Shanghai. It’s hard to imagine how this once humble fishing village at the mouth of the Yangzte River grew into China’s biggest city and the eighth largest in the world. And yet it has become the pride of China in more ways than one – a sprawling, progressive city with a proud, resplendent past. An epicenter for art and culture as much as it is for commerce. Yes, this cosmopolitan city has plenty to offer the curious tourist and has become a popular option for those traversing the East. For first-timers, why not adopt a chronological order approach to sightseeing to truly get a taste of Shanghainese history?
Part I: Imperial Era – Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.)In Puxi district (west bank), make your way to the Yuyuan Garden, a traditional Ming style private garden built in 1559 and opened to the public in 1961. Within the garden are rockeries, cloisters, pavilions, halls, ponds and many scenic areas.
Part II: 1930s Visit the Bund (Wai Tan) where European architecture lines the streets. This area was once the financial and commercial districts in Shanghai, where foreign businesses and governmental buildings were established. Wander the French Concession where shikumen townhouses, art deco-buildings, cafés and shops stand. Evidence of the city’s hedonistic past can be seen in these colonial buildings abound. For those who want an authentic shopping experience, head to Nanjing Road.
Part III: 21st century Cross the Huangpu River to Pudong, and you will find China’s Wall Street. For a grand city view from atop, head to the Oriental Pearl Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world.
There are numerous accommodation options in Shanghai as well as an endless range of dining choices, from delicious street foods in Wujiang Road to upscale, expensive eateries in Xintiandi.
China celebrates a number of festivals and timing your trip to coincide with an event might be a good idea for folks who prefer a bona fide taste of Chinese culture. However, avoid going during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) in February because most places are closed.
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