The world’s most populous city and China’s largest, Shanghai started off life as an unassuming fishing village on the Yangtze River and continued to grow and develop throughout the centuries under the rule of successive imperial dynasties into the key economic power and centre for trade that it is today. The city’s coastal location was a big contributing factor to its prosperity and it didn’t take Europe long to realise Shanghai’s potential. The Opium War with Britain over trade relations marked the start of an era of colonisation in some areas of the city and some of their legacies can be explored during your visit. Today, the city has grown into a sprawling metropolis which is very much China’s modern face and though you’ll not want to miss any of its contemporary landmarks, there’s a wealth of historical attractions to discover too.
In contrast, the Bund is a hugely popular waterfront area where you’ll find much the city’s older colonial heritage and buildings which date back to its first era of modernisation. There’s plenty of classic architecture here and building heights are restricted to preserve its historical significance. A stroll along the waterfront promenade to take it all in is a popular activity for many visitors and the area truly comes alive at night, when it’s illuminated by ingenious electronic lighting displays. The Old French Concession offers a fascinating look at one of the city’s key colonial areas, while Longhua Temple is the city’s largest place of worship, occupying an incredible five acres and boasting some incredible architecture and artefacts as well as a welcome calming atmosphere.
If authentic crafts to take back home are on the to-do list, Yuyuan Bazaar in the Bund is the best place to look. Owing to its history and coastal location Shanghai offers a wealth of freshly-prepared oriental dishes to enjoy but you’ll find that many of the dishes are made with catch from the Yangtze rather than the sea.
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