May 1 marks the opening of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo. This year’s fair, featuring the theme “Better City, Better Life” – emphasizing “urban strategies and sustainable development” – is expected to draw 70 million visitors during its six-month run.
Where to stay: If the urban renewal theme inspires you, try booking a room at URBN, Shanghai’s first carbon-neutral hotel. At the forefront of sustainable hospitality, the building itself is a retrofitted factory warehouse designed with recycled wood and reclaimed bricks. Each of the distinct 26 rooms contains an organic-packed mini-bar.
Alternatively, a stay at the historic Ruijin Hotel places you in the tranquility of the outdoors. Located on a 100-acre estate, this garden hotel is made up of four buildings surrounded by an expanse of green, ponds, gazebos and quaint wooden bridges. Before the hotel was open to the public, it was the official guesthouse for the Shanghai government and foreign dignitaries, including former U.S. president Richard Nixon.
Where to dine: Lost Heaven, in the French Concession district, evokes the rich sights and smells of southern Yunnan province. Taking its culinary cues from each of the 26 tribes in the province, menu choices range from spicy cod steamed in banana leaves to Miao tribe hot and sour prawns. The walls of the warmly lit interior are hung with art highlighting the province’s rich culture.
You can’t go to Shanghai and not line up for pan-fried pork dumplings at Yang’s Fry Dumplings, a local institution. Made fresh every morning, they’re coated in sesame seeds and scallion – only one yuan each.
Where to unwind: For a night of live music and heady cocktails, go to JZ Club. Music spills out of this speakeasy jazz house, punctuating the night air with everything from old standards to big band. Musicians will often join the house band on stage, taking the jam session long into the night.
46 FuXing West Rd., + 86 21 6431 0269; jzclub.cn
Don’t miss: With over 200 pavilions at the Expo, it will be hard to see them all. But China’s grandiose contribution, called Crown of the East and featuring the theme “Chinese wisdom in urban development,” is the Expo’s centrepiece. Located in Zone A, its structure stands 63-metres high, looming above the rest with its traditional red dougong roof.