Shanghai: A Weekend Itinerary
Coming from humble origins as a swampy fishing village on the coast of Mainland China, Shanghai is now the largest city in China and 8th largest in the world. With high rise buildings adorning its skyline, massive commercial shopping and entertainment areas, and parks and museums popular with locals, expats and tourists alike, Shanghai is a perfect portrayal of modern China. To help you explore this extraordinary city, here’s a weekend itinerary to guide you through the pearl of the orient.
Day 1- Must See Sights
Begin your exploration of Shanghai by immersing yourself in the splendid scenery and traditional Chinese architecture of the Yuyuan Gardens. Situated beside the City of God Temple, these gardens display invaluable cultural relics, calligraphy, paintings and sculptures of famous artists. Be sure to walk around the shopping streets near the garden for traditional Chinese souvenirs and local Shanghainese delicacies.
A quick metro ride from Yuyuan gardens is Xintiandi, a pedestrian shopping and entertainment district of Shanghai. With its mid 19th century style buildings which now serve as cafes and restaurants, it is the perfect place to get a quick bite and wander along its narrow alleyways while appreciating the unique fusion of international interiors and traditional Chinese exteriors. After the Yuyuan Gardens and Xintiandi tour, spend the afternoon walking on the renowned Nanjing Pedestrian Street, China’s premier shopping street. Conveniently located above a busy metro station, this car-free street accommodates hundreds of commercial businesses offering a variety of goods and services including famous fashion brands such as Forever 21, and restaurants offering western and Chinese-style cuisine, as well as traditional stores selling silk, jade and embroidered clothes.
At the east end of the pedestrian street is the Puxi Bund, a waterfront area of Shanghai surrounded by buildings of various architectural styles and a stunning view of the Shanghai city skyline on the other side of the Huang Pu river. Don’t forget to bring your camera as you are going to want to capture the captivating city lights at dusk. A quick taxi ride through the Yan’an Tunnel will take you to the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, which contains thousands of varieties of ocean creatures and the longest underwater pedestrian tunnel in the world.
Day 2 – Traditional and Colonial Culture
In the middle of the energetic downtown Shanghai sits the peaceful and tranquil temple of Jing’an. With its magnificent golden dome and the sweet aroma of incense filling up its hallways, it is home to the country’s largest jade Buddha and is a perfect way to start the morning.
Not far from the temple, at the intersection of Changle Road and Maoming Road is a small market selling ready-made as well as tailored “qipao”, an exquisite Chinese-style dress for women. Shop around for souvenirs here then walk down to Fuxing park, a beautiful French-style park in downtown Shanghai. An oasis in the middle of a busy city, this park is an ideal place to take a break from the fast-paced environment of Shanghai. Enjoy a small snack or a hearty lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes at Tianzifang. Originally designated for the French colonists in Shanghai, and maintaining its exterior Shikumen architecture, this area has now been turned into the city’s most famous nightclubs, bars, cafes, art galleries and antique shops.
Lastly, explore the renowned Shanghai museum, accommodating Buddhist sculptures, traditional Chinese-style furniture and an extensive ancient ceramic collection. A walk around the museum will enlighten you on the philosophy, manners and way of thinking of the traditional Chinese.
Day 3 – Modern Shanghai
Begin your adventures of the last day on the east side of the Huang Pu river in Century Park, the largest park in Shanghai. With an intriguing mixture of eastern and western style landscapes, lakes, bird reserves, and children’s playing areas, this park offers an enjoyable atmosphere for both adults and children. After a relaxing morning in the park, head to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, the largest science museum in the city. Learn more about the magic of science with flora and fauna, robotics and space technologies all under one roof.
Next, venture out to explore modern Shanghai and head to the Lujiazui Financial District to discover an ultra-developed part of the city with gigantic shopping malls and the most prominent landmarks of the city. Get an up-close view of the tallest buildings in Shanghai, including the Oriental Pearl T.V. Tower, the handbag-shaped Shanghai World Financial Center, the pagoda-shaped Jinmao Tower and the elegant twisted-shape of the new Shanghai Tower. If you have the time, I would recommend going up to the viewing gallery of the Oriental Pearl T.V. Tower and having a 360° view of the city from 350 meters above the ground.
Next, go to the Shanghai Circus World, an incredible spectacle of acrobatic and martial arts performances. The amazingly talented Chinese acrobats and dancers combined with music, sound and light special effects are not to be missed. Be sure to take the Nanpu bridge to the other side of the river, as it is said to give an appearance of a golden dragon flying above the river at night.
With the juxtaposition of classic colonial style architecture and modern skyscrapers, along with ancient temples and serene gardens, Shanghai has a lot to offer, whether you’re a local or a first time traveller in China. Hop on a plane and spend your perfect weekend in Shanghai now!
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