Shanghai, with a population of more than 16 million (of which nearly 4 million are non-residents), is one of the most populous and most developed cities in the People's Republic of China
Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930s, and remained the most developed city in Communist China. In the 1990s Shanghai again became an attractive spot for tourists worldwide.
Shanghai is divided into 18 districts, and one county:
Shanghai is a fascinating mix of East and West. It has historic "shikumen" houses that blended the styles of Chinese houses with European design flairs, and it has one of the most rich collections of art deco buildings in the world. Because there were so many Concessions to western powers during the turn of the 20th century, at times it the city has the feel of Paris or Montreal, while Tudor style buildings give a German flair, and the 1930s buildings put you in New York or Chicago.
In the beginning of the 1990s, the Shanghai government launched a series of new strategies to attract foreign investments. The biggest move was to open up Pudong, once a rural area of Shanghai. The strategies succeeded, and now Pudong has become the financial district of Shanghai, with a lot of skyscrapers.
Today Shanghai's goal is to develop into a world-class financial and economic center of China, and even Asia. To achieve this goal Shanghai faces competition from Hong Kong. Hong Kong has the advantage of a stronger legal system and greater banking and service expertise. Shanghai has stronger links to the Chinese interior and to the central government in addition to a stronger manufacturing and technology base. Since the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC, Shanghai has increased its role in finance, banking, and as a major destination for corporate headquarters, fueling demand for a highly educated and westernized workforce.
Shanghai now has two airports:
- Hongqiao Airport(located in the west, nearer to downtown) - only for domestic flights. It is very fast to reach downtown from Hongqiao Airport, travellers could reach Xu Jiahui -- one of the main shopping areas in only 20 minutes.
- Pudong International Airport(located in the east) - newly built, all international flights and some domestic flights. Pudong is further away, and currently tourists can take taxi (the most convenint and fast) or airport express bus services. If you take a taxi, it will probably take about 30-45 minutes to reach the middle of downtown, or 1 hour during busy times. Expect to pay around RMB 150 for the trip. It will take even longer with the airport bus.
Shanghai now has a state-of-the=art Transrapid, the first operational magnetic levitation (maglev) railway in the world, which links Pudong International Airport to down town. The 30 km link opened in 2003 and provides an incredibly fast 8 minute trip to the Longyang Road Station subway. It is fairly expensive, at RMB 75 per passenger, and you will still need to take a taxi to your final destination. For groups, a van or taxi is more reasonable.
Shanghai Railway Station is located in Zhabei district. It is the cheapest way to reach Shanghai from other cities in China, but there are few international rail links.
In recent years many highways have been built, linking Shanghai to other cities in the region, including Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, etc. It only takes 2 hours to reach Shanghai from Hangzhou.
There are several long-distance bus stations in Shanghai, but most buses only go to small towns nearby the city.
There are 3 underground metro lines and 1 light rail in the city. For foreigners, taking metro is one of the best choices, but trains get really very crowded during peak hours. Since the metro system has not been completed yet, many sights of interests still cannot be reached by metro.
Taxi is a preferable choice for transportation in the city. It is very cheap (only 10 yuan for the first 3 kilometres), and saves you a lot of time. But be careful as some taxi drivers are dishonest and may drive the long way. It is certainly the best choice if you have a local guide with you.
Shanghai Sigtseeing Bus
- The Bund - The bund alongside Huangpu River once was the financial center of far east. It is considered the city's symbol since 1920s. It is often referred to as "the museum of buildings", as many different styles of European buildings can be found here. Now it is even more attractive as you can also see modern skyscapers just opposite the Huangpu River. That gives you a strong contrast between modern life and the past. From the bund you can easily go to Pudong District by the Bund's Tunnel.
- People's Square - located at the heart of the city, it is the political and cultural center of this city. You may want to spend a comfortable afternoon with so many pigeons and lots of fresh air. People's Square can be easily reached with metro lines no. 1 and 2.
- Shanghai Museum - Located south of the People's Square directly opposite the Municipal Government Building, Shanghai Museum is one of the largest museums in China, with thousands of old Chinese artifacts.
- Shanghai Grand Opera Palace - situated northwest of the square. It is often listed as one of the ten best opera houses in the world.
- Shanghai Layout Institution - situated northeast of the square. Here you can find an exhibition of the history of Shanghai, as well as the planned layout of the city in 2020.
- Chenghuang Temple - Chenghuang Temple is the biggest example of traditiional Chinese architecture in Shanghai. You can find local snacks and food, as well as other traditional Chinese decorations.
- Xintiandi - Xintiandi is a popular spot for young people. It is a place where you can find a lot of pubs. Besides these pubs you can also see some traditional Shanghai-style lodgings (Shikumen) which are a unique blend of European and Chinese design. There is a nice miniature museum, showing the configuration and interior of a recreated 1930s shikumen house.
Pudong Financial District
- Oriental Pearl TV Tower - built in 1994, 3rd tallest in the world, now mainly for recreation. RMB 50 for entrace.
- Jinmao Tower - world's 3rd tallest skyscraper stands just beside Oriental Pearl TV Tower. There is a restaurant on the top floor (88th floor).
- Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street - the most important commerical street in Shanghai, with hundreds of shops, all with a rich history. The area is known for its stationery and book stores. One of the largest is the Shanghai Book City which is all Chinese language, or the the Foreign Book Store just down the street which caters to Western tastes. You can reach it by metro.
- Huaihai Road - The main commercial street, with mainly international brand stores.
- Xu Jiahui - big shopping malls here. You can get here by metro.
- Xiangyang Market - towards the western end of Huaihai Road is this crowded outdoor market where you can buy clothing and accessories. It's a shoppers paradise of original and knockoff goods, mostly known for its (fake) North Face jackets, leather shoes, designer bags, reproduction watches and DVDs. It can get quite crowded on weekends. Prices range from RMB 200-300 for a knockoff North Face jacket, or RMB 150 for a backpack. Though they are not exact copies of the real thing, the build and quality is remarkable for the price.
- Vegetarian Lifestyle, 77 Song Shan Rd (in a fabulously decorated alleyway just south of Huai Hai Rd.), 21-6384-8000. Every day until 10pm. Wow! A beautifully appointed modern restaurant where everything just happens to be vegi. You won't find much in the way of fake meat that pervades most of the other vegetarian places. Instead you'll enjoy beautifully cooked dishes from all over the country, and juices from the juice bar. They serve beer as well, but careful, one bottle will double your bill! ~30 RMB (18 RMB Lunch special).
- Xintiandi, at the southeast corner of Huaihai Park. This is not the trendy district, but a small 24 hour coffee/dumpling shop just next to the park. They sell steamed-and-fried soup-filled dumplings are famous for squirting across the room if you don't suck out the juice beforehand. Four dumplings for RMB 1.50 is a steal.
- Judy's Too, 176 Maoming Nan Lu (Metro: Shaanxi Nan Lu), 021/6473-1417. Doors open at 6pm, but the party doesn't really get started 'till at least 10pm. A somewhat cheesy but fun favorite among expats. Locals dance it up here here too, but mostly before 11pm. If you've ever wanted to watch a drunk Russian guy try to pick up a French girl in Han Chinese at 2am, this is the place. (No cover). http://www.judysco.com/