As an international group of agencies Avantgarde runs offices around the world. Time to tap into their wisdom when it comes to getting an off-the-beaten-track guide to their home city. We kick things off with the Avantgarde Shanghai office. Our very own Jessica Dong was patient enough to answer our questions thoroughly. Read on to learn about shark tanks in night clubs, where to buy quirky t-shirts and which of the 49,000 restaurants to choose for lunch…
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Jessica Dong. I was born and grew up in China. After living in Canada for 8 years, I have gained myself a double degree in marketing and international business. This is the thrid year since I started working at Avantgarde. I am in charge of PR and hotel/venue relationships for Avantgarde Shanghai.
Xintiandi is one of my favorite parts of Shanghai. It’s a trendy area where you can shop for both brand and local designer items; dine in both western and local restaurants; have a drink or coffee in the terraces and do people watching. If you only have one place to go in Shanghai, this will be the one.
Museums and historic sites aside – what is a must-see in your town?
The former French Concession area: It is now known for its European-style cafes and restaurants, quiet, leafy, tree-lined avenues and tudor houses nestled in beautiful gardens interspersed with hole-in-wall eateries and local colours and flavours. You could get off at any stop in the area and just stroll around the shops, boutiques, bars and delis for an entire day.
Where to go for lunch? What do the locals eat?
The non-official number shows there are approximately 49000 restaurants in this city and there are a lot of areas to go for lunch.
Tianzifang is one of the popular areas close to the Avantgarde Shanghai office. The area is known for small craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios and narrow alleys. You can find a local noodle restaurant, a Japanese sushi bar, French bistro, Southeast Asia fusion restaurant and a Vienna Café in the area. Noodles, dim sums, sushi, salads and sandwiches – there is quite a mix of what locals eat in Shanghai.
If I wanted to buy a quirky souvenir or a gift from your city, where should I go look for it?
City God Temple (or Chenghuang Temple) – a large temple complex located within the old walled city with over a hundred small shops in the area.
You can find toy pandas made of pearls, traditional Chinese dresses and suits with dragon embroidery, and t-shirts with President Obama wearing Chairman Mao’s hat.
Where would you go for dinner with good friends?
The Bund area – it is a waterfront area in central Shanghai and is known for its stunning view. There are many nice restaurants and bars in the historical buildings in the area. On a weekend evening, you can go there with good friends, sit on a terrace, and have nice food with a spectacular view.
What’s the most talked about night club in town?
M1NT – this is one of the poshest clubs in Shanghai. Located on the top floor of a skyscraper near the Bund. Inside, there are shark tanks and lots of luxurious décor, plus a high-end restaurant, a club and a lounge area.
What’s the one event throughout the year that you would recommend attending?
Tour de Bund, the annual charity bicycling event hosted by Raleigh China and The Penninsula Hotel Shanghai; bicycling along the Huangpu River. All the revenue will be donated to Raleigh China for helping poor kids in China’s countryside. Avantgarde Shanghai is one of the key sponsors. We do all the setup of the event for free and also participates in the bicycling tour.