Shanghai See And Do
1200 Expo Avenue
Tel: 86 400 181 6688
Hosting the 2010 World Expo left Shanghai a legacy of improved infrastructure, plus some visually striking Expo pavilions. The World Fair's centerpiece, the 207-foot-high China Pavilion, remains in place, as do the national pavilions of Saudi Arabia, Spain, Italy, France, and Russia. The most dramatic remaining structure is the oyster shell–shaped Mercedes-Benz Arena. Formerly the Expo Performance Center, it reopened in late 2010 as China's first sports venue with corporate branding. Inside the spaceshiplike building is an 18,000-seat arena for sports, musical, and theatrical events; an ice rink; a music club; a shopping mall; and an exhibition center.—Gary Bowerman
Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu
This stretch of Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu, on the western bank of the Huangpu River, was once home to the Wall Street of Asia. The grand mansions were built as headquarters for British, French, American, Russian, and Japanese banking institutions that had established themselves in the city following the Opium Wars in the 1840s, when Shanghai was opened up to foreign trade. The hodgepodge of architectural stylesArt Deco, Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque, and neoclassicalillustrates the many foreign influences. On the promenade, locals gather at dawn to practice kung fu, qigong, and tai chi, as well as ballroom dancing. The rest of the day, snap-happy tourists take pictures of one another in front of the Pudong skyline across the water, or catch a scenic riverboat tour. The Bund underwent major relandscaping ahead of the 2010 World Expo, connecting it to river taxi stops that go to the Expo site and channeling traffic underground.
As China's contemporary art scene continues to heat up, one of the best places to catch a glimpse (or even buy) is the growing cluster of galleries in the Moganshan Lu warehouse district. Once known mostly for its polluted river, Moganshan Lu began to attract local artists in the late 1990s with its enormous loft spaces and cheap rent. Start at the city's first contemporary art space, ShanghART Gallery, which focuses on local artists and, to a lesser degree, the rest of China. The massive Art Scene Warehouse often hosts group exhibits that offer a good overview, while Eastlink regularly shows work by art stars Ai Weiwei and the Gao Brothers. Browse art tomes at Timezone 8 before taking a well-deserved break in the bright café.
In the area around Huaihai Lu, a street known for its department stores, boutiques, antique shops, and cafés, lies the marvelous old French Concession. In 1854, this area was designated to the French, who opted out of a move to combine all the foreign settlements in the city. Many of the French Concession's Tudor-style mansions—complete with colorful flower boxes—still stand on the tree-lined streets off Yan'an Lu. Vestiges of the Japanese occupation (1937–1945) also remain, alongside the buildings of what used to be the Jewish and Russian quarters. Fuxing Park is a tree-lined green oasis in the French Concession that dates back to the early 1900s. Early in the morning, people stroke the air in the smooth patterns of tai chi. Later, women sing Chinese opera, old men gamble at tables beside the main pavilion, and couples waltz to piped dance music. Go here for a typical—and marvelous—slice of Chinese life.
Huangpu River Cruise Company
219 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu
Tel: 86 21 6374 4461
Winding through the heart of Shanghai, the Huangpu River is the city's primary artery, a freshwater tributary that leads to the Yangtze River and beyond to the East China Sea. The Huangpu River Cruise Company offers leisurely boat tours with tickets ranging from $6.25 to $13 (pricier seats come with better views and snacks). Glide up and down the murky waters, past one of the world's biggest and busiest ports—one third of China's trade flows through here—to the mouth of the Yangtze and back again. Catch a cruise at sundown so you can watch the lights glow on shore in a juxtaposition of old and new—to the west lies the historic Bund, to the east the skyscraper spires of übermodern Pudong.
Blink and you'll miss the ride. The world's fastest passenger train, with a top speed of 268 miles per hour, takes just eight minutes to journey back and forth between Pudong International Airport and Longyang Lu metro station (the same journey takes at least 45 minutes by car). Unless you are averse to g-force, simply sit back and enjoy the smooth rideor join the throng of passengers pointing their digital cameras at the onboard speedometer waiting to catch the optimum moment. Longyang Lu connects with the Shanghai metro system and there are plenty of taxis on hand; it's a 30-minute drive from downtown Puxi, and just 10 to 15 minutes from Pudong's best hotels. A one-way ticket costs $6.90, but if you show your same-day flight ticket at the counter, it'll only be $5.50 (www.smtdc.com).
Open daily 6:45 am to 9:30 pm; trains run at a reduced speed (186 miles per hour) before 8:45 am and after 5 pm.
62 Changyang Lu
Tel: 86 21 6541 5008
During the 1930s and 40s, more than 10,000 Jews fleeing Nazi persecution landed in Shanghai, which offered refuge to "stateless individuals." Herded by occupying Japanese soldiers into the Hongkou district's narrow houses, they patiently waited out the war years, many in greatly reduced circumstances. Built in 1927, the Ohel Moshe Synagogue now houses the Jewish Refugee Museum, which features black-and-white period photographs and an attic bedroom frozen in time; a 2007 renovation will add more exhibit space. Though little remains of the rest of the former Jewish ghetto, you can explore its crumbling remnants in an informative tour led by Israeli journalist Dvir Bar-Gal (86-130-0214-6702).
Once home to the impoverished Chinese masseswho lived in close quarters here while wealthy foreigners spread out around themthe old city is full of twisting alleys and street vendors. Here you will catch a glimpse of the cramped, colorful old world (its origins date back to the 16th century) in the bustling heart of a modern city. Start at the Dongtai Lu Antique Market, where street-side stalls display myriad antique (and antique-looking) objets d'art. Continue past neighborhood Buddhist temples like the bustling Fangzangjiang, then line up with the locals at the 100-year-old Nanxiang Dumpling House inside the Yu Garden Bazaar for soupy pork and crabmeat xiaolongbao dumplings, before heading to the winding paths and craggy rockery of the Yu Garden.
No. 2 Renmin Da Dao
Tel: 86 21 6372 3500
With 120,000 works of art on view, this premier collection of Chinese artifacts warrants at least half a day to browse the ten galleries of calligraphy, jade, bronze, ceramics, and sculpturesnot to mention furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, paintings, coins, and other historical treasures. The audio tours are worthwhile, and written descriptions of the relics are also offered in English. Take a break in the museum's tearoom, and hit the bookshop for souvenirs.
100 Renmin Dadao at Xizang Zhong Lu
Tel: 86 21 6318 4477
More interesting than it sounds, this dramatic five-story glass building showcases the city's future urban development through detailed models and multimedia displays. On the third floor, an enormous model shows Shanghai in 2020, an endless sprawl of skyscrapers. The fourth floor offers an aerial view of the model, as well as exhibits on future transportation projects, including a Maglev train, while in the basement there's a charming mock-up of 1930s Shanghai with shops and restaurants. If you're wondering just how far (and high) the city's planners are going to take Shanghai's development, you'll find all the answers here.
100 Century Avenue
Tel: 86 21 3867 2008
Opened in 2008, mainland China's tallest tower stands 101 floors and 1,615 feet high. Owned and built by Japan's Mori Corporation, it has been dubbed the "Corkscrew" Tower, because of a large rectangular hole near the top. Architects Kohn Pederson Fox designed the SWFC as a "vertical integrated city"; the building features a five-floor shopping mall rising from the basement, and more than 70 floors of office and convention space. The Park Hyatt Shanghai sits between floors 79 and 93. For visitors, the main draw is the 100th-floor glass corridor Observatory Deck, with cloud-floating views over the city. The 97th-floor Sky Bridge is another viewing area, with a glass roof that opens in summer. The second-floor Exhibition Center features an intriguing display of photos and scale models, and a narrated history of the construction of this New China megatower.
In the 1930s, Shanghai was covered with blocks of shikumen (traditional stone-gated structures). Today, most of these narrow middle-class houses, which typically featured five rooms upstairs and down, have been destroyed to make room for glitzy high-rise buildings. Xintiandi is a preserved neighborhood—one of the city's best (and only) examples of old Shanghai architecture—now transformed into an upscale mall, boasting a collection of swank restaurants, bars, and shops. For a glimpse into the life of a typical 1920s middle-class family, don't miss the Shikumen Museum, formerly a residential property that has been restored to its former charm and decorated with artifacts found in nearby houses (25 Lane 181, Taicang Lu; 86-21-3307-0337). Wash the taste of capitalism from your mouth with a visit to the nearby Museum of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which pays homage to the party's 1921 founding with a wax tableau of the first meeting and a brief tour of the humble brick lane house where it all started (374 Huangpi Nan Lu, by Xingye Lu; 86-21-5383-2171).
218 Anren Jie
Tel: 86 21 6326 0830
A lot of history resides in this little garden and its City God Temple. They were commissioned in 1559, built over the course of 19 years, destroyed in 1842 during the first Opium War, and later rebuilt and reopened to the public in their current incarnation in 1961. Pathways wind through rock gardens and bamboo stands, and stone bridges cross pools filled with bright carp. The word yu translates to "peace and health"and the park was certainly designed with tranquility in mindbut today, especially on weekends, swarms of tourists get in the way of the garden's serenity.
Garden open daily 8:30 am to 5 pm. City God Temple open daily 8:30 am to 4 pm.