a large vehicle-free (except on the pavement tram/train type rides) square lined with shops, restaurants and department stores. The nearest metro stop is East Nanjing Road. This area is full of people day and night. Outdoor seats are available.

Shops here sell clothes, silk products, and Shanghai specialty packaged foods. There is a shopping center that exclusively sells food.

Just an idea of what night time here looks like.DSC07803.jpg

This is the ideal stop for walking to the Bund.DSC07802There are a variety of high end department stores here. The above pictures show 2.

People’s square 人民广场
There are just so many people in China.DSC07794And you wonder why the cars don’t stop for the people. This is an ordinary day near People’s square exit 1. With the introduction of the second child policy, there will be even more people, even less jobs than currently and even more unemployed young people.

Anyway. People’s square (the actual square) is another pedestrian street that is lined with shops, department stores and restaurants. The closest metro stop is People’s square, I do not remember the exact exit number, but one exit goes straight to the street level here, in fact this photo was taken from the stairs of the metro exit.

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There are cheap food outlets as well as more expensive places. Click here for a short clip of the local area there.

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肉夹馍 Rou Jia Mo, a meat filled piece of bread, is a traditional Xi An street food, there are a few stalls here that sell it too. The bread can vary from soft white bun to a harder, flaky pancake as in this case. The meat is usually pork.DSC07789

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Yummy

IMG_3589During my evening stroll on a hot July night, I stumbled upon a small, green cylindrical kiosk selling Harbin ice cream, they had a small speaker on all night (and day I presume) advertising their ice cream in Mandarin, with  flavours including original, mocha, tea, and liqueur. Curious and hot, I decided to get an original one. Wow! For an ordinary looking ice block and coming from someone who doesn’t like dairy based ice cream, this was so good!! The original ‘cream flavoured’ ice cream was not too sweet which was perfect for me, and you can just taste the cream. I absolutely loved it, too bad I couldn’t go back for another one. If you see it be sure to try one. Unfortunately I didn’t quite take notice of where the kiosk was located, but try your luck asking a local where to find “东北老哈大板冰激凌” (okay, that’s quite a mouthful… just show them the text or the picture above), or just wander up and down the straight street until you see or hear it.

People’s Park人民公园
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People’s Park (人民公园) is more of a green parkland for locals, not really a sightseeing place for visitors and tourists. The elderly come here to do Tai Ji (yes, it’s Tai Ji not Tai Chi or Tai Qi… Also, it’s Gong Fu, not Kung Fu… and Dou Fu not Tofu) and others come to jog or stroll. It is quite a large park. This photo above was taken from exit 10 of People’s Square metro stop.

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But there is one (strange) spectacle to be seen here. On weekends, many local elderly parents of single adult children come here to attend “Dating Markets” (相亲会) to advertise their children’s profiles or to advertise a ‘spouse wanted’ ad on pieces or paper, cardboard, umbrellas, trolley bags etc, and to exchange information in the hope of looking for a mate for their (unwilling) children… without their children’s permission. These adults children are often annoyed at or embarrassed by such actions so never come here.

The ads contain basic profile information about their children such as age, name, date of birth, occupation and university they studied at, and requirements of the potential spouse. Reading them, one would think it is some sort of competition, some requirements are quite outrageous, like “[The daughter in law] must be pretty and kind”, “must have a car/house”, “be from a certain industry” and “must never have co-habituated with other people [of the opposite gender]”. Click here to read my rant, and check out the video here.

You can poke a little one-of-a kind fun here by also making your own ad or even attempt to introduce yourself to one of the parents there… it’s cheaper than online dating!

Food
Opposite the park is a food court where I visited with some friends. The name on the plaque in English is “Shima”. There is a really good variety of food here, far more and far better than any food court I have been in in Australia (I dare say this place has better and more interesting food than the entire Chinatown in Sydney). There are Xi An food, Shan Xi food, create your own stirfries, Korean food, Shanghai food, stirfries, spicy food, fruit juices, ice tea, soup, congee, noodles …

Unfortunately I don’t have too many photos but you can see a video of the food court and the location here.

The serving size and prices here are good and reasonable. It’s not a touristy place (no fast food here) but this also means no English menus (but there are pictures).  The food court is cashless so you need to get a top up card at the counter near the entry, load it with money and use that, you get back what you don’t use.

This is 凉糕 ‘liang gao’ or ‘cold cake’, a Sichuan dessert. I’ve had this dessert before in Guilin in Guang Xi Province. It is a cold dessert made from glutinous rice and served with sweet syrup and condiments like crushed nuts, as was in this one. I liked it so when I saw it here I had to get one! (By the way, that is a table spoon, not a teaspoon so it was quite big).

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Salt and pepper squid.DSC07799

You can also get Rou Jia Mo here, as well as other Xi An foods like Lamb Soup with Mo or Yang Tang Pao Mo (Mo is a type of bread). I am not a fan of lamb but this is a fun way to eat lamb soup, you tear the pieces of Mo and soak it in  your lamb soup (some places, it comes already in your soup).

The address of the food court is 258 南京西路 上海 or 258 Nanjing East Road, Shanghai. The closest metro stop is People’s square exit 10 or 11, across the road. The Chinese name is 食尚美食广场.

Click here for more things to do and see in Shanghai, or if you are ready to come visit Shanghai, try these affiliate links (what are affiliate links?)

Flights to Shanghai:
Jetradar.com

Accommodation options:
Hotels Combined
Booking.com

Car rental
Jetradar cars


Whether it is a flight or a hotel, international or domestic, if you travel a lot, or like my blog, or both, please bookmark this page and support my blog by using my affiliate links to make your next booking!

©All rights reserved for all content and photographs, usage on 3rd party sites are forbidden without permission. Photos are taken by author unless otherwise stated.

Categories
China Shanghai Travel

Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China

Shanghai Museum in Shanghai, China, is an ancient Chinese art museum in the middle of a modern city.DSC08362

Perhaps the exterior gives you an idea of what lies inside. The grand stone and concrete museum is guarded by several large sculptures of Chinese-style creatures in a moat-slash-water feature. With lights pointed at these snow-white sculptures, they must look magnificent at night.DSC08363

The interior is simple but grand.DSC08617

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This 4 level museum has a permanent exhibition on ancient Chinese three-dimensional objects: decorative items: bronze statues, stone sculptures and carved jade creations, and functional bronze productions: wine vessels and cups, food vessels, musical instruments and weapons. There are also temporary exhibits, when I visited in July 2016, it was an exhibition of bamboo carvings and paintings.

At a glance:
-Entry: Free
-Closest metro stop: People’s Square exit
-Exhibits: Bronze, Stone and Jade carvings and metal work
-Attraction Duration: 4 hours to see and observe every thing in detail.

See more details at very end of this post.

The exhibits start on the ground floor with the ‘Bronze Age’ or sculptures made from bronze on one side of the museum, and the ‘Stone Age’ or sculptures made of stone on the other.

Initially I planned to go straight up to see the jade carvings, and did not plan on staying at the museum long as I thought bronze and stone art would not interest me, however one look at the stone and bronze section had me hooked and I did not go through the entire museum in one visit (2 hours).

I am amazed at the level of detail the ancient Chinese managed to create into materials like stone and bronze, especially by hand without precision equipment and machinery.

This is a bronze statue, created in the Song dynasty between the years AD 960 and 1279. Just look at the beads.DSC08369

This is a stone carving, called the “Thousand Face” tablet. I counted, there weren’t actually 1000 faces but the detail is incredible. It was over a metre in height and about a metre wide.

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There was an exhibit on bronze dining ware. These weren’t your every day dinner ware. There were wine vessels and jugs used to serve wine, wine cups used for drinking wine, and food vessels where large quantities of food were held. These latter ones range from small to absolutely gigantic, remember that these were all made from solid bronze. The largest one there could easily fit a one year old, or act as a bath tub for a few babies. It made me wonder what the wealthy ancient Chinese used to eat.

The larger vessels were used by the very wealthy or in palaces for banquets, whereas the wine cups were more common. Amazingly, you can actually buy one (replica of course, but faithfully realistically ancient-looking) at the gift shop, if you can carry it and have the space in your luggage or at home.

Just kidding, they have a postal service there, but you’d still need a place to store it.

Obviously it started out much more modest. This is a modestly decorated wine jug:

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This is a food vessel. Notice the acrylic label near the top left hand corner for scale.DSC08388DSC08389

Here is another wine vessel. Just look at the relief detail.DSC08395

The picture above is the one on the very right in this picture below. Here you can see a number of wine vessels.DSC08397

This is a wine cask.DSC08400DSC08401

These wine cups are much smaller.DSC08410

Close up detailDSC08412DSC08413

This is a food vessel.DSC08451DSC08452 small

There was also a display of knives, daggers and spear heads in the weapon section.

This food vessel is quite a formidable-looking object.DSC08489

The base is part of it, not just a stand. Imagine lifting one of these when empty… then filled with food. And this wasn’t even the largest one there.DSC08490

Moving on to the Jade carvings exhibit.DSC08549DSC08550

This is a title deed for a piece of land. It is probably the most permanent contract to have ever existed and fits in the palm of your hand.DSC08552DSC08554

Although I do wonder what happened to the specified land and the owner.

Look at the detail in this hair piece.DSC08547

and the detail in this belt buckle. Look at it.DSC08568DSC08569

And this one. LOOK. AT. IT.DSC08570DSC08571

JUST LOOK.DSC08572DSC08573

They sure don’t make belt buckles like these today.

And this one-piece incense burner lid. LOOK.DSC08603DSC08604

Made no later than the 14th century. BY HAND.

This is a bamboo wrist rest, part of the special exhibition, with a Chinese ink painting carved into it.DSC08535DSC08537

Attraction info:

Click here to visit the official website for more information.

Who this is for:
If you liked the photos above or you like ancient art, you would like it here. It is not too crowded. Children are welcome, there are special activities that changes throughout the year, however these seem to be in Mandarin, educational and aimed at school aged children.

Getting here:
Address:
201, Ren Min Da Dao
Huangpu District, Shanghai

In Chinese Hanyu:
上海市黄浦区人民大道201号

The museum has 2 entries, a north and a south door. The closest Metro station is actually Dashijie, exit 4 (500m), and not People’s Square metro station like the website says. People’s Square is further because its closest exit, exit 1, is very far from the platforms, and will be well over 1 km walk from the station platform. Both will get you to the south door.

Entry:
Entry is free, no tickets are required, however at peak times there will be long lines. The first time I went was at lunch and there was no line and I was in straight away. The second time I went a about 2:30, I waited over 30 minutes, which was nothing compared to the queue at the Oriental Pearl Tower. Also they have a daily limit of 8000 visitors (which usually isn’t a problem, but good to know.)

As with any attraction in Shanghai, there are security scans to scan your bag. This is one of the reasons why the line wait is made longer.

Recommended Visit Time:
If you like museums and want to see things in detail rather than just walking by, 4 hours (not including queuing time).

Facilities
Click here for a video of the museum.

Click here for my Tripadvisor review.

The museum is well equipped for all visitors.
There are children’s strollers and wheelchairs for rent, and an items storage service for things like bags or umbrellas, although I am not sure about the cost, if any.DSC08364

There is also an audio tour guide rental. Each exhibit has a unique number next to a speaker logo. You can enter this number into you audio player to hear more information about it. The Mandarin one costs ¥20 with a deposit of ¥300, and foreign languages one cost ¥40 with a deposit of ¥400, or a passport.DSC08366

There are escalators and lifts as well as stairs. There are sit-toilets available.

Gift shop
There is a gift shop available on the ground floor which is connected with but separate to the museum (connected by a door but you do not have to go through the museum to enter the gift shop. This way you can go to the gift shop without lining up to enter the museum).
The gift shop is full of non-touristy things like Chinese-art gifts; books, paintings, ink and calligraphy sets, as well as touristy things like pencils. There are also replicas of the bronze dining ware. Photos are not allowed in the gift shop, but the Ding (large food vessel) replica was super expensive, in the order of ten thousands yuan. Talk about expensive souvenirs!

Food
There is a restaurant on the ground floor, opposite the gift shop, in the lobby. This is also separate to the museum. The food is somewhat expensive, and serves Chinese and some western foods like chips, coffee and sandwiches. If you need to have food while you are visiting, I recommend you eat first then go into the museum, otherwise you will have to line up again which would be problematic if the lines are long.

Food is not allowed inside the museum, but no one will stop you from eating in the lobby.

Tea house
According to their website, they have a tea house on level 2 which, sadly, I completely failed to notice when I went. The tea house serves tea and refreshments and is decorated in traditional Chinese architectural styles with Qing dynasty style timber windows and Ming dynasty style furniture.

As with all museums, flash photography is not allowed.

They open from 9am to 5pm daily, the last entry is at 4pm.

For more things to do in Shanghai, check out my other posts here, or if you are ready to come visit Shanghai, try these affiliate links (what are affiliate links?)

Flights to Shanghai:
Jetradar.com

Accommodation options:
Hotels Combined
Booking.com

Car rental
Jetradar cars


Whether it is a flight or a hotel, international or domestic, if you travel a lot, or like my blog, or both, please bookmark this page and support my blog by using my affiliate links to make your next booking!

©All rights reserved for all content and photographs, usage on 3rd party sites are forbidden without permission. Photos are taken by author unless otherwise stated.

Categories
China Food Travel

Yu Yuan 豫园 Yu Garden, Shanghai, China

You can now buy prints of my photos! More coming, stay tuned! Click here to view and buy my prints! Free postage within Australia!

Yu Yuan 豫园, (‘yuan’ meaning ‘garden’) in Shanghai is a traditional Chinese Garden and is also the name of the general area around it. Yu Yuan is a 10 minute stroll from Yu Yuan Garden Metro Stop. The garden entry fee is ¥30 but you can stroll around the lotus pond outside for free and pick up some tasty steamed buns nearby or dine at the famous Nan Xiang Steamed Bun Restaurant.

At a glance:

  • Around 10 minute stroll from Yu Garden metro stop
  • Garden entry fee is ¥30
  • Surrounding Chinese corridors ‘chang lang’ are lined with stores that sell ‘manufactured’ artistic product stores and restaurants
  • Lots of Chinese restaurants that sells Shanghai specialties – steamed buns, pastries, great for afternoon tea
  • Open air lotus pond and the walkway over it are good photo spots
  • Public toilets in the food court
  • Note there are no public seating areas

Yu Yuan area has traditional style buildings (but not necessarily actually historic) that house artistic stores selling art products like tea cups, decorative items like lamps and carvings, and traditional Chinese pastry/steamed bun/afternoon tea type restaurants (you won’t be finding Mcdonald’s or KFC here!), which overlook the lotus pond in the middle. Stroll through the crowd on the walkway over the pond for some nice photos. This area of the city is far better than any Chinese garden you’ll find in western cities (yes, Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney, I’m talking about you).

As you make your way to there from the metro stop, the area around it is full of buildings in the style of traditional Chinese architecture so you know you are around the area (click for a short video, opens an external tab) when you see them. It is about a 10 minute walk and I personally found it a little hard to find even though I went twice. (Hey they were renovating nearby and I had to take a detour). The thing to know about pretty much any old Chinese cities/towns is that, well … they are old.

So the streets are all over the place, from (newer) large roads to interweaving (old/ancient) small alley ways and so sometimes specific addresses in an alley way might be a little difficult to find but if you wander around, you’ll find it. These small alley ways often do not permit and are not physically accessible to vehicles, such as the Old Street in Jia Ding. While Google Maps app works, I’d recommend using the local maps to get around if you can use it, either GaoDe Di Tu (‘高得地图’, Di Tu meaning ‘Map’) or BaiDu Maps (百度地图) as they are designed in China specifically for China. Both are available as a free smartphone app or you can access them online, with verbal (in Mandarin) and visual directions given (the map is in Chinese though).

Once there though, all the lanes are organised into an orderly grid like fashion with easy to read signs. Follow the signs and you won’t get lost.

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There are addresses at the end of each alley way on the wall, and numbers on the wall outside the shops.

(Keep reading to find out more about Millions of Gourmet)

Anyway, so after winding my way to the area, there are plenty of things to see and do. I visited in July which is smack bang in the middle of summer, but being a summer person I didn’t mind the heat nor getting wet from the rain that day, which also provided me with some nice photo opportunities.

The area

Traditional style buildings

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The area is full of long Chinese corridors (长廊 chang lang) lined with new but old-styled rooms that sell Chinese arts and craft objects, like ceramic tea cups, more tea cups, bamboo brush holders, bamboo carvings, clay figurines, modern figurines and souvenirs, and lots of places to eat, from food outlets to sit in restaurants, fancy or not. The good thing is there are almost no cheesy touristy souvenirs to be found (except some magnets and toys directly outside the south entry to the actual Garden and some in a large crafts store). If you are a fan of t-shirts, there is a t-shirt shop that looks nothing like your typical touristy t-shirt shop. Choose a size and colour (white or black) and a design which they will print on your shirt for you. The T-shirts aren’t even poor quality wearable cloths used for printing lame designs. The designs are artistically drawn vector pictures of animals and people. Much better than any other cheesy tourist T-Shirts I’ve ever seen anywhere else. Unfortunately (and understandably) pretty much all of these shops don’t allow photographs.

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Luckily for you, here are some photos I managed to get:

Tea cups

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More Tea cups

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Beautiful glass and ceramic lamps plus an array of other things that I wouldn’t have a clue how to get on a plane without breaking it.DSC07475

Although one staff at a shop assured me that they are very familiar with overseas or interstate visitors and can package your item appropriately.

Bamboo carvings, as promisedDSC07726

Ceramic incense or skinny plant holders (ie, skinny Bamboo plant holders), tea cups, bottles, really just a whole bunch of pretty ceramic things that I would love but have no use for except dust collecting. Trust me, they’re a lot prettier in real life, can’t expect a camera phone to capture a good picture (Call me an old fashioned photographer who prefers a fully functional camera).IMG_3514

Maybe something like this:

Blue tea cup with a cute goldfish inside. Chinese art do not contain octopuses!

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Or this:

Green tea cup with a carp inside

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When the sun came out slightly and it was still drizzling:DSC07733

Ancient roof and ancient rain:DSC07734

Lotus garden

DSC07480In the very right of this photo you can just see some red, blue and yellow plastic umbrellas. These are part of the aforementioned kiosk, that faces one of the garden’s entry.

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You can buy fish feed at the little kiosk opposite the south entry to the Garden to feed the fish in the pond.

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Food

There is a very popular restaurant upstairs from the lotus pond called 南翔馒头店 Nan Xiang Steamed Bun Restaurant that serves lots of pastries and dishes, great place for an afternoon tea with friends or alone. I was very lucky to have been invited by friends to have afternoon tea there and it was really good and highly recommended.DSC07496
Entry leading to the restaurant

The people in the black uniform are police. They are around many popular tourist areas/high people traffic areas.

Prawn Xiao Long BaoDSC07485

Sesame pastriesDSC07488

Sticky rice-filled lotus root slices in syrupDSC07487

Tea and shao maiDSC07486

Brown rice shao maiDSC07482

Snow pea sproutsDSC07484

Curry pastriesDSC07481

Shanghai is known for its steamed filled buns, in particular, Xiao Long Bao 小笼包. A popular steamed bun around Yu Garden is the crab meat soup bun. These are quite large, about 8-10cm in diameter and as the name suggests, filled with crab meat mixed with pork, and soup. They are sold in a lot of places at Yu Garden, usually around ¥20 give or take a few Chinese Yuan. A little secret is this nice 2 level food court called Millions of Gourmet that is more like a buffet with a huge variety of food. When I say variety I mean variety. They have noodle soup, vegetables, seafood, meat, deep fried food, cold salad, soup, stirfrys, rice, beverages, steamed buns, pastries, cold food, plus an array of Chinese food that do not fit in any of these categories. They also sell the crab buns.

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The way the food court works is like a pay per serve buffet. Grab a tray, then walk along each section, choose your own ready-made dishes or choose for freshly made noodle soup, and pay at the end of the section. Each dish type is labelled with their price above the counter.

These signs above each set of dishes tell describes the dish name and price. I’m actually quite impressed with the organisation and signage.IMG_3520

Snails

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Chilli PrawnIMG_3517

Crab claw and steamed egg puddingIMG_3516

Crab steamed buns! Crab steamed buns are really popular in this area, lots of restaurants sell them and can vary between ¥18-25 each. These ones in the food court are cheaper and come in little plastic steamers with holes in the bottom for ventilation. The skin of the bun sticks to the bottom of these so if you aren’t careful when lifting it out, all the hot soup will leak out of the holes in the bottom. Best way to eat it is slowly from the top, poke a hole to let out the steam, and suck the soup with a straw they provide.IMG_3515

Pickled vegetablesDSC07729

This is a vegetable dish, called Bao Ta Cai 宝塔菜, or literally, ‘treasure pagoda vegetable’. It’s solid and crunchy like a radish but takes on the flavour of the sauce its in. This one is pickled but I have seen it stirfried in other places.

Sugar crystal coated fried pear.
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Assorted pastriesDSC07727

Highly recommend coming here with a bunch of friends so you can try a bit of everything. Also the food court has seats and tables, which the same cannot be said of the outside Yu Garden area. There are no seats around the Yu Garden lotus pond or shops unless you eat at a restaurant. This is probably where probably the only public toilets are available around this area.

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