Back to the Basics: Shanghai

Things to Do — By Lauren Johnson on March 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

The internet is jam-packed with advice on creative things to see and do in Shanghai. But what about the basics? Nobody wants to get all the way home only to hear they missed a city’s key sights while they were off stomping around in the city’s sewers learning about old war tunnels. Sure, the creative stuff is fun, but after you’ve covered the basics. Here are the must-see sights in Shanghai.

1. Nanjing Road is one of the most iconic places in China, and yet few people realize it’s in Shanghai. This short strip of street runs east-west jetting off the Bund (which runs north-south). It’s packed with brand-name stores, shops, restaurants, bars and everything imaginable. It’s the number one area in the country that Chinese want to someday see and represents the country’s jump into modernism. Not only that, but it’s obsession with designer gear (both the real stuff and the fakes).

2. The Pearl of the Orient or the Pearl Tower, is simply the CCTV tower located on the Pudong side of the Bund. So why is it so iconic? Well it was one of the first major landmarks on the once swampy area called Pudong. In the past twenty years the area has exploded and now the Pearl has become synonymous with progress. A trip to Shanghai isn’t complete without getting your photo taken on the Bund with the Pearl Tower in the background.

3. The Bund is a boardwalk area that follows along the Puxi side of the Huangpu River, which essentially divides the city of Shanghai into two major areas. The Western bank, called Pu Xi (which means Western Bank) and the Eastern Bank (called Pudong). The Bund is a beautiful walkway that offers a stunning view of the East bank’s ritzy office buildings, the Pearl Tower, Jinmao Tower and other stunning feats of modern engineering. It’s also a super romantic place for a late night stroll.

4. The French Concession is a lovely area where some of the city’s foreign residents once resided. The locals, of course, don’t call this area a concession any longer but the lingo has lingered for the foreigners in the city. You’ll find old brick row houses, tree-lined streets and even a few leftover mansions from the city’s once-famous expat scene.

5. Pudong is the indicative of where Shanghai is going. While Beijing represents the past, the country’s cultural heritage and it’s seat of power, Shanghai represents it’s future, and nowhere is this more evident than Pudong, where the skyscrapers are literally scraping the sky, the streets are paved with cement and there is steel everywhere. No trip to Shanghai is complete without being overwhelmed at the pop-up city that is Pudong.