Here’s where the adaptation from modern times mixes with older Chinese traditions. Amongst all the neon signs of Nanjing Street (great shopping, architecture, and foods), you can walk over to the People’s Park, where they have a “market” every weekend for parents to arrange marriages! Yep, it’s a giant “hook up” spot to find partners for their children. With the recent 1 Child Policy being lifted this won’t be needed in the future, but for now finding your son a suitable wife is difficult!
Traditional Chinese culture isn’t as clearly visible here as in other cities, but you’ll find a few temples such as the Yufo Si (Jade Buddha Temple) and the Longhua Temple & Pagoda (the oldest and largest pagoda in Shanghai). Shanghai is a different experience from most of the modern cities within China, and definitely worth a trip.
Places to Visit in Shanghai
- Yuyuan Garden
- Oriental Pearl Tower
- Jade Buddha Temple
- Shanghai Tower
- Jing’an Temple
- Gongqing Forest Park
- City God Temple of Shanghai
Unique Things to See and Do in Shanghai
- Wander the streets of the Old Town
- Watch a show of Shanghai Acrobats!
- Eat a tea egg : a hard-boiled egg steeped in tea and soya sauce.
- Video the Muslim noodle soup houses making your noodles to order
- Experience the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, its a right of passage type of sight.
- Get a traditional Chinese massage
Shanghai’s “western” Influence
Shanghai used to be a city wrapped in mystery hidden behind the cloak of the Chinese Government, but all that changed after the First Opium War (1839-1842). Prior to the war, China was exporting silks, cotton, and fertilizer to the middle east, while the British were exporting opium from Indian colonies. When the British tried to strong-arm the Chinese into importing their opium, China refused and that sparked the Opium War. The British defeated the Qing Dynasty and with the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing, Shanghai ports opened to foreign trade. Having “concessions” in this new territory lead to the French, American, German, and British merchants bringing their families and businesses to Shanghai. Not falling under Chinese laws allowed them the flexibility to bring in modern technology, such as electricity and trams. By the 1920’s and 1930’s, Shanghai became known for its financial powers, and was coined “The Paris of the East.” From this influence is where you’ll see the “western” style of architecture, particularly in buildings such as the Shanghai Club, the Asia Building, and The Bund.
This western influence is also the reason Shanghai is such a different city from the rest of China. The culture here is mixed and you can see it through western fashions, open-minded attitudes, and the architecture – especially Victorian Gothic or art deco! Shanghai is also home to some very impressive skyscrapers. In Lujiazui you’ll find the highest concentration of skyscrapers, such as the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and the Shanghai World Financial Center.
The other way you’ll feel the international-ness of the city is through the food scene. You can find just about any type of cuisine and every style of establishment, from street vendors to Michelin Star restaurants – serving anything from sweet pastries, tapas, or authentic-styled Russian borscht. Shanghai has it all!
Did you know…?
Shanghai city is shrinking by 1.5cm a year! With all the skyscrapers the weight of the city is bearing down!
Did you ALSO know…?
The famous Bund was occupied by the Japanese Military during the Japanese Occupancy in 1942.
Getting Around Shanghai
With over 24 million people in Shanghai, they have learned how to move people around the city, but that doesn’t always mean quickly.
With the increased number of drivers in Shanghai, the government had to institute a lottery draw for license plates to minimize the number of cars on the road. Needless to say, since you can’t drive with an International Driver’s Permit because they are not recognized yet, it’s best to hire a car and driver.
Pick up a Shanghai Transportation Card (a reloadable cash card) which will give you unlimited access to the subway, city bus, ferry and taxi rides. There are more than 1000 bus lines that reach all corners of the city, but they are crowded! You can travel by ferry boats too. Taxis are more expensive in Shanghai than other cities, but you can use your Shanghai Transportation Card.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Shanghai
Spring and early fall are the best times for exploring Shanghai. The weather is warm but not quite as humid as the summer months. During the summer, the temperatures average around 28˚C, but the humidity and heat combined can make it really uncomfortable. That being said, this is the most popular time of year for tourists. In the height of the summer, July, the temperatures can reach as high as 40˚C. Shanghai has all four seasons with the winter months being the coldest. Temperatures can drop below zero, and you can (rarely though) experience some snow here too. Dress warmly for winter.
Ready to plan your visit to Shanghai? Check out these popular guides and trips.