Travel guide to Shanghai, China

The largest city in China, Shanghai (A good choice for your China vacations) contains the most striking blend of oriental and western cultures and of the past and present. In this city, European-style buildings can be seen standing alongside typical Chinese structures and ancient temples. Modern ocean-going vessels sail past junks. A flourishing commercial and industrial center, Shanghai has a population of over 16 million and a land area of 3,355 square miles.

Although early records indicate that a settlement was founded during the Song Dynasty (960-1380 AD), at a time when invaders from the north were retreating to their own borders, it remained a small fishing village and did not become a town until the mid-13th century. Compared with other major cities in China it has had a relatively short history. (helpful info for China vacations)

During the Ming Dynasty, many walls were erected to enclose the town and protect it from Japanese pirates. The town prospered from foreign trade in the Qing Dynasty. Prior to the outbreak of the Opium War in 1840, Shanghai had grown into a port with 500,000 inhabitants.

After the Opium War, Shanghai was forced by European powers to open as a “treaty port.” From that time on aggressors from many countries began to flock in and the city became known as a notorious “paradise for adventurers.” Carving out their own spheres of influence, they settled there by seizing their respective “concessions,” which were characteristic of this colonial period.

The Chinese response to the foreign dominance took several decades to become strong. During the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945), Shanghai was occupied by Japanese troops, and was reclaimed by the nationalist army after the surrender of Japan. The city was seized by the People’s Liberation Army on May 38, 1949. Since then, Shanghai has changed from a consumer city of the past into a major modern industrial city.  (good to know for your China vacations)

Cultural activities include theater groups, film studios, a symphony orchestra, the ballet, opera companies, acrobatics and even a circus.

Due to many years of foreign influence, Shanghai, the first Chinese city to open a disco for foreign visitors, is perhaps China’s most cosmopolitan city. It also offers the tourist art and history museums tracing China’s growth through the ages, and magnificent examples of Chinese architecture in its temples and buildings.  (helpful info for China vacations)


The Bund (Wai Tan) waterfront area is a sweeping area along the Huangpu River that became the center of Shanghai’s foreign business establishment and the symbol of Shanghai’s identity as a modern city.  The name “bund” is derived from an Anglo-Indian term meaning “muddy embankment,” but after the 1920’s the area became a showcase for foreign enterprises, with impressive Western-style banks, trading houses, hotels, consulates, and clubs filling the shore, with promenade along the river. British, French, American, German, Japanese, and Russian facilities were built here, in styles ranging from Neo-Classical to Art Deco, giving the area a pronounced European flavor.  Foreign enterprises and facilities were forced out after the Communist victory in 1949, and many of the buildings were occupied by government offices and banks.  More recently many of the stately old buildings have been renovated in recognition of their status as historical and tourist sites. (helpful info for China vacations)


Nanjing Road is Shanghai’s busiest street. It starts at the Bund, south of the Peace Hotel, and runs west. It is the city’s main shopping area with department stores, small shops, restaurants, theaters and cinemas lining up the street. To the south of Nanjing Road is the Renmin (People’s) Park. To the west is the Municipal Library, which was built in 1849.  (helpful info for China vacations)


The Mandarin’s Garden, as it is translated, was originally designed in the 16th century by the provincial governor, Pan Yunduan, in honor of his father, Pan En, who was himself a government minister. Construction took over 30 years. It is ingeniously laid out to imitate the style of imperial gardens in Beijing, and to create the feeling of spaciousness within a small area.

Yu Yuan is a garden within a garden. Divided into two parts, the outer garden contains pavilions, rock gardens and ponds, and leads to the inner garden, which is a smaller version of the outer one, consisting of many closely packed pavilions. It suffered extensive damage over the years, but was restored in 1956.  (helpful info for China vacations)


This park lies directly at the back of the Temple to the Town Gods, and contains an ornamental pond with landscaped hills surrounding it. Because of location, it is commonly referred to as the Inner Garden. It was originally laid out during the Ming Dynasty, and later acquired by a rich merchant. Finally, the town itself took over the park in 1736 as an addition to the Temple.

CHENG HUANG MIAO (Temple to the Town Gods)

The temple, or Cheng Huang Miao, is only a short distance from Yu Yuan. Once every city and large town possessed a temple to the town gods, but few have survived.  (helpful info for China vacations)


Located east of the Huangpu River in an area that was devoted to farms and rice paddies little more than a decade ago, the Pudong Special Economic Zone occupies an area larger than old Shanghai itself. designed to be the Wall Street of Asia, Pudong is the finance and business center of Shanghai, and headquarters for most of the multinational corporations and international banks active in Shanghai. Linked to the older Puxi part of the city by two cable bridges, the Yangpu and Nanpu, supposedly the 2nd and 3rd longest in the world; a new pedestrian tunnel; and the city’s second metro line, Pudong houses dozens of new skyscrapers, though much of the district is still empty. The new Pudong International Airport opened in 1999. An eight-lane Century Boulevard provides a main ground transportation artery, and large expatriate housing developments are built or planned for outlying areas.   (helpful info for China vacations)

Two Spots in Shanghai Listed in Top Scenic Sites

Shanghai Daily May 25, 2007 – Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Wild Animal Park were crowned as two of China’s top-grade scenic spot, according to a list today published on the official Website of the country’s tourism watchdog.

Among scores of China’s tourist attractions, the two Shanghai spots are included in the first batch of five-A graded scenic spots.

The winners on the list have advantages in 12 aspects, including traffic, security, sanitation, postal service, shopping, comprehensive administration and protection of resource and environment. (helpful info for China vacations)

The number of tourists is the key standard when evaluating a five-A grade scenic spot. Every five-A applicant must have received 600,000 visitors annually, including at least 50,000 from overseas visitors, in each of the past three years.

The 468-meter high Oriental Pearl TV Tower is the world’s third tallest TV and radio tower, and is located in the heart of the city’ Lujiazui financial district in Pudong. (helpful info for China vacations)

Serving the Shanghai area with more than nine television channels and upwards of 10 FM radio channels, the tower has a science fantasy exhibition on the ground floor. A hotel with twenty-five elegant rooms and lounges occupies its five smaller spheres. Tourists may have their dinner at the top “pearl” of the tower where a rotating restaurant will bring them a panoramic sightseeing over the city.

Shanghai Wild Animal Park, a 153-hectare zoo in the city’s Nanhui District, has over 200 rare species and over 10,000 animals from all over the world, such as giraffes, zebras, white rhinoceros and hunting leopards.(helpful info for China vacations)

The park is divided into two areas: one for walking, and the other is accessible via buses only. The walking area allows a close look at many animals on foot, while the buses take tourists among zebras, yaks, bears, deer, elephants, and even lions and tigers.