Shanghai: The Pearl of the Orient

Shanghai: The Pearl of the Orient

Shanghai is a city located in the eastern region of China. It is the largest city in the country by population and is situated at the mouth of the Yangtze River, where it meets the East China Sea. Shanghai is a global financial and commercial hub, known for its modern skyline, historical landmarks, and cultural attractions. It is also a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a unique blend of traditional and contemporary Chinese culture.

Shanghai is one of the four direct-controlled municipalities in China, which means that it has a similar level of administrative authority as the provinces. Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin cities are centrally administered municipalities, which include dense urban areas, suburbs, and large rural areas.

Short History

Shanghai is a city located on the east coast of China and is one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. It has a rich history that dates back over a thousand years, and it has played a crucial role in China’s economy and cultural development. Shanghai’s strategic location on the Yangtze River Delta made it a center for trade and commerce since ancient times, and it has been an important port city since the 19th century, when it was forced open by foreign powers after the Opium Wars. In the 20th century, it became a hub for industry and technology, and today it is known as one of China’s most cosmopolitan and modern cities.


Shanghai is known for its diverse architectural styles, from the Art Deco buildings of the 1920s and 1930s to the futuristic skyscrapers of today. The city is home to a number of iconic landmarks, including the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai Tower, and the Shanghai World Financial Center. Some of the other notable architectural styles found in Shanghai include Gothic Revival, Beaux-Arts, and Modernism. The historic Bund district along the Huangpu River is particularly famous for its well-preserved collection of Art Deco and Neoclassical buildings.

Museums and Galleries

Shanghai is a city with a rich history and culture, and there are many museums and galleries that showcase its art, architecture, and artifacts. Here are some of the most interesting museums and galleries to visit in Shanghai:

  • Shanghai Museum: This museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Shanghai, and for good reason. It has an extensive collection of ancient Chinese art and artifacts, including bronzes, ceramics, calligraphy, and paintings.
  • Power Station of Art: This contemporary art museum is located in a former power station and features exhibitions by both Chinese and international artists.
  • China Art Museum: This museum is one of the largest art museums in Asia and is dedicated to showcasing the best of modern and contemporary Chinese art.
  • Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre: This small museum is dedicated to the art of propaganda posters in China and has a fascinating collection of posters from the 1950s to the 1970s.
  • Rockbund Art Museum: This museum is housed in a restored Art Deco building and features contemporary art exhibitions by Chinese and international artists.
  • M50 Creative Park: This former industrial area has been converted into a hub for artists and designers, with galleries, studios, and shops showcasing their work.
  • Liu Haisu Art Museum: This museum is dedicated to the work of Liu Haisu, a famous Chinese painter and art educator who played a key role in the development of modern art in China.
  • Long Museum: This private museum has two locations in Shanghai and features a collection of modern and contemporary Chinese art, as well as international art.
  • Shanghai Himalayas Museum: This museum is located in the Pudong New Area and features exhibitions of contemporary art and design from China and around the world.
  • Shanghai Natural History Museum: This museum has a fascinating collection of fossils, dinosaur skeletons, and other natural history exhibits that are sure to delight visitors of all ages.

Landmarks and Monuments

Shanghai is a city of contrasts, where ancient Chinese architecture blends seamlessly with modern skyscrapers. Here are some of the most interesting landmarks and monuments in Shanghai:

  • The Bund: A famous waterfront area located in central Shanghai, lined with beautiful colonial-era buildings.
  • Yu Garden: A classical Chinese garden located in the heart of the old town of Shanghai, featuring beautiful rock formations, winding pathways, and traditional Chinese architecture.
  • Oriental Pearl Tower: A landmark tower in Shanghai, famous for its unique design and panoramic views of the city.
  • Jing’an Temple: A famous Buddhist temple in Shanghai, known for its stunning architecture and peaceful atmosphere.
  • Shanghai Tower: The tallest building in China and the second tallest building in the world, offering breathtaking views of the city from its observation deck.
  • People’s Square: A large public square in Shanghai, surrounded by several important buildings and museums, including the Shanghai Museum and the Shanghai Grand Theatre.
  • Longhua Temple: One of the oldest and most famous temples in Shanghai, featuring a beautiful pagoda and a large statue of Buddha.
  • Nanjing Road: A famous shopping street in Shanghai, featuring a variety of high-end shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
  • Jin Mao Tower: A landmark skyscraper in Shanghai, known for its unique design and luxurious hotel.
  • Shanghai World Financial Center: Another iconic skyscraper in Shanghai, featuring a stunning observation deck on its top floor with views of the city and the Huangpu River.

Parks and Green Spaces

Shanghai is a vibrant and bustling city that is home to a number of beautiful parks and green spaces. Here are some of the most popular ones worth visiting:

  • The Bund – This waterfront promenade is a popular spot to take a stroll and enjoy views of the city skyline.
  • Yuyuan Garden – This traditional Chinese garden features beautiful rock formations, intricate pavilions, and winding walkways.
  • Zhongshan Park – This large park features beautiful gardens, a lake, and a variety of outdoor activities such as boating and mini-golf.
  • Fuxing Park – This historic park was once the site of a French and British concession and now features beautiful gardens and fountains.
  • Jing’an Park – This park is located in the heart of the city and features beautiful gardens, a lake, and a variety of outdoor activities.
  • Gucun Park – This expansive park is located in the northern part of the city and features beautiful gardens, lakes, and a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling.
  • Century Park – This large park is located in the Pudong district and features beautiful gardens, a lake, and a variety of outdoor activities such as boating and cycling.

These parks offer a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and provide a peaceful oasis for visitors and locals alike.


Shanghai is a bustling metropolis located on the east coast of China, and while it is not typically associated with beaches, there are a few beach destinations within a few hours’ drive from the city. Here are some of the best beaches near Shanghai:

  • Dishui Lake Beach: Located in Pudong, this man-made beach offers crystal clear water and a scenic backdrop of green hills.
  • Donghai Bridge Beach: This beach is located on the east side of the Donghai Bridge, which connects Shanghai to the nearby island of Yangshan. It is known for its soft, white sand and clear water.
  • Jinshan City Beach: This beach is located about an hour outside of Shanghai in the city of Jinshan. It is a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
  • Nanhui Beach: This beach is located on the southern tip of Pudong and is a popular spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding.
  • Yangkou Beach: Located in the city of Shengsi, which is about a three-hour drive from Shanghai, this beach offers stunning views of the East China Sea and is known for its rocky coastline and crystal-clear water.

While Shanghai is not known for its beaches, these destinations offer a peaceful escape from the city and a chance to relax and soak up some sun.

Shopping Districts

Shanghai is a shopper’s paradise with a wide range of shopping districts catering to different budgets and preferences. Here are some of the most popular shopping districts in Shanghai:

  • Nanjing Road – One of the busiest shopping districts in Shanghai, Nanjing Road is a pedestrian-friendly street filled with shops, department stores, and restaurants.
  • Xintiandi – A trendy shopping district located in the heart of Shanghai, Xintiandi is a pedestrian-only area filled with designer boutiques, art galleries, and upscale restaurants.
  • Huaihai Road – A popular shopping district among locals, Huaihai Road is home to a mix of high-end fashion boutiques and affordable department stores.
  • Tianzifang – A labyrinth of alleyways filled with quirky boutiques, art galleries, and cafes, Tianzifang is a must-visit for those looking for unique souvenirs.
  • Qibao Ancient Town – Located on the outskirts of Shanghai, Qibao Ancient Town is a charming area filled with traditional shops selling handmade crafts, snacks, and souvenirs.
  • IAPM Mall – A luxurious mall located in the heart of Shanghai’s busy commercial district, IAPM Mall features a mix of high-end brands and international restaurants.
  • AP Plaza – A popular shopping destination among tourists, AP Plaza is a four-story market selling a wide range of counterfeit designer goods, electronics, and souvenirs.

Food and Drink

Shanghai is a melting pot of different Chinese cuisines and international influences, offering a wide variety of food and drink options. Here are some local specialties to try when visiting Shanghai:

  • Xiao Long Bao: This famous steamed dumpling is filled with hot soup and savory meat or vegetable filling.
  • Sheng Jian Bao: A pan-fried dumpling with a crispy bottom and juicy pork filling.
  • Jianbing: A popular breakfast street food, a savory crepe-like wrap filled with egg, scallions, chili sauce, and crispy wonton crackers.
  • Cong You Bing: A flaky, crispy pancake made with scallions and other ingredients, often eaten as a savory snack.
  • Hu Jiao Bing: A savory pastry filled with fragrant ground pork, scallions, and Sichuan peppercorns.
  • Xiaolongxia: Spicy crayfish, a popular summer street food.
  • Shaoxing wine: A rice wine that is often used in Chinese cooking.
  • Bubble tea: A popular Taiwanese drink that has become popular all over Asia, made with tea and milk, and served with chewy tapioca pearls.
  • Baijiu: A traditional Chinese liquor, often made from sorghum, wheat, or rice, with a high alcohol content.
  • Craft Beer: Shanghai has a growing craft beer scene, with many local breweries and bars serving a variety of styles.


Shanghai has a well-developed public transportation system that includes metro, buses, and taxis. The metro is one of the most efficient and affordable ways to get around the city, with 16 lines covering most of the city’s main districts and attractions. Buses are also a convenient and cheap option, with more than 1,400 lines serving the city. Taxis are available throughout the city, but they can be more expensive than public transportation. It’s worth noting that traffic in Shanghai can be heavy during rush hours, so it’s best to plan your trips accordingly. Biking and walking are also popular ways to explore certain areas of the city, especially the scenic waterfront and historic neighborhoods.


Shanghai is generally considered a safe city for tourists and visitors. However, like any major city, it is important to take the usual precautions such as being aware of your surroundings, avoiding carrying large amounts of cash, and not leaving your belongings unattended in public places. Petty theft and pickpocketing can occur in busy tourist areas, so it’s best to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions.

Expensive or Cheap

Shanghai is generally considered to be an expensive city compared to other cities in China. Prices for food, accommodation, transportation, and other daily expenses tend to be higher than in other parts of the country. However, the cost of living can vary depending on one’s lifestyle and preferences. Expats and tourists may find that certain areas or activities in Shanghai are more expensive than others.

Date Ideas

Shanghai, being a dynamic city, offers various romantic date ideas to its visitors. One can take a stroll through the beautiful parks or explore the city’s rich history and culture through museums and galleries. Shanghai’s lively nightlife scene is also worth exploring with your loved ones. Here are some date ideas in Shanghai:

  • Enjoy a romantic stroll along the Bund at night and watch the dazzling lights of the city skyline reflect off the Huangpu River.
  • Take a relaxing cruise on the Huangpu River and enjoy the city views from a different perspective.
  • Explore the beautiful and serene Yu Garden, a classical Chinese garden with traditional architecture and peaceful water features.
  • Visit the Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world, and take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
  • Have a fun and interactive date at the Shanghai Disneyland Park, where you can enjoy thrilling rides, shows, and entertainment together.
  • Wander through the vibrant and trendy Xintiandi district, with its charming European-style architecture, upscale boutiques, and delicious restaurants and cafes.
  • Explore the Shanghai Museum, home to an impressive collection of Chinese art and cultural artifacts.
  • Take a romantic walk through the Tianzifang alleyways, filled with unique shops, galleries, and cafes, and discover hidden gems together.

Fun and Interesting Facts

Shanghai is a bustling metropolis and one of China’s most exciting cities, with a rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and a vibrant nightlife. Here are some fun and interesting facts about Shanghai:

  • The name “Shanghai” means “upon the sea” in Chinese and refers to the city’s location on the east coast of China at the mouth of the Yangtze River.
  • Shanghai was a small fishing village until the mid-19th century, when it became an important port for foreign trade.
  • The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, including the Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world.
  • Shanghai is home to the famous Bund, a waterfront promenade lined with historic buildings that once housed the city’s foreign banks and trading houses.
  • The city is known for its street food, including xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings), sheng jian bao (pan-fried buns), and jianbing (Chinese crepes).
  • Shanghai is also a hub of Chinese contemporary art, with many galleries and museums showcasing the works of local and international artists.
  • The city has a rich musical heritage, with a thriving jazz scene and a long history of traditional Chinese music.

Overall, Shanghai is a dynamic and exciting city with a unique blend of modernity and tradition, making it a must-visit destination for travelers interested in exploring China’s vibrant culture and history.