We woke up early today as we had lots of attractions left in Shanghai to visit, starting with areas of the French Concession we hadn’t explored. Our first stop: Fuxing Park. This popular residential park is a nine-minute walk from Exit 6 of Xintiandi metro station (light purple line). Click here for directions.
The French Concession – Fuxing Park 复兴公园
As we entered the park, we were captivated by the unique and vibrant atmosphere.
On the sprawling green field in front of us, elderly citizens were juggling Chinese yo-yos and practicing tai-chi in groups.
On our left, a couple was dancing fervently to a Chinese oldies song, with a hip elderly man playing the drums and having some difficulties following the beat.
On our right, there was a group of Chinese elderly ladies dancing to Chinese folk music.
As we walked along the park path, we saw a woman belting her heart out on a simple Karaoke system with a old-school television set.
And all these bustling activities were happening within a European style park reminiscent of the French colonial period.
What a sight!
Within the park, there is also a children play area with a small train ride for kids. Towards the end of the park, there are two large stone statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
The French Concession – Sinan Road 思南路
Next, we made our way to Sinan Road, famous for its century-old plane trees. Click here for directions.
This road also houses the former residences of Sun Yat Sen and Zhou En Lai, prominent figures in China’s modern history.
The trees, lined up neatly along the road with their beautiful green foliage, was indeed a pretty sight.
The French Concession – Shaoxing Road 绍兴路
The third stop on our French Concession tour today was Shaoxing Road, a twelve-minute walk from Sinan Road. Shaoxing Road is a 450 metres street where you can find quaint cafes, art galleries, book stores, and clothing stores.
But it is best known as the Publishing Street, as it houses some of the city’s most famous publishing houses like Shanghai People’s Publishing House and Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House.
And like Sinan Road, this short road is also lined with neat rows of pretty plane trees with lush foliage on both sides.
Shanghai People’s Publishing House
Shaoxing Park – a tiny park along Shaoxing Road
We made sure to check out Number 96, a café along Shaoxing road. What’s so special about this café, you may ask. Well, it is known to be Shanghai’s best-preserved example of the shikumen (literally, stone gate) housing style, so named due to the stone door frame. Below is a picture of the café.
Vienna Café at Shaoxing Road
We had been looking forward to having breakfast at Vienna Café, a popular joint located along Shaoxing Road with many online rave reviews.
The café serves European/ Viennese style food and desserts, and aims to simulate the atmosphere of an authentic Viennese café. It is opened by an Austrian couple.
Apple Juice (RMB 25), Cappuccino (RMB35), Chocolate Banana Cake (RMB 35), Scrambled Eggs & Ham (RMB 38)
We ordered the Scrambled Eggs and Ham (RMB 38) and Chocolate Banana Cake (RMB 35), both which tasted great. The banana cake was soft and sweet with a velvety texture which we loved. Combined with the luscious banana slices, it made for a delicious afternoon treat.
We stayed for a while to enjoy the quiet and quaint ambience, before making our way to our final French Concession destination.
Sweet and velvety chocolate banana cake
The French Concession – Tianzifang 田子坊
So far, the French Concession districts we visited have been heavily-gentrified areas with their original charm somewhat disturbed by infrastructure developments.
Therefore, we were pleasantly surprised as we turned into the streets of Tianzifang, a short ten minute walk from Shaoxing Road.
Tianzifang is a lively enclave that has managed to retain the old world charm of Shanghai with its shikumen buildings and other original architectural structures.
Walking along the narrow alleys, we discovered a tidy sprawl of bars, cafes, restaurants, crafts shops, art galleries, and street food vendors.
The place is REALLY crowded, but it was fun to walk here and soak in the unique vibe of the place.
Café at 48 Tianzifang
We popped into a café at 48 Tianzifang to escape the crowds for a while. The café offers delicious desserts like Tiramisu and Mango Truffles in cute little glass bottles.
We bought the Mango Truffles. At 38RMB, the dessert was quite pricey and I was hoping not to be disappointed. As I took my first bite, my eyes lighted up. The dessert had a sweet and refreshing taste, with a luscious cream and chewy mango bits that had us swooning from the first mouthful.
Raevian and I finished the entire bottle in a hurry.
Mango truffles from 48 Tianzifang
Street Food at Tianzifang
As we continued to explore the streets of Tianzifang, we bought the famous 豆腐花 (literally, beancurd flower).
This Chinese snack is essentially beancurd served with soy sauce, sesame oil, acetes, seaweeds and spring onions. The various ingredients combine perfectly to form a savoury and delicious snack. This was one of our favourite foods in Shanghai!
Another street food that we bought was Pan-fried squids with chilli sauce.
We got drawn to this delicious snack from afar by its smell! Not only did it smell good, this simple snack was chewy, savoury, and delicious too.
With its vibrant eclectic atmosphere and delicious street foods, Tianzifang was the perfect place to end our tour of the French Concession area!
豆腐花 (Do Fu Hua)
Pan-fried squids with chilli sauce
Mr. Choi Patisserie
From Tianzifang, we walked a short distance to the second dessert stop of our trip: Mr. Choi Patisserie 蔡嘉法式甜品 at SML Center (日月光店). Click here for directions.
This is a quaint café located on the second floor of SML Center (日月光店), a mall next to Tianzifang. After entering the café we were immediately escorted by the friendly manager to a comfy private room, where we shared a long table with other customers.
We ordered the House Special (1) + Tea (RMB 60), which consists of the Hazelnut Angels and a pot of tea.
The Hazelnut Angels is an adorable little dessert that looked extremely tantalizing. The shell was crispy and slightly sweet, and the velvety smoothness of the sweet hazelnut meringue was punctuated by the crunch of tasty hazelnut bits.
We loved it.
For our tea, we chose the Earl Grey flavour. The tea was light, refreshing, and aromatic. Served with the exquisite silver-plated teapot, it made the experience even more enjoyable.
House Special (1) + Tea – RMB 60
Our last indulgence was on the popular Opera Cake (RMB 30). This French dessert is made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup and covered in a chocolate glaze. The delicate sweetness of the dessert romances your taste buds and leaves you wanting more.
The impeccable service, comfortable ambience, and delicious desserts make this café a MUST-TRY if you are visiting Shanghai!
Opera Cake (30 RMB)
Wonderful tea treat at Mr Choi Patisserie
Yuyuan Garden 豫园
From the cafe, we walked to Dapuqiao metro station on Line 9 (light blue line). Click here for directions. From there, we took the metro to Yuyuan Garden station on Line 10 (light purple line) for our next attraction: the famous Yuyuan Garden of Shanghai.
As I entered the garden, I was in awe of the beauty of the place.
Unlike the other ancient towns we had visited, this garden has Ming Dynasty style buildings that almost seemed to be newly built. Granted, I knew that the garden was originally built in 1577 during the Ming Dynasty, and it was almost entirely damaged throughout the centuries. The garden was restored in 1961, and therefore all the buildings were essentially artificial restorations.
But it was still awe-inspiring to see the beautiful traditional Chinese buildings, and in downtown Shanghai no less!
Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant 南翔馒头店 at Yuyuan Garden
What made this place even more awesome, was that it had a popular Chinese restaurant serving delicious soup dumplings 小笼包. Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant has three levels.
Level one is for take-aways only, the queues are the longest, you can only order soup dumplings, and the dumplings are the cheapest.
Level two is for dining in, but you can only order soup dumplings, and they are slightly more expensive than level one.
Level three is for dining in, you can order a variety of food, the dumplings are the most expensive among the three levels, and there is a minimum charge of RMB80 per person.
Giant crab meat soup dumpling
We decided to go for level two as we did not want to join the horrendous queue downstairs. We ordered a set of ten dumplings for 26 RMB, as compared to 22RMB for twelve dumplings on level one.
The dumplings tasted decent, but it could be more savoury and juicy.
We also ordered the giant crab meat soup dumpling. Every dumpling comes with a straw for you to suck out the soup within the dumpling. It was an interesting experience to drink soup using a straw, but like the soup dumplings, I wished it had been more savoury.
Verdict: these are decent dumplings that are definitely better than average. However, I’m not sure if it was worth our wait of twenty minutes. And I’m glad we did not join the super long queue on level one.
People’s Square Station Underground Mall
Next, we took the metro to People’s Square station on Line 2 (green line) for Raevian’s favourite activity: shopping.
Dimei Mall and Hong Kong Underground Street are connected to the metro station.
We discovered a sprawl of stalls selling clothes, bags, luggage, jewelry, shoes, cosmetics, and toys. The prices were pretty reasonable. There were many locals shopping here as well (in fact majority of the people here were Chinese locals), so we knew that this place was not a tourist trap to rip off unsuspecting foreigners.
This is a decent place to shop, but the variety was pretty limited, and it was quite warm.
Hai Di Lao 海底捞火锅 at Shanghai No. 1 Department Store 第一百货商店
After a long day, it was finally time for dinner. We decided to eat at Hai Di Lao 海底捞火锅 in Shanghai No. 1 Department Store, which is a short three-minute walk from People’s Square metro station. Click here for directions. This is one of the most popular hotpot restaurants in China.
And it was not hard to see why.
Movie, drinks and snacks, board games in the waiting area – splendid service!
We went without making reservations and had to wait in the waiting area for about fifteen minutes after being given a queue number. There was a large screen playing a movie here, and we were served with drinks and snacks. There were even board games to keep us occupied.
I definitely wouldn’t mind spending more time in the waiting area.
Our queue number was called out and we were promptly escorted to a table. From this point, we were blown away by the extraordinary service of the restaurant.
Our orders came fast, the staff were all friendly and helpful, I was given a lens-cleansing cloth for my glasses, and Raevian was given an elastic band to tie up her hair. Furthermore, we were served with complimentary tea and given warm towels multiple times during the meal to clean our hands.
We were pampered like VIP customers, to say the least!
Free starter to whet our appetites
But all these would have come to naught if the food were disappointing.
Well, we loved the food too.
We ordered the Szechuan style yuanyang soup base, which consists of a spicy soup base and a herbal soup base. For food, we ordered pork slices, shrimp/fish paste, the popular “Kungfu noodles”, shrimp noodles, scallops, and chicken/pork balls.
All of them tasted great and went perfectly with both soup bases.
But the best thing was perhaps the price – we only paid 210RMB for all the food we ordered!
Skilled staff preparing our kung-fu noodles
And did I mention the restaurant has squeaky-clean Five-Star-Hotel-style toilets, free shoe-polishing services, and free manicure services?
This is definitely our favourite restaurant in Shanghai!!
Free shoe-polishing service!
After dinner, we took the metro the Nanjing East station on Line 2 (green line) and walked back to our luxurious hotel, the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai.
We fell asleep as two satisfied gluttons.
This article is part of our completely free and fantastic Ultimate Shanghai Travel Guide. Why spend days researching when all your holiday information is simply a click away? 🙂
Shanghai Day Three Itinerary
|12pm||Brunch at Vienna Cafe (Shaoxing Road)|
|3pm||Teatime at “Mr Choi Patisserie” at SML Center|
|5pm||Dumplings at “Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant” in Yuyuan Garden|
|6pm||Shop at People’s Square Station Underground Mall|
|7pm||Dinner at “Hai Di Lao” at Shanghai No. 1 Department Store|
|8pm||Dinner at “Hai Di Lao” at Shanghai No. 1 Department Store|
|9pm||Return to Hotel|