Shanghai is one of the most economically important cities in China. It is found at the centre of the country’s financial growth and also lies at the heart of cultural development.
It is also known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ because of its colorful skyline and the impressive Oriental Pearl TV Tower. It is a port city which is found at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia.
Since the city was established in 1842, it has been a very important trading hub which was particularly prosperous during the 1920s and 1930s. It was during this time that the city opened its doors to dens of iniquity and opium houses; luckily, most of these have since shut down and the notorious reputation the city has been replaced with its newfound status as one of China’s most modern metropolises.
It is a hugely diverse city which continues to develop at an astounding rate and is one of the leading cities in Asia in terms of economic growth. During its prime, the city was home to people from all across the world who all lived peacefully together with the Chinese.
Today, Shanghai is often compared to New York and has many similarities. The city is laid out like a grid and has a population of over 16 million people, making it one of the most crowded cities in the world. It is a very glamorous city, hence its other nickname being ‘Paris of the East’, and the local Chinese who live here have the reputation of being very open-minded and proactive.
Tourists who visit Shanghai will never be stuck for something to do. Museums and art galleries, parks, monuments, historic buildings, entertainment zones and an abundance of shops are just a few choices which keep visitors busy. There is also an excellent restaurant scene and a lively nightlife. It is however very expensive, especially when compared with other destinations in China and it is therefore important to budget.
Getting There & Away
Shanghai is home to two international airports, Hong Qiao International and Pudong International. The former is just 13kms west of the city center and serves a number of international flights throughout both Asia and the rest of the world. The latter is a little bit farther out, approximately 30kms from downtown Shanghai, but serves more international destinations. There are also domestic destinations on offer with cities such as Beijing just 1 hour, 50 minutes away; Guangzhou just 1 hour, 30 minutes and Xi’an 2 hours, 20 minutes. However, traveling by train is just as popular, often cheaper and far more comfortable. Beijing to Shanghai is 12 hours, but there are sleeper trains available and dinner is served on all.
Things to Do
- Shanghai Museum
This museum boasts over 120,000 pieces of chinese art as well an abundance of archaeological finds.
- The Bund
Is the name given to shanghai’s waterfront area which has recently been developed and a must-see.
- Duolun Lu
Is a famous street which is often referred to as the city’s ‘cultural street’. it takes visitors back in time to the 1930s and is home to quaint cafés, antique houses, art galleries and museums.
- She Shan Cathedral
Located on the western peak of she mountain, this is one of the best european-style churches in the city. it was originally built by the jesuits in 1866
- Bird and Flower Market
This market is off the main tourist radar and offers a glimpse into everyday life in shanghai; something which is an experience never forgotten. the street market is buzzing with people selling fish, birds, orchids and bonsai trees.
- Huangpu Park
Was once banned for all chinese. during colonial times, there was a sign saying
‘no dogs and no chinese.’ today however, this has been turned around and people of all nationalities can be seen enjoying the facilities here.
Side trips from Shanghai
Boasts beautiful gardens and is a short drive away.
Is a good daytrip and a bustling and lively town to visit.
A stunning buddhist island in the east china sea which is easily reached by boat from shanghai.
Is a little farther away but boasts beautiful scenery such as the west lake.
- Shanghai Tourist Festival
Held every september, this annual event boasts a wealth of traditional and more contemporary entertainment options at different venues throughout the city. the program changes every year, but you can always expect to see street parades, fireworks, concerts and many temporary markets.
- International Art Festival
Held in october every year, this month-long festival celebrates everything to do with the arts. there are usually over 150 musical, dramatic and dance performances held as well as craft fairs, competitions and games.