MT Business Travel: Frequent Flyer - Peter Budd's guide to Shanghai

HOW TO GET THERE: I fly direct from Heathrow with British Airways or Virgin - a 10-hour flight. Either that or via Beijing, visiting Shanghai on a round-robin. Pudong, the new international airport, is 90 minutes from Shanghai's centre. Hongqiao is 20 minutes.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

AIRPORT TO TOWN: Pudong is connected by the Maglev train, which can travel at a phenomenal 430km/h, but doesn't yet go to the most convenient areas. So it's taxis and traffic jams. Once in town, get someone to help you use the metro - people are friendly and becoming increasingly relaxed about speaking English.

BEST HOTELS: Hotels in Shanghai are no longer cheap. One exception is the Equatorial 1 (65 Yanan Road, +86 21 6248 1688, www.equatorial.com). It's a central business hotel offering all the support you'd expect from its kind in the UK, but without the prohibitive cost. Around the corner is the Jing An Hilton 2 (250 Hua Shan Road, 21 6248 0000, www.hilton.com). It's now a pygmy on the changing Shanghai skyline, but its 45th-floor bar has great views and a good wine list.

BEST BUSINESS RESTAURANTS: Food in Shanghai reflects its international nature, and restaurants are getting more expensive. Places are in a continuous state of change - what's there this week will be gone the next. I like the Indonesian restaurant Bali Laguna 3 (189 Huashan Road, 21 6248 6970), an old pavilion in the centre of the rather pleasant Jing An Park. Guyi 4 (87 Fumin Lu, 21 6467 0628) offers very good food from the Hunan district, with a nice atmosphere and excellent food.

BEST CAFES AND BARS: Shanghai has its Chinese coffee shops, but bars are also very common and thriving, with a mixed clientele. I like the Big Bamboo sports bar 5 (132 Nan Lang Yu, www.bigbamboo.cn) and Oscar's 6 (1377 Fuxing Zhong Road, 21 6431 6528), an English bar that offers a homely steak.

A FEW HOURS TO KILL? The Bund, the central area of old Shanghai stretching out along the river, is perfect for a wander. In the park on the waterfront, you'll find the Peace Hotel 7, which has a famous basement bar hosting live jazz. It has been there since the 1940s. The centre for shopping is the Nanjing road 8, which stocks all the major brands. Wuxi, the Venice of China, is 90 minutes away by train. It's built on a series of working canals, has a lot of trees and is hugely cheap compared with Shanghai. The train is also very cheap, even in first class, and is an experience in itself.

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE: Cultural differences are narrowing almost by the visit, but they're still there. Non-confrontation is key, so important things go unsaid. It's dangerous to trust in something implied - you need to reach an explicit understanding. Patience is very important. Everything is built on individual, rather than company, relationships, and these take time to develop. Face is very important. Cause someone to lose face - for example, by proving them wrong in public - and it will be difficult to build a continuing relationship. Protocol is still to carry out meetings in Chinese, with translators. If you're taken out for a meal, don't expect it to be relaxed. Chinese hosts use dinner to discuss serious issues.

SECRETS OF THE JET SET: You can walk anywhere - just carry your hotel card and you can always grab a taxi back if you're lost. People are hugely helpful and I never feel threatened. Traffic is a big issue, so allow time to reach appointments. Finally, Shanghai's long commercial history means it's a city of very astute business people. Very little happens by chance - they'll research you, your business and the offering. Don't be fooled by appearances, be prepared and watch your step.

Peter Budd is global head of airports at Arup.

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