We spent just enough time in Shanghai to qualify as 'visiting Shanghai'. Actually, even that's questionable. We had a ten hour layover on our way to Cambodia so we decided to try our luck with the rumored 72 hour layover visa. You see, to get into China, we usually have to fill out paper work in advance for a $200 visitor's visa. Ouch. BUT, if you have a connecting flight within 72 hours, you can get in for free. Umm...do you even have to ask? I really thought that it would take more work to get in but all we had to show was a copy of our itinerary. It was so easy, that as I heard the stamp hit our passport, I felt like we were sneaking into the country.
We knew that with only 10 hours inside the city, we really wouldn't have as much time as we wanted. So we decided to narrow down what we wanted to do to just the Zhujiajiao region which we were told was just a short hour ride outside of the city. Well it may have taken just an hour if you didn't start from the airport and if you took the right bus (I guess that last part was our mistake. Make sure you grab the bright pink buses for the express!) But since it took us an hour from the airport to the city, then another two hours because we took the wrong bus, it ended up taking a solid three hours to reach our destination. But man, was it worth it. Even though this area is a known tourist attraction for both foreigners and Chinese, it was well worth a visit.
Called 'The Venice of China' for its sprawling canals and traditional boats floating along it, this area made you feel as though you stepped back in time. We had a blast looking through the souvenir shops and getting lost in the vast network of teensy alley ways. It's a place I really want to visit again because by the time we got there, we only had an hour and a half before we had to head right back to the airport again. It was the closest we've ever been to missing our flight because by the time we got to our gate, it was already boarding! Although I'm glad we made it on our flight to Cambodia, the side trip to Zhujiajiao was well worth the rush.