5 Things To Do - Shanghai
Arguably the most stupefying, glitziest, and at some points in its' history the seediest city in Asia, nowhere embodies modern China more than Shanghai. The Paris of the East is next up in our '5 things' series.
Shopping – Shanghai is the epicentre of Chinese shopping. The heart of commercial Shanghai is East Nanjing Road, an enormous pedestrianised avenue running from People’s Square to the Bund and packed to the gills with shops and shoppers alike. For the more discerning shopper, try trendy Xintiandi for style, Tianzifang for arts and crafts, or Dongtai Road for antiques.
Pudong – Looking across at Pudong from the Bund feels like staring into a sci-fi film. The effect is even more surreal when you realise that 20 years ago the entire was flat marshland. Walk through the tacky Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, marvel at the skyscrapers, and perhaps take a quick jaunt out the airport on the world’s fastest train.
The French Concession – Take a stroll around the colonial heart of Shanghai. Cafes, bookshops, and tree-lined avenues give this quarter a distinctly European feel. Here, in the basement flat of a residential block, you will also find the fantastic Propaganda Poster Art Museum where you can browse and buy from a vast collection of genuine propaganda prints from across the previous century.
Water towns – Take a trip out of the city to visit one or more of the surrounding picturesque water towns. Qibao is the closest and can be accessed via the Shanghai metro. Suzhou is furthest away but as an established old city makes a great full day trip in itself, especially if combined with Zhouzhang.
Walking the Bund – Finally, it may be the tourist thing to do in Shanghai, but it is the most memorable. Arguably there is no better spot that exemplifies present day China – the classic, colonial architecture hinting at the past, the intimidating, gleaming future across the river, and in between groups of rural Chinese tourists struggling, like the rest of us, to take it all in.