"Sex and the city... so to speak." Top 5 Page for this destination Shanghai by cheezecake_deli
Shanghai Travel Guide: 3,197 reviews and 8,337 photos
Shanghai is modern China's largest metropolis and one of the greatest cities of the 21st century. Like any great city, it is many things to many people - c.f. its old nicknames "Paris of the East" and "Whore of the Orient". A young city in Chinese terms, you won't find it on any map of antiquity - simply because the land which Shanghai occupies, just south of the mouth of the mighty Yangtze river, was below sea level two thousand years ago! A sleepy fishing village for hundreds of years, Shanghai really took off after the First Opium War in the mid 1800s, when it was opened to foreign trade as a treaty port. The British, American and French, and later the Japanese, came and settled in their respective concessions, and commerce boomed. As a free city, Shanghai provided shelter to fleeing white Russians in the late 1910s and persecuted Jews in the 1930s, becoming one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. In the 1920s and 1930s, the city became a magnet for tycoons, gangsters, opportunists and dreamers. Fortune magazine, in 1935, called it the inheritor of ancient Baghdad, pre-War Constantinople, 19th century London and 20th century Manhattan - high praise indeed. The party was halted in 1949, when the Communists took control (an event which, incidentally, triggered the largest capital flight in the world; its beneficiary: Hong Kong). In Maoist China, Shanghai had to play second fiddle to Beijing, but even then it occasionally occupied centre stage in shaping the course of modern Chinese history. The notorious Gang of Four, for example, operated out of the city. Shanghai missed out during the early liberalisation of the Chinese economy post-Mao, when attention was concentrated on the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. Since the 1990s, however, Shanghai is rising again. A whole new city of skyscrapers has been built in its Pudong district. The Shanghainese are the most dynamic of Chinese and they provide the largest tax contribution to central government. And the foreigners - from other parts of Asia, Europe and America - are pouring in to catch a slice of the action, creating an intoxicating atmosphere of energy and possibility.
Shanghai is one of my favourite cities in the world and certainly my favourite Asian city. Yes - like any megacity - it can be crowded and noisy and polluted, but it remains the most cosmopolitan, sophisticated and progressive city in mainland China. Shanghai is a good place to visit if you want to catch a feel/glimpse of the future of China. Other than a few sightseeing highlights, the main draws are eating/drinking, shopping and people watching - similar to highlights of a visit to, say, New York or London. It is also a good base to explore the more rural and classical sights of nearby Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Don't come to Shanghai expecting a thoroughly "Chinese" experience (whatever that may be) - this is, after all, the most "Westernised" of mainland cities. Do come, however, and let yourself be sucked into its pulsating energy...
Top 5 sights:
1. The Bund
2. Shanghai Museum
3. Yu Garden and Bazaar
4. Oriental Pearl TV Tower
5. Jing'an Temple
Favourite things to do:
1. Hanging out in Xintiandi
2. Browsing for gifts in Yu Bazaar and Dongtai Lu Market
3. A stroll (with some shopping!) along Nanjing Dong Lu at night
4. A cruise along Huangpu river to the Yangtze
5. Drinks with a view in the Park Hyatt or Grand Hyatt.
My next trip: April 2014
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