Shanghai is the largest city in China, with a population of over 24 million people. It is a diverse city, offering a lively nightlife and plenty of fun side by side with quiet historic areas. Situated by the Yangtze River, Shanghai is home to one of the busiest container ports in the world and also offers up several opportunities for sightseeing by water. There is so much to see and do in Shanghai, from art galleries and museums to spectacular gardens and temples. Shanghai is the birthplace of the Chinese communist party and is a great starting point for exploring other parts of China but we’re going to explore four of the best places to visit in the city.
- The Bund
Best known as the Shanghai Promenade, the Bund or Zhongshan Lu is a wide promenade that runs along the side of the Huangpujiang River. It has a very European feel to it, making it a popular tourist spot and many of the restaurants, galleries, boutiques and other shops that line the promenade are old French and English buildings. There are 52 unique buildings to take in as you stroll along the promenade, ranging from Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Romanesque and Neoclassical, together with an impressive collection of architecture in the Art Deco style. You will pass the Bank of China, The Peace Hotel, and the harbor customs office. Take in the cupola of the Hing Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation HQ or hop on a boat to go around the port to where the Yangtze and Huangpujiang rivers converge.
- The Yù Yuán Garden
Lying northeast of the Old Town of Shanghai and covering 20,000 square meters, is the Yu Garden. Originally laid in 1559, the gardens also go by the name of The Garden of Happiness. There are is an outer garden, the oldest part, where the main hall of the park, Sansui Tang, was added in the 18th Century. The building is adorned with dragons with ornaments over the roof and bas-relief figures. The Hall of Spring is one of the best-known buildings in the Garden, home to the HQ of the Company of Swords between 1853 and 1855 during their rule of Shanghai. Artificial rocks in the garden are the work of Zhang Nanyang, the only works of the garden designer to have been preserved. The inner garden is newer, dating back to 1709 and shows off the features of a Chinese writer’s garden, with decorative stones, small pavilions and miniature representations of mountain ranges among ponds and walls.
- The Jade Buddha Temple
The Jade Buddha Temple can be found in the district of Anyuan Lu. It is home to a pair of magnificent Shakyamuni statues, brought to the temple from Burma by the Monk Huigen. The current temple was built in 1928, replacing the original which stood from 1882. Inside you will find two courtyards and three halls, including the Hall of the Kings of Heaven, otherwise known as Tian Wang Dian. There you will see the Shakyamuni sculptures and those of the four heavenly kings, carved out of white jade. One stands almost 2 meters high and is in the Wentang Main Hall alongside Buddhist manuscripts. The Hall of the Great Hero is also worth a look, where you will find 18 Luohan figures and the Buddhas of the Three Ages.
- Oriental Pearl Tower
One place you absolutely must visit in Shanghai is the Oriental Pearl Tower. Standing 468 meters high, it is the Radio and TV tower and is found in the Pudong-Park. As well as offering fantastic views of the river and the new Shanghai city, you can also gaze over the Bund Promenade. The tower is relatively news, constructed in 1991, and is named after 11 spheres of varying size, all linked together. The highest of these is the Space Module where you will find an observation deck and an outside deck with a glass floor. There are no less than 15 viewing spots in the tower and a revolving restaurant at the top with spectacular views. If you want somewhere to stay, there is a hotel and a shopping mall on the lower level. The tower is best seen at night when a light show illuminates it fully.