THE INSIDERS I SHANGHAI
Fairmont Peace Hotel Opened in 1929 and recently refurbished, the fabulous art deco Peace Hotel is on Nanjing Road, the city’s main shopping street, adjacent to The Bund. It has a fascinating history — Shanghai’s version of Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor; peacehotel.com.cn.
Chenghuang Miao (City God Temple) The temple is surrounded by teahouses and shops full of character that sell crafts and fine jewellery. Buy traditional souvenirs and artifacts at the handicraft shops in Shanghai Yu Garden — hairbrushes made with a variety of bristles and handles in bone, wood or jade; gold or silver chopsticks; or bamboo flutes. It’s also a marvellous area for jade jewellery; chenghuangmiao.com.cn.
Xiao Shao Xing Established in 1943, this place is famous for its boiled chicken (or white cut chicken), served with fresh ginger and light soy sauce. Instead of the restaurant upstairs, eat at the ground-floor stalls — it’s far cheaper and you’ll get a congee to share; 118 South Yunnan Road, Huangpu District.
Hu Xing Ting Even Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed a cuppa at this lakeside teahouse, a wooden structure built in 1784 without a single iron nail. Water for the tea is mineralised and purified; the leaves — oolong, longjing, iron buddha, green tea and white tea — are handpicked in the mountains. It is a great place to gain a good understanding of Chinese tea culture; Yu Yuan Bazaar, Old City.
Huangpu Jiang The Huangpu is the river that divides Shanghai, and its banks are a favourite spot for lovers to meet, for bookworms to sit and read, or to promenade after a good lunch. Go early in the morning to watch the tai chi enthusiasts in action.
Zhouzhuang About 40 minutes by car from the city centre, Zhouzhuang is one of Shanghai’s prettiest precincts and inspiration for the menu at my Oriental Teahouse restaurants in Melbourne. Founded in the ninth century, the town survived the Cultural Revolution. Built around canals, with many beautiful bridges, it is a place of profound cultural importance, with smart restaurants and accommodation; zhouzhuang.com.