On the surface Shanghai is a westernized and uber-modern city but only when you scratch deeper will you find a destination so richly steeped and embedded in culture and tradition. The largest metropolis of China is one of the most progressive and developed cities in the world and has all the characteristics required for a megalopolis - glittering steel-and-glass towers dominating the cityscape, sprawling and swanky shopping complexes, chic designer outlets, luxurious hotel chains & fine dining options and trendy bars & hip dance clubs. But do stroll around to look beyond the obvious to appreciate it's quintessential lane homes with bamboo poles and dig into it's appetizing and tasty street food.
Wander around Shanghai's Promenade: The Bund, running along the west bank of the Huangpujiang River, and soak in the European feel of the place. Marvel the old English and French buildings spruced around that are now converted into restaurants, boutiques,galleries and offices. The structures sport the most impressive collections of Art Deco architecture for they are designed in a variety of different ways showcasing Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, Neo-classical and Renaissance styles. Embark on a boat ride and go on a sightseeing tour around the port and the confluence of the Huangpujiang and Yangtze rivers to enjoy the city from a different perspective.
No trip to Shanghai is complete without catching a glimpse of the magnificent 468-meter-tall Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, residing in Pudong-Park on the east bank of the Huangpu River. Climb aboard to relish breathtaking panoramic shots of the stunning Bund promenade. Some of other impressive skyscrapers which are iconic landmarks in Shanghai are the 88-story (420.5-meter tall) Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center (492-meter tall) and the Shanghai Tower (632-meter tall).
On one hand we have high-rise blocks representing contemporary architecture then on the other we have the ancient Yu Garden, reminding folks of the bygone era. Also referred to as the Garden of Happiness, it spans an area of over 20,000 sq meters and comprises of an outer and inner garden. Soak in the vibe of yesteryear China by wandering around the classical Chinese architectural pieces. When it comes to religious shrines, Shanghai has a plethora of them spruced around the city. The Jade Buddha Temple, Jing'an Temple, Longhua Temple (with a 40-meter tall wood and brick pagoda), Xuijiahui Cathedral (also called St. Ignatius Cathedral; built in Neo-Romanesque style), Sheshan Basilica (Roman Catholic Church) and so forth are well worth the visit.
Some of the museums that are must-see are the Shanghai Museum (exhibits Classical Chinese art), Shanghai Natural History Museum (Naural scienece in China), Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (elaborate collection highlighting scientific achievements), China Art Museum (impressive collections of modern art) and so on. One should also make time to visit the Oriental Art Center - venue for classical music, opera and theatrical productions and the wonderful Shanghai Grand Theatre hosting concerts, operas, ballet performances and traditional theater.
Families with kids will love spending the day at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium and walking down the massive 120-meter tunnel that offers an in-depth glimpse of China's fascinating aquatic life. The Shanghai Zoo is a real treat for both children and adults with it's huge collection of animals including it's native species - giant pandas and South China tigers.
Shanghai is a haven for shop-a-holics. Kick-start your shopping spree by heading over the city's principal shopping street, Nanjing Road. Walk down this pedestrian-friendly street and find street vendors selling everything from Chinese-themed souvenirs to pricey boutiques housing traditional arts & crafts including sprawling and swanky shopping complexes. Don't forget to procure Shanghai's specialty - the local blue cloth, patterned in blue and white.
When holidaying in Shanghai, it would be a crime to not dig into few of their delicacies. Do gorge into some of their culinary dishes such as boiled eel, three yellow chicken, fried shrimp, Shanghai drunk crab and so forth. The night-life in Shanghai is exemplary with several bars and clubs scattered all over the metropolis.
Shanghai is brimming with a plethora of stay options. The richie-rich craving for the best luxury hotels and sprawling private apartments will have plenty of choices. At the same time, budget tourists looking for modest and cheap accommodations will find several options as well.
Shanghai experiences humid sub-tropical climate. The best time to visit the city would be during the spring or autumn months when the temperatures are relatively pleasant.