Apologies for how embarrassingly belated this post is! I've been having website issues the past handful of months and I think I have finally fixed them (fingers crossed). My husband, brother and I went to China & South Korea in February to visit my sister who is living in Dalian, China. One night in October my sister, Dani, & I were facetiming and booked flights to the Olympics on a whim! I had been meaning to visit her for the past 2 years as she's been living there but could never seem to nail down where exactly I wanted to go for my first trip. Our family LOVES the Olympics, especially the Winter Olympics, so we figured why not make this my trip to visit her! Since my husband, David, & I had never been to Asia, we decided Shanghai + Seoul would be a good way to get our first taste of Asia. Though we had 2 weeks, it was not nearly enough! I'll be breaking up my posts in a few parts -- 1) Shanghai 2) Seoul 3) The Winter Olympics.
So first up: Shanghai. You guys, this place is AMAZING!!! I absolutely fell in love with Shanghai and would move there tomorrow. Luckily, my sister is highly considering making that her next city to live so I am crossing my fingers I will be back! I love this city so much because it is truly a melting pot--architecture inspired by various parts of the world built up over such a long period of time. The city is ginormous (24mil people), but the famous area with the skyline that lights up at night (Pudong) didn't start getting built until 1993. That absolutely blows my mind! Despite how large this city is, it was pretty easy to get around and never felt super crowded (though we were there just before Chinese New Year).
We stayed in a traditional lanehouse via airbnb (this one) which was an awesome experience. It was very authentic and in a great location (in Xintiandi, the 'French Concession')! My hotel designer self really wanted to stay at a swanky hotel in the city, but I'm so glad we experienced Shanghai this way. Our first day was full of tours (this free tour was our favorite, but we also loved the night food tour too!) which helped us stay awake and find our favorite xiao long bao dumplings!
The rest of our time in Shanghai we explored the different neighborhoods popping into coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants and we pleased. Some of our favorite things were dinner at the Fellas Terrace, dinner at Din Tai Fung (a few locations in Shanghai and around the world), and walking around Tian Zi Fang . Also, I highly recommend getting a massage. Most places were open until 2am so we went after dinner one night. Awesome way to end the day after walking 20,000+ steps (and so cheap)!
Overall, we found everything to be super affordable (lunch was normally ~$5/person, multi-course dinner was usually $30/person including alcohol). This city is crazy high tech so getting around on subway was a piece of cake. There are lots of cultural nuances so definitely read up a little ahead of time so you are prepared!