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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrShanghai is the largest city (by population) in the world, with a population of over 24 million. Located in East China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River, making it a global transportation hub and a center for trade, with the world’s busiest container port. It is also a global financial center, a popular tourist destination, and a desirable location for expats.
Spread over 6,000 sq km, Shanghai is mostly flat. The city experiences four distinct seasons, with snow and sub-zero temperatures in the winter, and hot, humid summers.
HistoryShanghai was a major shipping and trading town for centuries before growing in importance in the 19th century when traders from Europe used it as a popular port location. The city first opened to international trade after the First Opium War , and in 1844, the Shanghai International Settlement was established, creating a hub for trade between the East and West.
SightseeingShanghai is full of tourist attractions. The more visited are:
Yu GardenYu Garden, located just outside the Old City of Shanghai, is a large, sprawling, Chinese garden. Containing the Yuyuan Tourist Mart and the Currow ancient stone, Yu Garden is not to be missed. Yu Garden is spread over an area of 5 acres, and in Suzhou style, is divided into six sections. Finished in 1577 during the Ming Dynasty by an officer named Pan Yunduan, the garden was built for his parents, to enjoy in their old age.
Over 400 years, the landscape of the garden has changed drastically, but today there are halls, pavilions, ponds, and rockeries, and you can easily spend a whole day wandering.
One of the must-see attractions is the Great Rockery; standing at 14 meters, it is the largest and oldest rockery in the region, and provides a great birds-eye view of the park. The Exquisite Jade Rock is another main attraction. At 3.3 meters in height, the rock has 72 holes. If you pour water over the rock, it exits through all 72 holes, creating quite a sight. Similarly, people often burn a joss stick at the bottom of the rock, and smoke comes out from all of the holes, creating an equally impressive site. Admission is 30 CNY or 40 CNY, depending on the season, and the park is open until 17.30 PM. You can take a number of buses and get off at Xinbeimen, or alternatively, take Subway Line 10 and get off at Yuyuan Station.
Oriental Pearl TowerThe Oriental Pearl Tower is located in Pudong Park, and is surrounded by the Yangpu Bridge and the Nanpu Bridge Interexchange, providing views across Shanghai. At 468 meters, the TV tower is tall, but does not rank as one of the tallest in the world; instead, its fascination comes from the design of the tower. Made up of a number of spheres, and supported by seven-meter wide slanting poles, the entire structures sits in the grass. Visitors travel up and down the tower in double-decker elevators that can hold up to fifty people, and visitors ascend rapidly to the top of the tower. Once at the top, you are able to get out and walk around, and there are shops and restaurants, all providing magnificent views over Shanghai. At the base of the tower is the Shanghai Municipal History Museum. A trip up the tower is not cheap; the cheapest, which includes the History Museum, is 120 CNY, while the most expensive, which includes a river cruise is 180 CNY.
The BundThe Bund, also known as ‘Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu’, Shanghai’s famous waterfront is a well-known landmark of Shanghai. Located on the west bank of Huangpu River, the 26 buildings in different architectural styles are the most famous attractions. This is a popular place to take a stroll along the waterfront, and an iconic place for a photograph. The Bund was originally a British settlement, and the remnants of this are evident in the architecture. The Bund eventually turned into a financial hub, and consulates and banks were most commonly located here. Today, it is home to mostly hotels, as well as pubs and night clubs.
Jing'an TempleJing'an Temple is a beautiful and famous Buddhist temple in Shanghai, next to the subway station with the same name.
Jade Buddha TempleJade Buddha Temple is made using My jade brought from Myanmar, and was founded in the late 1880s. There are two Buddha statues, one reclining, the other is sitting, made entirely out of jade, and these statues were brought to the temple from Burma. The temple is made up of buildings and courtyards, and the Buddhas are located upstairs next to the Grand Hall, the largest temple building. This is also a great activity for kids, as the ponds are filled with fish, and they will be mesmerized by the temple's buildings. The entrance fee is $ 3.00 USD , and $ 1.50 USD to see the upright jade Buddha.
Shanghai Huangpu River CruiseThe Shanghai Huangpu River Cruise can be done during the day or at night, and each will give you a different experience. The river is 114 kilometers long and 400 meters wide. The river divides Shanghai into east and west, and is crossed by a number of impressive bridges. Cruise ships all vary in size, with some very luxurious offering on-board dining options, and others simple tow boats. Almost all ships depart from the Bund, traveling south to Huangpu Bridge, where they turn around and return to the starting point.
The Shanghai MuseumThe Shanghai Museum, located in People’s Square, is a museum of ancient Chinese art. Rebuilt in 1996, the modern building is considered one of China’s greatest museums. The museum houses over 120,000 pieces, including bronze, ceramics, calligraphy as well as furniture, paintings, and sculptures. Open from 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM, the museum is located on Ren Min Da Dao, and is well-known by all taxi drivers. Unusual for China, the museum is free, and they provide audio description in a variety of languages. There is a restaurant, and the museum is set among beautiful gardens that can all be enjoyed for free.
EatingFilled with expats, international businessmen, and tourists, Shanghai has everything you could imagine, and offers a truly enriching dining scene. No matter the type of cuisine you are looking for, you’re going to find it done well in Shanghai.
If you want a truly spectacular dining experience, head to number 18 on the Bund, where you’ll find Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet . The food is presented in an artistic manner, and the drinks and ambiance add to the experience. The meal consists of approximately 22 courses, each with a new flavor, and different presentation. However, you will pay for the privilege, and making a reservation is near impossible. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of meal.
For some traditional Shanghai dumplings, head to Ding Tai Fung, possibly the best dumpling restaurant in China. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant is always bustling, but the service is fast and attentive. Prices are cheap, and the restaurant is a favorite with locals as well as the international crowd. Din Tai Fung is a brand and can be found across China – locals often argue about which one is the best branch.
If you are craving Italian, check out Sale e Pepe Italian Restaurant and Winebar, located on Changyi Road. Rated the third-best restaurant in Shanghai, the restaurants serves ‘no frills’, home-made Italian food at reasonable prices. Though the location is not the best, and much nicer during the day when you can sit out on the promenade, the fresh produce makes up for it, as does the wide selection of wine.
NightlifeThere is no shortage of night time activities in Shanghai, with a variety of music tastes and types of entertainment. The French Concession is a good place to go for low-key bars and pubs. There’s also the Bounty Rhumerie, where it seems drinking rum is essential, and has been nicknamed the ‘Pirate club’. Boxing Cat Brewery, just down the street is a micro-brewery run by two Americans that often shows sports events, and serves great food alongside big beers. The Bund is where to go if you are looking for glamour and glitz. Bar Rouge is a must, where you’ll find higher-priced cocktails alongside excellent views. Any night of the week, head to M2, one of the best Chinese clubs, where you’ll find dancers, DJs, and girls in skimpy outfits, along with a crazy show.
AccommodationLike any major city, accommodation in Shanghai ranges from the very cheap hostels, to the very expensive luxury hotels. Rock&Wood International Youth Hostel is one of the best hostels, located centrally near metro line 3 at West Yan’an Road Station. At around $ 11 USD a night for a shared room, it is more expensive that other Chinese hostels, but definitely some of the cheapest accommodation in Shanghai. They have a big garden, and terrace along with laundry service, a bar and a restaurant serving Western breakfast.
The three-star Rainbow Hotel Shanghai, located centrally on Yan’an West Road can be expensive at $ 120 USD a night, though if you book during the right season, you can find some great deals. It has a great view from the higher floors, and includes free breakfast, as well as a swimming pool, and crucial in Shanghai, free parking.
The five-star Renaissance Shanghai Yangtze Hotel located on Yan’an West Road in Changning District offers rooms at around $ 125 USD a night. Targeted mainly towards business customers, the hotel is also suitable for families, with a swimming pool, fitness room, as well as free WiFi, and a restaurant.
ShoppingShopping in Shanghai is divided into four areas. Nanjing Road is the most popular commercial street in China, and as imagined, is often packed with people. You can however, find everything you want, from clothes, to souvenirs. The Parkson Shopping Center on Huaihai Road has reasonably-priced, brand-named clothes, as well as other promotions and discounts. Yuyuan Tourist Mart is the largest retail merchandiser in China, and it is truly overwhelming. Go with a full stomach, and a bottle of water, and bargain as much as possible! The company has a number of department stores, almost all of which are located in Yuyuan Garden, offering different luxury goods at hugely discounted prices.
There are a number of shopping malls in Shanghai. Amongst them are IAPM Shopping Mall, Global Harbor, Cloud Nine Mall, IFC Mall and Grand Gateway Plaza.
If you are willing to travel a short distance for silk souvenirs, head to Suzhou, home to possibly the finest silk producers in the world. Here you are able to buy silk products, such as scarves, and jackets, as well as the traditional qipao, at cheap prices. Located approximately an hour west of Shanghai, it is a big trip to make, but worth it if you want to go straight to the source of silk souvenirs. Alternatively, you can see how silk is made by visiting the Jiangnan Silk Museum in Putuo District. Here you can see how silk is produced from the cocoons of silkworms. There are of course many silk importers in the city, and the Shanghai Silk Building is one of the best. Located on Huaihai Road and Nanjing Road, it is often frequented by many locals.
The BundThe Bund, known for its restaurants and nightclubs, is also known for its iconic shopping experience. All the stores occupy former colonial buildings, many of which were previously used as banking headquarters, brand names such as Georgio Armani, Cartier, and Dolce & Gabbana have taken over prime real estate in the Bund, making for a truly all-around luxurious shopping experience. While many wealthy Chinese citizens have an obsession with brand names, this is less of an attraction for Western shoppers who have the same brands at home.
The Cyber MarketThe cyber market is worth visiting, as it offers great electronics at hugely discounted prices. Remember that anything you bring home may be subjected to an import tax, but that this is still cheaper than buying the products at home. Again, your haggling skills will come in handy here, and you will be able to find computers, cameras, memory sticks, and everything else. Beware of the abundance of fake Apple stores selling scarily similar remakes of iPods, iPads, and all of the other products. It has been reported that the stores are sometimes such close copies of Apple, that even the employees did not realize the store was fake!
SafetyFor its size, Shanghai is a fairly safe city. Late at night, the districts around clubs can be more dangerous and tourists should take caution, as tourists will be the biggest targets. The biggest crime you will likely come in contact with is pickpocketing, so be sure to have your belongings close to you at all times. Shanghai has a heavy police presence, and the police are fairly trustworthy and helpful, though language may be a barrier. Also keep in mind that the traffic is very hectic, and bikes, motorbikes, and cars whizz around the streets, so make sure to keep to the pavement, and think seriously before venturing out on push bikes.
Tourist TransportationThe easiest way to get around Shanghai is using public transportation. Tourists can purchase a Shanghai Public Transportation Card, and can be used for all modes of public transportation, including buses, the subway, and ferries. The subway runs all across town, is cheap, clean, and safe, though it may get very crowded during peak times during the week. Buses will run further than the subway, so if you’re staying outside of town, you may find that the buses are most useful. Ferries run between Pudong and Puxi, and costs no more than $ 0.80 USD . It is a great way to get from one half of the city to the other quickly. The ferry runs until 9.30 PM and provides a wonderful nighttime view of the city.
Getting ThereShanghai boasts two international airports, and if you fly into Shanghai Pudong International Airport, you can take a bullet train service to the city center, travelling at a speed of almost 400 km/h. Over 1,000 flights arrive in Shanghai daily, with connections from all over the world. Getting to Shanghai by train is a very convenient way to travel from other cities with connections to most major Chinese cities. Travelling between Shanghai and Beijing is now very easy, with the advent of the magnet-controlled bullet train. Travelling at 300 mph, the trains cut the 10-hour journey to just 4 hours and 48 minutes, and makes a single stop in Nanjing. Although they are expensive, they cut the travelling time so severely that the service has remained popular. You are able to purchase tickets online, but as the website is exclusively in Chinese, it is easier to do it at the station or through your hotel.
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Author: hannahbarkan. Last updated: Jan 09, 2015