This vast dynamic city will host World Expo 2010 but its own attractions are permanent and for ever growing, offering a unique blend of old and new. From the Shanghai Museum to the stunning Oriental Pearl Tower, from the traditional Yu Garden to the eclectic buildings of the Bund, Shanghai takes your breath away, fascinating, surprising, always on the move.
Luxury hotels abound and visitors quickly fall under the spell of China’s foremost city. A few days allow little more than a glimpse and it’s a good idea to plan a visit, maybe around a specific theme or district, but keeping pride of place for the Huangpu River area.
Bund and Oriental Pearl Tower, Huangpu River Area
The old colonial Bund remains the city’s landmark, lined with over 50 buildings in a variety of styles, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Deco and more, stretching for 1½ km along the river. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, the Custom House topped with a clock tower and the 1930 Peace Hotel are among the most striking structures.
There are cruises along the river, a pedestrian tunnel with light effects, monuments to the heroes and a couple of auspicious bronze lions.
Across the river on the Pudong side, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower rises to 468 metres. It’s made up of 11 spheres, supported by just three enormous pillars. The tower has several observation levels, the highest at 350 metres, a revolving restaurant, exhibition spaces, a shopping mall and hotel.
The Shanghai Museum claims some 120 000 items spanning over 5000 years. It’s one of the best collections in the country and includes ceramics, bronze, sculptures, coins and seals, calligraphy, jade, paintings and furniture. There are spaces devoted to ethnic minorities and temporary exhibitions from museums worldwide.
The Shanghai Museum is a symbolic building set on the People’s Square with a square base representing the earth and a circular top for heaven.
Among other great museums in Shanghai are those dedicated to science and technology, art, natural history and the history of the Bund.
Shanghai Attractions, Yu Garden
Set on the edge of the Old City, the Yu, or Yuyuan, is a traditional Chinese garden created under the Ming dynasty in the 16th century. It took 20 years to complete and is acclaimed as one of the finest in China.
In true Chinese classical fashion, the Yu garden is a maze of winding paths and secret vistas, dotted with moon gates, engravings, sculptures, pavilions with upturned eaves, grottoes and lotus ponds. The Five Dragon Wall encloses different areas such as the grand rockery, the 10 000 flower pavilion, the hall of heralding spring or the hall of jade magnificence.
There are street performers, stalls and lanterns and a traditional tea house on a lake, reached by crossing the Bridge of Nine Turnings, designed to keep away evil spirits.