|Shanghai's city center is relatively small and
easy to navigate. It consists of two basic districts, Puxi (western town)
and Pudong (eastern town) which face each other across the Huangpu River.
As a general rule, Puxi is the embodiment of 'Old Shanghai' and Pudong is
the embodiment of a 'New Shanghai'. Perhaps because of the stark contrast
of the modern and historic architecture that lie on either side of the
river; namely the early 20th century architecture of the Bund on the Puxi
side, and the most conspicuous modern architecture of the Oriental Pearl
TV Tower and the Grand Hyatt Hotel on the Pudong side.(Of course like
every other rule, there are exceptions to this one.)
15 years ago, Pudong was nothing but farmland but in an attempt to elevate the level of Shanghai to a major ranking Asian commercial center, the Chinese government has pumped loads of money and devoted much effort to attract foreign investors to build it up to what one sees today. Because of its rapid growth, it is speculated that more than half of the office buildings in Pudong remain empty. However, anticipating an explosion of domestic and international commercial influx, growth seems unceasing and construction continues round-the-clock.
Puxi is where the majority of the city center lies. With a grid-like city plan, it's not difficult to find your way around Shanghai. The city is broken up into areas that range from the traditionally Chinese Yu Yuan Gardens to the modern urban bustle of Huai Hai Road.
The Bund - Definitely one of Shanghai's major highlights, the Bund is an impressive showcase of Shanghai's colonial past. Beautifully preserved art deco and neoclassical buildings face the waterfront and Pudong on the other side. They now house headquarters of major banks and corporations. When lit up at night, the buildings create a romantic view, which draws young lovers all year round. For a taste of nostalgia, visit the Peace Hotel, once Shanghai's premier hotel ' THE place to stay ' during Shanghai's Colonial heyday.
Jingan District - People's Square, a large park, is a peaceful oasis in the middle of hectic downtown. Also a cultural stopover, it is the site of the impressively designed Shanghai Museum and the Shanghai Grand Theatre. Underground, beneath the park, is a shopping mall popular with the young and trendy. For those who want more gaudy fun, there is the Great World Entertainment Center which has karaoke, Beijing opera acrobatics and more.
Nanjing Road - A commercial section of Shanghai that stretches east to west. On the western side is the massive Shanghai Center, a multi-complex that houses the Portman Ritz-Carlton, commercial businesses, consulates, as well as a shopping mall. On the eastern side is a stretch of Nanjing Road that has been made into a pedestrian only area. This section of the street has been a commercial center since the 30s as one might tell from the commercial front signs which have sprouted almost organically since then. Once the major shopping street of Shanghai, Nanjing has somewhat faded in glory with the advent of Huai Hai Road, but it's still worth visiting. Especially at night when it's in its full neon-lit glory.
Old French Concession Area - A charming section of the city characterized by leafy tree-lined streets, beautiful, old crumbling European architecture, and crowned by the chic shopping street Huai Hai Middle Road. Flanked with upscale boutiques and shopping centers, this is the place to burn serious cash. On the low end is Huating Market, a bustling open air market where shoppers bargain hard with the vendors. The nostalgia of old Shanghai can be felt even more strongly by visiting the residence of Sun Yat-sen and his wife, Soong Qing Ling. Their home has been beautifully preserved and visitors can walk the grounds.
Pudong - Chiefly a financial district, there's really not much to see or do in Pudong. But one can admire the sleek modern high-rises in the area - as well as the frenetic rate of construction. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, supposedly the largest structure of its kind in Asia, and a symbol of Shanghai's prosperity looms high over the city. Visitors are welcome to ascend the tower for a bird's eye view of Shanghai.
Yuyuan - A part of the Old City that belonged to Chinese rule in colonial Shanghai, this place still retains traditional Chinese charm. Popular with tourists, this is one of the few areas in modern big city Shanghai that feels "Chinese." Visit the shopping bazaar, Yuyuan Gardens and Huxinting Teahouse.
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Fahrenheit temperature scale is used.
Mother Earth Travel > China > Shanghai > History