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China Insider: new Beijing and Shanghai restaurants, Shenzhen guide



November 2008: Issue Seventeen

A quarterly newsletter of “insider tips” on China’s latest travel news including the best and latest in restaurants, retail, entertainment and culture, culled from general managers, concierge and staff of Shangri-La’s 26 China hotels.

This issue’s feature: Shenzhen
Shangri-La recently opened its second hotel in Shenzhen in the district of Futian, which is fast becoming the new economic and cultural heart of the city.



Those unable (or unwilling) to brave the crowds and visit Beijing’s 600-year-old Forbidden City in person can now explore the site online. The new 3-D Beyond Space and Time ( is a complete, virtual replica of the vast imperial city, right down to the tour guides. Users can interact with other visitors, check out Ming-dynasty relics, take photos, and even partake in an imperial ceremony. It’s free and it’s at your fingertips from the comfort of your home.

After the devastating earthquake that rocked Sichuan province in May 2008, travel to the region is back in vogue and dozens of companies are signing up to make their mark with new tourism ventures. A recent trade fair saw the establishment of 48 new tourism projects across the province, accounting for a total investment of some RMB55 billion (about US$8 billion). On the agenda is a new water theme park as well as a number of new nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.  

Beijing’s most visited tourist destination for decades, the Forbidden City faces some stiff competition it seems. Recent statistics show that the Olympic Common Domain (home to the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube) has become the capital’s most popular attraction, seeing more than 280,000 daily visitors during the recent October National Day holiday period—around 70,000 more than the Forbidden City. Like the imperial palace, visits are no longer free: limited release of 80,000 daily tickets to the Bird's Nest are priced at RMB50 each (about US$7.30), and 12,000 tickets to the Water Cube are RMB30 each (about US$4.40).

With the recent boom in modern Chinese art, plans are now underway to build the world’s largest contemporary art museum in Beijing. Set to be completed by 2010, the 66,000-square-meter (710,487-square-foot) Beijing Yihaodi International Artbase will be home to oversize sculptures and interactive installations—works that often don’t make it into galleries because of their scale—from both domestic and international artists. In keeping with existing “bourgeois boho” art areas like Dashanzi, the Artbase will, according to designer Zhe Pei, look like an unfinished piece of work, rather than an architectural monument.

The global financial crisis may have taken its toll on some industries in China, but outbound travel is not one of them it seems. Recent statistics from the National Tourism Administration show that the number of Chinese travelling abroad reached 34.4 million in the first nine months of 2008, up 15 per cent from 2007 figures.

The clear skies and relatively smooth road conditions that characterised the Olympic Games period in Beijing are set to return thanks to traffic restrictions recently implemented across the capital. The new rules stipulate that motorists must spend at least one day off the roads over the working week—an estimated 80,000 less cars on the road every day. Moreover, the government has promised that when pollution levels reach particularly high levels, it will increase restrictions to take half of Beijing’s 3.5 million cars off the road.



Nestled in Shanghai’s “new Xintiandi”—the Cool Docks, at the southern end of the Huangpu River—the recently opened Stiller’s restaurant makes its mark as the city’s first upscale German restaurant. The brainchild of celebrity chef Stefan Stiller, the airy eatery dishes up hearty mains alongside an indulgent degustation menu. And if you like what you see, you can pick up a few tips at Stiller’s regular cooking classes, held in the kitchen onsite.

Down a small hutong alleyway adjacent to the Forbidden City in Beijing, Domus is as stylish as it is tasty. The new duplex restaurant (located opposite its sister establishment, long-time favourite Tiandi Yija) offers creative international cuisine: the upstairs café focuses on finger food and quick bites, while downstairs the divine degustation menu can be enjoyed with a side of live entertainment courtesy of energetic chefs in the open kitchen. After your meal, take to the lounge and relax in modern sofas and armchairs courtesy of Italian designers.

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