I was pleasantly surprised by the remaining French colonial neighbourhood too – it is elegant and interesting to stroll through. Still, the new modern places like the ‘Citic Square’ building area and the new shopping centre adjacent the People’s Square on East Nanjing road, got more of my attention. When shopping at the latter with my son, I wanted to pay for our purchase with my credit card, when the young shopping assistant looked a bit puzzled at me, pointing me to a sign saying that I could only pay with AliPay (Alibaba), WeChat (Tencent), or cash of course, but not by credit card. Eventually I had to leave the building in search of an ATM to withdraw cash using my credit card.
This was an exceptional case though as I could pay by credit card anywhere else, but it is a sign of the times to come. Indeed, in Shanghai the young or dynamic pay by the newer means of payment, not by credit card. The older generation pays by cash. And in the middle credit cards are still used, but maybe they are bound to disappear one day.
There is more to Shanghai than the city centre alone. You can visit quite a few old touristic ‘water towns’ outside Shanghai that are worth the trip, plus Suzhou, the garden city, and Hangzhou with its lake-district are only a good hour away and easily reachable by car or even better by train.
Coming back to the modern side of Shanghai, you might want to try the monorail (maglev) connection from Pudong International airport to the boundaries of the City, or the other way around. The top operational commercial speed of this train is 431 km/h (268 mph). As your hotel will probably not be near the terminal, for many visitors a ride on that magnetic levitated train (maglev) is more for the experience than for efficiency. Although the young traveller with little luggage can easily connect to the rest of the efficient public transport of Shanghai from the monorail (maglev) end station, for comfort it is more pleasant, but not necessarily faster, to take a cab from door to door with the cabby loading and unloading your luggage at the airport and at your hotel.
All in all, I am very much impressed by the evolution of Shanghai and its future looks bright. Not everyone in Shanghai is fluent at English yet though, as you would expect in such a modern and advanced city, but mercantile they are. You will always be able to explain what you want, given their talent for listening and great service attitude.
If you haven’t been to Shanghai yet, it may very well be the time to consider a trip. Either you do it on a complete trip to discover the key beauties of the whole of China, or on a long stopover on your trip to another Asian country, or to one of the great beach areas in the region. The choice is yours – it’s certainly worthwhile. Whether you like it or not, you will remember your experience and will have something very special to tell your friends.