Hu as the locals refer to it, Shanghai is a major metropolitan city located on the banks of Huangpu river and is one of the most influential economic, financial and cultural trade center of the world. The city is divided by the river into two distinct zones, old town with its historic charm, smaller constructions and ethnic vibe, and the new town of Pudong with huge buildings and financial district. It is said that the tallest building in Pudong only stays the ‘tallest’ for about 3 years before construction of another yet taller building begins.
Within the city’s multi-cultural flair lies the intertwined traditions and western exposure making it a wonderful montage of cosmopolitan ambiance. For the travelers with an additional appetite for gastronomic adventures and nightlife, this city has it all. We tried some of the best European fare to traditional Chinese xiaolongbaos, and also ventured into a bunch of karaoke bars known as KTV.
Some of the most interesting attractions we found to be fascinating are –
- The Bund – It is a decorated waterfront on the west bank of the Huangpu River, close to a mile long, and is good for people watching. Hundreds of tourists, locals and couples seeking some romantic escapade flock to the Bund every evening. The sight of the entire Pudong skyline is fascinating. After the city skyscrapers lit up the evening sky, and colorful barges roving on the river provide a great photo-op. One interesting observation, backed by some history lessons later on, was that all the transit vehicles travel through underground channels rather than bridges over the river due to the extremely heavy ship traffic. Monument of the People’s Heroes and the Bull on the Bund are a couple of other photo-ops you should not miss. There is always new construction going on in the city, and the newly constructed Maglev cars in the sightseeing tunnel gives a unique opportunity for viewing the city from an unusual perspective.
- Oriental TV Tower – Easily identifiable from a distance with its brightly colored spheres, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower stands tall in the Pudong Park next to the river. It was the tallest tower in China until 1980’s, and still is the world’s sixth tallest TV tower. It is an architectural marvel with three slanting stanchions and 11 steel spheres connected vertically by three columns. Visitors can travel to the top at a break neck speed in the elevators but since it is no longer the tallest tower in the vicinity, we skipped it and rather went up to the top of the World Financial Center with 101 floors at 1600′ tall.
There is a revolving restaurant at the top where a dinner date can be an extremely alluring with night views of the city.
- Nanjing Road – It is one of the most famous shopping streets comparable to Chicago’s Mag mile and NYC’s 5th Avenue. With fashionable brand name stores like Tiffany, Mont Blanc, Gucci, etc., and traditional stores alike, you will see local and foreign tourists looking for deals. Specialty shops selling authentic silk, jade and wool provide tourists a good place to buy souvenirs and memorabilia. But before you buy anything, bargain, as vendors will always try to charge more from foreign visitors.
- Yuyuan Garden in Old Town – In the west side of the river, this garden is located in the old Shanghai area. A huge space has pavilions, halls, ponds and shops around the garden. Inside the comples, colorful traditional architecture will surely blow your mind. Through the narrow lanes, the courtyards and two-three story buildings represented the old Han dynasty architecture.
We had possibly the best xiaolongbaos (soup filled buns) in the famous Nanxiang Mantou Dian restaurant in the old town area.