In 1930, Shanghai was known as the “Paris of the Orient,” the city where East meets West. War and revolution put the city into a holding pattern, but in recent decades Shanghai has experienced a renaissance, recreating itself into a global city while preserving the many treasures of its past.
To best experience Shanghai’s great balancing act between yesterday and tomorrow, hop aboard a boat cruise along the Huangpu River. On one riverbank is the Pudong area, home to some of city’s modern landmarks, including Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. In contrast to the futuristic skyline of Pudong is The Bund, on the opposite side of the river. This area has a interesting collection of art deco, neoclassical and baroque buildings .
Beyond The Bund lays the French Concession, where the historic art deco homes of the city’s former European elite are now filled with restaurants, boutiques and bars. Nearby, explore the Shikumen houses, shopping and nightlife of Xintiandi.
Take a break from the busy streets in Shanghai’s green spaces. In Century Park, the city’s largest park, cycle, play miniature golf or stroll past ornamental topiaries. Take an evening stroll along the Pudong Riverside Promenade and Park to see The Bund spectacularly illuminated on the river’s opposite bank. In the Old City, take time out to admire the koi-filled ponds in the centuries-old Yu Yuan Garden.
Shanghai’s Buddhist temples offer tranquility and insight into local culture. Visit the Jade Buddha Temple to see two enormous white jade Buddhas. An even larger jade Buddha statue, the biggest of its kind in mainland China, is at the Jing’an Temple in downtown Shanghai.
Shanghai’s efficient subway and bus systems make it easy to get around. And don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes; Shanghai is a city that rewards those who walk with glimpses into local life and access to less visited areas.