Although not containing a wealth of attractions, Shanghai is certainly an exciting and cosmopolitan city. Its modern architecture is inspiring and unusual and tall (there are over 2,700 buildings over 13 stories in this city). Because it is a center for business and finance, it is perhaps the premier gateway city into China. While very modern, it has preserved a bit of its past glory and the surrounding areas have several important attractions for the traveler. This post will be followed by a photo album.
1. The Bund – This riverside promenade is lined with Colonial European buildings which recall Shanghai’s glory days as one of the great centers for trade in the world. Underground walkways allow pedestrians to avoid crossing the busy road and a stroll along the river provides incredible views of Shanghai’s modern district, the Pudong.
2. Excursion to Suzhou – This city is the center for silk-making in China (and a typical silk factory can be visited). But, the city is even more well known because of its many classic Chinese gardens. Here are the best examples in all of China of the traditional blending of rocks, trees, shrubs, and water to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. Great stops in tour of these gardens include the Humble Administrator’s Garden and the Lion’s Grove Garden.
3. Excursion to a Water Village – The “water villages” around Shanghai are a cluster of small towns in which waterways provide the major transport. Much like Venice, these villages are focused around canals and boat traffic is a typical way of getting from place to place. Zhouzhuang is a quintessential water village and a delight to explore. Take a boat ride through the canals to enjoy the ambience.
4. Nanjing Road – This glitzy, neon, largely pedestrian-only street is lined with all types of shops, hotels and eating establishments. If you can successfully negotiate the aggressive street pedlars, it is a great place for people-watching and for finding that unusual item or designer knock-off. It ends at the Bund so is major thoroughfare for walkers on their way to the river.
5. Pudong Skyline – This temple to the modern and burgeoning new China worships height. The Oriental Pearl Tower rises majestically near the Jinmao Building, currently the tallest completed building in the city. A bit further away looms the new World Financial Center which will become Shanghai’s tallest at 492 meter (1614 feet) and one of the tallest buildings in the world (currently #2).
6. Boat Ride on the Huangpu River – This waterway which splits the Puxi, Shanghai “old” city from the Pudong, the new modern metropolis, provides great views of both sides and is a particularly nice way to experience Shanghai. One also is reminded of how busy the city still is in the shipping area.
7. Shanghai Museum – This museum of Chinese art is located on People’s Square, about a mile from the Bund. It contains a treasure-trove of items from various dynasties and is divided into galleries by type.
8. Yuyuan Garden – This traditional Chinese garden, although not as great as those in Suzhou, provides visitors and residents a glimpse into old China in the heart of this busy city. Unfortunately, the garden is extremely crowded with people, but, if unable to visit Suzhou, it is worth the time and energy. There is also an extensive market/mall around the garden which attracts throngs more.
9. Maglev Train – For a real treat, take the Maglev Train, the fastest train in the world, from the city center to the new airport. The train reaches speeds of 240 miles per hour and covers the 35 miles in about 7 minutes. Digital readouts in the cars allow passengers to see how fast the train is traveling. You can certainly feel the acceleration!
10. Jade Buddha Temple – This temple contains two jades Buddhas, one seated and one reclining, and is the most important temple of its kind in the city.