Shanghai is a vibrant city with indefatigable energy, which effortlessly and seamlessly incorporates its colourful and chequered past as the ‘Paris of Asia’ into something delightfully unmistakably modern and cosmopolitan, yet cutting-edge Chinese. The buzzing city allows you to set your own pace, and indulge in whatever pushes your buttons.
1. The Bund
A mile-long promenade running along the western bank of the Huangpu River, the Bund takes you back a century, with 52 beautifully preserved and restored old-school buildings representing Shanghai’s cosmopolitan International Settlement. Also the perfect viewpoint to the contrasting Starship Enterprise vibe of Pudong across the river.
2. Shanghai Tower
At 632m, the 3rd tallest building in the world twists through 120 degrees, reducing wind loads. Unique double-façade for less energy consumption. The fastest commercial elevator ride in the world whizzes you to the Observation Deck in no-time flat.
3. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Bringing art to the people and fostering understanding of graphic design locally and internationally, MOCA stages exhibitions such as Gaudi, Pixar, to local Animamax shows. Set in a lush downtown park setting, with natural light streaming in floor-to-ceiling windows MOCA itself is a masterpiece.
4. YuYuan Garden
Dating back to the 1550s, this 5-acre plot features placid ponds, rockeries, bridges, pavilions and rosewood structures from the Ming Dynasty. Snaking grey ‘dragon walls’ delineate the six main thematic areas – each with a feature hall – from each other. A peaceful oasis.
5. Nanjing Xi Lu high-end boutiques
The most high-end commercial area in a city of high-ends, this western stretch of Nanjing Road drips with luxury brands and malls. City Plaza, Plaza 66 (Henglong Plaza), and Citic Square are home to brands such as Prada, Armani, Chloé, Dior, and Louis Vuitton.
6. Former French Concession (FFC)
For nearly 100 years until WW2 the French had control of this sector and have left their indelible stylish stamp on it. It radiates out from Huaihai Road. Chic boutiques and cool nightlife options abound in Hengshan Rd, with café/bars in converted French mansions.
7. Xin Tian Di
To many it’s considered the Champs-Elysees of Asia. This pedestrian precinct of mid-19th century shikumen stone houses is one of the most tone-y, exclusive and characterful enclaves, where you’ll delight in bookstores and romantic cafes in tree-lined narrow side lanes, and indulge in some fabulous alfresco people-watching.
8. Maglev Train
Love speed and technology? Catch the world’s fast commercial levitation train between Pudong Airport and Longyang Rd. It’ll be the best 7 mins 20 seconds of your life as you watch the in-carriage speedo reach up to 430km/h (on 9-10:45am and 3-4:45pm services only)
9. Shanghai BoWuGuan Museum
Over 1,000,000 prized ceramics, bronze, paintings, calligraphy, coins and jade form this world-class collection in downtown People’s Square. With some pieces dating back 8000 years, it’s a crash course in Chinese civilization. The building’s design signifies Chinese philosophy of a round sky surrounding a square earth.
10. Shanghai Circus World
Think Cirque du Soleil with a local twist as you watch the dazzling show, ERA – Intersection of Time. For example, terracotta warriors rev up their motorcycles and blast through space in this acrobatics-meets-modern-tech spectacular. Some say miss this show and you miss Shanghai.