Shanghai has much history and has kept many relics of it intact,
with conservation policies preserving huge swathes of the colonial
architectural inheritance. Along with this is a city government
that has not been too narrow mindedly focused on commerce to ignore
wider urban planning issues. This resulted in one of China’s
most elegant cities and certainly its most cosmopolitan and sophisticated.
In a country a wealthy Shanghai person only nets an average of US$1500
annual income per capita (this obviously is relative) however the
quality of the urban environment is high by any standards.
The Huangpu River splits the old and new Shanghai, with the historic
Bund promenade on one side and the progressive Pudong New
Area on the other. The Old Town has some
cultural delights, such as the Yuyuan Gardens and
Bazaar, while Renmin Square is
the focal point of the city’s Communist tradition,
the site of many protests and home to the Shanghai Government.
Shanghai Tourist Information and Service Centre
303 Moling Lu (South Exit of Shanghai Railway Station)
Tel: (21) 6353 9920.
Shanghai China International
1277 Beijing Xi Lu
Tel: (21) 6289 8899. Fax: (21) 6289 4928.
Web site: www.scits.com
Hotels also offer very good tourist information. There are many
other Tourist Information and Service Centres throughout the city,
including the Pudong New Area and Xuhui District.
A tourist telephone hotline (tel: (21) 6252 0000)
operates daily 1000-2100.
There are no sightseeing passes offered available
Street of legends, the Bund is two kilometres (1.2
miles) of historic riverfront buildings, separated from the Huangpu
River (which is has risen above street level) since the mid-1990s
by a raised terrace embankment. It runs approximately from Nan Suzhou
Lu in the north to Jinling Dong Lu in the south. The word ‘bund’
is an Anglo-Indian and comes from the Hindi ‘band’,
or embankment, recalling the flood barriers that once lined it.
The name is a leftover from the British colonial regime and many
of the landmark buildings once belonged to British companies.
The remnants of colonial power are dotted along the Bund. These
include the Customs House (with its famous bell
‘Big Ching’), the former Hong Kong and Shanghai
Bank (now the Pudong Development Bank), the former Shanghai Club, the Peace Hotel
(one of Asia’s Art Deco wonders and a favourite of Noel Coward),
the Glen Line Building, the Bank of China
and many others. This promenade of Shanghai’s past also looks
straight onto its future, the gleaming towers of the Pudong New
Area on the opposite riverbank. The Bund is a must-see for any first-time
visitor to Shanghai.
Huangpu, from Nan Suzhou Lu to Jinling Dong Lu
Bus 928 along the Bund from Shanghai Railway Station, bus 926 from
Shanghai Stadium or bus 831 from Hongqiao Airport.
Reconstructed in the shape of an ancient Chinese bronze ritual vessel,
in 1994, the Shanghai Museum is home to more than
120,000 historical and artistic pieces and is one of the city’s
cultural gems. Its four storeys offer a chronological and stylistic
tour of China’s most fascinating artistic traditions, with
bronzes, paintings, jades, sculptures, ceramics, calligraphy, furniture,
coins, and ethnic minority folk art, not to mention special exhibitions.
Special highlights are the display of ancient
bronzes on the entrance level and the Chinese painting
on the second above. Due to the size of the collection, only about
3% of the museum can be shown at any one time.
201 Renmin Dadao, Renmin Square, Huangpu
Tel: (21) 6372 3500.
Web site: www.shanghaimuseum.net
Transport: Metro Renmin
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00
(last ticket sales 16:00), Saturday 09:00-20:00.
RMB20 (concessions available).
Gardens and Bazaar
A superb survival of the pre-colonial era, the Yuyuan Gardens
are also the centre of Shanghai’s liveliest tourist bazaar,
with stalls and eating houses packed in brightly coloured alleys
that is reminiscent of the sets from the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000). The gardens
and bazaar sprawl over several city blocks, stretching south from
Fuyou Lu to Fangbang Dong Lu. A paradise of tranquility after the
hordes of tourists in the bazaar, the Yuyuan Gardens (in fact the
Yu Gardens – Yu Yuan) was founded in 1559, during the Ming
Dynasty by a family of Imperial officials.
Despite being looted by the Western powers in the 19th century,
the gardens still maintains an exquisite catalogue
of Ming garden design. The curiosities include
many grottos and tunnels, a stone boat for staging river parties,
peaceful pools, a fine Chinese opera stage, a hall that became the
headquarters of the Small Swords Society –
one of the most significant 19th-century patriotic societies –
as well as several other delightful corners. Outside this walled
tranquility, the bazaar offers multifarious souvenirs to visitors,
however, one restaurant in particular, the Mid-Lake Pavilion
Teahouse, has become an attraction in itself, with presidents
and queens ceremoniously taken to visit it.
Old Town, from Fuyou Lu to Fangbang Dong Lu
Bus 42 from the Bund to Renmin Lu near the Yuyuan Gardens. Bus 11
circles the district on Renmin Lu and Zhong Hua Lu.
hours: Daily 08:30-17:00.
Lined with French colonial-era architecture that
survives surprisingly unspoilt in the centre of this thriving city,
the French Concession is – in film terms – the Empire
of the Sun to Yuyuan Garden’s Crouching Tiger. It is typical
of Shanghai’s international sophistication at its most peaceful
and harmonious. Important gems include the grounds
of the Ruijin Guest House, 118 Ruijin Er Lu, previously
the Morris Estate and full of garden cafés and restaurants,
and the bars and clubs of Maoming Nan Lu. Fuxing Park
boasts its shady walks and own Hong Kong-derived bar strip and there
are plenty of old residences along Sinan Lu (including
ones belonging to Sun Yatsen and Zhou Enlai) and several fine colonial-period
hotels – the Garden Hotel, 58 Maoming Nan
Lu, and the Jinjiang Hotel, 59 Maoming Nan Lu. Most visitors from
the west will feel at home in this area that they will not want
Transport: Metro Shanxi Nan
Site of the First National Congress
of the Chinese Communist Party
Not everyone will wish to visit this site, which stands as testimonial
to the fact that Shanghai was the birthplace of Chinese Communism.
Here, the Chinese Communist Party was founded,
in a room belonging to 1 of the delegates, Li Hanjun, on 23 July
1921. Another delegate, Mao Zedong, was among only 2 of 13 that
ever served in the 1st Chinese Communist government,
formed in 1949. The modern museum occupies the entire building and
documents the formative years of the CCP. Refurbished in 1998, it
incorporates delights such as a life-size wax depiction of the first
meeting, with Mao centre stage, at his most idealised.
374 Huangpi Nan Lu
Tel: (21) 5383 2171.
Opening hours: Daily 0900-1700
(last ticket sold 1600).
Shanghai Municipal History Museum
Shanghai’s most modern – and possibly
most expensive – museum, the Shanghai
Municipal History Museum, occupies the lowest ball of Pudong’s
signature Orient Pearl Tower and utilizes all the latest interactive
equipment to tell the city’s history, including a diorama
of a ‘main street’ from the 1920s.
The museum presents 6000 years, with sights, sounds and even scents
of the colonial era. But the newest exhibits – such as the
lion dogs that once guarded the old Hong Kong and
Shanghai Bank building – are the most interesting. The expensive
entrance fee reflects the admission price for the Tower itself –
there is no way to gain access to the museum without entering the
Tower, packaging past and future in one.
Gate 4, Oriental Pearl Tower, 1 Shiji Dadao, Pudong
Tel: (21) 5879 3003.
Opening hours: Daily 0900-2100.
Admission: RMB70 (RMB20 for museum and RMB50 for
A must see central landmark of Shanghai, Renmin Square
was the location of massed Red Guard demonstrations
in the 1960s and Shanghai’s own 1989 protests. Today it is
the serene setting for some of Shanghai’s chief modern civic
buildings. The Shanghai Grand Theatre and Shanghai
Urban Planning Exhibition Hall flank the Shanghai Government
on the north side, while the Shanghai Museum (see
Key Attractions) is in the centre.
Renmin Square, Huangpu
Transport: Metro Renmin Square.
A pleasant park with a lake for boating and a peaceful atmosphere,
Hongkou Park is also home to the museum of the Lu Xun Memorial
Hall and the Tomb of Lu Xun, which gives
the park its other name, Lu Xun Park. Lu Xun (1881-1936), novelist
and essayist, is well known as the creator of modern Chinese literature
with a vernacular fictional style that is worlds apart from outworn
classical influences. This is a pilgrimage site for the great writer’s
admirers– other visitors can simply enjoy the park.
Sichuan Bei Lu, on the corner of Dalian Xi Lu and Baoshan Lu
Transport: Bus 2.
Lu Xun Memorial Hall
2288 Sichuan Beilu
Tel: (21) 6540 4378.
Opening hours: Daily
0900-1700; no entry after 1600.
RMB5 (concessions available).
Longtangs are the signature local domestic architecture of Shanghai,
a melange of British-style terraced housing and
the Chinese central courtyard. Each house is sublet ad infinitum
into warren-like neighbourhood communities. The most cosmetic renovation
of the longtang style is in the new Xintiandi entertainment
area off Huangpi Nan Lu, paved and beautified for tourists. More
authentic examples, inhabited by actual residents
rather than bars and franchise coffee chains, are located throughout
the French Concession area.
Xintiandi, off Huangpi Nan Lu
Metro Huangpi Lu.
Transport: Metro Shanxi