Renmin (People's) Square My album
Renmin (People' s) Square is the centre of Shanghai. Far less austere than Beijing' s Tiananmen Square, this is a good place to relax and watch people strolling, flying beautiful kites and even waltzing in front of the musical fountain. There are many things to see over here (see the Lonely Planet Guide) amongst them I would recommend:
Renmin Park is a pleasant place with some nice ponds, an exhibition hall and good view of the surrounding skyscrapers and Park Hotel. The park was built on the site of the old settlement racecourse, which later served as a holding camp during WWII.
Originally established in 1952, and totally rebuilt in 1994, this stunning museum is symbolic of the many changes that have taken place in Shanghai. Gone are the dry exhibits, yawning security guards and stale air - replaced by excellent spotlighting and state-of-the-art technology. Of the 120 000 displayed items, one-third have never been shown publicly before.
Tips and suggestions: There is a big food-court in the middle of Renmin Square, where you can taste Chinese and Shanghai specialties. Near the Nanjing Donglu is Starbuck, in case you are coffee addict as I am.. Very nice is the square during the night.
The Bund My album
The Bund is the most impressive mile in Shanghai. It is a boastful reminder of the city´s cosmopolitan and decadent heyday and is the first place to which all visitors to Shanghai gravitate.
Originally a towpath to pull barges of rice, the Bund gets its Anglo-Indian name from the embankments built up to dicourage flooding (a band is an embankment in Hindi). The Bund became the seat of foreign power in the early 20th century and provided a grand facade for those arriving in Shanghai by river. On the northern side of the Bund, there is Hengpu park with Monument to the People´s Heroes and Bund Historical Museum.
Tips and Suggestions: The best thing to do is simply stroll and admire the bones of the past. You can also take a boat trip on the Huangpu, enjoy the views of Pudong, visit the bund Museum or just simply shop. Don´t take the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, since it is a colossal wast of money.
Pudong New Area My album
Over 1,5 times larger than urban Shangahai itself, the Pudong New Area consists of the entire eastern bank of the Huangpu River. Before 1990 when development plans were first announced Pudong constituted 350 sq km of boggy farmland that supplied vegetables to Shanghai´s markets. Before that it was home to the godowns (warehouses) and compradors (buyers) of Shanghai´s foreign trading companies. Today the only thing sprouting out of the ground are skyscrapers and Pudong has risen to become Shanghai´s and China´s economic powehouse. There are many sights to see over here amongst them the most famous are:
Shanghai´s most spectacular and beautiful building, visible from almost everywhere in the city, it is essentially an office block (owned by the Ministry of Foreign Trade adn Economic Cooperation), with the Grand Hyatt renting space from the 54th to 87 floors. The main thing to see if you are not lucky enough to be staying here is the stupendous view from the 340m high 88th-floor observatory, accessed from the separate podium building to the side of the main tower. You can send a postcard from what is officially the world´s highest post office.
Oriental Pearl Tower
Love it or hate it, this tripo-shaped, shocking pink, hypodermic syringe of a building has become a symbol of Pudong and of Shanghai´s renaissance, even though, at 468m, the tower has now been both literally and metaphorically eclipsed by the Jinmao Tower. The tower has 11 bubbles in total, though only three are currently in use (at 90m, 263m and 350m). The other are up for lease so if you are looking for aparment space with plenty of light...
Tips and Suggestions: As I told before, don´t take the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to get to the Pudong. The most convenient way how to get there is the ferry from the southern part of Bund or subway. I was lucky and unlucky at the same time when I visited the Pudong, since that day was there a big show of skydivers jumping down from Jinmao Tower. It was a very nice experience, however I was not able to get up the Jinmao observatory.
Nanjing Donglu My album
Leading off the Bund, by the renowened Peace Hotel, is Nanjing Donglu, the most famous shopping street in China. The best way to experience this area is on foot. Nanjing Donglu is by other words China´a Oxford St. or Fifth Ave. Nanjing Donglu is the most famous shopping street in China with a reputed 1,7 mil visitors per day on the weekend!!!!!! Known to the Chinese as the da malu, or Great Horse Rd. it was famously classified in 1937 as one of the seven most interesting roads in the world. A large section was pedestrianised in 1999 so it is now a much more enjoyable place to stroll.
On the corner of Nanjing Donglu and the Bund there is the famous Piece Hotel, which was once the most luxurious hotel in the Far East and is still an Art Deco masterpiece. The hotel was built as the Cathay by Victor Sasson, and originally occupied only the 4th and 7th floors of the Sasson House. The guest list included Charlie Chapllin, George Bernard Shaw and Noel Coward.
Tips and Suggetions: Be better off this street on weekends, since it is unbelievably crowded. Very nice it looks during the night. Being here, you would not even believe you are in China. This is in such a contrast with the poor West...
French Concession My album
The French Concession grand avenues and impressive architecture provide fabulous inspiration for walks. It was once home to the bulk of Shanghai´s adventurers, revolutionaries, gangsters, prostitutes and writers, though ironically not many of them were French (the majority of the residents were British, American, White Russian and Chinese). Shanghai´s nickname "Paris of the East" stems largely from the tree-lined avenues, Tudor mansions and French-influenced architecture of this district.
Today the area is still the most graceful part of Shanghai, and the most rewarding district for walks and bike rides. The area also hosts the lion´s share of Shanghai nightlife, restaurants and shopping. The central traffic artery is Huaihai Lu, named after a decisive battle that ended with the communists routing the Kuomintag during the Civil War. The most interesting sights according to my opinion are:
This leafy park, laid out by the French in 1909 and later used by the Japanese as a parade ground in the late 1930s, remains one of the city´s most pleasant. It was renamed Fuxing (Revival) after WWII. There is always plenty to see here - the park is a refuge for the elderly and a practicing field for itinerant musicians, t´ai chi masters and some of the weirdest work-outs you´ll ever see, from slow motion aerobics to therapeutic screaming. There´s always at least one person walking around backwards (apparently it is good for your health). You could never look silly here. The bust of Marx and Lenin have weathered the times to carry a certain revolutionary chic these days.
Building No. 127
Old brick building at No 127 was the place, where Mao and the other communist delegates stayed (in girl´s dormitory) while attending the first Communist Party Congress.
Site of the 1st National Congress of the CCP
On 23 July 1921 the Chinese Communist Party was founded in the French Concession building, propelling this unassuming shikumen block into one of Chinese communism's holies shrines. Of the 13 original delegates, only two (one of them Mao Zedung) ever worked in the Chinese government. Five were killed before the communists took power and another six either quit the Party or were expelled as traitors.
Sun Yatsen´s Former Residence
China is simply brimming with Sun Yatsen memorabilia, and this is one of his former residences. Sun lived here on Rue Moliere for six years from 1918 to 1924, supported by overseas Chinese funds. After Sun´s death, his wife Song Qingling (1893 - 1981), continued to live here until 1937, constantly watched by the Kuomintang plain-clothes police and French police. The two-storey house is set back from the street and is furnished as it was back in Sun´s days, though it was looted by the Japanese during WWII. The entry price gets you a brief tour of the house in English.
Zhou Enlai´s Former Residence
In 1946, Zhou Enlai, the urbane and much-loved first premier of the People´s Republic of China, lived in this former French Concession Spanish villa at 107 (now 73) Sinan Lu. Zhou was then head of the Communist Party´s Shanghai office, and spent much of his time giving press conferences and dodging Kuomintang agents who spied on him from across the road. There is not much to see these days except lots of Spartan beds and stern-looking desks, but the charming neighborhood, full of lovely old houses, is a great place to wander around.
House No. 30, one of the most fantastic buildings built in the 1930s, The Scandinavian-influenced gothic peaks could double as the Munsters?holiday home. The Swedish owner Erick Moller, was the owner of Moller Line and was a huge racing fan. Previously home to the Communist Youth League, the building now houses a hotel, the Hengshan Moller Villa, so you can pop in and admire the wood panelling.
Russian Orthodox St. Nicholas Church
Hidden in Gaolan Lu, the Russian Orthodox church is definitely worth seeing. The church was built in 1933 in dedication to the murdered Tsar of Russia, and now houses the Ashanti Dome restaurant . There is an icon of Chairman Mao painted by a caretaker during the Cultural Revolution (when it was a washing machine cooperative) to protect the church. Outside dining times the staff will normally let you in to see the upper floor dome and restored frescoes.
Tips and Suggestions: The best thing what you can do is to take the Lonely Planet Guide for Shanghai and take those two walks through the French Concession that are described in it. The description is very clear, so that you cannot get lost and takes you all over the main sights in this district.
Old Town My album
The Old Town is fascinating place in which to wander and though it holds its secret well, propinquity dictates that life is often on display in the streets. It is common to see people emptying their chamber pots (few houses have flush toilets here), airing duvets, playing cards and sunning themselves in winter. At every turn you might hear the hiss of a wok, dodge a pole of drying laundry, or marvel at gutted ducks strung up for curing - though giant housing blocks now pressure the old lanes from all directions.
Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar
At the northeastern end of the old Chinese city, the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar are, while arguably slightly tacky, one of Shanghai´s premier sights and worth a visit. The Yuyuan were founded by the Pan family, rich Ming dynasty officials. The gardens took 18 years to be nurtured into existence, only to be ransacked during the Opium War in 1842, when British officers were barracked here, and again during the Taiping Revolution, this time by French in reprisal for attacks on their nearby concession. Today the gardens have been restored and are a fine example of Ming garden design - if you can see through the crowds.
Every Chinese town should have a Confucian Temple, and while this one is nothing special, it is worth a quick visit if you have time to investigate the Old Town. Parts of the temple date back 700 years but most of it was rebuilt in the Qing period and renovated in 1997.
Dajingge contains the only preserved section of the 5-km long city walls. The walls were built in 1553 to protect the city against pirates but were torn down in 1912.
This is the city´s main centre of Islam and if you come on Friday at lunch time you will see the faithful streaming in to prayer. The mosque was built in 1917 and is named after a nearby peach garden.
Tips and Suggestion: As well as in the case of French Concession, very nice is the walk described in Lonely Planet guide. Yuyuan Gardens are not only crowded during the weekends, but it seemed to me that almost all the time. Don´t forget to stroll the small streets around. You can experience the real life of the lower class.
Nanjing Xilu & Jing'an My album
The western end of Nanjing Lu is lined with monumental Manhattan-style malls and five-star hotels, both cathedrals to high style and even higher prices. Anchoring the western end is the Shanghai Centre, a focal point for foreign businessmen and tourists alike, with several airline offices, embassies, restaurants, cafés, the Portman Ritz-Carlton etc. North of Nanjing Xilu is the grittier but interesting Jing´an district, bordered to the north by Suzhou Creek.
The Jing´an temple was originally built in 247 but was largely destroyed in 1851. Khi Vehdu, who ran the Jing´an Temple in the 1930s, was one of the most remarkable figures of the time. The nearly 2m tall abbot had a large following and each of his seven concubines had a house and a car. At that time the eponymous well, which was walled over in 1919. The temple was eventually divested of its Buddhist statues in the Cultural revolution and turned into a plastics factory. Subsequent rebuilding and the almost continuous concrete-based renovations since 1999 have robbed the old complex of much of its charm. Opposite is newly remodeled Jing´an Park, formerly Bubbling Park Cemetery.
Jade Buddha Temple
This active place of worship is one of Shanghai´s few Buddhist temples and attracts large number of local and overseas Chinese tourists. Built between 1911 and 1918 in Song dynasty style, the centerpiece is a 2m high white jade Buddha around which the temple was built. The story goes that Hui Gen, a monk from Putuoshan, traveled to Myanmar (Burma) via Tibet, lugged five jade Buddhas back to China and then went of in search of alms to build a temple for them. Two of the Buddhas ended up in Shanghai. This 1,9m high seated Buddha, encrusted with jewels, is said to weigh 1000kg.
Tips and Suggestion: Jing´an Temple is not much worth a visit, except of the funny mixture between "newly old" temple and modern skyscrapers behind it. Jade Buddha Temple is very nice, but be prepared to pay additional fee to see the Jade Buddha. You also cannot take picture of him.
Xujiahui & South Shanghai My album
The Xujiahui area of Shanghai, bordering the western end of the French Concession and known to 1930s expat residents as Ziccawei or Sicawei, was once a thriving Jesuit settlement. Today it´s a bustling commercial centre astride the insanely busy five-way intersection (over 10 000 vehicles funnel through each hour), and home to some of Shanghai´s biggest department stores and entertainment complexes. The most interesting sights are:
Longhua Temple and Pagoda
Southwest of central Shanghai, close to the Huangpu River, here is the oldest an largest monastery in Shanghai. It is said to date from the 10th century, when the King of Wu Built it for his mother. Built in the Song style but renovated in Guangxu´s reign of the Qing, it has recently been restored several times for tourism. The "longhua" refers to the pipal tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. The nearby seven-storey, 44-m high Longhua Pagoda was originally built in 977. It has been reconstructed many times. Most recently in 1952.
Next to the Longhua Temple, this rambling park marks the site of an old Kuomintang prison, where 800 communists, intellectuals and political agitators were executed between 1928 and 1937.
St. Ignatius Cathedral
St. Ignatius cathedral (1904) was restored after its 50m Gothic spires were looped off by Red Guards. Up to 2500 Chinese Catholics cram into the impressive church at Easter, making it the second-most important Catholic spot in eastern China, after Sheshan Cathedral, just outside the city.
Tip and Suggestions: The biggest thing is according to my opinion the St. Ingnatius Cathedral. You can be pretty dissapointed by the Longhua Temple and Pagoda. If you are from East-European country and you miss all those big communists?buildings, go for the Martyrs Memorial. The ticket is only 1 yuan, but besides some statues and Memorial, there is almost nothing to see over there.
Hongqiao & Gubei My album
The western district of Hongqiao is mainly a centre for international commerce and trade exhibitions. There are many office blocks, as well as a few foreign restaurants, hotels and shopping malls. Gubei is a new planned community of Legoland -like estates. Basically the main thing next to several galleries and Zhongshan Park in this district is the Shanghai ZOO.
There is a big difference between the Beijing ZOO and the Shanghai one. If you don´t agree with the concept of zoos then this one probably won´t convert you, however the Shanghai ZOO is one of the better ones not even in China. All the major African wildlife is represented, but the most interesting animals are probably those endemic to China, such as the red panda, the golden monkeys from Yunnan, and, of course the pair of giant pandas.
Tips and Suggestion: If you have cannot decide which ZOO to visit and you travel over Beijing and Shanghai as well, go for the Shanghai one.
Shanghai Transportation My album
Here you can find photos of Shanghai subway, skyline and buses.
Source: This page uses information from Lonely Planet