7 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Shanghai

The most populous city in the world could be your next dream vacation.


It’s big, it’s on mainland China, and it’s far away

Shanghai housed more than 24 million people in 2014, and the number has almost certainly grown since. It's safe to say that this city is huge. In addition, this amazing (and gigantic!) city is situated in the People's Republic of China, also referred to as Mainland China. What does that mean? Well, for Americans it means you need a Visa. You should also expect a pretty stringent entrance screening. Not only will customs officials check your documents extra closely, you will also be checked for radiation and automatic sensors will check if you have a fever.

The flight to Shanghai can be between 12 and 15 hours, depending on where you're leaving from in the US, so be prepared to entertain yourself on the plane. Depending on the company you fly with, you will likely be offered either Chinese or "western" meals. Airline food weirds a lot of people out as it is, so there's no shame in opting for that down-home goodness, but this is often your first opportunity to try out some local fare, if you're game.

What to look for in the city

Shanghai's skyline is something out of a science fiction movie. The bulbous TV tower dominates the skyline and gives the entire scene a futuristic feel, and the Huangpu River running through the city gives you the opportunity for riverside dining on the Bund for a spectacular view of the Pudong side of the city. The Puxi side of the city, while not what is traditionally pictured when one envisions Shanghai's skyline, is worth a visit too. It's the historic district of the city and is where people live and shop, and it contains much of the city's culture, since the Pudong side has been subjected to intense and overwhelming change and growth over recent years.

Shanghai is a unique blend of modern and traditional, with ancient-looking buildings butted right up against sleek, new skyscrapers. It's quite a sight!

Getting around

Shanghai's tourist areas tend to have plenty of people who speak English if you don't think you'll pick up much Mandarin before your trip. You should be able to find your way around in popular areas with little trouble, and your hotel staff and most young people you encounter will almost certainly have some English and be able to help you out if you need it.

Shanghai also offers a modern public transit system, and their subway trains feature maps in Chinese and English, and announcements are made in English as well.


What to eat while you’re there

Shanghai's food is unlike what Americans think of when they envision "Chinese food." While you should avoid street meat, you can otherwise treat yourself to all kinds of hearty and flavorful dishes. Shanghai's food is sometimes considered to be a little greasier than the Cantonese-style cuisine in Hong Kong, but the dishes served are delectable and it's hard to leave the city without falling in love with a menu item or two.

That being said, the Chinese serve their food a lot differently than Americans might expect. Remember the duck scene in A Christmas Story? It isn't uncommon for your food to have a face. Fish or fowl might be served "smiling at you," as they put it in the film. Don't be afraid, though. It's easy to eat around those parts, though locals will tell you the cheeks and the eyes are often the best parts!

Additionally, in case you're not sure what to eat and the dish descriptions aren't provided in English, most restaurants carry a picture menu for those of us who can't read Chinese, which will help you make some informed decisions about what's for dinner.

Finally, don't be afraid to check out the Chinese version of your favorite fast food joint. For instance, a trip to Pizza Hut will have you choosing between things like durian pizza, bacon-wrapped shrimp with pesto pizza, or the kung pao chicken stuffed-crust pizza.

In fact, even the snacks at the store can be an exciting endeavor. They get flavors of potato chips we don't often see in the US (some of my favorites were cucumber flavor and lobster and cheese flavor) and brown sugar candy with a dried, salted plum inside was my favorite after-dinner treat by the time I left.

The surrounding areas have lots of exciting options too

From Shanghai, you have access to the famous Bullet Trains that go 186mph (that's 300 km/h) and can visit a multitude of places with very little travel time. You can do your own research to find what sights appeal to you the most, but a favorite nearby destination is Hangzhou, home to the famous West Lake, surrounded by interesting shops and beautiful tea houses. There are many boats waiting by the shore offering picturesque rides around the lake as well.

Another interesting area that's easily accessible from Shanghai is the town of Xitang. They are perhaps most famous for scenes from Mission Impossible III being filmed there (and in fact there are many signs around the town reminding you of this fact), but this fishing village is worth a trip in its own right, even if you're not a fan of action movies and Tom Cruise. This town has delicious food, many shops with souvenirs and necessities alike, as well as a beautiful river snaking through the middle, seemingly never empty of small boats passing lazily through. It's a great place to go and get away from the chaos of the city for a bit, while still offering lots of shopping and photo opportunities.

Some things to keep in mind

China is hot and humid in the summer, and the heat can be oppressive for those not used to the stifling conditions. The smog and pollution are real, and the heavy, hazy air can sometime wear on travelers, especially if they suffer from any respiratory illnesses. That being said, though the outside might be dirty, in buildings you will see signs everywhere noting exactly how often interactive museum touch screens, escalator hand rails, and even bathroom faucets get sanitized. The Chinese try very hard not to spread disease, going so far as to wear face masks when sick, as you've undoubtedly seen.

Hong Kong and Shanghai use different currencies. If you plan on flitting between the two during your travels, you'll have to lose some money exchanging from USD to RMB or HKD, which is a given, but if you're traveling to both cities and don't plan your costs just right, keep in mind you might lose even more money transferring the HKD to RMB, or vice versa.

Shanghai is the most expensive city on the mainland, but it is still cheaper than Hong Kong, and to an American, both feel very cheap. You can really splurge on a good hotel and nice dinner without really pulling too much out of your bank account, as far as your US dollars go. Additionally, keep in mind that most shop owners will haggle with you. Outside of chain stores, you should generally never take the first price offered. (Or even the second or third—in fact, I get my best prices after walking out of the store completely!)

You will probably want a VPN if you're traveling to Shanghai. In Hong Kong the internet is more or less unrestricted, but the mainland severely limits what sites you may access, including Google (that means Gmail too) and Facebook. A VPN will help you get past the firewall and keep up with your friends and family while you're away.

It can't go without mentioning that toilets in China are different from American toilets. Be prepared to squat, or at the very least hold it until you're back at your hotel. There, you will likely have Western toilet (what we're used to) though some restaurants and attractions will too. However, other than your hotel, do not expect any establishment to provide toilet paper or soap. Most people carry travel tissue packs and hand sanitizer with them for this reason.

The takeaway

Shanghai (and anywhere on the mainland) has some specific quirks you might not encounter elsewhere, but though the Customs agents might not seem especially welcoming, a trip to China is truly an enriching experience. The flight may be a bit expensive, but your money stretches incredibly far here, and the culture and the food are worth much more than what you'll have to pay to experience them. If you're looking for a place where you get to see, taste, and experience things very unlike home, all while living comfortably and affordably, Shanghai is the place for you.

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Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

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Translator

A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.

Pilot

A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!

Seattle, Washington is a rainy, coffee-fueled, coastal town often referred to as the "Emerald City."

Located against the ecological wonderland of Puget Sound, this cosmopolitan, seaside city is a mishmash of arts, culture, history, nature, and, of course, cloudy weather. Thanks to its proximity to nature, its greenery, and its culturally rich, big-city atmosphere, the city is becoming increasingly popular, both for tourists and those looking for a change of scenery.

The Big Stops: Tourist Seattle

If you only have a few days to visit Seattle, you'll probably want to check out the area's most famous attractions.

For nature lovers and summit-chasers, there's the imposing, wildflower-shrouded Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainierthebesttravelplaces.com

Mt. Rainier

For foodies, there's the popular Pike Place Market, a giant patchwork of food-sellers and friendly chaos where you can purchase everything from giant crabs' legs to bottomless amounts of coffee (more on that later).

Pike Place Marketseattle.eater.com

And finally, there's the iconic Space Needle and the Sky View Observatory, which will give you extraordinary views of the city.

Space Needlegetyourguide.com

Seattle Arts and Museums

For arts and culture lovers, Seattle has plenty to cut your teeth on. Don't miss the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a collection of extraordinary blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly Gardensfodors.com

Chihuly Gardens

For art, there's the giant Seattle Art Museum Downtown. Seattle also offers the Museum of Pop Culture, a nonprofit that features all your favorite icons from history, and plenty of other options.

Museum of Pop Culturesmithsonianmag.org

For some history, there's the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, which commemorates Seattle's history as a gold rush hub.

There are plenty of quirky attractions—like the giant Fremont Troll, the 18-foot sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood that cuts an imposing figure.

Fremont Trollsillyamerica.com

You could also take in the city from a boat—marine enthusiasts might enjoy visiting to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to explore the history of this port city.

Seattle, of course, also has a gritty underground side—you may know the city from its time at the heart of the '90s grunge movement.

It also has a long, storied history that has left more than a few scars. You can literally see its underground through one of its underground tours, which will take you on a walk through the "buried city," the remnants left over from before the Great Fire of 1889.

Seattle Undergroundpinterest

Natural Wonders

Seattle is notorious for its natural wonders. For a close-up view, there's the Seattle Aquarium, a marine experience that showcases the best of what Puget Sound has to offer.

For more exposure to the beauty of Seattle's nature, try the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre showcase of Seattle's wetlands and natural wonders.

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You might also pay a visit to the Alki Beach for some time with the ocean waves.

Alki BeachMetropolitangardens.blogspot.com

Or consider taking a more exhaustive adventure to Discovery Park, a giant and labyrinthine natural park at the edge of Puget Sound.

Discovery Parktrip savvy.com

Food and Drink

Food tours are also popular options for those who want to get more intimate with the city's cuisine, and Seattle is often ranked as one of the best cities for foodies.

It's also a great place for coffee-heads. You might also pay a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, AKA Ultimate Starbucks, a tasting room that features a coffee library amongst other treats for coffee addicts.

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Moving to Seattle

If you're planning on moving to Seattle, locals say there's a few things you should know. First off, it is most definitely overcast the majority of the time, though the rain is rather like a mist. That makes the rare sunny day shine even more, though, locals say, in addition to fostering natural abundance.

The city is generally very congested with traffic, which can be noisy, though it offers great public transportation options, from buses to rail—regardless, you'll want to get an Orca Card for that.

Like every city, Seattle has a number of diverse and charismatic neighborhoods. For example, there's the beachy, more laid-back West Seattle.

West SeattleWest Seattle

There's the vibrant Capitol Hill, a hub of arts, culture, tech bros, and nightlife (during non-COVID times).

There's the historic and artsy Pioneer Square, featuring plenty of museums, shops, galleries, and pubs.

Pioneer Square SeattleExpedia

Fremont is a more bohemian area. Belltown is a trendy waterfront neighborhood that's close to everything.

In general, Seattle residents love the city for its proximity to nature, from beaches to glaciers, and its abundance of arts and cultural attractions. As Kimberly Kinrade said, "Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it." Residents dislike the steep cost of housing and all things that come from rising prices, including the city's large homeless population.

In general, the city is known as environmentally conscious, liberal, and dog-loving. The people are often referred to as nice but possibly a bit standoffish and cold (the "Seattle Freeze" is when you make plans to hang out and then bail, which is apparently very common). The rain can certainly get depressing, but the proximity to nature helps.

Remember, if you do happen to move: umbrellas are dead giveaways for tourists.


What's your favorite part about Seattle? What did we leave out? Let us know at @thejourniest on Twitter!

Travel

Weed World Candies Exist to Prey on Gullible Tourists

Weed is still illegal in New York, but scamming tourists is not.

You wouldn't know it walking around midtown Manhattan, but marijuana is still illegal in New York.

It does seem strange to think that perhaps the most metropolitan city in the US would be lagging behind so many other parts of the country that have legalized possession, production, and sale of cannabis and THC products, but it's true.

New York's decriminalization of marijuana has led many smokers to be more brazen with their public consumption in recent years, and Governor Cuomo recently announced plans for limited legalization for recreational use at the state level. But for the time being the sale of products containing THC is still very much illegal.

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Adding to the confusion is a company that has sprung up to prey on tourist's uncertainty. Weed World trucks have multiplied at a staggering rate since they first started appearing in Midtown and the Village a few years ago. Easily a dozen RVs and vans now line the tourist-dense streets of Manhattan, advertising Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue, clad in marijuana-leaf decals and occupied by employees who are paid either to be stoned out of their minds, or just to pretend they are.

With eyes nearly in slits and an air of relaxation that suggests that customers are temporary interludes from a permanent nap, they will promise you as much as they can get away with while letting their branding do most of the work. They will sell you four lollipops for $20, which would seem like a great deal if not for the fact that they will not deliver on the strong implication that they'll get you high.

They have a Twitter account where they celebrate the supposed availability of weed and claim to "have New York locked down." They'll even sell you vape cartridges that advise you to "get medicated," and which are packed with potent doses of… flavor?

weed world truck

An employee once assured me that their candies do contain THC—maybe they wouldn't be so brazenly dishonest today—and in a drunken state I coughed up $5 to test that claim. There is a faint weedy taste to their candies, and you may find trace amounts of CBD inside, but that's it. It's a scam. There is no THC. Nothing that will give their customers the experience they're selling.

Worse than the trucks is the Weed World Candies storefront that opened in midtown in 2019. Just walking past you would swear that people were passing a massive blunt inside.

The smell is unmistakable and overpowering, except that it's fake. Whatever chemical fragrance they pumped onto the street, it was not connected to anyone smoking weed. Inside, the psychedelic wall art complemented shelves lined with suggestive candies and boxes emblazoned with pot leaf insignia.

Whatever the venue, they are all too happy to sell you overpriced hemp products and CBD creams and chocolates made to look like nugs. And if you're a tourist, or a moron like me, you might believe the scam long enough to give them money, but nothing they sell will get you high.

weed world store Hiroki Kittaka

The owners of Weed World, Judah Izrael and Bilal Muhammad—who prefers to go by "Dro Man" or "Doctor Dro"—will defend their products by claiming that they serve to promote legalization and decriminalization efforts by normalizing the idea of public sale of marijuana. But at no point in the purchasing process is the illusion that their candies will get you high broken. At no point are their customers offered literature explaining the mission of Weed World.

On their website's FAQs page, there is no mention of THC or its absence from their products, but the first question, "How much should I eat?" is answered, "It's all based on your tolerance but there's no limit." Tolerance for what? Sugar? The company—which originated in Alabama and has spread to cities around the country—mostly seems like a very profitable way to sell candy to gullible adults.

weed world wall art Nicole Mallete

The best thing I can say in their defense is that one of their trucks was recently busted by police in Saraland, Alabama, with products that "tested positive for marijuana." Assuming this isn't a screw up or deliberate frame-job by the police, it's possible that some of the Weed World trucks are using their faux activism as a front for selling actual drugs. If so, that would be the most honest thing about this company. Until that's confirmed, ignore these trucks and maybe just ask a friend for a hookup.