City Life: Flamboyant consumption
Skyscrapers, shopping and sensuality: this is Shanghai's decade, and it wants to make sure you know it.
Celebrated in its Twenties' heyday as the Paris of the East, Shanghai is now a dazzling showcase for 21st-century China. Despite its Communist legacy, this is a consumer society to the core, from the grand temples to Capitalism on the Bund to the bustling markets and endless restaurants. Refuel on delicious dim sum, stroll among Tai Chi enthusiasts at dawn or hit the extravagant bar and club scene - whatever path you choose, you'll be electrified by this high-watt city.
Don't hire a car unless you're feeling daring: the concept of giving way doesn't exist. Road signs are in Chinese and English. The Chinese drive on the right hand side of the road - most of the time.
Shanghai is the only city in China with two international airports, but you're likely to arrive in Pudong. Don't pay more than 200RMB for a cab to get downtown.
The Maglev (magnetic suspension) train is an exhilarating way to enter Shanghai from the airport….even if it only hits its top speed of 400km/h for a few seconds. The subway system is crowded but thankfully air-conditioned in summer.
China: +86; Shanghai: 21.
Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday; Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang; The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran; People's Republic of Desire by Annie Wang. The Great Wall: China Against the World 1000 BC-AD 2000 by Julia Lovell. Phantom Shanghai, photographs by Greg Giraud.
Do go / Don't Go
Best times to visit are April to June, or September to November. Summer is hot and humid. Winters are wet and cold.
Specialist Shanghai food is nanxiang mantou - stuffed steam buns, sucai baozi - steamed buns with vegetable stuffing, leishatuan - meat and rice balls. Shanghai is also known for its hairy crab (which is hairless). Fans flock from far around during the crab season in October/November. Yuyuan Lu and Haining Lu are great streets for all kinds of dumplings, crayfish and other inventive snacks.
Cheap and plentiful. Get your hotel to write down your destination - most drivers only speak Mandarin and Shanghainese. Shanghai streets are long so get the cross street too. Don't try and exit from the driver's side rear door.
Tipping is never expected.
RMB (aka yuan aka quai)
Leave room for your purchases. Take your favourite clothes to get copies made. During summer, bring your lightest outfits.
The Urban Planning Museum gives a fascinating (if somewhat unbelievable) vision of Shanghai in 2010. There's a giant detailed model of the city and a 360 degree virtual tour.
If you've got a mobile with you and a local sim card, text Guanxi (9588 2929) with a destination name and get the address (in English or Chinese) in seconds.
Upmarket shopping centres can be found at The Bund at Plaza 66 on Nanjing Xi Road, or Xintiandi, where Shikumen architecture forms an attractive backdrop. The famous IPR-dodging Xiangyang market has been closed down, so there's no longer a one-stop shop for all your counterfeit requirements. You'll come across guys flogging watches and other 'luxury' goods on most of the main tourist drags. Never pay more than half the original asking price. Visit Dongtai Road Antique Market for all your Mao memorabilia and other China kitsch requirements.
Located in Pudong, the Jin Mao Tower is China's tallest building and the third tallest in the world. Head to the Cloud Bar at the top of the Hyatt for cocktails and get views of all of Shanghai, but be sure to take in the breathtaking lobby halfway up. Not for vertigo sufferers.
Go Tai Chi watching on the Bund or in any public park early every morning. And it costs nothing to join in.
Late January Chinese New Year, which means bangers and fireworks on every corner. Mid June Shanghai International Film Festival is growing in size and prestige every year. Good to check out the burgeoning Chinese film industry and also to see which international films are making it in China (www.siff.com). 1 October Formula 1 roars into town surrounded by a bevy of spectacular parties (www.formula1.com). Mid October Shanghai Tennis Open: one of the few times the big players hit Asia (www.masters-cup.com).