Suffocating Heat, Ice Cream, and Tea: Summer in Shanghai

So at the end of my trip I found myself back in Shanghai for the Expo. I’ve detailed my experience there in a previous post, so I won’t go into much more detail.

But, fact of the matter is that Shanghai is disgusting during the summer. Temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, with 60-70% humidity. That means it’s hot and sticky and so, tempers run short. I would recommend to avoid Shanghai at all costs in the summer, unless you have a masochistic quality to yourself, enjoy sticking to passersby, or are a crocodile.

Highlights from the Expo:

  • Seeing the pavilions in full swing: the Africa Pavilion actually had things in it! All the pavilions are open! I was excited to be able to enter previously closed pavilions (since many weren’t open or pretty much empty during the sneak peek). I recommend skipping the country pavilions in favor of the theme pavilions. The exhibits are a lot cooler and there’s less of a line.
  • Ice cream at the Turkey Pavilion: If you’re going to the Expo, make sure you hit up the ice cream stand at the Turkey Pavilion. For 35 RMB you can get a cone of vanilla ice cream created in what I assume is “Turkish style.” There’s the friendly ice cream man, who makes the ice cream in front of you while chatting in his limited Chinese-English-Turkish. The ice cream is super creamy and cold, perfect for the disgusting weather.

The ice cream saved my overheated soul

Downers from the Expo

  • The sea of humanity: The grounds are overcrowded with people. Whichever way you turn you will most likely run head first into a Chinese man, woman, or child. Additionally, Chinese people don’t understand the concept of lining up. They cut in line, squeeze around people, and generally crowd around any and everything. Good luck finding a bench to sit on when you’re tired.
  • The long lines: I can sum it up like this: the Saudi Arabia line was 5 hours long.
  • The heat: Like I said, summer in Shanghai is the equivalent of hell. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lucifer showed up at the Expo in sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt.

So, if you want to avoid the Expo, or have already gone and are wondering what else to do, I have a handy dandy guide up in the tabs. This time I traveled to more places in Shanghai, so if you’ve already been to the Bund and the Pearl Tower, check out these other things to see/do:

Tian Zi Fang (田子房): This is Shanghai’s art street. Hop into any cab and say “Tian Zi Fang” and they’d automatically know where you want to go. But if the cabbie doesn’t, it’s located on Taikang Lu (泰康路). You can also take the Metro Line 9 to Dapuqiao Station (打浦桥站). This area is full of small cafes, shops, and homes, all jammed together along narrow lanes. It’s an eccentric place: a chic t-shirt shop is located next door to a crumbling dark brick home. Watch out for overhanging laundry on bamboo poles or telephone cables.

Entering Tian Zi Fang

Things to buy

There’s a very cool vintage glasses place located in Tian Zi Fang. Aptly named “Vintage Glasses,” this place collects and sells 1960s and 70s Shanghai memorabilia and, of course, glasses. My friend picked up a pair of 60s style glasses for 200 RMB (~$33). It’s a small store, but a very cool store.

Afternoon Tea: For some reason, Shanghai loves its afternoon tea. And it’s British afternoon tea, not Chinese tea. Hotels like the Peninsula, Park Hyatt, and Ritz Carlton all have teas. I’ve gone to the Peninsula’s tea twice, and I must say it is well worth the price (480 RMB for 2). The hotel’s also located on the Bund, which is a nice place to walk around after stuffing yourself with all those delicious scones. Tea is from 2 to 4 PM I believe.

Tea at the Peninsula Hotel

I also managed to have tea at Cafe Specchi, located in the basement of the super designer mall Plaza 66. They have an all you can eat afternoon tea buffet starting at 3 PM for 88RMB/person. Or you can order an ice cream afternoon tea for 240 RMB for two people. It comes with the 3-tier tray and ice cream. I’d recommend the tea buffet, as it’s especially good.

New Heights Bar: Located at number 3 at the Bund, this rooftop bar gives you a perfect view of not only the Bund but also Pudong. There’s an indoor part where you can order food, and an outdoor patio where you can get drinks and take in the sights.

The View from New Heights

The Bund from New Heights

If you want any more information on what to do in Shanghai, websites like CNNGo have lots of articles about what’s happening in the city.

2 thoughts on “Suffocating Heat, Ice Cream, and Tea: Summer in Shanghai

    • I really enjoyed the Expo when I went in April, but the weather was perfect then. This time around was alright, but I only had jeans with me and being in that weather was just plain uncomfortable, haha.

      Thanks for your comment!

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