Glittering Shanghai

Shanghai | China

Glittering Shanghai

Shanghai, just the name conjurors up an exotic, exciting city of vice, business, trade and history.

Of glamorous Chinese women in vintage posters, of narrow alleys of opium dens and shops, of colonial powers and glittering skylines.

The Shanghai of today is a vast, modern city but it’s not hard to find the Shanghai of the romantic imagination.

The Bund:

To walk along the Bund, with its magnificent colonial buildings and the neon-lit skyscrapers of Pudong across the river is to see a different side of China, a modern, East-meets-West China.

The Chinese tourists wandering up the Bund look as awestruck as the foreign, western visitors, for each it is both familiar and exotic.

Shanghai | China

Our accommodation was a Youth Hostel off East Nanjing Road, a historic thoroughfare of shops and shoppers, a vibrant street, partially pedestrianized, of neon signs and commercialism. East Nanjing Road leads off the Bund through to People’s Square, People’s Park and the Shanghai Museum, a well-trodden road I used every day.

We arrived with our sweet Canadian friend Caley and reunited with Sean {who we traveled across Russia and Mongolia with} in the hostel reception. It’s wonderful to collide with traveling friends.

Shanghai | China

The Bund at night was our first view of this famous Shanghai stretch, we were naturally drawn down to it after dinner.

The illuminated towers and skyscrapers of Pudong look so modern across the river, yet a little retro-sci-fi.

The Oriental Pearl Tower, a space-age rocket-like structure, gives the skyline a sixties futuristic twist.

Behind us were the grand, substantial European buildings along the Bund, a fine colonial legacy of beautiful, imposing architecture.

We strolled along the promenade to the large communist monument, admiring the brightly lit tourist boats plying the river.

Shanghai | China

People’s Square:

The next day the four us took a walk up East Nanjing Road to People’s Square, stopping in Shanghai No1 Food Store on the way.

This old colonial department store is now a five floor temple to food shopping.

From traditional Shanghai delicacies to imported food and sweet snacks, the store is a hectic whirlwind of sights, smells and tastes.

I bought some superb Portuguese egg custard tarts from a counter on the top floor, a popular Chinese snack that was introduced from Macau.

Shanghai | China

At People’s Square there is a small park, it used to be a race course and is surrounded by skyscrapers.

Under the shade of the trees are winding paths, small waterfalls and a pond.

Groups of older men were playing cards and birds twittered noisily in the canopy above, it was a pleasant escape from the city for a while.

Shanghai | China

The French Concession:

We made our way to the area known as the French Concession, here can be found many of Shanghai’s old residential buildings, some of which are wonderfully art deco, there are restaurants and bars as well as shops and boutiques.

Walking to Tianzifang we paused en route at Fuxing Park to watch a small group of locals dancing, resting our weary legs on a park bench.

photo by Chris T Hodgson


Tianzifang is a small block of low, narrow longtang alleys {like Beijing’s hutongs} crammed with hip shops, tea rooms, bars and eateries.

It was teeming with younger tourists, mostly Chinese and was a quirky place to wander.

Feeling hungry and tired, we took a small table on the street outside a little restaurant and ordered pizza and a jug of beer, a great spot to people-watch. Yet how western could we possibly look, eating our pizza and supping our beer?

We became the people to watch!

Shanghai | China

The day was ended on the rooftop at Captain’s Bar, just behind the Bund and overlooking the gloriously illuminated Pudong.

Two-for-one beers {happy hour} and that skyline, perfect!

Shanghai | China

Pin it for later:

Glittering Shanghai


Try these posts:

Shanghai. Gardens, Art and the Smog from Hell The air suddenly became lethally toxic!

Shanghai Museum A slick museum in a building shaped like a dish!

Pretty Zhujiajiao, a Day Trip From Shanghai a gorgeous old watertown.

Food and Culture in the Muslim Quarter, Xi’an So delicious, so wonderful, so different.

The Army of Terracotta Warriors Burial planning to the extreme!

China’s National Treasure: The Pandas of Chengdu Yes, there’s baby pandas!

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4 Responses

  1. Ayla says:

    China has never really appealed to me as much as other places but you really sell it here with your lovely pictures and the way you describe it! Shanghai sounds like a fantastic city and I’d love to see the mix of old and new. Glad you’re having such a good trip!

    • I was nervous to go there, from other people’s experiences but I had an amazing time. It is a country to experience and see for yourself. It’s not the easiest, but it’s certainly not the hardest. Shanghai was certainly one of my favourite places, good to have some familiarity.
      I’d definitely go back!

  2. Dave Rowley says:

    Love your photos of the Shanghai skyline, truly spectacular! Looks like it is equally amazing during day and night. How was the pollution during your Shanghai stay, did it keep you indoors? And how many westerners did you see there? Tianzifang sounds like it would be my favorite area to visit – I loved the hutongs of Beijing. Looking forward to your next posts!

    • Hey! I’ll be blogging about the pollution next! We saw quite a few westerners, mostly tourists and a few travellers. Tianzifang didn’t feel as authentic as many of the Beijing hutongs but was a fun place to visit.
      The photos are edited, will get the text written up when we get to Siem Reap 🙂