I came to China alone, and the first two days I tried to wing it. That was fine, but with zero context, it was a bit difficult. I hailed taxis like it was 1995 in New York City. I tried to use google maps, but even with my VPN, it was difficult. I was almost ready to give up and change my flight until a little voice in my head said “LOOK UP A CITY TOUR.” The third day I booked a tour on Viator, and my tour guide Mary was the most warm, knowledgeable, and helpful tour guide that I could have hoped for! I’m so glad I booked the tour, as it changed my entire perspective of Shanghai. And honestly, it added so much more meaning and depth to my trip, especially as a solo traveler. Would highly recommend!
In addition to a city tour, I have a few more recommendations.
1. Download Nord VPN before you arrive. It is the best VPN. I still must warn you; the great firewall of China is nothing to play with. There are many websites you cannot access regardless of if you have a VPN. However, I have found that Nord VPN is the best one to help you access many sites you’ll probably need for your stay. (Like google)
2. Download Alipay. This is how you will pay, get rides around town, pretty much everything there is to do. You can even donate clothing through Alipay and it’s much more secure and convenient than Apple Pay or carrying around cash. Everyone in China uses and accepts Alipay.
3. Download the Google App. There is a Google Lens button within the app that allows you to translate any foreign language with just a point of your phone. This alone was immensely helpful.
4. Addresses may be inaccurate or hard to find, and special diets beware. The Chinese culture eat and cook with a lot of meat, specifically pork. So if you have dietary restrictions, make sure you do proper research on where you can eat beforehand.