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Shanghai City Sights

Home > Shanghai > Food and Wine | Nightlife | Tours | Unusual Things to do
by Margaret Waters (subscribe)
A former teacher and charity worker from the North East of England, I love people and places and like to try out new experiences wherever possible. Capturing that 'perfect pic' is all part of the pleasure. Access issues are a particular interest.
Published June 23rd 2013
Stunningly Unforgettable
Standing on The Bund, we drank in the atmosphere of Shanghai with its heady mixture of hustle and bustle and a stunning skyline of soaring futuristic structures, while our guide explained that the fast-flowing Huangpu River on which the city stands surges into the Yangtze further north.

Margaret Along the Bund
Margaret soaks up the atmosphere of the Bund

It was a special trip a few years ago as my husband and I were celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary. China has fascinated me since I was a child and it didn't disappoint.

Shanghai is a vibrant city of over eighteen million inhabitants that swells with visitors and temporary residents to over twenty-four million at times, and is the home to some of the world's biggest commercial enterprises.

After an eleven hour flight from London we arrived at PuDong airport late in the afternoon, just in time for the rush hour. One of the first things I noticed was that all the hedges along the connecting motorway were trimmed and clipped and suddenly we were aware of the scale of manpower this task must take.

We stayed in Shanghai for three days as part of a tour of China in which we took in all the major sights and a Yangtze cruise. Our tour company, Archers Direct, certainly packed in a lot for us to see and do, a visit to The Bund being just one of them.

Our first day was spent in the heart of the city in People's Square, where tall tower blocks surround the park, reminding you of how new this part of the city is. We found that local people were very happy to come and say hello. A little knowledge of English Premiership football goes a long way when trying to explain where you live.

Right next to People's Square is the Shanghai Museum, where you can see ancient Ming Vases and precious artefacts from centuries of Chinese history.

Vase on display at Shanghai Museum
A Nice Piece of China on Display at Shanghai Museum

One young girl called Lucy came and introduced herself in perfect English, a reflection on how China is modernising as millions of primary school children now learn English as a second language.

We emerged from the museum to witness the spectacle of some of the locals playing in the public fountain nearby, much to our group amusement. Wonder if they did it just for the tourists?

City Folk Play in the Fountains
City Folk Play in the Fountains

After all that excitement we were ready for a cup of tea and of course, you can't go to China without a visit to a teahouse. Our next stop was the Jade Buddha Temple, in the heart of Shanghai, where time-honoured old buildings sit right next to skyscrapers and the traditional pagoda style was a magical sight, just how I'd imagined the place would be. What's more, the teahouse was right there in the same grounds.

Skyscrapers Overshadow the Temple
Skyscrapers Overshadow the Temple

The statue of the Jade Buddha Reclining was said to have been carved from a single piece of white jade, a semi-precious stone found naturally in China.

Jade Buddha Reclining
Jade Buddha in Shanghai

Once inside the teahouse we were served with different types of tea in little china cups and then had the chance to buy some to take home. Some blends were said to ease various ailments and you can talk to assistants if you wanted to take this advice on board. We chose a 'morning' variety but despite being a tea drinker, I couldn't quite get used to sieving tea leaves again when I returned home.

Margaret and Colin Waters in the Teahouse Shanghai
Teahouse Twosome

One final delight at the temple before we left was to walk through the Moongate. The Chinese believe it is good luck for couples to walk through together as a symbol of life-long love and happiness. After 25 years of marriage, I guess we were up for that.

Moongate Experience
The Moongate Experience

A night out at Shanghai's huge Carlton Hotel to see the Chinese State Circus was our next treat. Inside the beautiful theatre we were entertained and enthralled by the acrobatic feats performed to both eastern style music and western pop tunes. Returning to our coach we dodged the traffic on one of the busiest streets I've ever seen.

Acrobats at the Shanghai Carlton
A Beautiful Performance

The next morning was a true assault on your senses when we visited a local indoor market.

Bicycles and Tricycles in Shanghai Market
Bikes and Trikes at Shanghai Market
Outside buzzed with the noise of local people on scooters, bikes and trikes, leaving and returning to place their goods in the carts attached, while inside they sold live fish and eels, which you could choose from the water barrels around the stalls. One such fishy jumped out and landed a few feet away just as my husband and I were taking in the scene, the stallholder laughing as she scooped it up and put it back in its tub.

Live fish in Shanghai Market
Fishies in little dishies in Shanghai Market

From there, we experienced a traditional Chinese village built around a canal, (although I reckon this one was specially built for the tourists). It is said that Marco Polo took this idea back to Italy as a blueprint for Venice; sampans are the gondolas of the East and we took the opportunity of a sampan ride along the canal.

Sampans on Village Canal
Sampans Along the Village Canal


Shanghai Buildings
Lotus Building Shanghai
Stopping for lunch in the village, we were served with some kind of spinach leaf soup (at least that was my best guess). I don't like soup all that much so I wasn't impressed. All the food on the tour was superb otherwise. I had been concerned because I do have some food allergies, especially when eating take-away Chinese food at home, but everything on the tour was freshly prepared and served in a banquet-style so, chop sticks at the ready, you could choose what suited you.

Our final night in Shanghai proved to be amazing. We took what could only be described as a 'Chinese junk' along the Huangpu River to see the city lights. If you thought the skyscrapers were amazing by day, just wait until you see them at night. As we sailed down the river, we stood open-mouthed, the word 'wow' issuing from our lips time after time. According to others on our tour, 'La Paris of the Orient' can easily rival 'The Big Apple'.

Shanghai by Night
View from River Boat of Shanghai by Night

Other China tours are available from Archers.

Or you might want to try one of these other companies:

Travelsphere

Kuoni

Virgin Holidays.
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Why? Culture and sight seeing
When: Anytime
Phone: 0808 115 2738
Where: Shanghai, China
Your Comment
If you'd like to see my Shanghai - La Paris of the Orient Youtube video here's the link -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_cBw91ccSE
by Margaret Waters (score: 1|91) 1441 days ago
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