What to Do in Shanghai’s Pudong Neighborhood

Keren Su/Getty Images
Posted November 27, 2017

If there’s one city in the world that represents what the future holds, it’s most likely Shanghai, China’s most populous city

If there’s one city in the world that represents the future, it’s likely Shanghai, China’s most populous city (last count: around 24 million). The growth has been more dramatic than any other place in Asia, and almost overnight a forest of 150 office towers has sprouted in Pudong, the financial district, across the Huangpu River from the colonial-era waterfront. Suburban executives race to town on a new high-speed subway system and an expressway that plunges beneath the river, then shoots over the rooftops of old Shanghai. City dwellers live equally fast; they're packing the restaurants, pubs, discos, and galleries, with more opening every day. And striking new public spaces—the billion-dollar Pudong International Airport (with a 250-mph maglev shuttle into the city); Shanghai Grand Theatre, designed by French architect Jean-Marie Charpentier; Asia's largest library—just keep coming. But back to Pudong, as it’s here that so many travelers (both on business and those coming to see what all the fuss is about) choose to base themselves, with some of the best hotels in the city. While exploring the Bund, The French Concession and Jing’an is a must, be sure to take some time to discover what Pudong has to offer—start with these six places below.

The Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai, Pudong

Although Pudong isn’t known as a very pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, you almost don’t need to walk anywhere when staying at this 285-room hotel, as the property occupies the top floors of the 59-story, Cesar Pelli IFC Shanghai building (just a few steps from the city’s famous Oriental Pearl Tower), home to a massive new mall and entertainment complex. Shanghai’s glamourous 1930’s Art Deco era is the uniting design theme here, with plenty of lacquered and marbled surfaces. There are also sweeping city views over the Bund and the Huangpu River from floor-to-ceiling windows, oversized freestanding bathtubs and luxuries like Frette linens. The 55th-floor spa features 10 treatment rooms, a 24-hour fitness studio, steam room, dry sauna and indoor heated pool, all with those jaw-dropping city views. Don’t leave without making time for a cocktail at Flair, the hotel’s rooftop bar, where the outdoor space takes full advantage of its top-floor setting.

Jin Xuan

Fresh off of earning its first Michelin star this year (which makes it one of only 26 restaurants in Mainland China with the coveted distinction), Cantonese fine dining spot Jin Xuan is set to become the dinner reservation to score in Pudong. The panoramic city views (it’s located on the 53rd-floor of the IFC building in the Ritz-Carlton) compete for attention with menu items dreamt up by chef Daniel Wong, and might include exceptionally tender Australian stir-fried beef with mushrooms and oyster sauce, or a sweet-and-sour Spanish pork, served with fermented black garlic that’s been aged for 90 days.

IFC Shanghai

Shopping is a major pastime in China’s large cities, and Shanghai, fittingly, has some pretty spectacular malls—including this one in Pudong. The luxury outposts here include Burberry, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, plus a Clarins spa and a branch of high-end grocery store, City Super. Restaurant options range from Italian (Isola) to sushi (Haiku).

Marina by DN

On the Pudong side of the Huangpu River, Marina DM is helmed by Spanish chef Daniel Negreira and offers high-concept European fine dining with unobstructed views of the historic Bund architecture.

Shanghai History Museum

This is one of Shanghai's best-kept secrets. Displays trace the city from its raucous beginnings as a treaty port up to 1949. Old photos, a cobblestoned street, and sound effects—foghorns, trolley bells, clock-tower chimes—make the experience eerily real.

Cloud 9 and Club Jin Mao

The big predicament at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai is deciding which restaurant to visit. After drinks at Cloud 9 or the Piano Bar, one of the best choices is Club Jin Mao (dinner for two $100). The chef specializes in Shanghai cuisine (usually rich, sweet, and salty), preparing braised bean curd with hairy crab—roe sauce and pork dumplings flavored with crab roe.

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