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Since I got 3 emails in the past month asking about reasonable (about 100USD/night) hotels in Hong Kong, I figured it warranted a post. Unless I’m staying with friends or there for work, I always stay at the Cosmo hotel ( in Causeway Bay. It’s a 2 minute walk from Times Square, design-oriented, clean and nice and convenient. Rooms aren’t huge, but unless you decide to go 4-5* there’s really no point in spending more money. The Cosmopolitan Hotel is literally next door and I haven’t really worked out any real differences: same owners, same price range, same location and nearly the same name. I guess “Cosmo” is for the younger, hipper people? When my friends splurge they usually stay at Upper House in Central:

These notes are from my trip last winter, but Ho Chi Minh City doesn’t change quite as fast as Shanghai:

SH garden – 143 hai ba trung
Seafood with live entertainment: Ngoc suong marina – 19C le quy don Q3
Best Pho IN THE WORLD: Pho hoa pasteur 260 pasteur
Soft crab: 94 Thuy Restaurant 84 Dinh tien Hoang dist 1
Cafe Terrace @ the Saigon Center: great for a snack if you’re in the area

Temple club – 29 Ton That Thiep St, District 1
Cage – 3A Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1
Lush Bar – 2 Ly Tu Trong Street District 1
The Refinery – an old Opium refinery that’s been converted into a bar on the second floor with a (french?) restaurant on the ground floor. 74 Hai Ba Trung, District 1
Q bar (in the bottom of the opera house) – 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, District 1

I was asked to put this together for an HR on-boarding, but I figured I would post here. These are not in any order of importance:

1.      Avocado lady

Cheap avocados, fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme) cheap smoked salmon and (domestic) mozzarella. She also knows all the names for veggies in fruits in English. WAY cheaper than any grocery store and overall better quality.

Address: 274 Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, near Wuyuan Lu
Chinese Address: 乌鲁木齐中路274号, 近五原路

2.      Booking CNY trips/online travel booking

If you want options that won’t break the bank, start booking in October. I generally compare and and if you have someone to help you navigate Chinese travel sites compares all the online travel agencies for the lowest price.

3.      HiShanghai Iphone App and/or Guanxi SMS service

Comprehensive listings as well as a Yelp-like service to find what’s around you. Leverages Google maps to show you where things are. TOTALLY worth $5. If you don’t have an iPhone you can use the guanxi SMS service to get addresses – text the name of the restaurant/bar/store to 106695882929. Reply to the result that matches what you’re looking for with “C” to get the address in Chinese. is also a good venue search option for mobile.

4.      12593 cheap international calling service (China Mobile Users)

Call 10086 to activate this service. Add 12593 + 00 + country code to make cheap international calls from your mobile phone – IP cards be gone! Rates vary on the country you are calling but US/Canada rates are RMB .40/minute (USD$0.05).

5.      Online classifieds

I have always bought kitchen stuff, couches, etc from the online classifieds. Shanghai is a transient city – take advantage of people leaving who are trying to ditch their stuff.

6.      Street Map

Smartshanghai has the best streetmap – bit hard to find itty bitty side streets but overall very useful (you can also overlay the metro map or the Happy Hour map) –

7.      Online grocery shopping – this is the main grocer I use. Same day delivery if you order before 3:00, except on weekends, you have to order on Friday for Sat or Sun delivery – specialize in Italian/European stuff, weekend order/delivery  – City Super online groceries, same day delivery if you order early enough – organic veggies – organic veggies

8.      What’s going on?

These are the best places to check out what’s going on in Shanghai

Smart Shanghai –

City Weekend –

That’s Shanghai (urbanatomy) –

Shanghaiist –

CNN GO Shanghai Minisite –

China “ticketmaster” equivalent –

Second “ticketmaster” option –

9.      Books

“Classics” are only 15RMB in any Chinese book store, if that’s your thing. If it’s not you

Non-classics can be found at:

Garden Books – 325 Changle Road, near Shaanxi Nan Road. Tel: 021 5404 8729.

Shanghai Book Mall – 701 Huaihai Zhong Lu

Charter Books

Shop B1-K, Shanghai Times Square, 99 Huaihai Zhong Lu ,
near Pu’an Lu, Metro Line 1 Huangpi Nan Lu Station

Shop 104, Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu ,
Nanjing Xi Lu
near Tongren Lu, Metro Line 2 Nanjing Xi Lu Station

10.     “2 for 1” massage

Almost every massage place (excluding the BIG chains like Dragonfly) have 2 for 1 massages if you walk in the door before 6PM. Butterfly massage has 100RMB for 1 hour foot and 1 hour body:

Lane88 Huichuan Lu,
Zhongshan Park
near Changning Lu

29 Wuxing Lu,
near Huaihai Lu

I was bemoaning the lack of a “yelp”-like iphone app for Shanghai that leverages GPS to make restaurant/shopping/etc recommendations based on my location. Turns out, there is one! HiShanghai has arrived on the scene and it’s pretty good! I compared it against my friend’s much more $$ Shanghai app and it had better features and more thorough listings. Totally worth $4.99. It regularly gets updated with new listings and events. – this is the main grocer I use. Same day delivery if you order before 3:00, except on weekends, you have to order on Friday for Sat or Sun delivery – specialize in Italian/European stuff, weekend order/delivery– City Super online groceries, same day delivery if you order early enough

Clubs: I preface this list by saying that I don’t really go to clubs much anymore, but my friends do and this is where they go. Just for context, we are in our early 30’s.:

 Shelter – in an old bomb shelter, mostly electronic music, can get v crowded, but fun

M1NT – big fancy club , long lines on Friday and Saturday after 9

Yuyingtang – live music, mostly chinese bands, younger crowd but fun

JZ – Great  live Jazz venue

Sin – may need to be on a list or reserve a table, depending on the night. Overall a good crowd.

Mao – used to be “the place”, then it fell off the radar and is now making a comeback. Also electronic/house music

Velvet Lounge – this is a bar and a club, gets packed from about 11 onwards. Can be a little seedy at times, but fun.

C’s – if seedy is your thing, this is as divvy as they come in Shanghai.

Someone asked about recommendations for Vietnam, which got me thinking (and searching through old emails). Anyway, this place is SOOO good. Some local friends took Jeanette, Dave and I there and we went back again (and again). Traditional Vietnamese dishes are served on beautiful china in a three-story old building. I would say it´s in the high-middle in terms of price.

Restaurant: Com Viet
Adresse: 13 rue Ly Thai To, Arr. de Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi
Tél.: 8240637

This is still a WIP (consider it v1.0)

Toptable is your friend – check here before you venture to anywhere upmarket, they have great deals (like 25% off if you are out the door by 7)

$ Borough Market – if you´re a foodie, this is heaven. GO EARLY (get there by 10) you can eat there or buy food and make a picnic (weather permitting)

$$ Levant – beautiful restaurant, good Middle Eastern food. Skip the seafood platter and get the meat.

$-$$ Lots Road Pub – good for lunch, brunch or dinner. What a gastropub should be. Make reservations.

$$$ Bluebird Cafe – it´s an institution but I still like it. They do a good brunch.

$$$ Nobu – the best deal is to go at lunch and have the Binto box. OR get snacks in the bar, not really worth the money for a full dinner.

$$ Electric Bar and Brasserie Notting Hill – Great people watching on Notting Hill (and good food). Excellent for brunhc/lunch

$$$ Arbutus – A reasonable Michelin Star restaurant. Worth the splurge. They do wine by carafe/half carafe as well which is cool. Book well in advance

$$ Tsunami – Excellent (reasonably priced) Japanese fusion food.

$$ The Bombay Brasserie – I had been told it was the best indian food in London and I have to say, I think I agree. It´s pricey but they do a good lunch special (14 GBP)

$$ Admiral Codrington – another good Gastrobpub. They specialize in Seafood (yum crabcakes)

$ Beirut Express – Maroush has Lebanese restaurants all over London but I usually go to the one at South Ken. The Hummus Beiruty is rocking. We generally get the shwarma sandwichs.

$ Bagels on Bricklane – 24 hours real bagels..the best thing at the end of a long night. Or a shopping break snack.

$$-$$$ Hunan – my favorite restaurant in London. There´s no menu but you will be asked for any dietary restrictions you have then then you will eat some of the best Chinese food you ever had (ask for the pork with prunes). Let Mikey pick the wine for you.

$ Dim Sum place in Bayswater – the most authentic Dim Sum we found in London.. They don´t take reservations so get there early. (I need to confirm the name with Ann)

$-$$ Jakob´s – Organic predominantly vegetarian Armenian deli/cafe (try the falafel sandwich)

Hummingbird Bakery – REALLY good cupcakes (my fav is the red velvet).


Janet´s bar

Bohemian Kitchen on Old whatever street (need to check this one again)


Upstart Market (Sundays only) – an indoor market for emerging clothing and accesarry designers. Some cool ethnic food stalls as well.

If you like markets, this is a good listing:

The Bar at La Gloria

The first accolade is not only based on my personal experience but also on the advice of my Liman friends. Unlike some other Pisco Sours we tried, it wasn´t too sweet or syrupy. It still packs a serious whallop, definitely the strongest cocktail I ever had. La Gloria is not cheap, even by international standards, but if you´re going to splurge on one meal in Lima – this is the place (but you can also just drink at the bar in the front room). Make sure to order the grilled calamari!! (reservations are a must)

For those who don´t know: A Pisco Sour is a cocktail which contains Pisco (a regional brandy), lemon juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and regional bitters (like Amargo bitters, though Angostura bitters work if regional bitters are unavailable).


I will clean this up later, but this is the basic “Shanghai Email” I dole out on request.

I included addresses, but I suggest looking a place up on
Smartshanghai before you go and you can print the
address in Chinese to show the taxi driver. 
They also have a great interactive SH street map
Art Galleries
Moganshan Lu
Laris – The food here is great and the view is amazing, call in
advance and request a table by the window. It’s pricey, but worth it.
Generally considered best Western Food in Shanghai. Bar Rouge is around the corner at 8 on the Bund
in Shanghai.
6/F, 17 Guangdong Road, inside “3 on the Bund”
Zhongshan Dong Yi Road
6321 9922

Lao Beijing (great Beijing duck) – see earlier post

Viva/Azul – Tapas
18 Dongping Lu near Hengshan lu
Tel: +86 (21) 6433 1172

Brunch at M on the Bund is always great as well.

Coconut Grove – gorgeous colonial house with great garden for eating
outside. Best Thai food in Shanghai
38 Fumin Lu (near Yanan Lu)

1221 – Shaghainese food
1221 Yanan Xi Road
Panyu Road
6213 6585 6213 2441

Sacha’s – nice colonial house – indoor and outdoor seating
(around the corner from Viva/Azul)
9 Dong Ping Road
Hengshan Road

Face – A MUST. gorgeous old house with cool interior – indoor and
outdoo seating.
Address: Ruijin Guest House, 118 Ruijin Er Road
Phone: 6466 4328

Bar Rouge – Amazing view, – go early and have a drink on the deck and leave before the crowds hit around 10/11.

JZ bar – live Jazz, very relaxing
46 Fuxing Road
Yongfu Road
6431 0169

See and Do:

  • Go to the top of the Jin Mao
  • Walk around the Old area (Yu Gardens) and go into the garden
  • Walk through the antique market (on XiZang [Tibet] road 2 blocks south
    of Huaihai road across fromt the Pet market, which is also interesting
    to check out) 
  • Massage: Green Massage is my fav, they get full so book a day ahead
    (or in the morning). A few minutes walk from XinTianDi
    tel. 5386-0222
    58 Taicang Lu
    near Jinan Lu
    Open 10:30am-2am

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