Introduction to Shanghai

A long time ago (in the 19th century), East met West in Shanghai and the love affair spawned the vibrant and attractive metropolis that's now home to over 23 million people. Historically the most Western of China's destinations, this cosmopolitan city takes the old and the new in its confident stride straddling high-tech towers and traditional teahouses in its decidedly upmarket footwear.

Locals and visitors agree, no visit to Shanghai is complete without a visit to the Bund where European-style architecture overlooks the waterfront area of the Huangpu River and period lamp posts and colourful lights lend a romantic air to lovers rendezvousing on the promenade. On the west bank, the skyscrapers of Pudong pierce the clouds with their towering structures.

The international influence flows into the city's renowned dining and nightlife scene where upmarket restaurants, sky-high bars and underground clubs rule the night with cuisines ranging from local delicacies to European gastronomy giants, and after-hours experiences move seamlessly from old-school cocktail lounges to thumping warehouse clubs. For retail therapy, high-end brands share space with faux finds and vintage trinkets pair back with edgy street style.

Respite from the urban jungle can be found in the beautifully landscaped Yu Gardens and restored Shikumen stone gatehouses of Xintiandi and the Old Town. Indoor cultural pursuits can be sated at the labyrinthine Shanghai Museum of Glass, with East meets West cartoon faves at the Shanghai Animation Museum or within the giant Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. For ancient art, head to the exhaustive Shanghai Museum, or peruse the period treasures of the Dongtai Lu antique markets. Whatever your sightseeing style, the 24/7 city of Shanghai has the goods to satisfy.

For more must-dos in Shanghai, check out our things to do page and start planning your Shanghai holiday.

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