Shanghai

Travel guide - Shanghai

It’s been a long time since Shanghai was the setting for Tintin’s adventures in The Blue Lotus. A former colonial city, Shanghai is the birthplace of national renewal and today exemplifies a China in perpetual evolution. With its many skyscrapers, Shanghai is now considered as the Manhattan of Asia, and this modernity is expressed in its architecture, heritage and fashionable lifestyle.

An architects’ playground

Shanghai’s skyline is filled with skyscrapers, each one different from the rest. Nonetheless, these architectural monuments, in all their diversity, present a unified image of a very modern city. For an overall view, walk through the Bund: this area along the banks of the Huangpu River provides a stunning view of the Pudong Skyline. Here you find yourself across from Shanghai’s main business district, in the best place in the city to appreciate the artistic diversity of the city’s skyscrapers. Looking inland, you see largely old colonial facades, whereas across the river, you can lose yourself in the sky-high modern buildings. The city flaunts a mix of old and new.
Visit the embodiment of 21st-century Shanghai at the Jinmao Tower, the “Golden Prosperity Building”. At the heart of Pudong, this skyscraper was designed based on the architecture of a pagoda, the number 8 and American skyscrapers. A real blend of East and West.

Immortal Shanghai

Along with drawing your eyes upwards, Shanghai also directs your gaze to the past, thanks to the traces of China’s heritage. For this, you’ll need to make your way to the city’s more cultural sites. Visit the immense Shanghai Museum, located on the grandiose People’s Square, to discover a remarkable collection of sculptures, ceramics, jade objects, furniture and more. It’s an excellent glimpse into the everyday life in ancestral China.
Far from the crowds of tourists, you’ll find a tranquil atmosphere reminiscent of another era in the Yuyuan Garden, where pagodas and lily pads hint at what China may have looked like many centuries ago. At the heart of the city, this 16th-century site is filled with traditional pavilions, lotus flowers and peaceful ponds and is a lovely example of the refined architecture of the Ming dynasty.

Shanghai’s contrasting lifestyles

An international megalopolis that sometimes feels distant from its Chinese roots, Shanghai blends its ultra-modern architecture with a high-energy lifestyle. This way of life can be enjoyed both day and night. During the day, take the time to savour a local speciality in the pedestrian quarter of Linglong. The low houses here stand in stark contrast with the towering skyscrapers, while the narrow, shikumen-style roads hint at the neighbourhood’s European influences.
In the evening, mingle with the locals in this city’s answer to Times Square: Nanjing Donglu. This is Shanghai’s main commercial thoroughfare. The atmosphere here is electric, thanks to the numerous neon signs, constant crowds of people and giant television screens. Have a seat on Century Square and enjoy a Shanghai Li Gao Lu, a drink made from pears, mandarin oranges and local herbs.

Cultural renewal in Shanghai

Far from the official museums and historic sites, Shanghai’s cultural scene is also found in various neighbourhoods where a new generation of artists and artisans come together. At the heart of the shikumen of Tianzifang, you can find a series of galleries, artisans’ workshops and artsy cafes. It’s a perfect place to learn more about local craftsmanship, meet the new generation of artists and find a unique souvenir to take home with you.
Fans of modern art will enjoy the famous M50. This art district found in an old industrial area is one of Shanghai’s more subversive artistic centres, where the country’s most avant-garde artists display their works.
From the twinkling lights of the Bund to the most humble shikumen residence, Shanghai is a city that is truly unique in the Chinese urban landscape. This characteristic is illustrated in its modern buildings like the Pearl of the Orient and in the neon signs of Nanjing Donglu. Shanghai, more than any other Chinese metropolis, is constantly renewing itself—and that is what makes the city so strong.

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