Shanghai is a dynamic city, doing business at top speed and enjoying everything the new China has built.
There is more construction in Shanghai right now than in Manhattan, despite the fact that this Chinese business capital is much older. Hordes of cranes swing girders over the head of the population below all day. Given that the population is approaching 20 million, that’s a lot of girders. But there’s much more for tourists to do than watching buildings being built.
At one time Shanghai was the center of China’s opium trade. But the days of thieves and prostitutes are long gone. Shanghai, called the ‘City on the Sea’ has evolved. It now boasts the country’s stock market and is one of the world’s major financial centers.
If offers one of the world’s largest hotels, excellent dining and incomparable shopping. High-priced boutiques offer goods even a Parisian would not turn a nose up at. Givenchy, Lagerfeld and many more have stores here.
The Bund (Wai Tan) is a very popular sight in Shanghai. The name may sound German, but the area has a very international flavor. There are neo-classical buildings and a waterfront promenade full of busy locals and happy visitors.
Tourists rub shoulders with the street vendors in front of the Nisshin Kisen Kaisha Shipping building, built in 1925. The 7th floor restaurant is a local favorite. Others favor the roof terrace restaurant at the 1916 Union Assurance building. You can enjoy a breathtaking view of Pudong, where much of the major activity takes place.
Xintiandi is another of Shanghai’s many refurbished areas. It now offers upscale clubs and restaurants, but it still retains the aura of its 19th century architecture. You’ll be treated like visiting royalty.
The Yu Yuan Gardens have been receiving visitors for four centuries. And they remain one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. There are five acres of botanical treasures on display.
After a few hours spent viewing some of China’s ancient history, tourists may want to see a modern example of Shanghai’s creativity: The Oriental Pearl Tower (Dong Fang Ming Zhu). Visitors get a spectacular view of the city from the top of one of the world’s tallest broadcasting towers. It’s open day and night and the view is worth seeing both times.
The Shanghai Museum is one of the city’s more recent additions. Built in 1996, it offers 11 modern galleries full of both contemporary and ancient objects. There are bronzes, ceramics, jade and furniture from the Ming dynasty. The sculpture collection is particularly impressive.
Shanghai sits alongside the Yangtze River and there are tours down that mammoth waterway that offer one of the best views of the city. You’ll be competing for river space with lots of other boats, though. Shanghai is one of the busiest cargo ports in the world.
There are many other sights available not far from the dock. Ten Thousand-Flower Pavilion, the Grand Rockery and the Hall of Jade Magnificence are all well attended. Each is a great spot to take a break from all the activity.