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China Insider: new restaurants and shops in Beijing, Shanghai updates, and news from around China
19/03/13, 16:25

Billing itself as the largest freestanding building in the world, the Century Global Centre is set to open in Chengdu in April.  Some 500 meters long, 400 meters wide and 100 meters high, the building is almost three times the size of the Pentagon and has the capacity of 20 Sydney Opera Houses, which means plenty of room for shopping malls, theaters, family-themed attractions and a replica Mediterranean-style village.  The center will also be home to a seaside-inspired zone featuring 5,000 square meters of man-made beaches, seafood restaurants and water parks.

China’s history just got a little richer with the recent unearthing of more than 240 Buddha statues at Dayun Temple in Gansu Province.  Archaeologists are already estimating that some of the statues date back to the Song Dynasty, making them 700 to 1,000 years old.  Most of the statues will be taken to the Jingchuan County Museum – Jingchuan was one of the centers of Buddhism in north-west China, where the discipline flourished during the Tang Dynasty well over a thousand years ago.

Visitors to Tibet will soon be able to travel further by train thanks to the completion of the Lhasa-Shigatse railway, the extension line of the Qinghai-Tibet railway.  Costing some US$1.22 billion, the new tracks span 253 kilometers with 13 stations along the way, including South Lhasa, Qushui County and Nyemo County.  While trains on the track will not reach the speeds of sister "fast trains” around the country, they will travel at 120 kilometers an hour, making Tibet’s far-flung corners all the more accessible.


If you thought Beijing’s current international airport was busy, wait until the city’s new flight hub opens.  To be located between Beijing’s southern suburban Daxing District and Hebei Province, 46 kilometers south of Tiananmen Square, the new airport was planned to divert passenger flow from Beijing Capital International Airport, ranked as the world’s second busiest.  Construction of the new airport will begin in 2014 and is scheduled to open before the end of 2018 with a rail line built to connect it with the city center, ferrying passengers into town in half an hour.  The airport will be able to handle 70 million passenger trips annually by 2025.
North-west of Beijing, the Ming Tombs are the most extensive burial complex of any Chinese dynasty, with art and architecture dating back to the 15th century.  This year, six new tombs are open to the public in addition to the existing Changling Tomb, Dingling Tomb and Zhaoling Tomb.  The new tombs – Yongling Tomb, Kangling Tomb, Maoling Tomb, Tailing Tomb, Deling Tomb and Qingling Tomb – are available for visits by appointment only, with a number of tour companies offering half- and full-day excursions to the region.

Those who shudder at the thought of tackling China’s rail network alone will be happy to hear that Chinese tourism group Travel China Guide has launched its first train iPhone app in English.  The free app lets you check real-time train schedules and ticket availability on your iPhone.  And if you like what you see, you can also book berths directly through the app.  

With the Chinese New Year a faint memory, officials are already predicting that the 2013 mass migration was the largest on record.  When the final count is tallied the number of people who traveled around China over the Spring Festival period is expected to rise by 20 per cent compared with 2012, surpassing 200 million for the first time.  Increased consumer confidence, the removal of tolls on some highways and lower ticket prices have made more people willing to travel this year, according to the China National Tourism Authority.  All that adds up to big dollars: it is estimated that more than US$20.2 billion was spent over the holiday period, up 25 per cent year-on-year.



The latest restaurant to transplant from Shanghai to Beijing, Mesa & Manifesto brings casual cocktails and Western fare to Sanlitun Village North.  The menu focuses on generous serving of protein: chargrilled Wagyu, seafood, and pork ribs with side order add-ons.  But where Mesa & Manifesto really shines is in the bar, where classic cocktails – martinis, Moscow mules, cosmopolitans – are served up in a pared-back, all wood dining room lit by the warm glow of candles.

Recently opened in Beijing’s Sanlitun Courtyard complex, Janes & Hooch – which takes its name from the Prohibition era – comes with backing from a stellar crowd of the capital’s top mixologists: Leon Lee and Warren Pang, also behind Apothecary.  The team’s newest nightspot is hardly a speakeasy, but it does offer reliably good cocktails served up in vintage-inspired cut glass.  (Try the Paper Planes, which comes garnished with a mini paper airplane.)  The dimly lit space also dishes up snacks from neighboring Bar Veloce including, on occasion, oysters paired with chilled vodka.


Elizabeth Koch knows a thing or two about hats, having spent the last five years crafting bespoke creations for the world’s rich and famous.  The milliner’s newest outpost, Hatters’ Hub in Sanlitun Soho, does not disappoint, with special-occasion, handcrafted hats that cost a small fortune alongside factory-produced Jeffsun, Sinossance and Hatters-labelled products.  The intimate Beijing boutique is also home to headwear accessories, including glittery hatpins and Swarovski hat brooches; head to the back of the store to glimpse Koch at work in her studio.

Beijing’s newest shopping precinct is also one of its nicest – the Indigo mall comes with rounded wooden walkways, plenty of skylights and its own European-styled Winter Garden, a glass-encased space home to restaurants and stages for performances.  Retail enthusiasts will be happy to hear that big name international brands, including Gap, H&M, G-Star Raw, Adidas and Sephora, are already welcoming shoppers, with plenty of places to rest and recuperate in between.  There is a ubiquitous food court but our pick are the restaurants on the upper floors, beside the movie theater and children’s playground.  Look out for Blue Frog, Element Fresh and Hercules, all opening here soon.


The who’s who of China’s film industry will turn up to walk the red carpet in Beijing for a third year running at the city’s glitzy International Film Festival (April 16-23, 2013).  This year, the event will have a local twist with the opening ceremony held at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park, backdropped by buildings dating to the 15th century.  Close to 600 films from around 60 countries have been submitted so far, with just 17 shortlisted to compete for awards.  The rest – classic and blockbusters, domestic and foreign – will be screened in cinemas around town throughout the week.

Despite its name, the Zebra Music Festival (May 1-3, 2013) does not cater for animals.  Held in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, the event does attract, however, rock enthusiasts in droves with more than 40 local and international performers taking to outdoor stages, raising money to go towards the ongoing redevelopment of the city and surrounds post the 2009 devastating earthquake.  Barbecues, bars, workshops, a cinema and markets give festival goers reason to linger.

China’s largest city deserves its reputation as the country’s most cosmopolitan hub.  From the historic streets of the French Concession to the colonial buildings of The Bund and skyscrapers in Pudong, Shanghai is a glorious fusion of tradition and modernization.

Straddling the snaking Huangpu River, the city is divided into two: Pudong on the east bank and Puxi on the west.  Often regarded as the face of "New China,” Pudong never fails to dazzle with its succession of shiny towers – the Shanghai World Financial Centre, the Jin Mao Tower – each taller than the next.  Set to open in 2014, the Shanghai Tower will soar above both of these, standing 632 meters tall with 121 storeys and 380,000 square meters of floor space.  Pudong was the main site of the 2010 World Expo, which saw some 73 million tourists descend on the city to browse themed pavilions and displays from 250 countries.

Puxi, the city’s historic center, has an equally dazzling skyline beginning at The Bund: a riverside promenade of grand colonial buildings home to hip restaurants, bars and boutiques.  Skyscrapers tower over centuries-old neighborhoods, museums and galleries occupy repurposed warehouses and factories, and parks and gardens fringe the caramel-colored river, brimming with boats ferrying wide-eyed tourists and locals along the neon-lit waterway.

Puxi will soon be home to the Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai, the third luxury Shangri-La hotel in the city, its sisters – Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai and Kerry Hotel, Pudong – both located on the east bank of the Huangpu.  Part of the Jing An Kerry Centre, the hotel will occupy the top 29 floors of the 60-story main tower, its 508 guestrooms overlooking the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, Jing An Temple and a 3,000-square-meter central courtyard with gardens, water features and al fresco dining.  Part of the hotel grounds will contain a piece of history – the house where Chairman Mao lived for several months in 1920, which is currently being restored and converted into a museum.  Edward Brea, the hotel’s general manager, brings some 30 years of hospitality to Shanghai, including 13 years heading up Shangri-La hotels and resorts around the world.    

General Manager’s tip: There are plenty of must-see attractions in Shanghai, from the Yu Garden to a Huangpu River cruise and visit to the jaw-dropping Shanghai Museum.  Here are some of the highlights you may not have heard of yet:

Missed the Shanghai Expo?  Visitors to the city can enjoy highlights from the 2010 event at the Shanghai Expo Memorial Exhibition – 12,000 square meters highlighting more than 2,000 Expo-related objects sourced from different participating countries.  Running until 2014, the exhibit includes the "Giant Baby,” an oversized baby robot that welcomed visitors to the 2010 Spain Pavilion, as well as larger-than-life reproductions of the Shanghai Expo mascot, Haibao.
Insider’s Tip: The exhibition is just a temporary home for the objects, which will be relocated to the Shanghai Expo Museum when it opens in 2015.

Shanghai is ringed by a number of historic water towns, some of which are easily accessed via the city’s subway system.  Jump on Line 9 to get to Qibao Ancient Town, just 18 kilometers from the CBD.  Built during the Northern Song Dynasty, the town is a picturesque mix of stone bridges and restored buildings.  Slightly further afield, Zhujiajiao Ancient Town features some 36 bridges over its waterways and lakes as well as many original buildings, today home to restaurants, shops and guesthouses.  And Fengjing Ancient Town should not be missed – it has well-preserved buildings dating back more than 1,500 years.

Shanghai has its fair share of lofty lookouts offering dazzling city views, but the highest of them all is the observation deck topping the Shanghai World Financial Centre.  Set 474 meters above the ground, the Skywalk 100 was designed with angled glass and transparent floor panels to make you feel like you are leaning over the edge of the building.
Ulf Bremer, general manager of Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai, offers this tip: Those with vertigo may want to skip the 100th floor and head, instead, to Skywalk 97 at a mere 439 meters above the ground.  There is no glass floor but the roof here does open during fine weather, giving the impression you are floating among the clouds.

The first commercially operated high-speed Maglev line in the world, the Shanghai Maglev Train zips passengers from Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road Station, covering the 30-kilometer distance in just seven minutes.  Make sure you have a seat – speeds of up to 430km/h are reached over the course of the journey, which makes the train faster than any Formula One car in operation.


China’s contemporary art scene continues to flourish with the recent opening of the country’s first state-owned contemporary art museum.  Set in Shanghai’s Power Station of Art (a former power station), the museum includes more than 15,000 square meters of exhibition space spread throughout a dozen halls.  Hosting the 2012 Shanghai Biennale (until March 31, 2013) as its debut exhibit, the space will then be transformed to showcase pop art works by Andy Warhol as part of a retrospective touring Asia.  The best bit?  Admission to the gallery is completely free.

Shanghai’s Expo pavilions have not gone to waste – the city’s latest project sees the China Pavilion transformed into China Art Place, a 160,000-square-meter complex and 64,000-square-meter exhibition space dedicated to art from across the country.  Works on display span modern and contemporary periods, and there is also a steady rotation of temporary exhibitions, including a handful of international shows.
Peter Clark, general manager of Kerry Hotel, Pudong, offers this tip: Like many galleries and museums across China, entrance to China Art Place is free.  But you do need to reserve a ticket online in advance.

Chinese restaurant Y2C2 (shorthand for yin and yang, classic and contemporary) calls the Wharf 1846 neighborhood home.  The dining room is a chinoiserie fantasy of ornamental screens, lacquered furniture and mosaics, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river.  There is equal eye-candy on the plate, with signature Cantonese dishes – crispy-skin pork belly, stir-fried scallops and asparagus – paired with more experimental offerings including foie gras with apple, rosemary and grapefruit.
Ulf Bremer, general manager of Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai, offers this tip: At the southern end of The Bund, the Wharf 1846 area is one of the city’s newest entertainment hubs.  Look out for the Shanghai International Beer Festival, held here in October.

Enjoying a prime spot in the 1906 Sassoon Warehouse (once an opium storeroom) on the northern neck of The Bund, Kathleen’s Waitan is the brainchild of Kathleen Lau, behind some of Shanghai’s most well-known restaurants and bars.  Lau’s newest place takes things up a notch with continental-Asian fare – try the Canton Classic Salad of julienned vegetables, shredded abalone, cured ham and jellyfish with citrus and sesame oil – dished up under the watchful eye of Hawaiian chef Kenji Salz.  The bar, meanwhile, is all about Prohibition-style cocktails: Bobby Burns, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 or the Vesper Martini.
Edward Brea, general manager of Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai, offers this tip: Order a drink and head to the rooftop terrace, offering unbroken views over both Pudong and Puxi.


Some of South East Asia’s top designers are on display at this new Taiyuan Lu store, which also doubles as an exhibition space-cum-workshop for creative types.  Edgy Thai street wear labels share hangers with Taiwanese-designed T-shirts, while shelves are lined with retro curios and accessories including vintage radios, paint-spattered leather clutches from Bangkok-based label Hob, and own-brand postcards made from Zhejiang bamboo.  Look out for the designer networking nights and bag-making workshops.

There is a lot to like about Triple-Major, the newest Beijing boutique to make its mark in Shanghai.  Located on Shaoxing Lu, the store bills itself as "reinventing popular culture,” which might seem like an understatement when you browse shirts adorned with exclamation marks and acupuncture points or pants tailored to resemble pencils.  In addition to the house brand, designers on show include Bless from Berlin, Ellipsis from New York, Haik from Oslo and Lazy Oaf from London.  


Those who like their sports fast and loud will not want to miss the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix (April 12-14, 2013), which sees the world’s top F1 drivers zipping through Shanghai on a groundbreaking course designed to resemble the Chinese symbol "shang.”  The track, known for its challenging stretches of acceleration and deceleration, stretches some 5,450 kilometers, with strategically placed grandstands allowing visibility across 80 per cent of the course.

China’s love affair with tea climaxes every year at the Shanghai International Tea Culture Festival (May 31 to June 7 2013), a four-day celebration of the humble brew.  Events around town include a tea art contest, tea tastings, a tea culture seminar and even a tea set auction.
Edward Brea, general manager of Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai, offers this tip: As fun as the tastings are, it is hard to look past the stalls selling tea-infused sweets: a piece of pu’er cake, anyone?


By Shangri-La International

Categoria: Biblioteca Angel News | Adicionado por : netoangel | Tags: beijing, luxury, Shangri-La International, updates, restaurants, shops, news, china, Shanghai, China Insider
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