Until the mid-19th century, Shanghai (meaning "above the sea") was a mid-size, but otherwise unremarkable river city. Things changed quickly following its designation as one of China's trade ports coerced to open for British merchants and entrepreneurs. France and the United States soon joined in and territorial zones were designated within the city establishing virtual "colonies" for the housing and entertainment of those countries' expatriates.
By the 1930s the city's downtown skyline, called the "Bund," could have been that of most any modern western city, so evident was the outside influence. By then Shanghai was the world's third largest financial center. It also held, perhaps just a bit unfairly, a reputation as a den of decadence, drug runners, and dance halls.
Of course, everything changed in 1949 with the declaration of The People's Republic of China.
The decadence departed, but so did the dollars. Businesses either left, were abandoned or were nationalized by the new government. For the next thirty years, Shanghai floundered, as if punished for its western ways. But following the death of Mao Tse Dong in 1976, Shanghai's future changed yet again. The country's "open door policy" instituted during the 1980s ushered in renewed growth that continues into the 21st century.
Across the Huangpu River from the Bund, now a treasured gem of pre-World War II period architecture, a new neighborhood arose – Pudong – which gained designation in 1990 as a special economic zone. With giant, glass-walled office buildings, hotels and shopping malls, Shanghai is back! Today, the city is China's largest – a trend-setting economic dynamo of over 13 million residents!
Shanghai's major attractions include:
Shanghai is hosting the World Expo 2010 from May thorugh October (May 1 - Oct. 31, 2010). It is a scheduled World Expo in the tradition of international fairs and expositions. The theme of the exposition will be "Better City – Better Life" and signifies Shanghai's new status in the 21st century as a major economic and cultural center. We will offer packages that include extended stays in Shanghai as well as admission tickets to the Expo.
- The Bund: A remarkable building boom occured between 1900 and 1940. Some of the world's wealthiest companies and financial institutions spared no expense to build the most fashionable structures of each era: the early 1900s favored the favored Beaux Arts style, the 1920s followed with Art Deco, and the tighter times of the 1930s produced the cleaner, more austere Streamline Modern look. The now-restored buildings and the riverside location – with views across to Pudong jumping ahead to 21st century, make this neighborhood a popular visitor attraction.
- Shanghai Museum: Once the site of a thoroughbred racecourse, the four-level museum is home to some 120,000 pieces, chronicling 5,000 years of China's history. Despite its size only about 3% of the pieces are on display at any given time. Calligraphy, painting, ceramics and bronze ware are museum highlights.
- Pudong: Generations ago, a "chamber of commerce" aerial view of Shanghai would depict the Bund; today, the city is known by the skyline of Pudong. Just across the river from the Bund, it's where the 21st century city of Shanghai rises. It's here where the giant 1,500-ft Oriental Pearl TV Tower soars above the Shanghai History Museum below. Yet even that tower is edged out by the 101 floors of the 1,614-foot Shanghai World Financial Center, completed in 2008. The building's 100 floors include three, top-of-the-tower observation levels making it well worth a trip!
- French Concession: West of the Bund is the neighborhood called the "French Concession." In the mid-1800s, shortly after Shanghai was opened to trade, The British, French and U.S. were granted autonomous "zones." Into those zones flowed expatriates of the respective countries: businessmen, doctors, wives & families, grocers, etc. Charming reminders of the French zone remain; streets lined with French colonial-era architecture, restaurants, cafes, apartments, hotels, art galleries, designer boutiques and quiet parks make the region a popular tourist draw.
- Nanjing Lu: This is Shanghai's "Fifth Avenue." Major department stores, chic boutiques and plenty of restaurants to feed the hungry shopper are found along its length. The eastern leg of the street, between the Bund and the People's Park, is busiest.
- People's Park & Square: Look carefully at a map of the park and you can almost trace the racecourse the park replaces. Today, the park is flanked by the excellent Shanghai Museum and the People's Square, site of numerous rallies and demonstrations, the Great World Entertainment Center (a popular fairground), the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, the Shanghai Grand Theater and Fish and Flower Market.
- Yu Gardens & Bazaar:: Old Shanghai is best appreciated by a visit here. It offers a step back in time – but not too far back. By China's standards, Shanghai is not an old city; the charming Huxinting Teahouse, built on stilts amid a garden lake, dates only to 1784. Some structures date to the Ming Dynasty but most of the buildings here are much newer. Yet it's absolutely appealing! The street bazaar, the curious dragon walls, the rockery, the dumpling restaurants lining the lake, the street performers, the Chinese Opera stage – all give it a festive atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens.
Featured Hotels - Essential & Adventure Series Tours: (subject to change)
Featured Hotel - Luxury Series Tours: (subject to change)
- Skyway Shanghai (Skyway Landis) Hotel
No. 15 Dapu Road
Lu Wan, Shanghai, 200023 China
Tel: (86) (21) 3318 9988
Fax: (86) (21) 5301 0000
5-Star - 654 rooms
Located within Shanghai's affluent Lu Wan District, the 52-story Skyway Shanghai Hotel (also known as the Skyway Landis) provides rooms with 42-inch plasma TVs, Internet service, mini-bar, coffee/tea maker, hair dryer, in-room safe and dual-line IDD telephones. Five on-site restaurants serve Shanghainese, Indian/Thai/Vietnamese, Continental, Contemporary and Buffet-style cuisine.
For a link to the Skyway Shanghai Hotel site click here.
- Four Points by Sheraton Shanghai - Daning
1928 Gong He Xin Road
Shanghai, 200072 China
Tel: (86) (21) 2602 2222
Fax: (86) (21) 2602 2338
5-star - 326 rooms
This new hotel is located north of Shanghai's central business district, Zha Bei – an area known for its cultural centers, universities, and multimedia industry. The Yangchang Road subway station is just a few minutes' walk and Shanghai Circus World is nearby, too. Dining options include a Cantonese Seafood restaurant, a Spanish tapas bar, and an international cafe/buffet. Accommodations feature in-room coffee/tea maker, hairdryer, refrigerator, mini-bar, flat screen cable TV, in-room safe, bathrobe & slippers, and much more! Hotel facilities include an indoor pool, a fitness room, a health spa & sauna, Internet service, and 24-hour room service. By taxi or motorcoach, the hotel is 25 minutes from Hongqiao Airport, and 45 minutes from Pudong International Airport.
For a link to the Four Points Sheraton Shanghai - Daning site click here.
- New World Mayfair Hotel Shanghai
No. 1555 Ding Xi Road, Chang Ning District
Shanghai, 200050 China
Tel: (86) (21) 6240 8888
Fax: (86) (21) 6240 8844
5-Star - 860 rooms
This ultra-modern hotel is located in the popular Chang Ning district overlooking the tranquil Zhong Shan Park. Access to other parts of the city is easy, thanks to the Metro and light rail stations located within steps of the hotel. The Xinning Shopping Center is adjacent.
For a link to the New World Mayfair Hotel - Shanghai site click here.
- Le Royal Meridien Shanghai
No. 789 Nanjing Road East, Huang Pu District
Shanghai, 200001 China
Tel: (86) (21) 3318 9999
Fax: (86) (21) 6361 3388
6-Star - 761 rooms
Stylish and sophisticated with an ultra-modern design, Le Royal Méridien Shanghai is one of the city's tallest landmarks at 66 stories high. Located in the center of Shanghai opposite the People's Square, and overlooking the Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Grand Theater,all areas of Shanghai are easily accessible from the hotel with the Nanjing Pedestrian Walkway located just beside and Shanghai's subway located just below. The iconic Bund is a leisurely 20-minute walk away.
For a link to Le Royal Meridien Shanghai site click here.