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Shanghai Travel Guide

  • Photo: BassKwong/

Plan Your Shanghai Vacation

Shanghai is a city of two faces. It is home to some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, miles of luxury goods shops, and scores of trendy bars and restaurants. But look just beyond the main streets and you’ll find narrow alleyways packed with traditional lane houses, where laundry billows from bamboo poles, and local communities are alive and well.

Shanghai has always been China’s

most Westernized city. In its heyday, Shanghai had the best nightlife, the greatest architecture, and the strongest business in Asia. Nearly a century later, after extreme tumult and political upheaval, it’s back on top.

Shanghai’s charm lies not in a list of must-see sites, but in quiet, tree-lined streets, the Bund’s majestic colonial buildings, sweet boutiques, and a dizzying array of places to eat and drink, from literal hole-in-the-walls to celebrity chef restaurants.

Today, Shanghai has nearly 24 million people, the skyscrapers keep getting taller, the metro keeps getting longer, and the historical buildings continue to evade the wrecking ball. For how much longer is anyone’s guess.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Skyline Views Head to the top of the Shanghai World Financial Center, known to locals as the "bottle opener," the pagoda-inspired Jin Mao, or the gargantuan Shanghai Tower, and look straight into the clouds.
  2. Modern Art The far-flung Power Station of Art is a contemporary hub worth the trek down to the former World Expo site.
  3. People-Watching A strong sense of community and small living spaces push life out onto the street, where locals chit chat, play cards, exercise, ballroom dance, and stroll about.
  4. Yu Garden When not too crowded, the garden offers a few minutes of peace and beauty amid the clamor of the city, with rocks, trees, and walls curved to resemble dragons, bridges, and pavilions.
  5. The Bund This waterfront promenade is lined with regal colonial buildings in 52 architectural styles, and it looks much as it did during Shanghai’s Golden Age nearly a century ago.

When To Go

When to Go

The best time to visit Shanghai is early spring or early fall, when the weather is good and crowds diminish. Although temperatures are scorching...

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