by Barbara Koh
Shanghaichic, part of the Chic series shouldering its way onto the market, has found a place on shop shelves already creaking with guidebooks.
Written by former Hong Kong journalist Barbara Koh, Shanghaichic kicks off with some easily digested morsels on the history and development of the former fishing hamlet and the catastrophes of the Cultural Revolution. The main section of the book, Around Puxi, presents a leisurely examination of hot spots for the well heeled. Here you'll find more than you need to know about 88 Xintiandi and fellow hotels the Westin, the JW Marriott and the Four Seasons, plus 239 Restaurant and Bar, Simply Thai, T8 Restaurant, Bar Rouge, Shikumen Bistro and many more. You'll look long and hard to find a critical sentence, meaning the guide veers dangerously close to tourist-brochure territory, but as the cover intimates, if you're looking for chic you've come to the right place.
When you've lusted over potential digs and eateries, decide where to spend your remaining cash with a flick through the Puxi shopping section, which tells you what to look for in silks, antiques, Chinese furniture, art, bags and, naturally, brands. An account of the rise and continuing rise of Pudong, followed by introductions to side-trip destinations Hangzhou, Zhouzhuang and Suzhou, comprise the tail-end of the title.
Also in the series is Balichic. Tackling the three zones of central and east, south and west, and north Bali, it adopts a similar strategy to Shanghaichic, running through the attractions of each area
before devoting itself to the real business of presenting a host of A-grade hotels, health resorts, restaurants and shops. Maps are rudimentary and accommodation facts, presented in boxes, are fast.
Shanghaichic and Balichic are available from branches of Dymocks, priced $228 each. Hongkongchic is coming soon.