Shanghai is China’s largest city by population and the most populated city in the world. It’s a global financial centre and is home to the world’s busiest container port. Shanghai, also known as Hu, is found in the Yangtze River Delta in East China and is a city that embraces both its ancient heritage and the more westernised aspects of modern life.
Here you’ll find skyscrapers that scream modernity alongside ancient temples like the Jade Buddha Temple. For a traveller, there is so much to take in when visiting Shanghai that it is difficult to know where to start. Most people don’t have a long time to spend in the city, but even if you’re only there for a few days, there are some highlights you definitely shouldn’t miss.
Check out this guide to Shanghai and do some background reading on the city’s history and culture before you go.
Also known as Shongshan Dong Yi Lu, this is the famous waterfront symbol which stretches for 1.5 km between two bridges – Waibaidu and Nanpu. There are 26 buildings in the Bund which include different styles of architecture – from Gothic to Renaissance, Baroque to Classical. The mile long ‘lovers’ wall’ is a flood-control wall which is the perfect place to take in some magnificent river views.
This is the oldest shopping street in Shanghai and it joins the Bund to Yan’an West Street and Jing’an Temple with 5.5 km of shops. There are over 600 stores along Nanjing Road, including traditional shops that sell Chinese specialities like embroidery, silk goods and jade along with world chains like Montblanc and Tiffany. Whatever gifts you want to take home with you, you’ll find them here.
After dark Nanjing Road is the place to be in Shanghai for eating and drinking and there are plenty of street musicians performing too. All tastes are catered for and alongside traditional Chinese cuisine, you’ll also be able to find western chains like Pizza Hut and McDonalds. If you’re too tired to walk after a day’s sightseeing, you can take a trackless train along Nanjing Road, and just relax while you take in all the sights.
If you feel overwhelmed by the bustling and hectic nature of Shanghai city, it’s a great idea to head to Yuyuan Garden in Anren Jie. This is a beautiful garden which has six main areas including halls, pavilions, cloisters and a 14m high rockery. The gardens also have lots of water features and streams. The immense Exquisite Jade Rock is over 3m in height and features 72 holes, making it a spectacular feature of the garden.
Just south of Nanjing Road, in the People’s Square, you’ll find the Shanghai Museum – a great place to see exhibits of ancient Chinese art. The main categories of Chinese art are represented here in these 11 galleries.
The only problem with visiting Shanghai is trying to cram in all of the must-see sights, but if you get to see the areas mentioned above, you’ll have made a very good start.