One of China’s, and indeed the world’s, most populated and important cities, and now a true global financial centre, Shanghai has rather more modest roots in the Wu Kingdom of the 6th century BC, and was later a significant, though small, trading port town during the Ming and Qing eras.


Unlike Beijing, Shanghai, despite its advantageous situation at the mouth of the Yangtze River, did not feature prominently in the political arena until the arrival of European powers and the subsequent occupation of the town by British forces at the culmination of the First Opium War in 1842.

Although nominally remaining under Chinese rulership, the town was subjugated to the trading ambitions of overseas empires and accompanied by an influx of diverse foreign nationals which would begin the process of its transformation of significance and evolution into the towering economic giant that the city has now become.


The legacy of the European settlement that began the citification of Shanghai can be found in the area known as the Bund, at Shanghai’s historic waterfront area.

Now a trendy designer brand area, full of international shops, boutiques and fine dining, set against the backdrop of colonial era buildings, beautiful promenade, and the contrasting towering temples to modern commerce of Pudong across the river, the Bund is easily the most charming area of Shanghai, best appreciated and enjoyed on foot.

Well worth the wander, the Bund is a pleasant stroll both by day and at again at night, when it is pleasantly lit, and an excellent location to amble and observe the neon brilliance of Shanghai’s dazzling modern skyline.

At the north end of the Bund, The Bund Museum provides a historic record of the area’s development, while the nearby Rockbund Art Museum is a prominent contemporary art space.

Near here, you can also travel by train under the river to Pudong, an innovative, if slightly bizarre, journey through a tunnel that also serves as a light show.

East Nanjing Road heads away from the waterfront, once the mecca of shopping style during the ‘roaring’ 1920’s, a status that has been revitalised in the modern era.

At the end of this historic shopping street, Xizang Road cuts across, flanked by the Peoples Square, Peoples Park, Madame Tussaud’s, Shanghai Museum and the futuristic contents of Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, which sets out the ambitious future development of the city via a large scale model and 3D virtual display.

At the southern end of the Bund, the stunningly beautiful Yuyuan Gardens provide a delightful stroll among its picturesque pavilions, carp filled pools, bridges, rockeries and lovely planting.

In the southwest of the city, another charmingly elegant area of Shanghai’s colonial past can be found in the area known as the French Concession, resplendent with preserved art deco and other colonial residential buildings in the leafy streets surrounding Huahai Road, formerly known as Avenue Joffre, a sophisticated shopping street during the 1930’s.


This is the Shanghai of the modern era, dizzyingly high, with one ‘tallest building in the city’ regularly being superseded by another.

Here you’ll find China’s modernist icons, the Shanghai Tower, Shanghai World Financial Centre and Jinmao Tower and their stunning observation platforms from which to view the city. If you have already been to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, you’ll be able to envision the proposed future from these elevated portals.

In the basement of the bulbous Oriental Pearl Tower, the superb Shanghai History Museum ably and imaginatively recreates Shanghai’s evolution through multimedia displays, whilst outside, Riverside Avenue provides an enjoyable waterfront stroll beneath the towering masses above. Beneath Jinmao Tower, Lujiazui Park provides a green vantage point from which to observe the surrounding skyscrapers.

Just beyond the New Pudong Area, to the south east of the city, Century Park also provides good views of the cityscape from its gardens and enjoyably large and leafy green spaces, whilst near the park's city-side entrance, the awesome and vast Shanghai Science and Technology Museum has amazing interactive and futuristic technological displays.