- We were here: 3 days at the end of September 2018.
- Number of days needed for a visit: at least 2.
- My score: 4/5.
My Chinese cousin Jiaping told me once, “I love living in Spain, but even better is that the day I want to return to my city, I’ll be returning nothing less than to Shanghai”. At that moment I could imagine what she was referring to, but now that I have seen it with my own eyes, I understand perfectly the reason of her satisfaction face.
This city has been for centuries a vital commercial port at the entrance of Yangtze River and yet its political importance was practically nil. It usually happens that if you do not give what you have the esteem it deserves, there is always someone who appreciates what is valuable: since mid-nineteenth century, France, Great Britain and the United States began to take an enormous interest in this strategic port, harassing the Chinese authorities until they managed to get lands off the city wall under beneficial trade agreements, and in less than 200 years, that great port without a voice in the country is currently, in addition to the largest merchant port in the world, the most prosperous, modern and multicultural city in mainland China, with 24 million inhabitants and the second highest per capita income, is the nation’s commercial and financial center. This for tourists implies:
- Very high and ultra-high-rise skyscrapers. Its skyline in Pudong, although in continuous renovation, is unmistakable thanks to buildings as bizarre as imposing: the Oriental Pearl (with its resemblance to a space rocket), Shanghai Tower (the second highest in the world, just behind Burj Khalifa in Dubai), World Financial Center (known as “the bottle opener” because of its shape) and Jin Mao Tower (inspired by traditional pagodas).
- And the best place to observe them is from The Bund, a river walk on the other side. The views of both skyscrapers on one side and the buildings of 19th century colonial architecture on the other are superb. It is also a pedestrian distance from East Nanjing Road, the main shopping street in the city, which also has good examples of both types of architecture. At the end of it we will find the main museums, parks and buildings with dubious utility made to impress the world, among them People’s Square and the National Museum.
- But there is also traditional China in Shanghai: Yuyuan Garden is one of the best and most beautiful traditional Chinese gardens in the country, and there are magnificent temples, highlighting those of Jing’an, the Jade Buddha and Longhua. If we have more time, there are excellent possibilities of day trips to small ancient towns with canals, being the nearest Zhujiajiao and the most accessible the neighboring city of Suzhou.
- And as for restaurants, cafes and places on fashion, there are so many that it is not possible to cover them in one visit. Charming and the best known, although of an excessive size, which is why we should not venture to wander through it without knowing more or less where we want to go, it is the old French Concession; those lands ceded to France for commercial agreements have many streets with restaurant after restaurant, an excellent place to go for dinner, as is Jing’an area.
After more than a month traveling in this country, I think I can assure that, although it does not reach the top positions in my ranking as a tourist, it is a very interesting and entertaining visit, it is the best place in the country to return if you are Chinese and the best to go to work if you’re not.
TOP THINGS TO DO
- EAST NANJING ROAD, THE BUND AND SHANGHAI TOWER
- YUYUAN GARDEN
- JING’AN TEMPLE AND SURROUNDINGS, AND FRENCH CONCESSION
- ONE DAY EXCURSIONS:
- WHEN TO GO
- WHERE TO EAT AND SLEEP
- DANGERS AND INCOVENIENTS
Dedicated to my mother, ‘cos she loves Shanghai and today is her birthday, to my cousin Jiaping, an authentic Spanishized Shanghainese, and to our friend Alberto, wishing him the best in his new work adventure. Good site you have chosen, I hope that if I screw up giving some advice you tell me