Shanghai may lack the pandas of Chengdu and the rice terraces of the south, but it is just as worthy of your time as any other Chinese destination. In reality, there are a plethora of reasons to travel to this vibrant ‘Paris of the East.' Allow Culture Trip to introduce you to your next favorite travel destination while you relax.
Shanghai is a city of stunning contrasts.
Shanghai conjures up images of glitz and glitter, with some even accusing it of not being the "original" China. Shanghai is not only a part of the ‘real' China as much as any other city, but it also has rural areas and affordable, down-to-earth amenities. One of the best aspects of this city is that you can still go cheaper or more expensive. It's simple to find a complete meal for $10 ($1.46) without having to sift through the trash. On the other hand, acclaimed restaurants such as Ultraviolet, which offers a 20-course menu starting at 5000 ($735) per person, allow big spenders to flash cash like only Shanghai's nouveau-riche know how.
Furthermore, in much of the area, old and new Shanghai come to play in unique and exciting ways, from half-demolished lane houses in front of gleaming skyscrapers to industrial-era factories transformed into art spaces.
In Shanghai, there is always something new to discover.
Shanghai can best be defined with one word: dynamic. Old restaurants, stores, and structures are continuously being demolished and replaced with new and improved ones. Where there was once a dumpling restaurant, there is now a florist's shop. What was once a run-down neighborhood is now a posh shopping center. All of this transition can be daunting at times, but being in an atmosphere that keeps you on your toes can also be exciting. There are plenty of attractions and things to do as a result of this.
Shanghai's skyscrapers set new heights.
While Dubai's Burj Khalifa still holds the title of world's tallest building, Shanghai's structures are not far behind. The Shanghai Tower, which opened in 2016, is the world's second tallest building at 2,074 feet (632 meters) and home to the world's second fastest elevator, which flies at a mind-boggling 67 feet per second (20.5 metres per second). View the Bund waterfront from the world's highest observation deck, or grab a cocktail at the Park Hyatt in Shanghai World Financial Center, and relax in the world's tallest hotel (at the time of its construction) (now the third tallest).
The nightlife in Shanghai is diverse.
Shanghai has a plethora of incredible nightlife options that guarantee a fun night out. Shanghai gives New York a run for its money as the city that never sleeps. There is a bar for just about every niche you can think of. Do speakeasies pique your interest? They abound in Shanghai. Want to get buzzed with your mates for less than $100 ($15)? Simply visit Perry's, Helen's, Window's, or the grocery store across the street. Shanghai not only has a bar or club for every occasion, but new ones open every day. You can still be one of the first to explore what might become a world-famous nightlife destination.
Shanghai's architecture is fashionable.
Shanghai has a distinctive lane house style known as shikumen that blends Western and Chinese elements. At one point, the design accounted for 60% of all housing in Shanghai. Many of the lanes have been retained and transformed into fashionable shopping and dining areas. The most well-known is Xintiandi, a hip, pedestrian-only entertainment district in the city's heart. Another, Tianzifang, is ideal for being lost in the crowd. Even the city's hotels are keeping up with the latest architectural trends.
Shanghai's restaurants are well-known in the world.
The Michelin Guide first arrived in China in 2016, with Shanghai restaurants receiving a total of 31 stars from the prestigious culinary compass. Even if fine dining isn't your thing, the city has a diverse range of cuisines from all over the country and the world. Regardless of where you are in the city, you are likely to have a fantastic meal.
Shanghai has a fascinating past.
Shanghai is a relatively new city in China. It was nothing more than a fishing outpost before the 1800s. Although the Opium Wars wreaked havoc on the world as a whole, setting off China's "century of humiliation," modern Shanghai owes its life to the wars. Shanghai became an international port city after the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I, and opium turned it into a depraved and decadent hangout that has never fully recovered from its 1920s reputation. One of Shanghai's amazing museums will teach you everything you need to know about this past and more.
Shanghai's art can be appreciated by even non-art lovers.
Shanghai's museums aren't all about the past. In reality, the city's numerous art museums alone are reason enough to visit Shanghai. Yuz Museum is a modern art museum located in an old airplane hangar. The Rockbund Art Museum is open to the public and still has a special exhibition on display. The Shanghai Museum of Glass will persuade you that glass is much more than a practical material. After visiting a couple of Shanghai's art museums, you'll be persuaded that you've always been an art lover.
Shanghai is surrounded by a number of water cities.
Take a day trip to one of Shanghai's numerous water towns that dot the city's outskirts. These historic areas constructed on canals provide a peaceful respite from the bustling city center. Some are more commercialized than others, but they all provide a lovely glimpse into the typical bridges and homes that once defined this part of the world. Qibao, for example, is also reachable by metro.
Shanghai has cities into cities.
If you get tired of Shanghai, visit one of its nine mini-towns, which are modeled after countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Germany, and Spain. You can basically take a round-the-world trip without leaving the capital. When the towns' real estate struggled to attract investors, these little cities inside cities became ghost towns, rendering them distinctively Chinese – no matter how hard they tried to be otherwise. Spend a day at Shanghai's own Lake Malaren or take pictures of wedding gown-clad brides and grooms-to-be against the backdrop of British cottage architecture.
Shanghai is an excellent starting point for visiting other Chinese cities.
It's easy (and inexpensive!) to get out of Shanghai once you've had your fill of the city. Shanghai is well-equipped and perfectly positioned to get you on your way to other destinations around the world, whether you want to fly through one of Shanghai's two international airports, a slow or high-speed train, or a bus. Plus, only a short distance from the center, there are a slew of great off-the-beaten-path destinations.
To get by in Shanghai, you don't need to learn Chinese.
Worried that you won't be able to communicate in the local language when you travel to a new location? In Shanghai, you won't have to think about that! Many Shanghainese speak enough English to get by with only ni hao (‘hello') and xie xie (‘thank you'). This is due to the city's history of multiculturalism and growing wealth. Also, big international cities like Beijing necessitate the use of a pocket dictionary to get around. In Shanghai, all signs are written in Mandarin and English, and street posts are cleverly labelled with block numbers and cardinal directions, so you'll never get lost.