Shanghai does not have as many ancient attractions as other places in China and for this reason it can come across as a bit of a disappointment for travelers. That said, if you enjoy modern architecture as well as a range of exciting nightlife and dining options then this is the place to come. Despite its modern face however, there are a few examples of old Shanghai dotted around that will appeal to history buffs if you know where to look.
Yu Gardens, also known as Yu Yuan date back to the sixteenth century and are a stunning example of classical Chinese gardens including pools, bridges, and rock formations. As the gardens are over 300 years old they are the jewel in the crown of Shanghai and you can spend a relaxing few hours walking around and enjoying the atmosphere in this historically significant place in a city desperate to modernize.
If you want to embrace the modernity of Shanghai then look no further than Nanjing Road which is the main shopping area of the city and has everything you could want in terms of retail and dining opportunities. It’s extremely crowded as you would imagine but you will also find stalls selling street food, typical Chinese sights like reflexology spas, as well as high end department stores and plenty of malls.
Whatever your preferences, a trip to the Bund, the waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River is not to be missed. If you go early in the morning you will find it lined with locals practicing tai chi, and you can take in the morning breeze off the river. In the evening the sights are even more spectacular and you can enjoy the lights all the way across to Pudong on the other side of the river, as well as iconic buildings like the illuminated Oriental Pearl Tower. Another way to explore the river is to take a river cruise which can be a nice way to enjoy Shanghai from the water.
Shanghai may not have as many of the ‘big hit’ attractions as other parts of China like Beijing or Xi’an but it is still a great place to come if you want to see a bustling modern city which still has a few ancient remains. The waterfront is worth the trip alone and a cruise along the Huangpu River can be a highlight of any visit here.