9 October 2015

5 reasons to go to shanghai

Old Journeys through New Windows

It's one of the worlds biggest Metropolises. A giant of a city that continues to grow. It's also a fascinating city to explore, a city where East meets West. This months Old Journey Through New Windows takes us back to Shanghai and presents you 5 reasons to go there. Since visiting, which was a few years ago now, I have no doubt that the city has changed beyond recognition. Perhaps for the better? Skyscrapers were everywhere, seemingly clumped together in whatever space could be found. You could open your hotel window and almost touch the next building. Hidden among the high rises, Shanghai offers many a tourist gem. So in no particular order, here are 5 reasons why it should be on your bucket list of cities to visit.

Shanghai skyline and looking down on The Bund

1) It's not all about skyscrapers
Hidden beneath the never ending skyscrapers you can find what remains of the ancient Shanghai. For a more authentic experience, if perhaps geared towards the tourist, you could head for the Yu Yuan Bazaar with its small shops or go to one of the many shrines that are hidden in the depths of the streets below. For all its city centre niceties, the clean pavements and the boutiques. A walk down the dusty streets, with its the small, run down shops and street vendors are where you will witness and feel the old Shanghai. Although, unfortunately it feels like the city is losing its grip on these areas, consumed by the wealth of the modern China. 
The Yu Yuan Bazaar

One of the many shrines, hidden among the skyscrapers
2) Shopping 
Shanghai has a wealth of shopping opportunities, from the big brands in large shopping malls to the markets with pile upon pile of clothes and other accessories. Whatever you choice, you can find it. And if you're prepared then visiting the markets will open your eyes to a more traditional China and a chance to try the local cuisine. 

Inside one of the modern malls

3) Zhujiajiao Water Town
Away from the city centre, any stay in Shanghai should include a visit to the water town of Zhujiajiao. It may only be 40 minutes outside the city but this is really an ancient town that is set up for mass tourism. Small shops and restaurants, as well as shrines and water taxis (with singing boat women) will keep anyone occupied for a day. Perhaps giving you a little look into the past as you see in the distance the future.

Zhujiajiao Water Town
4) The Oriental Pearl Tower
Perhaps Shanghai's most recognisable building / attraction is the Oriental Pearl Tower. At the time of our visit, it was raising above the city. Other taller towers have since risen beside it and beyond. But none of them have the status and aesthetic appearance as this one. You can go up it and the views give you a wonderful perspective of the vastness of this city (see first picture). Skyscraper upon skyscraper for as far as the eye can see and the smog will allow! Any visit to this mega city should include a visit here and its surrounding area.

The Oriental Pearl Tower
5) The Night view
A cruise along the river (The Huangpu) is also a must. And like many cities seeing it at night adds to the overall experience. Cities come alive at night and Shanghai is no different. Brightly lit with the skyscrapers touching the darken sky. Its a wonderful way to see the city and reveal something of its trading past.
Shanghai at night

Shanghai may not be the worlds most beautiful city and it may not have the famous tourist attractions of the more famous Beijing. But that shouldn't put you off. Shanghai does have a certain "European" feel and charm. Especially as you walk along The Bund. Shanghai is clearly a city that will inspire and give you an insight into modern China and the incredible growth of the nation. The city feels like its growing almost by the second. Should it be on your bucket list? Yes of course. Perhaps as part of a stopover before heading to other, more famous places. Have you been? What were your favourite spots and places to visit? Would be wonderful if you'd share your Shanghai adventures.

Next in the Old Journeys Through New Windows series: Tokyo 

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