China’s largest city and its booming commercial capital, Shanghai is an exciting metropolis where traditional and modern happily coexist amid a colourful swirl of people and activity.
Jing An Temple
With the perfume of incense heavy in the air, Jing An Temple offers a tranquil escape from the buzzing streets of downtown Shanghai. Step inside for a peek at the many beautiful statues and artworks, including a magnificent bell tower in one of the temple’s courtyards. Open from 7:30am to 5:00pm daily.
For some intensive retail therapy, make your way to Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s shopping mecca. The road is lined with countless sprawling department stores, fancy boutiques and tiny shops selling pretty much anything you could be looking for. Large parts of the road are open only to pedestrian traffic, making this a great place to explore on foot amid the bustling crowds.
Unwind with a drink and a meal at one of numerous bars, cafes and restaurants in trendy Xintiandi. Merging elegant elements of old Shanghai with modern design, this entertainment hotspot has been brought new life to what used to be traditional shikumen housing while retaining some of the original brick facades and characteristically narrow lanes. Perfect for a fun night out with friends.
With its dozens of historic buildings lining the mighty Huangpu River, the Bund is Shanghai at its best. Take a stroll along the waterfront walkway to soak in the city’s charm. The gleaming new skyscrapers on the Pudong side of the river offer an interesting balance to the old-world feel on the Puxi side, and both sides look impressive when brightly lit up at night.
Explore the quiet pathways, ponds and greenery of Yuyuan Garden. Dating back more than 400 years, this classical Chinese garden offers a sense of what Shanghai may have felt like in centuries past. Following the traditional style, the garden features stylised sections portraying different scenes, including forests, mountains and springs.
Oriental Pearl Tower
An unmistakable icon on Shanghai’s skyline, the 468-metre Oriental Pearl Tower stands proudly along the banks of the Huangpu River. You can enjoy panoramic views of the sprawling city and pick out famous landmarks from one of the tower’s three sightseeing floors. There is even a rotating restaurant where you can relax over a meal high above the bustle of Shanghai.
For a comprehensive introduction to ancient Chinese art, stop by the Shanghai Museum. Its 11 galleries showcase beautiful examples of traditional artwork, from flowing calligraphy and intricate ceramics to striking bronzes. The museum is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily.
Jade Buddha Temple
Attracting both locals and visitors, the Jade Buddha Temple is home to two Buddha statues beautifully carved from jade. While these statues are undoubtedly the main attraction, it is worth taking some time to wander around the temple’s peaceful grounds to admire the many other ornate sculptures on display. Open from 8:00am to 5:00pm daily.
Formerly the site of a horseracing track, People’s Square is today a large square featuring gardens and sculptures that is open to the public. The square is surrounded by several important civic and cultural buildings, including the Shanghai Municipal Government’s headquarters, the Shanghai Museum and the Shanghai Grand Theatre. People’s Square is open daily and admission is free.
Hangzhou and Suzhou
If you have time for a day trip outside of Shanghai, consider visiting either Hangzhou or Suzhou, both of which are easily accessible by high-speed rail. Hangzhou is renowned for its natural beauty and is home to the picturesque West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Suzhou you can visit the city’s classical gardens – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and explore the intricate network of canals and stone bridges that criss-crosses the city.