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10 Sights that will "Wow" you in Shanghai, China

Updated on July 21, 2015

1. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong

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Admiring The Bund

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2. The Bund

Strolling the Bund is one of the most visited places in Shanghai. It's name means, "the street running along the river."

In 1840, the Opium Wars started along the Bund. With open trade, beautiful buildings and embassy's were constructed. This was the Wall Street of Asia with its grand architecture from the 1920s that blossomed in the Golden Age before the war.

Some of the most visually beautiful buildings include the Swatch Art Peace Hotel with a restaurant and bar on the top floor. This used to be the former Palace Hotel in 1909.

Walk into the Fairmont Peace Hotel across the street to appreciate the spectacular "wow" interior. This was originally the Sassoon House built in 1929, with celebrities staying at the Cathay Hotel on the 4th to 7th floors. Charlie Chaplin and Noel Coward staying here when exploring Shanghai.

Across the way is the futuristic Oriental Pearl Television Tower. It may not be the tallest building in Shanghai, yet it is the most spectacular in design.

The Custom House has the largest clock face in Asia and the bells sound similar to London's Big Ben.

3. Try Shanghai Cuisine - Sweeter and a little oilier than other Chinese dishes

xiaolonbao
Baozi
Tang Yuan
soup dumplings
steamed buns
small glutinous rice ball
little steamer buns
red bean paste
sweet fillings
caramel colored broth inside
pork filled buns
served for special occasions

Street Food in Shanghai

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4. The Sightseeing Tunnel

One must experience the Sightseeing Tunnel that connects The Bund and Pudong.

This multimedia tunnel under the Huangpu River takes visitors from the old part of Shanghai to the new.

It's a psychedelic journey with sounds, themes and flashing lights from start to finish on this four minute, one-of-a-kind ride with 360 degree views.

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5. Ride The Subway

The most interesting mode of transportation is the underground. It stops all over Shanghai and is clean, efficient and cheap. Pick up a metro map and don't be afraid to ask locals for help.

The Yuyuan Garden stop is at Subway Line 10.

Take Line 1, 9 or 10 to the French Concession.

It's safe to take in the evening too. In fact, we couldn't get a taxi to stop for us one evening, so the subway was the only way we could get back to the Pudong area.

Just be aware that during rush hour, you may be packed in like sardines until you get to your designated stop.

Enjoy the gardens and museums

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6. People's Square

Downtown in Shanghai is the People's Square offering the largest garden with more than 400,000 trees. There is an area in the park that shelters thousands of white doves of peace. This used to be a horse racing track before the new Communist Government banned it.

A fun place to visit is the Shanghai Museum to gain a historical perspective of the city. It's free and open all year long. The first floor offers an ancient Chinese bronze and sculpture garden. The second floor offers ceramics, while the third floor has paintings. The top floor is all about the minorities - non-Han ethnic groups in China.

Across the way is the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, a unique looking six-story building with a model of the entire city of Shanghai to scale inside. There is another showing the modernization of the city. It's worth a visit.

Walk down Nanjing Rd. to see one of China's largest shopping areas. It can get quite crowded, yet it is a fun people watching spot with restaurants, bars and a multitude of stores.

Strolling the Tree Lined Streets

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7. French Concession

Known as one of the most stylish areas in Shanghai, The old French Concession is designed with low-rise French influenced architecture. This is the expat area with a lot of hip, cool and elegant restaurants that offer an international flair.

The trees lining the streets were all imported from France in the late 19th century when this used to be the French administered part of town.

Known as the "Paris of the East" with its tree lined avenues and 1920s mansions, known as Sinan Mansions.

Start near the stone-gate house and stop into some of the inventive restaurants to enjoy dumplings, noodles or stinky tofu. Nanchang Road offer boutiques selling jewelry, shoes and clothing.

Yuyuan Gardens & Bazaar

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Tranquility at Parks

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8. Visit the Yuyuan Gardens and Other Parks

Also known as Yu Gardens, this picturesque area was preserved from the rich Ming-Dynasty and is now a shopping and dining destination with greenish water filled with orange, white, red and speckled carp. There are bright red Chinese pavilions, halls, bamboo forests and soup dumpling shops.

The beautifully pleated dough - xiaolongbao has piping hot broth with pork inside. One can slurp it with a straw inserted into the large floral looking dumpling. It's about $2 US dollars.

This is where one of the most famous tea houses is located - Mid Lake Pavilion Teahouse.

Exploring the Parks

There are some great parks in Shanghai that have become a hub for families and the elderly. Locals practice qigong and tai chi, sit among friends to play mahjong or chess and listen to an impromptu music concert with people dancing.

The parks are a peaceful place to enjoy away from the honking cars, trucks, and electric bikes.

Some of the popular parks include Xujiahui Park in the French Concession area. Kites fly here and the bridge lights up beautifully at night.

Shaoxing Park is green with several rockeries and a large group of aging locals playing cards and using the well worn exercise equipment.

At the Tianshan park there is a lake in the middle with boats you can rent. It's another park offering public exercise equipment in a playground setting to encourage the locals to stay fit and active. Mothers with their toddlers and seniors enjoy coming to this park.

Chocolate Swirled Ice Cream on a Squat Toilet

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9. Dine at More Than Toilet - Delicious & Happy

This restaurant is an offshoot of a successful toilet restaurant chain in Taiwan. Toilets with their lids sealed shut with velvet covers and urinals line the walls. Some tables have a clear display case showing a plastic brown excrement in a plastic toilet bowl.

The owner Wang Zi-Wei has opened others in Asia. In Shanghai, this theme dining spot is located in the Tian-zi-fang area.

Don't come for the food, it's pretty average and mostly Western cuisine with soup, pasta dishes, salads, pizza and chocolate swirled ice cream in a squat toilet serving dish. However it is a fun spot for a snack. The ice cream dishes are quite refreshing.

This multi-level restaurant has become a big birthday destination, so expect tables with laughing children and adults, balloons and lot's of colorful toilets. No one can take themselves seriously when they are sitting on a commode.

Tian-zi-fang

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10. Stroll through Tain-zi-fang

With it's narrow alleyway, you can escape the cars and trucks while walking through this artsy area. It's a fun area in Shanghai to pick up souvenirs, admire the art galleries and stop in a cafe to sip a cup of coffee or tea.

Built in 1930, electric cables are still bundled together over the streets and red lanterns hang in front of many of the 200 stores.

Check out the wet markets with their wet floors and live fish and eels swimming in little plastic containers. Fish and fowl are butchered right before your eyes and as vendors throw water on the narrow walkways to clean them. Local and visitors tour these independent stalls to admire and purchase the brightly colored produce, chicken parts lined in a row, and eggs of many colors - white, brown, black and blue. Street food on sticks is available too.

Oakwood Shanghai Bedroom

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City views from the Oakwood

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Where To Stay: The Oakwood Apartment

The Oakwood Shanghai is a great hotel alternative located above a shopping and dining mall. This full service apartment offers studio, one and two bedroom apartments with full kitchens, washer and dryer, living and dining room areas.

It is also just two blocks from a metro stop and is comfortable for business travelers, couples and families.

It may not be located in the prime tourist area of Shanghai, however the Putuo District is safe and offers a full service apartment experience with more flexibility than hotels.

Our spacious apartment 1604 offered two bedroom with two full baths with all the modern amenities, including free wi-fi. There is a nice soaking tub to relax in after a day of sightseeing.

Be aware that in China you will not be able to use Google, Facebook or Instgram. Yahoo does work, as does Tumblr and WeChat.

A hot and cold breakfast buffet is offered every morning. They also have a full bar for cocktails in the evening. There is a separate entrance into the multi-story mall.

Oakwood Full Service Apartment

Views from the Mandarin Oriental

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Chinese and French Cuisine

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Guest Room at the Mandarin Oriental Shanghai

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Treats at the Mandarin Oriental - Shanghai

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Luxury Living at the Mandarin Oriental

Built in 2013, the Mandarin Oriental "Art Hotel," offers 4,000 pieces of artwork displayed throughout the elegant property showcasing 50 different artists.

Located in the Pudong area, also known as "Skyscrapers in Greenbelts." The most distinctive and unique skyscraper in this area is the Oriental Pearl Television Tower. It looks like magenta luminous pearls that shine during the day and night sky of Shanghai.

Less than 20 years ago, Pudong was all farms. The Mandarin Oriental is one of the newer buildings in the new Harbour City development along the Huangpu River.

The staff at this property are extensively trained in hospitality and eager to please each guest from check-in to check-out. We were taken up to the tastefully-decorated second floor Club Lounge to enjoy a beverage and snack, as we were efficiently checked in, and given our keys to an Executive view suite and an attached Deluxe Twin room for my daughters.

The Club Lounge benefits include breakfast, a light lunch and afternoon tea during the day. Evening cocktails and snacks are available before sunset. Benefits also include on-call butler service, concierge service and laundry, pressing and dry cleaning of two pieces of garments per day and unlimited high speed Internet access throughout the hotel.

Our room decor was elegant with its soft color palette and multi-million dollar views of Shanghai. We had a luxury sitting area, and bedroom with a king-size bed dressed in luxurious Frette linens.

Inside the closet were silk robes and plush slippers. Beyond was the marble bathroom with a soaking bathtub positioned next to the floor-to-ceiling windows to take advantage of the magnificent city and river views.

I enjoyed the opulent bathroom amenities by Ormonde Jayne and plush terry bathrobes by Frette.

The property offers six dining options that include a cake shop and afternoon tea service. The fine dining Fifty 8 Grill offers modern French cuisine and Yong Yi Ting offers elegant local cuisine.

For those who seek rest and relaxation in the Spa, will enjoy the tranquility of the butterfly theme in all the treatment rooms.

Affluent guests will be pampers at this beautiful five star property.

Pudong side of Shanghai

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    • Jill Weinlein profile image
      Author

      Jill Weinlein 2 years ago from Southern California

      I hope you get to China one day soon too teaches12345. It's eye opening and a wonderful education on sights, sounds, smells and different personalities.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      You certainly have peaked my interest in visiting Shanghai one day. I don't know if I could eat the toilet chocolate but I would love the street market vendor treats. You make it all sound so wonderful!