AS one of the economic powerhouses of the East, Shanghai has captured the attention of much of the globe in recent decades. To the outside world, the reputation of this bustling metropolis is often predicated on its financial prowess and pulsing night life, but there is also romance to be found in Shanghai, provided you look in the right places.
When you’ve met the right person and want to ask him or her the big question, the setting can often be the most important factor. Here are some spots to consider for those of you pondering your proposal.
For all of its romantic history and architectural appeal, the Bund is an ideal place for proposal, but may not cater to privacy-seeking couples. For that, as well as one of the best star-gazing views in Shanghai, Dishui lake in Pudong stands out.
The journey to this man-made lake begins at the Longyang Road Metro station, and ends at the terminal station of Line 16. It takes around two hours to reach the lake, but anyone recognizing the romantic appeal of a starry night canopy can hardly begrudge the commute. Located about as far south east as you can get before Pudong meets the ocean, Dishui Lake is well removed from the light pollution of the city.
If you’re planning on proposing under the stars, though, you should consider getting a room for the night; the last train leaves at 10pm.
Any article about the romantic appeal of Shanghai would be lacking without mention of this riverside promenade. Unless you’re reading this just after stepping off the plane, you’ve probably already taken a stroll down this most famous of tourist attractions in Shanghai.
Much of the aesthetic appeal of this five-block span of Zhongshan Road is in the European-inspired architecture hugging the Huangpu River. Standing in stark contrast to the modern skyscrapers of the Pudong financial district are the remnants of Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Art Deco architecture from a time when the many banks and trading houses from around the world dotted the riverside.
Arguably the best way to share a romantic moment among these spectacular views is on a rooftop, and there are plenty of rooftop bars along the Bund for you to choose from. Captain’s Bar, located on the roof of Captain Hostel, is one relatively affordable option. Although it’s not technically on the Bund, it’s still close enough to offer a great view, and the prices are unbeatable. If you really have money to burn though, VUE Bar at the top of the Shanghai Hyatt on the Bund offers views of both sides of the river. It also has a hot tub.
Zhujiajiao Ancient Town
Well endowed with traditional Chinese-style residences, winding waterways and 36 ancient bridges, there are ample opportunities for a proposal while exploring Zhujiajiao.
Book a room for the night though; the big question should wait until after dark, when the crowds have already scattered.
As one of the closest watertowns to Shanghai, the large crowds flocking to Zhujiajiao can be a wrench in the gears for someone trying to find a romantic setting. However, after nightfall the town transforms into its quaint, former self. While the locals settle in to enjoy a quiet cup of tea and the faint whisper of water in the canals, taking your sweetheart on a serene walk through the streets can provide exactly the kind of ambiance you’re looking for. Pose the question on a little bridge for bonus points.
Lu Xun Park
For the socialist couple, this spec of blue and green on the city map will appeal to both romantic and political sensibilities. There’s no shortage of sights to appreciate here: shady paths winding through lazy trees, kites dotting the blue sky overhead, an amateur musical duo filling the air the sultry tone of the saxophone, and the trembling voice of the erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument), people dancing, singing and laughing around a lake big enough to swallow everything around, a statue of the legendary socialist writer himself, whose likeness carries the revolutionary spirit of 20th century China into the modern age.
This park is huge, and there’s bound to be a spot where you and your boo can be alone for at least a few minutes. So go on a walk, pop a squat and spit the question.
Shanghai matchmaking corner
If your partner has a sense of humor, you could propose to him or her at the matchmaking corner in People’s Park.
Every Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5pm, parents of unmarried adults flock to the park to exchange information about their children in the hopes of finding them a match. Next to the modern art museum, crowds of them jostle and chatter, the bushes around filled with papers advertising height and weight, salary and education.
This method of matchmaking isn’t particularly romantic, and its success rate is rather low. But, if you choose this setting for your proposal, any onlooking elders will likely find it charming, even if it isn’t their own child getting married.
The big wheel on top of Joy City mall above Qufu Road Metro station is reminiscent of the London Eye, albeit smaller. Affording a great view of one of Shanghai’s remaining few lilong (lane) areas, there’s likely to be an appropriate time for an important question on this circular trajectory of Jing’an District. The best part: Pods have bluetooth options that allow you to play your own music, in addition to adjustable mood lights. If you want a little more time in the pod, you can pay extra to have afternoon tea, or even dinner, in the pod.
Known as “Lover’s Road” by the locals, Tian’ai Road is a perfect for a romantic stroll. Located in Hongkou District next to Lu Xun Park, this 526-meter stretch of sentimentality is boxed in by walls decked with romantic poems and aphorisms from the likes of Shakespeare, Pushkin, Shelley and W. B. Yeats, as well as hand-scrawled notes and declarations of love. There is also a special mailbox. Any letter sent from it will be stamped with a “love” postmark. If you don’t feel like proposing while strolling down lover’s lane, you could always ask your sweetheart to marry you in a letter and send it through the love mailbox. Who wouldn’t find that cute?
The Zotter Chocolate Theater
For 180 yuan (US$26) per person, you can get a tour of this Austrian brand’s chocolate facilities. You’ll get a full play-by-play of the process of making chocolate from “bean-to-box.” And yes, you can sample the chocolatey goodness at every step of the way. At the end of the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to make your own chocolates. With a little help from the staff, you might be able to get creative and make some “will you marry me” chocolates as an alternative to awkwardly blurting out the question during the tour.