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Top 10 “Must do’s” for Shanghai

2009. 23 July

(    Any trip to Shanghai should include the following sites and activities to get a full flavor of the city.

 Photo: by Stephanie Sherrill. Shanghai Night Cityscape

1. Bund – No trip to Shanghai is complete without viewing the Bund in both daylight and nightlight. The Bund, also known as Zhongshan Lu, was the center of colonial Shanghai. Along one side are the old buildings dating back to the early 1900’s. Today these buildings house fine restaurants and bars. Stretching along the other side is a promenade along the Huangpu River where you can stroll along and view the modern skyscrapers across the river. 

2. Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) – As of 2009, this building is the second tallest in the world with the highest observation deck on the 101st floor, 492 meters high (1614 feet). From the top of the building enjoy amazing views of Shanghai including a view looking down upon the Jin Mao Tower, previously ranked third tallest building in the world when it was built in 1999.  

3. Yu Garden and Bazaar – Located in the heart of Old Town, this popular destination includes old-style Chinese buildings, a 5-acre classical Chinese garden, and the City God Daoist Temple. Wander around the alleys to discover small shops specializing in everything from chopsticks to traditional medicines to silk pajamas. 

4. Shanghai Museum – This museum showcases Chinese art and antiques. It contains some of the best exhibits of Chinese calligraphy, jade, paintings, sculptures, ceramics and other cultural relics found in the world. It is also the only entry for Shanghai in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die.  

5. Taikang Lu – Strolling through these alleys (Lane 200-284) will give you an idea of Shanghai lane life. You’ll find ladies hanging laundry, men playing mah jong, and street vendors selling snacks. The eclectic shops offer unique shopping without the in-your-face hard sell. There are many great cafes for a casual bite to eat or drink. Don’t miss the artist studios in the mall off Lane 210.  

6. Xin Tian Di – This development is new construction of older typical shikumen style homes. There are many upscale restaurants, bars and shops. The outdoor seating is perfect for people watching. Also located within the complex is a traditional shikumen home to tour and the site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party (not open for touring).  

7. Shopping – Shanghai offers great shopping opportunities from pearls, fakes to tailored clothing. Great freshwater and saltwater pearls can be bought at a fraction of the price. The fake markets at Pearl City or the market underneath the Science and Technology Museum both offer great opportunities to bring back “designer” items. If time allows head to the South Bund Fabric Market to get clothing tailored to fit you. 

8. Lupu Bridge/Expo Site – Climb the Lupu Bridge, the longest arch bridge in the world, and view the interesting buildings from the 2010 World Expo. A guide will accompany you as you walk up the 367 steps of the bridge to arrive in the center. 

9. Xiao Long Bao – Shanghai’s most famous dumpling roughly translates to “small soup purse.” These delicate dumplings with a paper-thin wrapper are filled with minced pork and soup. While there are many restaurants offering xiao long bao’s one of the best with several locations including Xin Tian Di and Yu Garden is ironically a Taiwanese brand called Din Tai Fung. 

10. People’s Square – This former racetrack site has been turned into a beautiful park in the heart of the city. Stroll around and experience a bit of Chinese park culture. You will find older citizens participating in group tai chi, people of all ages dancing, others playing Chinese chess, and more just eager to practice their English with you. Also located within this area are numerous museums: Shanghai Art Museum, Urban Planning Museum, and Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA).