Shanghai is located on the central coast of China. It is the country’s biggest city and a global financial hub. The heart of the city is the Bund, a popular waterfront promenade that is lined with colonial-era buildings. When you take a look across the Huangpu River you can see the fantastic futuristic skyline rising high into the sky in the Pudong district. The city also has many green spaces for rest and relaxation.
A most symbolic part of the city is the Bund which at one time was the city’s Wall Street for financial wheeling and dealing. The name of the area is an Anglo-Indian term for embankment of a muddy waterfront. For visitors it is a great place to take a stroll and get an awesome view of Pudong’s skyline.
A great many of the art-deco and neo-classical buildings along the Bund were built in the early 20th century. Today this is a designer retail and restaurant zone and the place where you can find the city’s most exclusive boutiques, restaurants and hotels. At night the buildings all along the Bund are alight. You can take a boat tour on the Huangpu River for great views and a relaxing time. You can enjoy the peace and beauty of Huangpu Park.
Huangpu Park is one of the most lovely spots on the Bund. It was completed in 1868. Here you can enjoy wide trees and flowers and relaxing garden landscapes. To the west of the park you can see old western buildings that were built at the beginning of the 20th century in a region known as Rockbund. This is the origin of the Bund with the earliest buildings.
Shanghai Mansion also known as Broadway Mansion is a five-star foreign hotel. It stands in a prominent position at the north end of the bridge. It was built in 1930 and completed in four years.
Waibaidu Bridge is one of the city’s landmarks spanning the Suzhou Creek and at the confluence of this creek with the Huangpu River. This is Shanghai’s earliest and largest steel bridge. It joins the north end of the Bund and faces the rippling river. From the bridge people can get great views of the skyline.
Shanghai Tower is China’s tallest building. The tower rises 632 m into the sky and has 121 stories. It opened its doors in mid-2016. This spiral-shaped tower has office space, entertainment venues, shops, a conference center, a luxury hotel and “sky lobbies”. It has a corkscrew form and its nine interior cylindrical units are wrapped in two glass skins. At this time it is the second-tallest building in the world. The observation deck is the world’s highest on the 118th floor. Visitors are greeted by breathtaking views on the sky deck transported there by the world’s fastest lifts at 40 mph designed by Mitsubishi. A six-level luxury retail podium fills the base of the tower.
Yuyuan Garden is a beautiful place to visit. It was once the private garden of the Pan family in the Ming Dynasty. It is uniquely designed with elaborate pavilions, shimmering pools, zigzag bridges, pagodas and impressive rockeries.
Visit the famed Jade Rock, a 5-ton beautifully-shaped rock or climb to the top of the Great Rockery. Here you can see Shanghai’s flower the Magnolia grandiflora. Among the trees here are the luohan pine, willows, gingkos, cherry trees and redwoods.
Next to the garden entrance you’ll find the Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, one of the most famous teahouses in China.
Next to Yuyuan Garden is Jyuan Bazaar with many small streets and lanes among them restaurants, tea houses and shops. It is a great place to try some local snacks and buy souvenirs.
An active temple with 70 resident monks is the impressive Jade Buddha Temple. It was build between 1911 and 1918 in the style of the Song Dynasty. Here are symmetrical halls and courtyards and bright saffron yellow walls.
The centerpiece is a 1.9 m high white jade Buddha. The seated Buddha is encrusted with jewels and weighs about one thousand kilograms.
A smaller, reclining Buddha lies on a redwood bed. In the large hall you’ll find three gold-plated Buddhas. There are also many other artifacts and about 7,000 Buddhist sutras line the walls.
The first temple on the left is the Hall of Heavenly Kings with the statues of Four Heavenly Kings, looking upon the four cardinal points.
Directly opposite is the Grand Hall where worshipers pray to the past, present and future Buddhas. Here you’ll also see carved luohan or arhats lashed to the walls with wires and a copper-colored statue of Guanyin.
As you pass through the Grand Hall you’ll come to a gated tranquil courtyard where stairs lead up to the Jade Buddha Hall. Here the centerpiece is the jade Buddha.
In the Reclining Buddha Hall is a small reclining white jade Buddha from Burma.
Beside the temple is a branch of the Antiques and Curio Store, selling miniature sandalwood drums and gongs that are replicas of the large ones used in ceremonies.
The Jin Mao Tower is a complex with offices, a convention space and a hotel.
50 km from the Bund is Zhujiajiao Water Tower. This gives visitors a feel of an ancient town. It is similar to Venice, Italy with well-preserved bridges and boats for transport. Zhujiajiao is a township in the Qingpu District of Shanghai. In the past it was a trading area with many canals used to provide products in little boats and barges. There are 36 ancient bridges and traditional Chinese-style residences.
Fengsheng Bridge is one of the main attractions among the ancient 36 stone bridges. It was built in 1812 and is thought to be the largest stone arch bridge in Shanghai.
Jing’an Temple has been restored. The original dates back to 1216 AD. It brings visitors back into the past with the tinkle of wind chimes and the scent of burning incense. The temple was constructed mostly of Burmese teak.
It has many impressive statues among them a huge 8.8 m high, 15-tonne silver Buddha in the main Mahavira Hall. A five-tonne Guanyin statue can be found in the Guanyin Hall, carved from a 1000-year old camphor tree.
In the very center of Shanghai is the Shanghai People’s Square. By 1993 after reconstruction the square encompassed an area of around 140,000 square meters and it has become the largest public square in the city.
The Shanghai History Museum offers displays of stuffed animals, dinosaurs and interesting interactive features. The architecture of the building is a highlight set in the art-filled Jing’an Sculpture Park. The exhibitions are spread over five levels and you can see realistic animals, birds and reptiles. One of the highlights is The African Savannah exhibit in the basement.
You’ll be amazed at the Shanghai World Financial Center rising 492 m high. This building has three observation decks on levels 94, 97 and 100. The top two are known as Sky Walks, offering floor of transparent glass. You can enjoy the Park Hyatt Restaurant on the 91st floor.
For a walk through Chinese history visit the Shanghai Museum. You can visit the Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery and the Ancient Chinese Sculpture Gallery as well as the Zande Lou Gallery and the Chinese Calligraphy Gallery. Of interest are Chinese paintings, seals, jade, Ming and Qing furniture, coins and ethnic costumes. The building has been designed to resemble the shape of an ancient Chinese ding vessel. It includes an excellent museum shop selling postcards, books and replicas of the museum’s ceramics and other artworks. It is well-worth to purchase the audio guide.
Visit the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. This is a 468 m tall poured-concrete tripod tower. Its image can be seen all around the city on postcards and T-shirts. It was built in the Deng Xiaoping-era design. The highlight is the Transparent Observatory where you can look down through a glass-bottomed walkway. In the basement you’ll find the Shanghai History Museum. On the Sightseeing Floor at 263 m you’ll have fantastic 360-degree views across the city. Other features of the tower include a revolving restaurant at 267 m, a Space Capsule Sightseeing floor, a 5D cinema and an indoor roller coaster.
The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium adjacent to the popular Oriental Pearl TV Tower is one of the largest ocean aquarium in the world with the world’s longest submarine viewing tunnel that measures 155-meters in length. The aquarium consists of two pyramid-shaped buildings. Along with the exhibition area there is a gift shop and a restaurant that can seat up to 300 people.
The main building is divided into different exhibition zones – China, South America, Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, Cold Water, Polar, Sea and Shore and Deep Ocean Zones. Exhibits include over 300 types and 15,000 water creatures and rare fish like poison dart frogs, jellyfish, moonfish, leafy sea dragons and emperor penguins.
At present this is the only aquarium in the world to have a China Zone. This zone specializes in exhibiting aquatic organisms and ecology of the Yangtze valley as well as some endangered aquatic species. Most creatures in this zone are under national protection like the Chinese sturgeon, mullet, Yangtze alligator and giant salamander.
Longhua Temple and Pagoda is Shanghai’s oldest and largest monastery that is named after the pipal tree (longhua) under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. Here trees are decorated with red lanterns and the scent of incense fill the air. Monks can be heard chanting. The temple dates back to the 10th century.
The main halls here are Maitreya Hall, Hall of the Heavenly Kings, Grand Hall of the Great Sage, Three Sages Hall and the Laughing Buddha Hall. This temple is popular for its 6500 kg bell, cast in 1894.
Opposite the temple entrance you’ll see the Longhua Pagoda rising seven stories at 44 m high. It was originally built in 977 AD.
Shanghai Zoo is a large-scale state-level zoo. It is located on the western outskirts of Shanghai. The zoo exhibits over 6,000 animals among them 600 rare animals. Among the animals from China are giant pandas, golden monkeys, South China tigers, Manchurian tigers, Yangtze alligators and elks. There are also animals from other parts of the world like giraffes, kangaroos, penguins, hippopotamuses, sea lions, ostriches and cougars. The zoo is divided into five exhibition areas – Primates, Herbivores, Carnivores, Birds and Amphibians.
Walking into the zoo you’ll find the Primate Zone with golden monkeys, hamadryas baboons, gorillas and chimpanzees. The golden monkey is a unique and rare animal from China.
In the Herbivore Zone you’ll see giraffes, Asian elephants, hippos and alpacas.
Giant Pandas live in the Carnivore Zone along with Bengal white tigers, South Chinese tigers, African lions and Sun bears.
The red panda area is circular and lets red pandas rest in trees or enjoy the sunshine.
The Carnivore Zone also includes Lion and Tiger Hill. It is divided into east, central and west hills. Here you can see Manchurian tigers, African lions and South China tigers.
You can view lovely birds like an elegant swan or the beautiful Jackass Penguin. The Bird Zone is amazing. 40 kinds of birds nest in the zoo, among which the oriole, skylark, swan, cuckoo and mandarin duck are famous. The Oriental egret, black swan, whooper swan, flamingo, peacock can also be seen here. Swan Lake is particularly lovely surrounded by various plants.
In the Amphibian Zone you’ll see Yangtze alligators, sea turtles and pythons among others.
All around the zoo are lovely flowers and more than 100,000 trees. The Scientific Building is the first of its kind established in China.