Shanghai Pudong
Pudong, Shanghai. Taken by Wikimedia Commons user J. Patrick Fischer.

The largest city in China and eighth largest in the world, with a recorded population of 23 million (as of 2013) plus a huge unregistered temporary floating populace, Shanghai is located on the Yangtze River Delta by the East China Sea and is the busiest container seaport in the world.  The name Shanghai is literally translated as On the Ocean or City on the Ocean; however, Shanghai, having a prosperous and international history, has also been known as “The Paris of The East.”  Shanghai is a massive metropolis and widely accepted as China’s most important economic hub and financial center.  Actually, the city only rose to prominence in China after it was forcefully opened as a trading port by Western powers after the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century.  Today, Shanghai is one of the world’s most dynamic and vibrant megalopolises, attracting business people, travelers, and all those wishing to experience one of China’s most unique destinations.

Generally said, to showcase the cities and ultimately China’s economic success, the modern skyline of Lujiazui (the city’s financial district) at the banks of the Huangpu river is a must see for visitors in Shanghai.  The view of these bright and modern buildings can be appreciated from the opposite Puxi side on the Bund where the imperial architecture tells the story of Shanghai’s colonial past.  On the Puxi side (old Shanghai) of the river, Peoples Square is located at the center of the city and a great jumping-off point to visit some of Shanghai’s many attractions. These include: the Yu Gardens, a traditional Chinese garden surrounded by stunning ancient architecture; The Shanghai Museum, a great place to get a comprehensive look into China’s fascinating past; and West Nanjing Road, China’s busiest commercial street.  On the Pudong side (new Shanghai), visitors can ascend one of the tallest buildings in the world, The Shanghai World Financial Center, visit the Shanghai aquarium with its impressive Shark Tunnel, or relax in Century Park, the city’s newest and largest garden.

Entertainment and dining in Shanghai are second to none, with many of the city’s restaurants and clubs considered as the best in Asia.  Diners can choose from a considerable range of Chinese and international cuisine, with delicious options being available on both ends of the pricing spectrum.  A meal can cost less than 10 RMB (~$1.62) for a steamer of Shanghai’s famous xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) or 3000 RMB ($490) plus at the exclusive riverside restaurant M on the Bund. Although Shanghai’s art scene was originally considered inferior to its main rival Beijing, the city has taken huge leaps forward to catch up with the capital.  Many bars and venues now promote regular events, and the city’s largest stadium, the Mercedes-Benz Arena, has recently attracted huge international acts including, Metallica, Elton John and The Rolling Stones.  Clubbing is also popular amongst locals, expats, and travelers with there being a large variety of weekly events to choose from.

Shanghai can be seen as a modern, figurative, electric playground for many travelers and a place to make one’s fortune for many business people; whatever one’s reason for being here, the city has certainly earned its moniker, “The Pearl of the Orient!”

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