Shanghai blends old-world traditions with avant-garde architecture. The vast metropolis is the world’s largest city by population, with more than 24 million people calling it home.
The Huangpu River divides it into Puxi on the west and Pudong on the east. Shanghai literally translates as “Above the Sea”, named for its location on the East China Sea.
The Bund, a river promenade in the city centre, is a popular gathering point in the midst of Shanghai’s most recognisable attractions. Take a romantic stroll along the picturesque river in the evening. Admire the impressive sight of the city’s bright and futuristic skyline. The night markets are a special experience where you can taste local cuisine and explore other treasures on offer.
View the historical buildings on the river’s banks in the area known as the “Museum of Buildings”. One such icon is the Oriental Pearl Tower, lighting up the skyline at night with its bulbous appearance. One unique way to see the tower and the city is from a river cruise, which lasts a few hours.
Shanghai offers ample opportunity to stretch your neck muscles gazing up at super-tall skyscrapers. One of the most impressive is the gigantic 492-metre (1,614-foot) World Financial Center. Enjoy spectacular views from one of the highest observation decks in the world. The adjacent Shanghai Tower is even taller, with ongoing plans for more skyscrapers in the area.
You could spend days climbing the lofty heights of the city’s towers, but once vertigo sets in, there’s no remedy like a day at the park. Visit the 16th-century Garden of Contentment, the city’s most famous green space. There you can enjoy ponds, trees, impressive lawns and intriguing rock structures. Admire the array of classical Chinese architecture and the Currow Ancient Stone at the park’s centre.
For a greater understanding of the city’s customs and history, head to the Shanghai Museum. Explore galleries and exhibits telling the story of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The stylish museum sits on the People’s Square, a central plaza with several main attractions. See fascinating scale models in the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center demonstrating how the city has expanded in recent decades.
One thing that hasn’t changed is Shanghai cuisine, which is sweet and oily. Freshwater fish and seafood are often on the menu, with shellfish featuring prominently. Make sure you try their savoury pork in soups and stir-fries or chicken prepared in salt-water and sauces.
Although locals speak Shanghainese, most are familiar with Mandarin. Workers at tourist destinations understand English. Visit in spring or autumn, when temperatures are pleasant and calm.
Arrive at Pudong International Airport, which is 45 kilometres (28 miles) east of the centre of Shanghai. Take the Maglev train, which uses magnetic levitation for extra speed, to Longyan Road Station. Shuttles and buses will take you to the city. To get around, hop on the city’s intricate metro system or a ferry.