by David Cohen
The Pearl of the Orient, China’s largest and most modern city, Shanghai is an exciting blend of traditional old neighborhoods and gleaming new skyscrapers. Home to some of the most innovative architecture in the world, Shanghai is breaking records as it races toward becoming one of the greatest 21st century cities. With grand hotels, sophisticated shopping, ancient culture and western influences, this city offers tourists an experience they will never forget.
Things to see and do
Shanghai History Museum
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong is known for its panoramic views but the museum on its ground floor offers an equally impressive look at Shanghai’s past, especially the Concession years.
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center
The showcase 6,400-square-foot planning model of Shanghai gives visitors a glimpse of just how much, and how quickly, this metropolis has been growing during the last decade. The model provides a sneak preview of the multi-national World Expo 2010 site along the Huangpu River in Pudong.
The Shanghai Historic House Association is a volunteer organization dedicated to saving the city’s endangered architectural gems. The group hosts guided walks along the Bund riverfront or through the lanes of the former French Concession revealing a treasure trove missed by many visitors.
When bargaining at the markets, make your offer 50 percent lower than the initial asking price. If the shopkeeper doesn’t budge, walk away. He’ll likely call you back. End negotiations pleasantly by asking for the shop’s mingpian (business card) and accepting it with both hands and a smile. More than 400 vendors make this a brand-name reproduction Mecca.
Yu Yuan/Fangbang Lu
The Ming-style buildings surrounding Yuyuan (Yu Garden) and the five-story Cang Bao Lou Building sell traditional Chinese gifts, memorabilia and antiques. Buyer beware; many items are copies, so buy judiciously and pay accordingly.
Where To Eat
Jade On 36 Restaurant and Bar
Revered for its beauty and glow, Chinese emperors saw jade as the “stone of the heaven.” Pudong Shangri-La’s signature restaurant features its own heavenly panoramic views. Jade On 36 is where sophisticated avant-garde cuisine and décor come together.
M on the Bund
Opened January 1999, M on the Bund was the first fine-dining restaurant on the legendary waterfront. The idea was to create a dining experience as exciting, as sophisticated, and as delectable as Shanghai itself. Located at the historic Nissin Shipping Building, constructed in 1921, M overlooks Shanghai’s most famous sight: the Bund. Diners can sample a creative menu in a warm, refined art deco atmosphere.
Yi Café @ the Shangri La
Yi Café invites guests to take an international culinary journey with gourmet showcases and 10 live cooking stations presenting cuisine from China, Japan, Morocco, India, Southeast Asia and Europe.
Set in the ultra-hip Xintiandi district, T8 offers diners a fusion eastern and western cuisine. Its Australian chef draws on his experience of cooking in multi-cultural Australia with Chinese traditional cooking methods and ingredients.
Future Developments in Shanghai
Mickey Mouse to Set Up House
Pending government approval, Walt Disney Company plans to open its sixth theme park in Shanghai. The anticipated 1,200-acre park will be four times bigger than Hong Kong’s Disneyland. Construction is set to begin in 2008 with completion in 2012.
World’s Largest Ferris wheel to kiss the Shanghai Skyline
The Pearl Tower and Jin Mao Building will have some company on the Shanghai skyline in 2007. An 8.6-acre site along the Huangpu River has been purchased to construct the Shanghai Kiss, a Ferris wheel that will surpass the famous London Eye as the world’s largest. Designed by British architecture firms Alsop Design and Arup, Shanghai Kiss will be 558-feet in diameter, with 36 pods carrying 1,100 passengers.