China's showpiece city, Shanghai is staggering in its scope and scale. A city of 24 million and growing, Shanghai is a global centre of soaring skyscrapers that is bursting with modernity and energy. The past hasn't been totally engulfed, however, and leafy colonial streets and delicate temples linger below the skyward scramble. Wealthy and wild, Shanghai is one of China's most welcoming cities, and you'll find a hedonistic flair of excess and exuberance below the iconic, jagged Lujiazui skyline.
Shanghai's celebrated waterfront, The Bund, is adorned with grand European style buildings and Art Deco wonders. The glowing orb of the Pearl Tower, meanwhile, rockets above the bending Yangtze River, providing a tall exclamation mark to China's futuristic vision. Just as the urban spread and claustrophobic towers begin to overwhelm, you can discover the tranquillity of ancient temples and gardens. Then, stumble upon the contorted twist of the Shanghai Tower, a spectacular tube of glass and steel, that dwarfs the city as the world's second-tallest building.
Join Shanghai's high rollers to drink in swanky bars and restaurants, or bite explosively flavourful street food, below a flood of neon lights. More earthy delights keep the city grounded - head to an open park where locals flow through tai chi routines en masse, or explore rich cultural treasures like the Jade Buddha Temple. A sensory assault, Shanghai is China at its most extreme and intense, yet perhaps most accessible and open-minded.