Search a Port Alphabetically
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Download Port Map and Information
Shanghai, one of the most vibrant and exciting Chinese cities, once known as the Paris of the East, now calls itself the Pearl of the Orient. A port city, lying at the mouth of Asia's longest and most important river, Shanghai is famous as a place where internationalism has thrived. Today the city draws more parallels to New York City than Paris. It is laid out on a grid (unlike sprawling Beijing), and with a population of 16 million, it is one of the world's most crowded urban areas. The Shanghainese have a reputation for being sharp, open-minded, glamorous, sophisticated, and business-oriented, and they're convinced they have the motivation and attitude to achieve their place as China's powerhouse. Shanghainese enjoy one of the highest living standards in China. Higher salaries and higher buildings, more business and more entertainment—all these define the fast-paced lives of China's most cosmopolitan and open people.
The Bund (Waitan). Shanghai's waterfront boulevard best shows both the city's pre-1949 past and its focus on the future. Today the municipal government has renovated the old buildings of this most foreign face of the city, highlighting them as tourist attractions, and even tried for a while to sell them back to the very owners it forced out after 1949.
On the riverfront side of the Bund, Shanghai's street life is in full force. The city rebuilt the promenade, making it an ideal gathering place for both tourists and residents. In the morning, just after dawn, the Bund is full of people ballroom dancing, doing aerobics, and practicing kung fu, qi gong, and tai chi. The rest of the day people walk the embankment, snapping photos of the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Huangpu River, and each other. Be prepared for the aggressive souvenir hawkers; while you can't completely avoid them, try ignoring them or telling them "bu yao," which means "Don't want." In the evenings lovers come out for romantic walks amid the floodlit buildings and tower. 5 blocks of Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu between Jinling Lu and Suzhou Creek, Huangpu.
Peace Hotel (Heping Fandian). This hotel at the corner of the Bund and Nanjing Lu is among Shanghai's most treasured buildings. If any establishment will give you a sense of Shanghai's past, it's this one. Its high ceilings, ornate woodwork, and art-deco fixtures are intact, and the ballroom evokes old Shanghai cabarets and gala parties.
The south building was formerly the Palace Hotel. Built in 1906, it is the oldest building on the Bund. The north building, formerly the Cathay Hotel, built in 1929, is more famous historically. It was known as the private playroom of its owner, Victor Sassoon, a wealthy landowner who invested in the opium trade. The Cathay was part of an office and hotel structure collectively called Sassoon House. Victor Sassoon himself lived and entertained his guests in the green penthouse. The hotel was rated on a par with the likes of Raffles in Singapore and the Peninsula in Hong Kong. It was the place to stay in old Shanghai; Noel Coward wrote Private Lives here. In the evenings, the famous Peace Hotel Old Jazz Band plays in the pub on the 1st floor. 20 Nanjing Dong Lu, Huangpu.
Dongtai Lu Antiques Market (Dongtai Lu Gudai Chang). A few blocks west of the Old City, antiques dealers' stalls line the street. You'll find porcelain, Victrolas, jade, and anything else worth hawking or buying. The same bowls and vases pop up in multiple stalls, so if your first bargaining attempt isn't successful, you'll likely have another opportunity a few stores down.Off Xizang Lu, Huangpu District.
People's Square (Renmin Guang Chang). Once the southern half of the city's racetrack, Shanghai's main square has become a social and cultural center. The Shanghai Museum is inside it, and the Municipal Offices, Grand Theater, and Shanghai Urban Planning Center surround it. During the day, visitors and residents stroll, fly kites, and take their children to feed the pigeons. In the evening, kids roller-skate, ballroom dancers hold group lessons, and families relax together. Weekends here are especially busy.Bordered by Weihai Lu on south, Xizang Lu on east, Huangpi Bei Lu on west, and Fuzhou Lu on north, Huangpu.
Shanghai Museum (Shanghai Bowuguan). Truly one of Shanghai's treasures, this museum has the country's premier collection of relics and artifacts. Eleven galleries exhibit Chinese artistry in all its forms: paintings, bronzes, sculpture, ceramics, calligraphy, jade, Ming and Qing dynasty furniture, coins, seals, and art by indigenous populations. Its bronze collection is one of the best in the world, and its dress and costume gallery showcases intricate handiwork from several of China's 52 minority groups. If you opt not to rent the excellent acoustic guide, information is well presented in English.201 Renmin Da Dao, Huangpu. Admission charged.
Jade Buddha Temple (Yufo Si). Completed in 1918, this temple is fairly new by Chinese standards. During the Cultural Revolution, in order to save the temple when the Red Guards came to destroy it, the monks pasted portraits of Mao Zedong on the outside walls so the Guards couldn't tear them down without destroying Mao's face as well. The temple is built in the style of the Song Dynasty, with symmetrical halls and courtyards, upturned eaves, and bright yellow walls. The temple's great treasure is its 6½-foot-high (2-meter) seated Buddha made of white jade with a robe of precious gems, originally brought to Shanghai from Burma. Other Buddhas, statues, and frightening guardian gods of the temple populate the halls, as well as a collection of Buddhist scriptures and paintings. The 100 monks who live and work here can sometimes be seen worshipping. It's madness at festival times. 170 Anyuan Lu, Putuo. Admission charged.
Jinmao Tower (Jinmao Dasha). This gorgeous 88-floor (8 being the Chinese number implying wealth and prosperity) industrial art-deco pagoda is among the five tallest buildings in the world and the tallest in China—at least for the time being, as a massive skyscraper being built next door will soon eclipse it. In it is also the highest hotel in the world—the Grand Hyatt Shanghai takes up the 53rd to 87th floors. The 88th-floor observation deck offers a 360-degree view of the city. The Jinmao combines the classic 13-tier Buddhist pagoda design with postmodern steel and glass. Check out the Hyatt's dramatic 33-story atrium or the Cloud Nine bar on the 87th floor.88 Shiji Dadao, Pudong. Admission charged.
Shanghai History Museum (Shanghai Lishi Bowuguan). This impressive museum in the base of the Pearl Tower recalls Shanghai's pre-1949 history. Inside you can stroll down a re-created Shanghai street circa 1900 or check out a streetcar that used to operate in the concessions. Dioramas depict battle scenes from the Opium Wars, shops found in a typical turn-of-the-20th-century Shanghai neighborhood, and grand French concession buildings of yesteryear. 1 Shiji Dadao, Pudong. Admission charged.
Longhua Temple (Longhua Si). Shanghai's largest and most active temple has as its centerpiece a seven-story, eight-sided pagoda. While the temple is thought to have been built in the 3rd century, the pagoda dates from the 10th century; it's not open to visitors. Near the front entrance of the temple stands a three-story bell tower, where a 3.3-ton bronze bell is rung at midnight every New Year's Eve. Along the side corridors of the temple you'll find the Longhua Hotel, a vegetarian restaurant, and a room filled seven rows deep with small golden statues. The third hall is the most impressive. Its three giant Buddhas sit beneath a swirled red and gold dome. 2853 Longhua Lu, Xuhui. Admission charged.
Yu Garden (Yuyuan). Since the 18th century, this complex, with its traditional red walls and upturned tile roofs, has been a marketplace and social center where local residents gather, shop, and practice qi gong in the evenings. Yu Garden is a piece of Shanghai's past, one of the few old sights left in the city.
To get to the garden itself, you must wind your way through the bazaar. The garden was commissioned by the Ming Dynasty official Pan Yunduan in 1559 and built by the renowned architect, Zhang Nanyang, over 19 years. When it was finally finished it won international praise as "the best garden in southeastern China." In the mid-1800s the Society of Small Swords used the garden as a gathering place for meetings. It was here that they planned their uprising with the Taiping rebels against the French colonists. The French destroyed the garden during the first Opium War, but the area was later rebuilt and renovated.
Winding walkways and corridors bring you over stone bridges and carp-filled ponds and through bamboo stands and rock gardens. Within the park are an old opera stage, a museum dedicated to the Society of Small Swords rebellion, and an exhibition hall of Chinese calligraphy and paintings. One caveat: the park is almost always thronged with Chinese tour groups, especially on weekends. As with most sights in Shanghai, don't expect a tranquil time alone. 218 Anren Lu, Bordered by Fuyou Lu, Jiujiaochang Lu, Fangbang Lu, and Anren Lu, Huangpu District. Admission charged.
You can accomplish most of your souvenir shopping in the Old City at the Old Street of Yu Gardens. Souvenir shops, tourists, and vendors touting for business fill this street. Some of the merchandise is of dubious taste, but there are still some shops selling unusual or good quality products. Shop 368 sells pretty embroidered shoes, belts, and spangles; Shop 385 has overpriced yet tempting retro pieces; Shop 408 sells old books, some dating back to the Ming Dynasty; Shop 424 has calligraphy supplies and chops starting at Y8 (uncut); Shop 430 sells opera costumes, including amazing headdresses and the obligatory fake beards. Fangbang Lu.
The Shanghai Museum Shop (Shanghai Museum, 201 Renmin Dadao) has an impressive selection of books on China and Chinese culture, and there are some children's books as well. Expensive reproduction ceramics are available as well as smaller gift items such as magnets, scarves, and notebooks. Cool purchases like a Chinese architecture-ink stamp (Y90) make great gifts. A delicate bracelet with Chinese charms costs Y150.
Port Photo: oksana.perkins/shutterstock
||© 2010 by Fodor's Travel, a division of Random House, Inc.