Pairs of the East, Pearl of the Orient, or whatever nickname you prefer, Shanghai, the largest city in China, has always been on the cutting edge of what’s new and what’s hot in China. In this flourishing commercial and financial center, East meets West in a striking blend of world cultures.
Now travelers from 45 countries can now benefit from a 72-hour visa-free stay policy in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (Chengdu, Sichuan province, will soon become the fourth Chinese city to adopt a 72-hour visa-free policy, which will go into effect on Sept 1, 2013.). People can submit applications at Pudong and Hongqiao airports. Three days are perfectly reasonable for a quick trip to Shanghai. You can see skyscrapers and century-old architecture, and try pan-fried dumplings or have a drink in a fancy bar with a river view.
Route 1: Must-see spots
People’s Square can be a good start. It is a large public square just off of Nanjing Rd. in the Huangpu District of Shanghai. People’s Square is the site of Shanghai’s municipal government building, and is used as the standard reference point for measurement of distance in the Shanghai municipality. Prominent landmarks on and around the square include JW Marriott, Shanghai, Shanghai City Hall, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center and People’s Park.
The brown cauldron-shaped Shanghai Museum is a good place to enjoy a fine collection of Chinese ceramics, calligraphy and bronze. The building has round top and a square base, symbolizing the ancient Chinese perception of the world as “Round Sky and Square Earth”.
Walking east on Nanjing Road will lead you through one of China’s busiest shopping streets – Nanjing Road Pedestrian Walkway, which is very close to the Bund of Shanghai. For a century, the Bund is always the symbol and proud of Shanghai. If you have never been to the Bund, then you have never been to Shanghai.
Route 2: Good taste
If you are not satisfied by the glitzy, new, Western side of Shanghai, then perhaps visit the Yuyuan Garden. First built in the 16th century, it is a classical Chinese garden and one of Shanghai’s premier sights, featuring its ponds, walkways, bridges and rockeries.
After visiting the garden, you can check out the delightful Mid-lake Pavilion (Huxin Ting), and have a drink in a two-storey teahouse on an island at the center of an ornamental lake, reached by a zigzagging bridge. In the Yuyuan Commercial City, you will find lots of local snacks including Nanxiang dumplings, the best dumplings in Shanghai.
Route 3: In the suburbs
A 50-minute drive will take you to Zhujiajiao, a suburban water town to the west of Shanghai. Known as “the Venice of Shanghai”, Zhujiajiao Water Town features beautiful waterways, arched stone bridges, ancient streets paved with stones, and houses dating back to Ming and Qing dynasties. Traditional handicrafts, food and ways of life can still be found here. Small boats are ubiquitous here as the boats serve as important transportation methods for local people. It would be a nice way to get a view of the town and experience the local life by boat.
If you prefer to see some nature, Metro Line 9 will take you to the Chenshan Botanic Garden in Songjiang district where beautiful garden landscapes and around 9,000 distinctive plant species are on display.