Jeff's Favorite Things in Shanghai (and some general advice)

Note: all of this advice is for 外国人 (why-gwo-ren aka foreigners).

Before you arrive

China is a wonderful place, but if you were expecting to do your normal thing of using Google Maps to navigate around town you will be very sad. Hotel internet is pretty shit for the most part, so download these apps before you leave home

I'm not promising these are the best apps. There are competing apps which may do better, but you should have at least a taxi card app and a phrasebook app.



There are many other cute places around town. It should be self-evident which are legit.

Beer & Cocktails

Chinese Food

Not Chinese Food

So many other places! If you are looking for something easy and comfortable find an "Element Fresh", "Wagas", "Baker and Spice", or anything by Mr. Willis.

Things to do

More to come!

Reading Pinyin

Pinyin is the spelling of Chinese words in roman letters. However, for English speakers several aspects of pinyin are very misleading. If you are willing to put in a few days you can try to learn some basics ( but I'll just share a few gotchas.

Pin yin Pronunciation (approx)
ci, cai tsi, tsai
gui gway
xi she
xu shoe
qi chee (like cheese)
qu chew (but with a bit more ew, like gross)
chu choo (like choo-choo train)
zhao jaow
wang won (with a cold - nasal finish)
wai why

Learn phrases not words

In Mandarin there are 4 tones and the tone changes the meaning of the word. You will be hopeless at tones. That's why the context is so important. An example: the pinyin for water is shui. If you are at a restaurant and ask for shui, they will probably get it, but there are about 40 homonyms (ignoring tones) that sound the same and might mean: study, sleep, snow, blood, boots, hold, tax, persuade (you get the point). But if you say "E bay shway" that means "a cup of water" and even if you get the tones totally wrong, the context will be clear. So, if you do try to learn a bit of Mandarin and use it, learn phrases not words. I have heard people communicate pretty well with really terrible tone use as long as the context makes some sense.