Archive for the ‘Shanghai China Travel’ Category
Frequently cited as the best museum in China, the Shanghai Museum has 11 state-of-the-art galleries and three special exhibition halls arranged on four floors, all encircling a spacious cylindrical atrium. The exhibits are tastefully displayed and well lit, and explanatory signs are in English as well as Chinese. For size, the museum’s 120,000 historic artifacts cannot match the world-renowned Chinese collections in Beijing, Taipei, and Xi’an, but are more than enough to fill the galleries on any given day with outstanding treasures. Many foreign visitors to the museum often rank it as Shanghai’s very best site.
Located downtown on the south side of People’s Square at Renmin Da Dao 201, the museum has its main entrance on the north side of the building, facing the three monumental structures that now occupy the north half of the square (Grand Theatre to the west, City Hall in the middle, Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center to the east). Metro Lines 1 and 2 both have their main stations on the northeast corner of People’s Square. The Shanghai Museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm (no tickets sold after 4pm). Admission is RMB20. Audio phones providing narratives of the major exhibits in English, French, Japanese Spanish, German, and Italian are available for rent at the counter to your left as you enter the lobby.
Unlike many museums in China, the Shanghai Museum is arranged by theme rather than by dynasty. Though visitors all have their individual favorites, the Bronze Gallery and the Stone Sculpture Gallery on the first floor and the Painting Gallery on the third floor are generally considered the most impressive. Elevators, escalators, and stairways serve each floor. A large gift shop on the ground floor sells museum reproductions, books, postcards, and gifts; and smaller shops are located on the other floors.
Begin your tour on the first floor at the Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery, which boasts a marvelous collection of over 400 bronzes from the 18th to the 3rd centuries B.C. typically reserved for use only by nobles and royalty. Standouts include two wine vessels with animal mask designs, one in the shape of an ox and the other a traditional pot used by the king of Wu, both dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 B.C.). There’s also a typical food vessel on three legs from the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100–771 B.C.), the shape of which is said to be the inspiration for the museum building, which certainly resembles an ancient Ding from afar. The Ancient Chinese Sculpture Gallery has sculptures spanning the Warring States period to the Ming Dynasty (475 B.C.–A.D. 1644), including a kneeling clay figure playing a bamboo flute from the Eastern Han (A.D. 25–200) and a Buddhist image of Sakyamuni in stone from the Northern Qi (A.D. 550–577).
On the second floor, the Ceramics Gallery contains many tricolor figurines from the magnificent Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618–907) and delicately painted and fired pots from the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368–1644) kilns at Jingde Zhen; the gallery is definitely worth a tour if you love your china.
On the third floor, the Painting Gallery contains many ancient original art works on silk scrolls, including landscapes from the Ming Dynasty and Buddhist scrolls from the Tang and Song (A.D. 960–1279) dynasties. Typical is the ink brush scroll by Emperor Zhao Ji (A.D. 1083–1135) of the Song Dynasty titled for its subjects, Willow, Crows, Reed, and Wild Geese. The Calligraphy Gallery shows the various styles of artistic “handwriting” developed in China over many centuries, with specimens as old as the Tang Dynasty. Altogether, the museum owns some 15,000 of these fine scrolls. The Seal Gallery has intricate carved chops in stone used by emperors and their courts to notarize official documents. On this floor, displays show the basic elements of calligraphy, explaining the relationship between Chinese painting and calligraphy, and demonstrating how the artists’ tools were used.
The fourth floor has a splendid Jade Gallery, with intricately carved jade wine vessels, jewelry, and ornaments, some from as early as the Liangzhu Culture (31st–22ndc. B.C.). The Coin Gallery displays coins that predate the First Emperor’s reign (221–207 B.C.), as well as gold coins from Persia discovered on the Silk Road. The Ming and Qing Furniture Gallery has elaborately carved screens inlaid with jade from the Qing Dynasty (A.D. 1644–1911), a six-poster canopy bed, and a wonderful folding wooden armchair from the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368–1644). The Minority Nationalities’ Art Gallery displays some lovely costumes, jewelry, dioramas, and ceremonial creations from the more remote, most of them dating from the early 20th century.
The Huangpu River (Huangpu Jiang) is the city’s shipping artery both to the East China Sea and to the mouth of the Yangzi River, which the Huangpu joins 29km (18 miles) north of downtown Shanghai. It has also become a demarcating line between two Shanghais, east and west, past and future. On its western shore, the Bund serve as a reminder of Shanghai’s 19th-century’s history; on the eastern shore, the steel and glass skyscrapers of the Pudong New Area point to a burgeoning financial empire of the future.
The Huangpu’s wharves are the most fascinating in China. The port handles the cargo coming out of the interior from Nanjing, Wuhan, and other Yangzi River ports, including Chongqing, 2,415km (1,500 miles) deep into Sichuan Province. From Shanghai, which produces plenty of industrial and commercial products in its own right, as much as a third of China’s trade with the rest of the world is conducted each year. A boat ride on the Huangpu is highly recommended: Not only does it provide unrivalled postcard views of Shanghai past and future, it’ll afford you a closer look at this dynamic waterway that makes Shanghai flow.
There are several ways to tour the Huangpu River. If you have time, a 3-hour voyage along the Huangpu to the mouth of the Yangzi River and back allows for the most leisurely and complete appreciation of the river. There are also shorter river cruises that ply the main waterfront area between the two suspension bridges, Yangpu Qiao in the north and Nanpu Qiao in the south, and an even shorter cruise from Pudong.
Several boat companies offer cruises, but the main one is the Shanghai Huangpu River Cruise Company, located on the southern end of the Bund Promenade. It has a daily full 3-hr afternoon cruise with the possibility of a full morning cruise during the summer. Prices for this cruise start out at RMB50 and top out at RMB100, with the best ticket offering the most comfortable seats on the top deck, the best views, and drinks and snacks. As well, there are hour-long cruises every day at 9:30am, 10:45am, 1pm, 2:30pm, 3:15pm, 4pm, and 4:30pm. This company also offers a nightly hour long cruise from the Bund to the Yangpu Bridge. Prices range from RMB35 to RMB70. Cruise schedules vary depending on the season, and on weekends additional cruises are sometimes added, so check ahead. Tickets can be purchased at the above offices or through your hotel desk.
Between the stately colonial edifices along the Bund, the glittering skyscrapers on the eastern shore of Pudong, and the unceasing river traffic, there is plenty to keep your eyes from ever resting. Even on overcast days, the single greatest piece of eye candy as your boat pulls away is undoubtedly still the granite offices, banks, consulates, and hotels that comprise the Bund. Sadly for purists these days, however, the Peace Hotel with its stunning green pyramid roof and the Customs House with its big clock tower no longer have your undivided attention but have to compete with the towering 21st-century space-age skyscrapers that have sprouted in the background. Up close, though, the grandeur of the Bund is still undeniable.
As the ship heads north, downstream, it passes Huangpu Park across from the Peace Hotel, still considered by many to be the loveliest piece of architecture in Shanghai. Others prefer the architectural perfection of the Jin Mao Tower on the opposite shore; it’s certainly hard to take your eyes off the Jin Mao as it tapers majestically upwards. Also on the Pudong shore are the can’t-miss Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai International Convention Center with its twin glass globes, and a slew of hotels, offices, and malls of the Lujiazui Financial Area.
Back on the western shore, north of Huangpu Park is Suzhou Creek, formerly called the Wusong River. Originating in Lake Tai, the 120km-long river was once much busier than the Huangpu, but silting in the lower reaches eventually diminished water traffic.
North of the Suzhou Creek hugging the west shore are the old “go-downs” or warehouses of the many foreign trading firms. This area, known as Hongkou District, and the district to the east, Yangpu District, have been marked for rapid development after Pudong, though new modern towers have already started to stake out the skyline. Less than a mile farther on is the International Passenger Terminal, where cruise ships from Japan tie up. The Huangpu River jogs east at this point on its way to the Shanghai shipyards, where cranes and derricks load and unload the daily logjam of freighters from the world’s other shipping giants. Eventually, all of this waterfront will be developed into a series of marinas and a combination of industrial and recreational areas.
Before the Huangpu slowly begins to curve northward again, you’ll pass the English castle-style Yangshupu Water Plant originally built by the British in 1882. The Yangpu Cable Bridge, like the Nanpu Cable Bridge to the south, is one of the largest such structures in the world. Boasting the longest span in the world, some 602m, the Yangpu Bridge is considered the world’s first “slant-stretched” bridge. Its total length is about 7.6km, and 50,000 vehicles pass over its six lanes daily.
The Huangpu is, on the average, just 183m wide, but more than 2,000 oceangoing ships compete with the 20,000 barges, fishing junks, and rowboats that ply the Huangpu every year. As the river curves north, you’ll pass the small island, Fuxing Dao, which is to be developed into an ecological and recreational theme park.
The Huangpu eventually empties into the mighty Yangzi River at Wusong Kou, where the water during high tide turns three distinct colors, marking the confluence of the Yangzi (yellow), the Huangpu (gray), and the South China Sea (green). The passenger terminal for Yangzi River cruises is also here. This marks the end of Shanghai’s little river and the beginning of China’s largest one. As your tour boat pivots slowly back into the narrowing passageway of the Huangpu, you can look forward to a return trip that should be more relaxed.
Yu Yuan is a pleasant enough, well-contained classical Chinese garden, if not quite the loveliest of its kind, as local boosters would have you believe. Bearing the burden of being the most complete classical garden in urban Shanghai and therefore a must-see for every tourist, this overexposed garden overflows daily with hordes of visitors, and is no longer the pastoral haven it once was. Built between 1559 and 1577 by local official Pan Yunduan as the private estate for his father, Yu Yuan (meaning Garden of Peace and Comfort) is a maze of Ming Dynasty pavilions, elaborate rockeries, arched bridges, and goldfish ponds, all encircled by an undulating dragon wall. Occupying just 2 hectares, it nevertheless appears quite expansive, with room for 30 pavilions.
Yu Yuan is located at the heart of Old Town, a few blocks southwest of the Bund in downtown Shanghai. The main entrance and ticket window are on the north shore of the Huxin Ting pond. It is open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm, and admission is RMB30. The least crowded time to visit is early morning. Allow 2 hours for a leisurely tour of this site.
The layout of Yu Yuan, which contains several gardens-within-gardens, can make strolling here a bit confusing, but if you stick to a general clockwise path from the main entrance, you should get around most of the estate and arrive eventually at the Inner Garden and final exit. The major sites from the northern entrance clockwise to the east and south are as follows:
Sansui Tang (THREE EARS OF CORN HALL)
This is the first and largest of the garden’s grand pavilions, although it was built in 1760 after Yu Yuan had been sold to a group of merchants. The highlight here is the fine window and wood beam carvings of rice, millet, wheat, fruit, and other emblems of a plentiful harvest. The building was used as a meeting place for local officials and for proclaiming Imperial announcements.
YangShan Tang (HALL FOR VIEWING THE GRAND ROCKERY)
Immediately north of the Three Ears of Corn Hall, this graceful two-story tower with upturned eaves serves as the entrance to the marvelous rock garden behind. Its upper story, known as Juanyu Lou (Chamber for Gathering Rain), provides a fine view of the Grand Rockery.
Da Jia Shan (THE GRAND ROCKERY)
A pond separates the viewing hall from the Grand Rockery, which consists of 2,000 tons of rare yellow stones fused together with rice glue and designed by a famous garden artist of the Ming, Zhang Nanyang. The twisted mountain like sculpture, intended to evoke peaks, ravines, caves, and ridges, stands 14m high and was the highest point in the city during the garden’s construction. East of the pond is Jian Ru Jia Jing (The Corridor for Approaching the Best Scenery); notice the beautiful vase-shaped doorframes. Off the corridor to the east you’ll find the small Yule Xie (Pavilion for Viewing Frolicking Fish) with schools of happy carp and goldfish swimming in a stream that appears much longer than it actually is less than 50m. Northeast of the rockery is the Cui Xiu Tang (Hall of Gathering Grace); to the east is Wanhua Lou (Pavilion of Ten Thousand Flowers), where a 4-century-old gingko tree stakes out the front courtyard.
Dian Chan Tang (HALL OF HERALDING SPRING)
If you continue east from the Grand Rockery and the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Flowers, you will come to two halls in the northeast section of Yu Yuan: the northern Cangbao Lou (Treasury Hall); and the most famous historical building in the garden, Dian Chan Tang (Hall of Heralding Spring).
He Xu Tang (HALL OF HARMONY)
South of the rebels’ old headquarters, past the Kuai Lou (Tower of Joy) perched atop a pile of rocks, is the glass-enclosed Hall of Harmony, worth stepping inside to examine its display of old Qing Dynasty furniture, fashioned by hand from banyan tree roots. Just to the west of this hall is a wonderful dragon wall with a lifelike clay carving of a dragon’s head perched at the end and gray tiles along the top evoking the dragon’s body. Such walls are used throughout to divide the garden into different sections. A detour west of this wall leads to a bamboo grove and eventually to the airy Jiushi Xuan (Nine Lion Study).
Yu Hua Tang (HALL OF JADE MAGNIFICENCE)
This hall opens into a southern courtyard with the most celebrated stone sculpture in the garden, Yu Ling Long (Exquisite Jade Rock). This honeycomb slab was reportedly originally procured by the Huizang emperor of the Northern Sung (reigned 1100–26) from the waters of Tai Hu (Lake Tai) where many of the bizarre rocks and rockeries found in classical Chinese gardens were submerged to be naturally carved by the currents. Such rocks represent mountain peaks in classical Chinese garden design, and this rock satisfies the three elements of appearance (that it be rough, craggy, and pitted). Water poured into the top of this boulder will spurt out through its numerous holes; incense lighted at its base will swirl outward from its openings. Destined for the emperor, the rock was reportedly shipwrecked in the Huangpu River, and was later retrieved by Pan Yunduan and placed here across from his study.
Nei Yuan (INNER GARDEN)
South of Exquisite Jade Rock is the entrance to the Inner Garden, which was constructed in 1709 and made a part of Yu Yuan only in 1956. This is often the quietest section of the garden, particularly in the morning. Its Hall of Serenity (Jingguan Tang) at the north entrance and Tower for Watching Waves (Guantao Lou) are magnificent, as is the ornately carved Acting and Singing Stage (Gu Xitai) to the south. Local artists and calligraphers sometimes use these and other pavilions to display (and sell) their works. The exit from Yu Yuan is located next to the Inner Garden entrance (west); it puts you on Yuyuan Lu, which leads back to the Old Town pond and the Huxingting Teahouse.
The Bund (which means the Embankment) refers to Shanghai’s famous waterfront running along the west shore of the Huangpu River, forming the eastern boundary of old downtown Shanghai. From here Shanghai grew into a cosmopolitan and thriving commercial and financial center, Asia’s leading city in the 1920s and 1930s.
Today, a wide avenue fronts the old buildings while a raised promenade on the east side of the road affords visitors pleasant strolls along the river and marvelous views of both the Bund and Pudong across the river. Pudong’s new skyscrapers and modern towers — constituting Shanghai’s “21st Century Bund”—may dominate today’s skyline, but the city’s core identity and history are strictly rooted in this unique strip on the western shore. For years, the Bund was the first sight of Shanghai for those arriving by boat; it should be your first stop as well.
Stretching for 1.6km along the western edge of the Huangpu River, the Bund runs from Suzhou Creek in the north to Jinling Lu in the south. On the west side of the main avenue that runs along the Bund are the old edifices of yore, while the eastern side is taken by the Bund Promenade, a raised embankment that acts as a dike against the Huangpu River, because downtown itself, situated on a soggy delta, is slowly sinking below the river level. The Bund is pleasant to stroll at any hour but is often crowded with tourists and vendors selling snacks and souvenirs. Early mornings see tai-chi practitioners and ballroom dancers out in force. Early to mid-morning on weekdays is best for avoiding the crowds and for photography. If possible, try to return here at night when the Bund buildings are all aglow.
The highlights of the Bund are undoubtedly the old buildings lining the west side of Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, standouts of which include the former British Consulate, Customs House, former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, and Peace Hotel.
The Bund has a few other small attractions. On its north end, Suzhou Creek enters the Huangpu River beneath the 18m-wide iron Waibaidu Bridge, built in 1906 to replace the original wooden toll bridge constructed in 1856 by an English businessman. On the river shore now stands a granite obelisk, Monument to the People’s Heroes, dedicated to Chinese patriots, beginning in the 1840s. It was erected in 1993 and contains a small historical gallery at its base, the Bund History Museum, which contains a few artifacts and some interesting photographs of the Bund. Just south of the monument, at street level, is the park Huangpu Park, originally the British Public Gardens built in 1868. South of here, across from the Peace Hotel, is the entrance to the pedestrian Bund Sightseeing Tunnel located under the Huangpu. Complete with tram cars and light show, the tunnel connects downtown Shanghai to the Pudong New Area and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Also here is a statue of Chen Yi, Shanghai’s first mayor after 1949 and a dead ringer for Mao Zedong, at least in bronze.
Farther south down the Bund Promenade are scores of vendors, a few restaurants, and excellent overlooks facing the river. Near the southern end of the promenade are the docks for the Huangpu River cruises. You’ll also notice picturesque Signal Tower, a slender round brick tower that served as a control tower for river traffic in the past. First built in 1884, the tower was rebuilt in 1907, and also relayed weather reports. In 1993 during the widening of Zhongshan Lu, it was moved 20m to its current site. Today, a handful of photographs inside show the early days of the Bund, but you can no longer climb to the lookout.
Shanghai has precious few sights on the scale of the Forbidden City or the Great Wall, but the treasures it does have — its historic homes, museums, parks, and shopping avenues, not to mention Asia’s most famous street—speak to a unique legacy all its own.
The average tourist usually blows through town in about 2 days, but 3 days is a minimum to do any real sightseeing, as attractions are scattered all over the city. Even then, Shanghai is about more than just its buildings. The city that’s one of the most exciting in the world demands time to soak in its energy, to appreciate its complexity, and to sample its many offerings, which may not be apparent on the surface. Bear in mind that sights outside Shanghai, such as Suzhou, Hangzhou, or the water villages of Nanxun, and Tongli require day trips.
The best way to see Shanghai is on your own, armed with a good map and this book, and using a combination of taxis, subways, and your own two feet. Transportation facilities and many of the sights described here are very user-friendly, even for the non-Chinese speaking, first-time visitor. Because Shanghai’s traffic is getting worse by the day, if you are traveling long distances between attractions, consider taking the subway, where available, to the Metro stop nearest the attraction, then hopping a taxi the rest of the way.
Of course, if you are severely pressed for time and only have a day, an organized tour in the company of an English-speaking guide can be a hassle-free if superficial way to cover the major sights. Your hotel travel desk or a travel agency can arrange this.
The last and least advised option is to hire a car for the day through your hotel, an expensive option that will easily cost you upwards of 800RMB a day for a car and driver. It’s cheaper if you hire a taxi for the day yourself on the streets.
Xiaolong bao, literally “little steamer buns,” are popular in many parts of China, but nowhere more so than in the Shanghai region. The characteristic that distinguishes this little dumpling from all others is the hot broth inside that will trickle into your mouth, or squirt onto your neighbor’s lap, depending on how you handle it. Xiaolong bao is made by wrapping ground pork and a gelatinous soup in as thin a dough wrapper as possible. Sometimes, powdered crabmeat is added. After steaming, the gelatin has melted and the pork is bathed in a delicious hot oil, all inside the wrapper. Tip: Never bite directly into a Xiaolong bao right out of the steamer, as the scalding broth can cause some serious tongue damage!
Expert Xiaolong bao eaters usually hold the top of the dumpling with their chopsticks, with a spoon underneath. Nibble at the skin on top and let the broth trickle onto the spoon, or wait a few seconds for the broth to cool, then slurp the whole thing into your mouth. If desired, you can add some vinegar and ginger.
To be expected, the question of which place serves the best Xiaolong bao in town is a contentious one. Nanxiang Mantou Dian in Old Town may have the imprimatur of tradition, history and fame, but for modern connoisseurs who prefer their dumpling wrapper skins paper-thin and still be able to seal in the juices, there’s a healthy competition going between the Taiwanese chain Ding Tai Fang and the Singapore-originated Crystal Jade Restaurant. For our wrappers, we like Crystal Jade by a skin, though of course you can resolve the question for yourself by trying all three outlets.
Gastronomes never had it so good in Shanghai. With restaurants serving a mind-boggling variety of Chinese cuisines, as well as a wide range of topnotch international fare, Shanghai is arguably mainland China’s best city for eating. For Shanghai residents, ever attuned to the latest trends and tastes, eating out and trying new restaurants is now a pastime rivaling shopping.
For the tourist, this means you no longer have to stick to safe hotel dining. While some of Shanghai’s top restaurants can be found in hotels, there are scores of well-run private establishments that rival if not surpass the quality of hotel food, and usually at lower prices. Shanghai offers the unusual opportunity of dining one moment in a traditional teahouse.
While you can eat your way through China by sampling all the regional Chinese restaurants in Shanghai, the emphasis is on Shanghai’s own renowned cuisine, commonly referred to as benbang cai. Usually considered a branch of Huaiyang cuisine, Shanghai cooking has traditionally relied on soy sauce, sugar, and oil. The most celebrated Shanghai dish is hairy crab, a freshwater delicacy that reaches its prime every fall. Also popular are any number of “drunken” dishes (crab, chicken) marinated in local Shaoxing wine, and braised meat dishes such as Lion’s Head Meatballs and braised pork knuckle. Shanghai dim sum and snacks include a variety of dumplings, headlined by the local favorite Xiaolong bao, as well as onion pancakes and leek pies, all of which deserve to be tried.
Those hankering for a taste of home will also find that Shanghai is the most foreign-belly-friendly city in China. From the trendiest Continental cuisine to the most recognizable fast-food chains, there is a staggering range of options guaranteed to take the edge off any homesick cravings. Many Asian and European cuisines are well represented, with Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Thai, and Indian cuisines of good enough quality to satisfy a discerning overseas palate. World-renowned chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Laris, and Jacques and Laurent Pourcel have also chosen to launch their China flagship restaurants here. Where Shanghai particularly excels is in the bold new tastes that are arising from the mix of East and West.
At the other end of the dining scale, the American fast-food chains of McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken are ubiquitous. So are Starbucks, Haagen-Dazs, and Pizza Hut. Subway is in the mix, and Tony Roma’s and the Hard Rock Café have been longtime Shanghai residents. Even California Pizza Kitchen and Hooters have checked in, the latter with two branches.
The widest variety of dining options is in the Luwan, Jingan, and Xuhui districts. The Bund is also another prime dining spot. As well, Shanghai has five food streets lined with Chinese restaurants of every ilk. They are: Huang He Lu, northwest of the Park Hotel (Huangpu); Wujiang Lu, just off Nanjing Xi Lu by the Shimen Yi Lu Metro station (Huangpu); Yunnan Lu, east of Xi zang Lu and south of Yan’an Dong Lu (Huangpu); Yuyuan Zhi Lu, northwest of Jingan Temple (Jingan); and Zhapu Lu, north of Suzhou Creek and east of Sichun Bei Lu (Hongkou).
For all of Shanghai’s glamorous world-class restaurants located in the most modern of skyscrapers, some of the city’s best (not to mention cheapest) eating can be found on Shanghai’s streets.
At holes-in-the-wall or flimsy makeshift stalls about town, you can find everything from your average meat and vegetable buns and shaomai (glutinous rice dumplings) to Shanghai’s classic snacks like cong you bing (scallion pancakes), jiucai hezi (leek pie), xiaolong bao (pork-filled soup dumplings), to the Muslim influenced yangrou chuan (spicy grilled lamb skewers). A perennial favorite is shengjian bao, medium-sized buns filled with fatty ground pork, shallow-fried on the bottom then steamed, and sprinkled with sesame seeds and chives. You can eat it plain or dip it in black Zhenjiang vinegar. But the piece de résistance of Shanghai street food has to be jidan bing (egg pancake), a kind of local breakfast burrito. Batter is poured onto a hot round griddle to form a thin crepe. A fresh egg is added, along with a dash of bean paste, chili sauce, chives, finely diced pickled mustard greens, and the optional salty cruller (youtiao). The whole thing is then folded into a square or a roll and presto—a most tasty breakfast you won’t find back home.
Though these snacks are available on many a Shanghai street corner, those in the know head for the corner of Changle Lu and Xiangyang Lu, where you can find some of the best street breakfasts and snacks in town.
Shanghai’s area code is 021. In mainland China, all area codes begin with a zero, which is dropped when calling China from abroad. The entire area code can be dropped when making local calls.
Most government-rated four- and five-star hotels can provide babysitting service if you give them advance notice. Service is usually provided by hotel staff.
Banks, Currency Exchange
The most convenient place to exchange currency is your hotel, where the rates are similar to those at the Bank of China and exchange desks are often open 24 hours. Convenient Bank of China locations for currency exchange and credit card cash withdrawals are located on the Bund at the Bank of China building. The Bank of China’s business hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to noon and 1:30 to 4:30pm, and Saturday from 9am to noon.
Offices are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, although some still close at the lunch hour (about noon–1:30pm); a few maintain limited Saturday hours. Bank opening hours vary. Sights, shops, restaurants, and transportation systems offer the same service 7 days a week. Department stores are typically open from 10am to 10pm. Restaurants outside of hotels are generally open from 11:30am to 2pm and 5 to 9:30pm, while those catering to foreign visitors usually stay open later. The official closing time for bars is 2am, though some stay open later on weekends.
Doctors & Dentists
Shanghai has the most advanced medical treatment and facilities in China. The higher-end hotels usually have in-house or on-call doctors, but almost all hotels can refer foreign guests to dentists and doctors versed in Western medicine.
Though foreign visitors are not allowed to drive in China (a Chinese driving license is required), they still need to be aware of local driving rules for their own safety as pedestrians. And the rules are as follows: Cars, driven on the right side of the road in Shanghai.
Mandarin is the official language throughout China. However, while many Shanghainese speak Mandarin, you’re just as likely to hear locals conversing everywhere (shops, businesses, restaurants) in Shanghainese, which is as different from Mandarin as Cantonese is from English. Written Chinese, however, follows one standard script. English is still rarely spoken.
In general, always hail a passing cab if possible, as opposed to waiting for taxis that have been waiting for you. Opinions differ on the following point, but if you’re staying at an up market hotel in Shanghai, it is generally safe to go with the taxis called by the doormen, usually from a line of waiting cabs. It sometimes occurs that drivers give kickbacks to the doormen for being allowed to the head of the queue, but in my experience, I have not had nor have I heard of problems with hotel-hailed taxis. Some top hotels will give you a piece of paper with the taxi’s registration number on it in case of complaints, though there’s no guarantee of redress, of course. Some hotels restrict their waiting taxis to those from the Da Zhong Taxi Company, which has the best reputation in Shanghai for honest and efficient service.
Always have your destination marked on a map or written down in Chinese, as well as a business card from your hotel with the address in Chinese so you can show it to the taxi driver when you want to get back.
Check to see that the supervision card, which includes the driver’s photo and identification number, is prominently displayed, as required by law. If not, find another cab.
Make sure the meter is visible, and that you see the driver reset it by pushing down the flag, which should happen after the taxi has moved off. You should also hear at that time a voice recording in Chinese and English welcoming you to take the taxi. If the driver fails to reset the meter, say, “Qing dabiao,” and if that fails, find yourself another cab.
If traveling by yourself, sit up front and take out your map so you can follow (or at least pretend to follow) the taxi’s route. If you’re unwittingly riding with a driver who doesn’t know the way (and you only realize this after you’ve been driving in circles or if the driver has had to stop to ask directions), it’s best to find yourself another cab.
At the end of the trip, pay the indicated meter fare and no more. Be sure to get a receipt with the phone number of the taxi company and the taxi driver’s numerical identification, should you need to file a complaint or retrieve lost items. All the legitimate taxis are now equipped with meters that can print receipts.
Appropriate attire: The Shanghainese have a long held reputation of being fashion conscious and are, on the whole, a comparatively well-dressed bunch. For the worldly Shanghainese who’ve seen it all, foreigners tend to get a pass when it comes to attire anyway, so wear whatever you find comfortable. Chances are you’ll be out-dressed by the trendy fashion plates. When in doubt, err on the side of modesty even if some of the younger locals don’t. Business attire is similar to that in the West.
Gestures: The handshake is now commonplace, as is the exchange of business cards, so bring some along if you have them. Cards and gifts should be presented and received with both hands. Speaking a few words of Mandarin will go a long way in pleasing your host; you’ll be told you speak very well, to which the proper reply should be a self-effacing denial, even if you are fluent. When invited to someone’s house, never go empty-handed; always bring a small gift, even if it’s just some fruit picked up at the last minute at the corner store.
Avoiding offense: Causing someone to lose face is the surest way to offend, and should be avoided as much as possible. This means not losing your temper and yelling at someone in public.
Eating & drinking: If possible, master the use of chopsticks before you go. Chinese food is eaten family style with everyone serving themselves from several main dishes. As the guest, you’ll be served first; accept graciously. Then reciprocate the gesture by serving your host in return. Use the communal serving spoon(s) or chopsticks provided. Eat with your chopsticks, but don’t leave them sticking out of the bowl. Never criticize the food in front of your host. Your cup of tea will be constantly topped up. A Cantonese custom that has started to catch on in Shanghai is to acknowledge the pour by tapping your fingers lightly on the table. Feel free to top up other people’s cups of tea every now and then, though it’s likely that after the first time, your host will remove the teapot from your reach. If you’re invited to eat at someone’s home, never arrive empty-handed (fruit is always a fail-safe gift if you’re stuck for options), and take off your shoes at the entrance even if your host demurs. They’re merely being polite. If you’re invited to a banquet, expect a great deal of drinking. Toasts are usually made with baijiu (Chinese spirits), often to the tunes of “gan bei” (literally dry glass, the equivalent of “bottoms up”). If you can’t keep up, don’t drain your glass (for it will be filled up again quickly, sparking another round of drinking), but do return the toast, if necessary with beer, mineral water, or tea.
Shanghai, with one of the largest urban populations on Earth (almost 14 million permanent residents, plus over four million registered migrants), is divided by the Huangpu River into Pudong (east of the river) and Puxi (west of the river). For the traveler, the majority of Shanghai’s sights are still concentrated downtown in Puxi, whose layout bears a distinct Western imprint.
For the traveler, the two most important geographical markers are the Bund and People’s Square about a mile to the west. From here, downtown Shanghai opens to the west like a fan. Today’s practical and logistical center, however, is People’s Square, about a mile to the west of the Bund. This is the meeting point of Shanghai’s two main subway lines, as well as the location of some major attractions, including the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Art Museum, and Shanghai Grand Theatre. The Bund and People’s Square are linked by several streets, none more famous than Nanjing Lu, historically China’s number-one shopping street.
Southwest of the Bund is historic Nanshi, Shanghai’s old Chinese city, which was the first part of Shanghai to be settled. Nanshi used to have a city wall, which followed today’s Renmin Lu and Zhanghua Lu circle. As its name suggests, the old Chinese city has retained the greatest number of typically Chinese sights, such as the quintessential Southern-Chinese Garden, Yu Yuan, the famous Huxing Ting teahouse, several temples, and even part of the old city wall.
North Shanghai has a scattering of interesting sights, including the Jade Buddha Temple, the Lu Xun Museum, and the Moshe Synagogue; and south Shanghai has the Longhua Pagoda, Xuji hui Cathedral, Shanghai Botanical Garden, and the trendy cafes and shops of Hengshn Lu.
The district of Pudong, lying east of the Huangpu River, is all about Shanghai’s future. Mere farmland before 1990 when then-President Deng Xiaoping designated it as the engine of China’s new economic growth, Pudong has sprouted in just a decade to become the city’s financial center, and a high-tech and free trade zone, home to Asia’s largest shopping centers, longest bridges, and tallest buildings. Modern skyscrapers like the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Jin Mao Building, which houses the world’s highest hotel, the Grand Hyatt, and a new slew of swanky international hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls, are attempts to attract the visitor over to the eastern shore of the Huangpu.
Given the size of Shanghai and the overcrowded condition of its public buses, taxis and the subway become indispensable for any sightseer. Fortunately, both are relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, the number of vehicles on the street has multiplied at a much faster rate than roads are being built, so you are likely to be caught in a few traffic jams. Allow for extra time to get to your destination. An good alternative is to travel as many Shanghai residents do: by bicycle.
The Shanghai subway system, an inexpensive and fast way to cover longer distances. During morning and evening rush hours and on weekend afternoons, the system is so overburdened, it’s best to avoid riding the subway at those times.
With over 45,000 taxis in the streets, this is the most common means visitors use to get around Shanghai, though as in any urban metropolis, available taxis can be almost impossible to find during rush hour or when it rains. Taxis congregate at leading hotels but can just as easily—and indeed, should preferably be—hailed from street corners. The large majority of vehicles are fairly clean, air-conditioned, and reasonably comfortable Passat or Santana sedans. In recent years overall service has improved noticeably, and drivers more often than not will greet you and remind you to take all your items when you leave. All of this is in Chinese, of course, as few drivers speak English.
Public buses charge just ?1 or ?2 per ride, but they are less comfortable than taxis or the Metro.
The bicycle is still the main form of transportation for millions of Shanghai’s residents and is not so difficult for the visitor to manage if you stick to a few general principles, namely: Ride at a leisurely pace, stay with the flow, and use the designated bike lanes on the big streets. A bicycle remains one of the best ways to cover larger portions of Shanghai, especially its back streets, at your own pace. Unfortunately, most hotels don’t rent bikes. If you plan on doing a significant amount of cycling, consider buying a bicycle for a very basic bike without flashy accessories. One of the better places to purchase bicycles is a supermall like Carrefour.
Whether you rent or buy, be sure the brakes and tires are in good working order. You’ll also need a bicycle lock. Always park your bike in marked lots watched over by an attendant and lock your bike.
The best way to see Shanghai’s sights and experience life at street-level is on foot. Much like downtown New York or Tokyo, Shanghai’s streets can be almost impossibly crowded at times, but they are always fascinating to stroll.
Except for the windy, chilly winter months, Shanghai teems with tourists and business travelers, most notably May through October. July and August are unpleasantly hot and humid as a rule; locals often sleep on cots on the sidewalks to escape the pent-up heat of the day in their small apartments. Shanghai’s busiest tourist periods coincide with its mildest weather in the spring and fall. September and October are really the ideal times to visit, but they’re also popular times for meetings and conventions, leading to high hotel occupancy and uncompetitive room rates. To avoid the big crowds and still enjoy decent weather, the ideal time to visit is in late March or late October/early November. Besides the climate, the other major consideration in the timing of your visit should be the domestic Chinese travel season.
Shanghai, located on the 31st parallel north, has a climate comparable to that of the southeastern coast of the United States, except that Shanghai’s summer is hotter. Spring, from mid-March to mid-May, is mild but rainy. Summer, from mid-May to mid-September, is oppressively hot and humid. Winter, from mid-November to mid-March, is damp and chilly, but there is seldom snow and the daytime temperatures are usually above freezing. Autumn (Sept– Oct) is the most comfortable season, being neither too hot nor too rainy, but typhoon-propelled rains can strike in September.
National holidays observed in Shanghai with days off include New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Spring Festival/Chinese New Year (first day of the lunar calendar), Labor Day (May 1), and National Day (Oct 1). Domestic travel peaks during these last three holidays.
Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, is the most important holiday. Officially, it is a 5-day national holiday (expanded to 7 days when you include the weekend), meaning that on the first 3 days, banks, offices, and many workplaces are closed. In reality, the effects of this holiday are felt from 2 weeks before the date until 2 weeks after, as Chinese travel to and from their hometowns, which may be very far from their place of work. The 15th day of the New Year is marked by the Lantern Festival celebrations.
The other two busy periods for domestic travel are the weeks surrounding Labor Day (May 1), and National Day (Oct 1). Both holidays have been expanded to 7 days (including 1 weekend) to encourage Chinese to travel and shop. During these times, hundreds of millions of Chinese are on the move, especially at the beginning and end of the 7 days. While offices, banks, smaller restaurants, and some sights may be closed for part of each holiday period, you will find in Shanghai that hotels that normally cater to business travelers will offer significant discounts during those times.
Travelers in China should find it quite easy to check their e-mail and access the Internet on the road. In Shanghai, those still using dial-up access no longer need the local access number for their ISP. Cost is a little higher than that of a local call. Mainland China uses the standard U.S. RJ11 telephone jack, easily available at any of Shanghai’s major department stores and electrical shops. Electrical voltage in China is 220V, 50Mhz.
Those with on-board Ethernet can avail themselves of broadband services now available in many Shanghai hotels. It’s best to bring your own Ethernet cables, but hotels can usually provide them as well, either for free or for a small fee.
Wifi (wireless fidelity) has caught on quickly in Shanghai, with a number of the top business hotels now offering wireless “hot spots” in their lobbies, executive lounges, and boardrooms, from where anyone can get high-speed connection without cable wires if you have a wireless card installed on your computer. There are also many cafes and bars around town offering wifi.
Travelers with Disabilities
Most disabilities shouldn’t stop anyone from traveling. The situation is fractionally better in Shanghai: Sections of some major sidewalks are now equipped with “raised dots” to assist the blind; modern buildings and some major tourist sites have elevators; and a handful of top hotels have wheelchair-accessible rooms, but the bottom line is that Shanghai is a city of long stairways (even at most subway stations) and crowded sidewalks. Even so, most disabilities haven’t stopped travelers from making their way through the Shanghai obstacle course and enjoying its many sights.
Many hotels in Shanghai allow young children (usually under 12) to stay free with their parents, and some hotels provide babysitting service for a fee.
Probably more so than anywhere else in China, Shanghai has plenty of sights to dazzle and distract your children. For Western kids, there are many familiar fast-food and foreign-style eateries, several amusement and theme parks, a natural history museum, a children’s palace, the zoo, indoor playgrounds and toy stores in shopping centers, and plenty of parks for rowing, kite-flying, and in-line skating. As a rule, there are special discounts for children at museums and attractions, though discounts are given based on height, not age.
Student travelers, like visiting seniors, should not expect special rates or other discounts in Shanghai. A few attractions offer discounts to students, but you’ll have to produce a Chinese student identity card for that.
Check your existing insurance policies and credit card coverage before you buy travel insurance. You may already be covered for lost luggage, cancelled tickets, or medical expenses.
The cost of travel insurance varies widely, depending on the cost and length of your trip, your age and health, and the type of trip you’re taking, but expect to pay between 5% and 8% of the vacation itself. You can get estimates from various providers through InsureMyTrip.com. Enter your trip cost and dates, your age, and other information, for prices from more than a dozen companies.
Trip-cancellation insurance will help you retrieve your money if you have to back out of a trip or depart early, or if your travel supplier goes bankrupt.
Check with your individual health plan to see if it provides coverage for travel to China. In any event, consider purchasing travel insurance that includes an air ambulance or scheduled airline repatriation, but be clear as to the terms and conditions of repatriation. With several advanced clinics staffed by foreign doctors in Shanghai, travelers can expect a fairly high quality of health care, though avoid, if possible, regular Chinese hospitals. In the latter, you’ll have to you’re your bill upfront and in cash, and then only submit your claim after you’ve returned home. Be sure you have adequate proof of payment.
If you plan to check items more valuable than what’s covered by the standard liability, see if your homeowner’s policy covers your valuables, get baggage insurance as part of your comprehensive travel-insurance package, or buy Travel Guard’s “Bag Trak” product.
If your luggage is lost, immediately file a lost-luggage claim at the airport, detailing the luggage contents. Most airlines require that you report delayed, damaged, or lost baggage within 4 hours of arrival. The airlines are required to deliver luggage, once found, directly to your house or destination free of charge.
Festivals and celebrations are not numerous in Shanghai, and many are family affairs, but there are some opportunities to mix with the locals at city parks and other locations at annual public events.
Longhua Temple Fair (Longhua Miaohui): Beginning on the third day of the third lunar month, this 10-day temple fair, featuring an array of vendors, Buddhist worshippers, and local opera performers, dates from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Typically first or second week of April.
Tomb Sweeping Festival (Qing Ming Jie): This day honors the dead, which in Chinese communities overseas and some rural counties usually entails the sweeping of ancestral graves and the offering of food and wine to the departed. In Shanghai it usually means a mass run on the parks, where kite flying goes into high gear. April 5 on the Gregorian calendar; April 4 during leap years.
Labor Day: There’s little for the Shanghai tourist to do except shopping, shopping, and more shopping.
Shanghai Spring International Music Festival: One of many recent festivals instituted by Shanghai, this one usually runs for 2 weeks in mid-May and has attracted such performers as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Choir. It’s also when the “Golden Chime” award is given to China’s best music DJs.
Shanghai International Film Festival(Early June): Scores of international films are screened, providing many Chinese with a chance to see films they would ordinarily not be able to. Foreign films are usually dubbed into Chinese. An international jury judges competition films.
Formula One Grand Prix Racing: This glamorous event, held in the northwestern suburb of Anting, draws fans from around the world for 3 days of high-speed, high-adrenaline racing featuring the sport’s biggest names. Expect tickets and hotel rooms to be in short supply and very expensive. Usually early October.
Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiu Jie): Traditionally the time to read poetry under the full moon, but this festival, also known as the “Mooncake Festival,” is primarily celebrated by the eating of “mooncakes,” pastries with extremely rich sweet bean filling. Held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month (usually Sept).
Shanghai Biennale: With the art scene thriving in Shanghai, this relatively new festival held every 2 years showcases the works, sometimes highly experimental, of local and international artists at the Shanghai Art Museum and at various galleries and venues throughout the city. Usually October–November, even years.
Shanghai International Arts Festival: This wide-ranging annual festival (of quite recent origin) is expanding. The major shopping streets, parks, and tourist sites take turns hosting special events and performances, and rural areas put on various agricultural festivals. The venues and events change every year. Usually the month of November.
Longhua Temple Bell-Ringing: On New Year’s Eve in the Gregorian calendar (Dec 31), crowds gather at Longhua Temple to pray for good fortune as the bell is struck 108 times during a special midnight Buddhist service. Fireworks, dragon and lion dances, folk art shows, and music go on into the wee hours.
Spring Festival/Chinese New Year (Chun Jie): This is the time when Chinese return to their hometowns for family get-togethers, to visit friends, to settle the year’s debts, to visit temples to pray for prosperity in the coming year, and to decorate their homes with red paper (signifying health and prosperity). Parks and temples hold outdoor celebrations and put on markets, the best places for tourists to visit.
Lantern Festival (Deng Jie, sometimes called Yuanxiao Jie): On the 15th day after Chinese New Year, on the first full moon, people used to parade through town with paper lanterns, while parks and temples displayed more elaborate and fanciful lanterns, all accompanied by fireworks and folk dances. In Shanghai in recent years, there’s been a minor revival of sorts, especially around the Yu Yuan Old Town Bazaar, but Shanghainese mostly mark the occasion by eating yuanxiao (glutinous rice balls with sweet stuffing). This always falls 15 days after the Spring Festival.
Guanyin’s Birthday: Held on the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month, about 50 days after Chinese New Year, in honor of the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, this is a good opportunity to visit one of the Buddhist temples in Shanghai and join in the celebrations.
Western Festivals in Shanghai
Christmas has become an increasingly popular holiday in Shanghai, celebrated at hotels and restaurants with large dinner parties. As commercial a holiday as it is in the West, Valentine’s Day has caught on with a vengeance, with hotels and international restaurants offering room and dining packages that would have Cupid working overtime. Western New Year’s has not caught on to the same extent, although Longhua Temple has become the place to literally ring in the new year. St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween are celebrated by locals and expatriates at the cafes, bars, and discos.
Visitors must have a valid passport with a 6-month validity beyond the date of arrival and two blank pages remaining.
All visitors to mainland China (but not the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau) are required to have a visa. Tour groups are usually issued a group visa, with the paperwork handled by the travel agency (check with your agent). Individual travelers should apply for visas from your nearest Chinese embassy or consulate. Contact information for all Chinese embassies and consulates can be found at www.fmprc.gov.cn/ng. Some consulates require in-person applications while others allow applications by post or courier with extra charges. Visas are typically processed in 3 to 5 business days, though 1-day service is possible if you apply in person and pay extra fees.
The most common type of visa is the single-entry “L” tourist visa, usually good for 30 days, though you can request a longer validity period. Your request may not always be granted, and in some cases, you may be asked to produce supporting documentation (such as a travel agent– issued itinerary or an airline ticket with a return date). If you’re going to be leaving and then returning to mainland China, apply for a double-entry visa. There is also a multiple-entry 6-month visa, but these are significantly more difficult to come by (requiring mounds of documentation) in most countries except in Hong Kong. Visas are typically valid for 1 to 3 months after the date of issue.
To apply for a visa, you must complete an application form, which you can request by mail or download from the various consular websites. Also required is one passport photo per individual traveler (including a child traveling on a parent’s passport).
The top commercial street in China—Nanjing Lu—is a must for every traveler. Huaihai Zhonglu is an elegant commercial cultural street which attracts lots of urban folk going after fashion and lifestyle. Sichuan Beilu is a shopping street famous for quality goods at reasonable prices. Modern Xujiahui Commercial Circle and Yuyuan Commercial Town are the central shopping areas in Shanghai. Fuzhou Lu Cultural Street, Dongtai Lu Antique Street, Shimen Lu Fashion Street, Qipu Lu Fashion Market, Fengyang Lu Knitted Sweater Market, Huangjiaque Lu Flower and Bird Market, Liuhe Lu Craftwork Market, Quyang Home Appliances Street, Xizang Zhonglu Domestic Travel Street, Yunzhou Commercial Plaza Stamp Market, and other featured streets make Shanghai an interesting and exciting city.
Stretching from the Bund in the east to Yan’an Xilu in the west with a total length of 5.5 kilometers, Nanjing Lu is divided by Xizang Zhonglu into east and west sections. As the earliest commercial street established after Shanghai’s opening to the outside world as a commercial port, it became the most prosperous street in Shanghai in the 1920s. In 1999, the section between Henan Zhonglu and Xizang Zhonglu was redeveloped as the first 24-hour Pedestrian Street in China. The Pedestrian Street is 1,033 meters long, with a 4.2 meter wide marble pedestrian zone, furnished with chairs, statutes, planters, newsstands, and other public amenities. There is an open air stage at the 880-square-meter Century Square. Above the stage, there is a large electronic display of about 288 square meters; there are also three sculptures based on the theme of tourism and shopping, namely, “A family of three”, “Young lady”, and “Mother and daughter”. There are several hundred modern commercial plazas, time-honored Chinese stores, and famous specialty stores along Nanjing Lu. The daily pedestrian volume amounts to millions. Leading Chinese enterprises such as Shanghai No. 1 Department Store, Yong An Company, Shanghai First Provision Store, New World and Hengyuanxiang, Baromon West-style Clothes Store, Laomiao Gold and Silver Store, Itokin, Shanghai Silk Store, Maochang Optical Store, Sun Ya Cantonese Restaurant, and Shanghai No. 1 Dispensary make up a commercial showcase in Shanghai, gathering the best goods from all countries. Tourists can also enjoy a wide variety of delicious food here after their shopping spree.
Called “Avenue des Champs Elysees” of China, it is about six kilometers long. There are 400 stores with products from all around the world. Such famous stores as Paris Spring, Maison Mode Department Store, Huating Isetan, Parkson, No. 2 Department Store Yongxin, and Pacific Department Store Huaihai Branch showcase top international brands, making the city an international shopping paradise best known for its unsurpassed workmanship and quality in clothes, shoes, and hats. The stores here are elegantly decorated in European, American, Chinese, and European styles.
Yuyuan Commercial Town
This is a tourist and shopping center, encompassing commercial activities within a historical site. Commodity Street, Wenchang Lu Jewellery, and Craftwork Street, Fangbangzhong Lu Shanghai Old Street, and other commercial streets, along with specialty stores such as Tong-han-chun-tang Traditional Chinese Medicine Store, Yongqing Wig Store, Shanghai Old Restaurant Hotel, and Lubolang Restaurant, speak of the charm of bygone days. Along Commodity Street are traditional stores which are small, local, special, famous, and sell quality. There are time-honored Chinese stores with a long history that exist side by side with specialty stores (e.g. Chopsticks Store, Walking Stick Store, Bottle Cork Store). It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 varieties of commodities in the dozens of municipal and district specialty stores within this area.
Shanghai No. 1 Department Store
Situated at Nanjing Donglu, it is the first state-run department store set up in Shanghai after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. With six floors in total and a business area of 21,400 square meters, it mainly deals in more than 40,000 varieties of daily necessities, costumes, textiles, leather goods, shoes, etc. It ranks first in China in terms of annual sales turnover. In 1996, the store obtained ISO 9000 certification, the certification of Shanghai Audit Center of Quality System, and became the first commercial enterprise to be awarded the ISO 9002 quality system certification in China.
Yong An Company:
Situated at Nanjing Donglu, it became state-run Shanghai No. 10 Department Store in 1956 and was renamed Hualian Commercial Building in 1988. Since it was rebuilt in 1994, it has become a large modern department store in Shanghai, ranking among the top three throughout the country for years in a row in terms of turnover. The name “Yong An Company” was restored in April 2005.
Situated on the bank of Huangpu River, it adjoins the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Jin Mao Tower. Known as the pioneer in lifestyle products as well as the icon of new-era commerce, this plaza, with 240,000 square meters of shopping space, houses the most reputable Chinese and foreign brands and offers delicious food and various entertainments.
Situated at Huaihai Zhonglu, it is a large Shanghai-Hong Kong joint venture commercial retail store. Designed and managed by Paris Printemps, it combines the best of French general merchandise, the sophistication of Shanghai consumerism, and Hong Kong entrepreneurial spirit. With a total floor area of 21,000 square meters, it showcases famous international brands of high and medium grade, focusing on cosmetics, costumes, and home furnishings from Italy, France, Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong. World famous brands are exhibited and marketed on the fifth floor.
No. 1 Yaohan
Situated at Zhangyang Lu in Lujiazui of Pudong, it was the first large Sino-Japanese joint venture retail enterprise to be approved by the State Council, and is currently also the biggest general merchandise retail enterprise in Asia. It is located in New Century Commercial Building. With a total floor area of 144,000 square meters, it has ten floors with commercial areas of nearly 110,000 square meters. It is positioned to showcase medium niche goods with plans to shift toward the high end and introduce new brands to satisfy the increasing customer demand.
Lotus Supermarket Chain Stores
It is the largest integrated supermarket offering the entire range of goods in Shanghai at present. It sells more than 30,000 varieties of vegetables, and fresh foods. It has set up stores at Wuzhong Lu in Minhang District, Caoan Lu in Putuo District, Wenshui Lu in Zhabei District, Zhoujiazui Lu in Yangpu District, Lujiabang Lu in Huangpu District as well as Century Avenue, Tangqiao, Shangnan Lu, and Yanggao Lu in Pudong New Area, etc.
Established by Shanghai Hualian Supermarket Commercial Company and French Carrefour Supermarket Group in 1995, it has set up stores such as Quyang Store, Baoshan Store, Jinqiao Store, Wuning Store, Gubei Store, and South Mart Store.
Jointly established by A.S. Watson and Shanghai Luwan District Non-staple Food Company, Parkson Shop lays great emphasis on the sale of fresh foods. With 40% of the business area of the shop used to sell vegetables, meat, fowls, eggs, and fish, it is a supermarket boasting the widest variety amongst all supermarkets in Shanghai, with fresh food sales accounting for the lion’s share of its sales volume.
If you want to travel to Shanghai, maybe book cheap tickets here.
Shanghai tea houses lay great emphasis on cultural ambience. Situated at Xiwen Lu in Zhabei District, Old House Tea Shop is built, in the style of the Ming and Qing dynasties, where an old workshop of more than 100 square meters used to stand. Everything within view, from its layout to tea trays and display items, is classic and elegant.
Generally, these tea houses are simple and elegant or are done in popular fashion, with a modern twist to the traditional building decor. The Hong Kong and Taiwan style black tea houses stand out with their modern ambience and distinct regional cultural characteristics. In addition, there are also other styles of tea houses in Shanghai, such as Korean, European, and American.
Today, pubs are gaining increasing popularity. The pubs in Shanghai fall into three categories. First, campus pubs. Located mainly in the northeast corner of Shanghai, they are patronized by students from Fudan and Tongji Universities, and are centered on Wujiaochang, Jiangwan. Other than the ones mentioned above, there are Noble Bachelor Pub, Black Box, Intimate Partners and Sweetheart. Second, music pubs. They concentrate at Huaihai Zhonglu. Examples are Blue & Jazz at Sinanlu, Jecalli Mama at Ruijinerlu, Scotland Pub at Huaihai Zhonglu, Dinosaur World at Maoming Beilu, Yan’an Zhonglu, and Hongfan Theme Music Restaurant. These pubs pursue ambience and acoustics, and come with high-end imported audio equipment for frequent band performances. Third, commercial pubs. Mainly distributed in highend hotels and such major commercial streets as Nanjing Lu and Huaihai Zhonglu as well as the area along the river at the Bund, they replicate the cozy and relaxing atmosphere of Western pubs, the most famous of which include the Dream Bar on the 39th floor of Hilton Hotel Shanghai.
The Shanghai people have a long-standing passion for coffee. Nowadays, diverse cafes in Shanghai satisfy the needs of a wide range of people. All coffee chains in Shanghai, whether American or Italian, remind people more or less of fast food culture. Those who prefer personalized services tend to choose boutique cafes.
Shanghai is the place where the eight major schools and 16 subschools of Chinese cuisines converge. Huibang food led the way and entered Shanghai toward the end of Qing dynasty, giving rise to more than ten restaurants such as the Qicui and Tongqing noted for their wonton duck and blood soup. This was followed by the Suxi School known for its Taihuchuan food. By the 1930–40s, the following had emerged in Shanghai: the Benbang (Shanghai), Beijing, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Yangzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Fujian, Sichuan, Anhui, Chaozhou, and Hunan culinary schools, as well as vegetarian and Muslim cuisines. In addition, French, Italian, German, American, Japanese, Russian, and other western cuisines were introduced into the metropolis. Restaurants with foreign culinary styles have become a unique feature in Shanghai.
Shanghai cuisine originated from home cooking. It is affordable and renowned for the technique of braising in soy sauce, its heavy taste (oily and sweet), and its bright colors. There is an extensive range of ingredients including various melons, fruits, vegetables, sea foods, and venison, as well as other wild game. The focus is on live, raw, and fresh materials marinated with salty, sweet, wine, and sour seasonings. In recent years, with people getting more and more health conscious, the tradition of making and eating thickly oily and heavily seasoned dishes has changed somewhat. These days, the focus is on freshness and a slight sweet taste. Famous dishes include sautéed sea cucumbers with shrimp roe, braised ham with honey, shark’s fin with tender chicken, steamed rock-fish, hot-dipped Crucian carp with clam, Shanghai sautéed prawns, and so on. Major restaurants include Tak Hing Restaurant, Baihuayuan Restaurant, Xi’s Garden, Lulu Restaurant, and Shanghai Royal Garden Cuisine.
Traditional Beijing food is mainly influenced by imperial fare that is characterized by the varied ways of preparing pork and mutton. The Shanghainese are born with a sweet tooth and sugar is generally used in Beijing restaurants too, giving rise to the Shanghai style of Beijing cuisine. Typical dishes include scallion-flavored sea cucumbers, fried lamb tripe, braised pork with tomato, and so on. Yan Yun Restaurant is a restaurant with a history of 50 years. Peking Restaurant and China Garden Restaurant Cookeville are also popular. In addition, the world renowned Beijing duck restaurant Quanjude Restaurant Inc. has established a Shanghai branch, too.
Cantonese cuisine uses ingredients that focus on seafood in summer. Specialties include roast suckling pig, beef in oyster sauce, and snake cooked with Eight Treasures. The Cantonese restaurants famous in Shanghai include Sun Ya Cantonese Restaurant, Xing Hua Lou, Pearl River Restaurant, Maxim’s Restaurant, etc.
Sichuan food is characterized by pepper, Chinese prickly ash, and soy sauce as the main seasonings. This results in Sichuan cooking combining sour, sweet, spicy hot, garlicky, and other unusual flavors. With its varied styles and tastes, Sichuan food enjoys a good following worldwide. In order to adapt to the palates of the Shanghai people, some modifications have been made and this has also resulted in a localized Sichuan food. Typical dishes include duck braised with taro, bean curd ala pocket, fish with sour pickled cabbage, shredded pork with spicy garlic sauce, chicken with special spicy sauce, gongbao chicken, and so on. Famous restaurants include the Mei Long Zhen, Luyangcun, Baguobuyi, Chuan Guo Yan Yi, J & J Sichuan, and Tony Sichuan Restaurant.
Huaiyang Food is a sub-set of Jiangsu cuisine, mainly employing such cooking methods as double-boiling, stewing, braising, baking, roasting, frying, deep-frying, and smoking. The cooking aims at bringing out the original and fresh flavor, light without being flat, oily without being greasy. Specialties include crystal shrimp (shrimps in egg white), diced fish with pine nut, fast-fried eel, and three ducks. Famous restaurants include Yangzhou Restaurant and Lau Phua Chay Restaurant.
Suxi Food is a combination of Suzhou and Wuxi cooking. Cooking methods mainly include double-boiling, stewing, and braising. It is particularly good at preparing river fish and shrimps, lake crabs, and vegetables. In addition to the original Suxi flavors, this cuisine also has modified versions to suit the local palate. Specialties include beggar’s chicken (baked chicken), shrimps with crispy rice crust, crispy eel, quail eggs with pork, and duck web. Famous restaurants include the Renmin, Dongfeng, Wuxing Garden restaurants.
Hangzhou cooking enjoys the highest reputation within the Zhejiang Cuisine. It has the following characteristics: fresh, tender, fragrant, crispy, soft, and not greasy. Typical dishes include West Lake fish in vinegar, water shield soup, Dongpo pork, Longjing shrimp, and so on. Famous restaurants include Xin Kai Yuan Hotel, Hangzhou Louwailou Hotel, Xihurenjia Restaurant, and Zhangshengji Hotel.
The Anhui cuisine embraces the cooking styles of southern Anhui and the area along the Yangtze and Huai Rivers, with the former being predominant. It emphasizes the use of oil, fire temperature, and resultant appearance, and the flavor is complemented with ham and sugar candy. The technique of double-boiling is adopted for famous delicacies of every description. Modifications have been incorporated into traditional methods, reducing the use of oil and emphasizing presentation. Typical dishes include grape fish, Huizhou meat balls, Huangshan double-boiled chicken, and famous restaurants include Dafugui Restaurant among others.
Hunan food is characterized by its sour and spicy taste, and mostly the food is numbing-hot, sour, spicy, and pungent. Popular dishes include double-boiled shark’s fin, sugar candy lotus, and mashed pepper fish head. Popular restaurants include the Hunan Gourmet, Sanxiangyuan, and Aiwanting Hunan restaurants.
Muslim food is also a major cuisine in China, consisting of various local Muslim fares. There are many cooking methods such as fry, quick-fry, deep-fry, instant-boil, stew, and braise. For instance, different cooking methods have been created for the various parts of the sheep, such as big cuts, stir fry, deep-fry, and braise. Typical dishes include hot-dipped sliced mutton, roast mutton, mutton soup, beef soup, and so on. Famous restaurants include Hongchangxing Muslim Mutton Restaurant and Yimenshan Mutton Soup Restaurant.
Vegetarian dishes are prepared from bean curd, dried bean rolls, starch, and mushroom. Carefully prepared seasonings and superior cooking techniques make the mock stuff taste and look like the real McCoy. Specialties include fried “eel” paste, fried “shrimp,” and “duck” stuffed with “Eight-Treasures.” Famous restaurants include Gongdelin Vegetable Food Restaurant, Restaurant of Jade Buddha Temple, and Longhua Restaurant.
Restaurants serving Western food offer another alternative. Currently, five major styles have emerged, namely French, American, Russian, German, and Italian styles. Each has its own characteristics and cooking methods. For instance, the French style emphasizes the use of the right ingredients with refined cooking techniques. The American style, on the other hand, relies on diversified seasonings, with fruits as supplements, and is sweet and salty at the same time. By contrast, the Russian style uses much oil and carries a somewhat heavy taste, relying on milk. The German style is again different in its use of ingredients and cooking techniques, and the result is a fresh taste. The Italian style draws out the original flavors, while being moderately sour and sweet with a unique fragrance.
Hongqiao, Shuicheng Lu, Xianxia Lu, and Yan’an Xilu are where Western restaurants concentrate the most in Shanghai. Star Hotels in Jing’an and Luwan Districts serve Western cuisine, too. Major German restaurants are Deda Western Restaurant and Rossini; French restaurants include HFZ Gourmet & Lounge, Maxim’s Restaurant, and Bandi Restaurant; Italian restaurants include Cappuccino and Da Vinci’s. Japanese restaurants are Kiki Huaihai Restaurant, Sumo Sushi, Japanese Diner and Bar, and so on. Korean restaurants include the Seoul Restaurant, Hangang Restaurant, Golden Bridge Korean Restaurant, and Arirang Korean Restaurant.
In addition to the mainstream cuisines described above, there is also a wide range of local snacks. Favorites include crab shell cake, Gaoqiao muffin, crabapple cake, Nanxiang Xiaolongbao, rice cake with pork ribs, noodles with scallion oil, Xiaoshaoxing chicken porridge, Peking macaroni with meat, chicken, and duck blood, black sesame soft ball, sweet and cold dumplings, dumplings resembling pigeon’s eggs, etc.
Crab shell cake is crispy with stuffing made from fermented dough with oil. It is called crab shell cake because of its appearance. Restaurants serving this are the Wangjiasha, Da Hu Chun, and Wuyuan Restaurants. Gaoqiao muffin is made with refined flour, processed lard, soft white sugar, red beans, and scented osmanthus. Crabapple cake is baked in special mold. Similar to crabapple in shape, the cake is fragrant and soft.
Nanxiang Xiaolongbao is a traditional, popular snack that originated in the suburban Nanxiang Town. Restaurants in the city include Nanxiang Xiaolongbao in Yuyuan Commercial Town, and Guyiyuan Pastry Shop at the intersection of Yan’an Donglu and Xizang Lu. The restaurants known for rice cake in pork ribs include Xiaochangzhou at the intersection of Fuzhou Zhonglu and Sichuan Zhonglu; and Xiandelai Pastry Shop on the north side of Guangming Middle School at the intersection of Jinling Donglu and Xizang Nanlu. Among restaurants serving noodles with scallion oil is Canglangting. For Peking macaroni with meat you can try the Qiaojiazha Pastry Shop, while chicken and duck blood soup is popular at Songsheng Pastry Shop. The popular shop for black sesame soft ball is Qiaojiazha Pastry Shop. For sweet and cold dumplings resembling pigeon eggs, you can head for the Guihuating Pastry Shop.
Various department stores in Shanghai set up food areas. The well known ones include Underground Snack Center of the People’s Square, Acer Recreation Square, Jing’an Temple Square, the top floor of New Century Department Store, and the top floor of Pacific Department Store.
There are also a number of “gourmet streets” that are very popular with tourists. The famous ones include World’s Great Gourmet Street at Yunnan Nanlu and Snack Street at Huanghelu in addition to those at Zhapulu, Wujianglu, Tianyaoqiao Lu, Xianxia Lu, and Guling Lu.
Along with the increasingly heavy traffic flow to and from the neighboring regions, many restaurants have cropped up along highways. Examples include Jinyueyucun Restaurant, Yundu Seafood Town, and Tiantian Seafood Restaurant lining the National Highway 318 leading to Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
Amongst the top ten world fast food companies, KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Yoshinoya, Discos, Cafe de Coral, Yonghe’s, and Kenny Rogers Roasters have taken up their market share in Shanghai. Local food companies, including Xinya Dabao’s joint venture with Café de Coral Hong Kong, have also risen to the challenge. Daniang Dumpling, Luck Wonton, Panfried Dumpling, Nanxiang Xiaolongbao, and Suzhou Dim Sum have found their own followers.
Also called St. Ignatius Cathedral, it is located at No. 158, Puxi Lu, Xuhui District. In 1847, it was established by Fr. Claude Gotteland SJ. In 1906, work on the grand church (the current Catholic Church) commenced to the east of the old church and was completed in 1910. The new church door faces east and the layout resembles a “T”. The church is a typical Gothic building with bell towers 51 meters high. There are 64 principal columns, each of which is made up of ten pillars. There are 19 altars in all, with the large central altar arriving from Paris on the Easter of 1919. The church is decorated with exquisite religious paintings, sculptures, and stained glass. Numerous believers congregate here for the Mass every week, especially on Sundays and Catholic holidays. In 1989, the cathedral was listed as one of the key cultural relics for protection of Shanghai.
Church of Our Lady of Zose
The church is located the peak of Xishe Mountain, Songjiang District, and was built in 1871. It was rebuilt in 1935. The rebuilt church was in the latest Roman style and shaped like a cross, 56 meters from west to east and 25 meters from south to north. The tower is 38 meters high, and is topped with a 25-meter-high figure of the Madonna.
The Joseph Church, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Lutheran Church, and St. Mary’s Church are built around the surrounding mountainside. Along the mountainous route to the top of mountain, there are 14 pavilions and statues recalling the road to Calvary for worshippers. Many believers from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and elsewhere make their pilgrimage here in the spring every year.
The Church of My Lady of Zose is the most magnificent amongst the existing Catholic churches of the Jesuits. In 1989, it was nominated as a key cultural relic for protection of Shanghai.
The church is located at No. 316, Xizang Zhonglu, Huangpu District. In 1887, Edward Selby Little, a missionary, established a church on Yunnan Lu (Yunnan Zhonglu now). In 1900, to recognize the endowment of the Moore family, the church was renamed Moore Memorial Church. The new church building was erected on Xizang Lu (now Xizang Zhonglu) in 1926. It was designed by a Hungarian architect in the Gothic style and its bell tower has seven floors with a rotating cross decorated with neon lights at the top. It was renamed Mu’en Church in 1958.
Besides the usual religious ceremonies, the church celebrates other special occasions, such as the Sabbath on Saturdays, the monthly communion, thanksgiving, weddings, and memorials. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of Shanghai and the Shanghai Administrative Commission of the Protestant Churches are located within this church. In 1993, the church was accepted as one of the Shanghai key cultural relics for protection.
The Community Church is located at No. 53, Hengshan Lu, Xuhui District. In 1920, a church was established on Route Doumer (currently Donghu Lu) and named International Cooperation Church. In 1923, a new building was constructed along Avenue Petain (currently Hengshan Lu) to replace the old one and was renamed Community Church. The church was completed in 1925. It is built in the style of an English country church, in an L-shape. The church has a roof with a scissor-shaped wooden structure. Arched corridors flank both wings of the church and the arched windows are encased with special glass panes. On the left wing of the church, there is a three-floor building, which houses the pastors’ offices, children’s houses with some small chapels located on every floor. This, the largest Protestant church in Shanghai, attracts many believers with its solemn sermons and beautiful music. At the same time, many Chinese nationals from abroad and foreigners living in Shanghai worship here too. There are special services in English held on Sundays. In 1989, it was nominated as one of the key cultural relics for protection of Shanghai.
Shanghai White Cloud Taoist Temple
The temple is located at No. 239, Dajing Lu, Huangpu District. In 1874, Taoist Wang Mingzhen from the Hangzhou Xianzhen Taoist Temple set up the Leizu Palace in the Xinqiao Chaoyang Building outside the northern entrance of Shanghai (Beihai Lu, Zhejiang Zhonglu now). In 1882, the hall was relocated to the south of Wansheng Bridge outside the western entrance of Shanghai (No.8, Nong 100, Xilin Houlu, Huangpu District now). In 1888, 8,000 or more volumes of the Ming dynasty edition of the Taoist Canon were brought into the temple, which was then renamed the White Cloud Temple. Gradually, the Taoist temple established its prestige among the Quanzhen School. In June 2003, the temple was relocated to its present premises.
The new temple, built in the styles of the Ming and Qing dynasties, covers an area of 1,560 square meters on a site of nsome 2,225 square meters. The temple is made up of the Lingxiao Heavenly Palace, the Lingguan Palace, the Palace for the King of Medicine, the Founder’s Palace, the Leizu Palace, the Palace for the God of Fortune, and the Goddess Palace, as well as two-floor wing-rooms, offices, and residential units.
Shanghai Chenghuang Temple
The temple is located at No. 249, Fangbang Zhonglu, Huangpu District. At one time, it was named the Golden Mountain God Temple and offerings were made here to Huo Guang, Marquis of Bolu. In 1403–1424, the temple was rebuilt as the Town God (Chenghuang) Temple to offer sacrifices to Qin Yubo, town god of Shanghai. Sacrifices are still offered to Huoguang, Jinshan God at the front palace.
In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the complex was expanded several times. The arch in front of the temple, established in 1535, was inscribed with “Guardian of Shanghai.” Between the grand palace and the secondary palace, there is a pathway. Many stone sculptures of sentries stand guard on both sides of the pathway.
In 1924, the grand hall and the east tower were burned down in a big blaze. Huang Jinrong and Du Yuesheng raised funds to rebuild that temple. The rebuilt Chenghuang Temple is a reinforced concrete structure but still bears old styles, complete with flying eaves and colorful beams and pillars. For a long time, the Town God Temple has remained one of the most popular sites for people to offer their sacrifices.
The mosque is located at No. 52, Xiaotaoyuan Jie, Huangpu District. The mosque was established by Muslims in Shanghai in 1917. A small peach blossom garden (Xiaotaoyuan in Chinese) was said to have existed near that mosque, and hence the name of Xiaotaoyuan Mosque. It is also called the Shanghai Xicheng Mosque. As the biggest mosque in Shanghai, the mosque includes a large Religious Service Hall with a square layout, on which stands an Islamic style pavilion with four corners and a pole crowned with a crescent symbol. Currently, the Shanghai Islamic Association is housed within the mosque, which has become the International Islamic Exchange Center of Shanghai. In 1994, the mosque was listed among the Shanghai architectural protection units. In 2000, the Xiaotaoyuan Mosque was designated as a cultural relic for protection in the Huangpu District.
This mosque is located at No. 3, Lane 1328, Changde Lu, Putuo District. It was established in 1921 by some Muslims. It was rebuilt on a new site in 1990. The mosque covers an area of 1,667 square meters, with a covered area of 1,125 meters. Its main building is made up of a two-floor Religious Service Hall with the double-arched door and the fan-shaped vault. In addition, there is a 25-meter minaret as well as a Sermon Hall, the Imam’s Residence, a reception room, and ablution rooms for men and women. Several fountains decorate both the dooryard and backyard. Numerous domes and crescent symbols, which characterize Islamic architecture, can be seen everywhere.
Jade Buddha Temple
The Jade Buddha temple is located at No. 170, Anyuan Lu, Putuo District. In 1882, Monk Hui Gen of Putuo Mountain acquired five jade Buddha statues from Myanmar. En route home via Shanghai, he left a seated Buddha and a reclining Buddha in the small temple of Sheng Xuanhuai’s family in Jiangwan Town.
Today, the temple’s front yard includes three halls, namely the Heavenly King Hall, the Grand Hall, and the Abbot’s Residence. The Jade Buddha Tower is situated at the Abbot’s Residence and the seated jade Buddha is preserved in this tower. The Reclining Buddha Hall here houses the reclining jade Buddha. The modern Juequn Building, located in the backyard, consists of the multifunction auditorium, guest rooms, office areas, teaching area, and dormitories. The Shanghai Buddhist Association is also housed in the building. In 1983, the temple was designated as one of the major temples for Han Chinese by the State Council.
The Longhua temple is situated at No. 2853, Longhua Lu, Xuhui District. It is said that temple was constructed during 238–251 AD. In the early Northern Song period, Qian Shuhong, leader of Wuyue Kingdom, issued an edict for the temple to be rebuilt. Because the Maitreya (Buddha of the Future) became a Buddha under a nagapushpa (Longhua in Chinese) tree, the temple came to be known as the Longhua Temple. In 1064, it was renamed the Kongxiang Temple; the name of Longhua Temple was restored in the Qing dynasty.
The Longhua Temple, one of the biggest temples in Shanghai, has a Maitreya Hall, a Heavenly King Hall, a Grand Hall, a Three Saints’ Hall, the Abbot’s Residence, and a Library of Buddhist Scriptures as well as a Bell Tower in the east and a Drum Tower in the west. A bronze bell, measuring three meters high, with a diameter of 1.3 meters and engraved with black dragons, is hung in the Bell Tower. The “Longhua Bell that tolls at Dusk” is one of “eight well-known scenes of Shanghai.” A giant drum, with a diameter of 1.7 meters, is set in the Drum Tower, while the Kwan-yin Hall and the Abbot’s Hall are located in the east and west respectively.
There are also the Fragrant Building and a peony garden to the east of the Abbot’s House as well as the Three Saints’ Hall. A 100-year-old peony plant, which once grew beside Lu Zhishen’s tomb in the Donglin Temple in Hangzhou, was moved here in 1950. In 1983, the State Council listed the temple as one of the major temples for Han Chinese.
The Jing’an temple, located at No. 1686, Nanjing Xilu, Jing’an District, is believed to have been built in 247 AD. Originally, it was named the Huduzhongyuan Temple and the Yongtai Temple in the Tang dynasty. In 1008, it was given its current name. In 1216, the temple was relocated from the northern bank of Wusong River to the area adjacent to the Feijingbang Brook. In 1880, Monk He Feng, abbot of the temple, raised the funds to rebuild the Mountain Gate and the Grand Hall. Subsequently, some other structures were added and the whole complex was reconstructed. In 1919, the Feijingbang Brook was filled up and the Bubbling Well Road (currently Nanjing Xilu) was built. The temple started off under the Chan School. In March 1947, after Chi Song took over as abbot, the temple developed esoteric practices. In 1953, the Shingon School (esoteric sect) altar was set to revive the movement which had disappeared during the Tang dynasty.
The huge Jing’an Temple complex comprises the Mountain Gate, the Heavenly King Hall, the Three Saints’ Hall, the Merits and Virtues Hall, and the Abbot’s residence. The construction of the Grand Hall was completed in May 1991. A lay Singaporean Buddhist donated a Buddha sculpture of Burmese jade, 3.87 meters tall and weighing 11 tons, to the temple. It was the biggest jade Buddha at the time. Toward the beginning of 21st century, the Jing’an Temple was expanded to cover an area of over 10,000 square meters. In 1959, it was listed among Shanghai’s key cultural relics for protection. In 1983, it was designated as one of major temples for Han Chinese by the State Council.
Yuanming Buddhist Rites Hall
The Yuanming Buddhist Rites Hall, one of the most important Shanghai platforms of the Pure Land sect, is located at No. 434, Yan’an Xilu, Jing’an District. It was founded in the autumn of 1934 by Master Yuang Ying, a well known monk at that time. He organized weekly gatherings for chanting scriptures at the lotus pool. In 1940, he set up meetings for interpreting Yuanming Buddhist scriptures and published over 20 kinds of Buddhist scriptures. In 1945, he established a Buddhist college. Due to the small size of the Hall, larger halls were built for preaching Buddhist scriptures.
The Master Yuang Ying Memorial Hall is located on the second floor of the Hall for Preaching Buddhist Scriptures. Also on display in the memorial hall are pictures and objects reflecting Buddhist scriptures, as well as the master’s relics, articles, and works. In 1983, it was designated as one of the major temples for Han Chinese by the State Council.
The Chenxiangge Nunnery is located at No. 29, Chenxiangge Lu, Huangpu District. In 1600, while supervising the project for harnessing the Huai River, Pan Yunduan found an exquisite Kwanyin figure and sent it to Shanghai. He then built a nunnery dedicated to her. Because the Kwan-yin figure was made of sandalwood (Chenxiang in Chinese), the nunnery was named Chenxiangge. At present, the nunnery consists of the Heavenly King Hall, the Grand Hall, the Kwan-yin Hall, the Buddhist Hall, and the Master Ying Ci Memorial Hall. Classes for nuns are held in the temple which has become one of the biggest nunneries in China. In 1981, the nunnery was acknowledged one of the first major temples for Han Chinese by the State Council.
Situated south of the Yangtze River, Shanghai has many festivals and customs in common with the region around it. For example, the people of Shanghai eat dumplings made of glutinous rice on Chinese New Year’s Day, green dumplings during the Clear and Bright Festival, zongzi (dumplings made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves) during the Dragon Boat Festival, moon cakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival, glutinous rice cakes during the Double Ninth Festival, and dumplings or rice cakes on New Year’s Eve. Since Shanghai opened up to the outside world as a commercial port, it has become an immigrant society which further enriched its customs and festivals and developed its unique features.
The Spring Festival is the most important traditional Chinese festival. The last day of the lunar year is Chinese New Year’s Eve. All families clean out their houses and go shopping for the big day. They sit down around a table to have dinner at New Year’s Eve. At present, with the improvement of living standards, it has become very fashionable to have dinner with family members at hotels. Many people stay up all night at New Year’s Eve to wait for the advent of the New Year. At the stroke of midnight, everyone welcomes the New Year with noisy firecrackers. On the morning of the first day of this first lunar calendar month, all family members pay homage to their elders, whilst people of the same generation exchange greetings. At the same time, elder family members give money to children who have become older by one year. On the second and third days of the first lunar calendar month, every family sends their best regards to their relatives. However, thanks to modern communication technologies, many people send their New Year’s regards by telephone, SMS, and the Internet.
The legend has it that the birthday of the God of Fortune falls on the fifth day of the first lunar calendar month. It is a very important day for people in Shanghai who desire to get rich. As li can mean both “carp” and “profits” in Chinese, many people offer live carps to the God of Fortune as sacrifice. According to Shanghai customs, firecrackers are set off to welcome the God of Fortune at midnight of the fourth day of the first lunar calendar month.
Everyone wishes for big fortune and good wishes are sent to every person during the Spring Festival. Some employers invite their employees to dinner to foster better relations. Although now a seven day vacation, traditionally, the Spring Festival lasts 15 days.
According to the tradition, the more joyfully the Lantern Festival is celebrated, the better the days ahead would turn out to be. The Lantern Festival marks both the climax and the denouement of the Spring Festival. To enhance the festive atmosphere, some special cultural activities are organized in Shanghai. Examples include the Calligraphy and Art Party in Xuhui District, the Calligraphy and Art Show in Zhabei District, the Party of Spring Couplets in Changning District, the Photography Exhibition in Baoshan District, as well as the dragon and lion dances, boisterous drum and gongs, and lantern riddle games held at Longhua Temple Fair.
The Yuyuan New Year Folk Customs Show in Huangpu District has become the focus of attention of Shanghai during the Lantern Festival. Yuyuan is located near the old Chenghuang Temple and the folk customs show consists of activities such as riddles and an itinerant show based on the theme of “good luck, happiness, pleasure, and good wishes.” Traditional dumplings stuffed with sesame seeds, sweetened bean paste, walnuts, and Chinese date paste still have great appeal while colorful dumplings made with vegetable and fruit juices are also becoming popular.
Clear and Bright Festival
The Clear and Bright Festival usually falls on April 5. It is a time when people are supposed to eat cold foods and pay homage to their dead relatives. On the day, people would go sweep the tombs of their relatives, making offerings and burning joss sticks and paper money. In Shanghai, people usually eat green dumplings made of glutinous rice on the day.
Nowadays, the traditional custom of cleaning tombs has undergone great changes, too. The old elaborate rites have given way to offerings of flowers or wreaths to their own ancestors as well as those revolutionary martyrs who made great contributions to the rise of China.
Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar calendar month, has a 2,000-year history. The custom of dragon boat racing during the Dragon Boat Festival originated from Southern China. A legend goes that Qu Yuan, a poet of the State of Chu in the Warring States period, drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar calendar month. People rowed out in dragon boats to try to rescue their beloved patriot. This gradually evolved into the present day dragon boat races.
In the past, dragon boat races were held on the Huangpu and Suzhou Rivers. Another important custom during the festival is eating zongzi. It is said that people made dumplings with glutinous rice and threw them into the river to protect the body of Qu Yuan from fishes. Today there are many kinds of zongzi stuffed with red beans or meat, as well as those that are made of just plain glutinous rice.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar calendar month, is very important and second only to the Spring Festival to the Chinese. The moon is at its fullest during the Mid-Autumn Festival. When people look up at the bright moon, they tend to remember their relatives who are far from them and hope to be with them. That is also why it is also known as the Reunion Festival.
In old Shanghai, the Mid-Autumn Festival is observed in different ways, such as burning incenses, making colorful lanterns, offering sacrifices to the moon, and enjoying the full moon. With the rapid development of Shanghai, some traditions have gone out of favor. Currently, the most important custom is eating moon cakes as people wish for happiness and the reunion of all family members. In view of their special meanings, moon cakes can be given as gifts to relatives and friends.
The ninth day of the ninth lunar calendar month is named the Double Ninth Festival. The ninth day of the ninth lunar calendar month is regarded as a lucky day by the Chinese. In addition, the homophone of Jiu-jiu (double ninth) in Chinese means “longevity.”
The Double Ninth Festival carries great significance for the Chinese. On that day, people climb mountains, eat cakes, enjoy the chrysanthemum, and drink chrysanthemum wine.
Since 1989, China has designated the ninth day of the ninth lunar calendar month as the Elderly People’s Day. With this, the Double Ninth Festival has now acquired a new meaning and became a festival of respecting, caring, and supporting elderly people.
Shanghai Tourist Festival is held annually from the third Saturday of September to October 6. Since its first session in 1990, the festival has been successfully held for 20 times with a focus on Shanghai’s urban landscape, culture, and commerce. With each festival distinguishing itself with more innovations than its predecessor, Shanghai Tourist Festival has enriched the city tours and shown its charms. Today Shanghai Tourist Festival has become a platform to display the warmth and openness of Shanghai as an international metropolis and to further enhance its cultural atmosphere.
In 2000, Shanghai Tourist Festival introduced an international music fireworks program and organized an international forum on tourism and festivals. The forum was attended by representatives of the International Festival Association as well as other famous festivals such as American Rose Festival, Pamplona Bull-running Fiesta, the Melbourne Moomba Festival and Beijing International Cultural Tourist Festival, Dalian Fashion Festival, Nanjing International Plum Blossom Festival, and Qingdao International Beer Festival.
In the subsequent years, the tourist festival focused on creating a carnival atmosphere. For instance, the opening ceremony incorporated the official launch of Longhua Tourist City, the parade of Xujiahui region and the opening party of Happy City in Nanjing Road. Furthermore, a series of activities such as Sichuan Beilu Happy Festival, City Forest Carnival, Great World Folk Culture Festival, Nanjing Road Happy Shopping Festival, and Flower Parade Games were launched during the tourist festival, attracting a large number of tourists from home and abroad.
Reform and opening-up have brought new opportunities to Shanghai. The development of Pudong in the 1990s, in particular, pushed Shanghai to the forefront of reform and market liberalization. Under the guidance of the strategy of “rejuvenate the city with science and education,” Shanghai changed its development strategy from “one key, three centers (with Pudong’s development and opening up as the key to building Shanghai into one of the international economic, financial, and trade centers in the world) into “four centers” (financial, trade, shipping, and economic centers) and began the making of an international metropolis.
The Bund has resumed its financial functions. Citibank, AIA, Bangkok Bank Public, Agricultural Bank of China, China Foreign Exchange Trade System, China Pacific Insurance, and Pudong Development Bank have all gathered in the Bund. At the same time, a new Lujiazui Financial Zone took shape. BNP Paribas, Sanwa Bank, HSBC, Shanghai Securities Exchange, and Shanghai Futures Exchange went into operation one after another. Up to late 2002, Shanghai had had 77 foreign financial institutions and 156 representative offices of foreign-funded financial institutions. Both the deposit and loan balance in local and foreign currencies of domestic and foreign-funded financial institutions surpassed RMB 1 trillion and Shanghai had basically established a complete financial market system consisting of a securities market, a foreign currency market, a currency market, an insurance market, a futures market, and a gold market.
Shanghai built up two international airports, Hongqiao and Pudong. The strategic objective of establishing an Asia-Pacific aviation hub with Pudong International Airport as the dominant player and Hongqiao International Airport as the supplement is currently being implemented. The hub is completed in 2007, the passenger carrying capacity will reach sixty million.
On December 10, 2005, Yangshan Deep Water Port was formally launched. Donghai Bridge which connects Yangshan Port and the land was launched on the same day. All the construction work will be finished in 2020. In 2005, the goods throughput of Shanghai Port was 443 million tons, surpassing Singapore for the first time and ranked No. 1 in the world. The container throughput reached 18.09 million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units), taking the third position in the world.
Shanghai has basically established an international trading and transportation framework in line with international practices. By late 2009, the foreign trade volume had reached US$72.664 billion, at a year-on-year growth of 19.3%. The ordinary trade export of the year was US$13.714 billion, a year-on-year growth of 23.9%. The processing trade export was US$17.424 billion yuan, a year-on-year growth of 10.8%. By 2010, there had been a total of 26,657 foreign invested enterprises, of which 6,926 were Sino-foreign joint ventures, 2,568 were cooperative businesses, 17,078 wholly foreign-owned enterprises, and 85 joint-stock companies. The total investment of foreign-invested enterprises was US$172.188 billion.
Under the strategy of “rejuvenate the city with science and education,” Shanghai’s R&D strength has been enhanced constantly. By late 2010, Shanghai had 655,700 technicians in state-owned institutions representing a ratio of 489 technicians for every 10,000 citizens. The number of scientific and technological development institutions have increased to 1,000 and the R&D expenses to RMB 17.056 billion, constituting 2.29% of Shanghai’s GNP.
The cultural and educational undertakings have developed to an unprecedented degree. In 2009, there were more than 2,500 primary and middle schools, kindergartens, special schools, and work schools with more than 1.6 million registered students. There were also 165 secondary occupational and technical schools with more than 240,000 students. There were also 59 ordinary higher learning institutions with over 410,000 students. Cultural exchanges were frequent. Such activities as the International Film and TV Festival, Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, and Shanghai International Arts Festival showcased the culture and arts from all over the world. The outbound visit of Shanghai’s artistic troupes has displayed Shanghai’s cultural and artistic achievements to the outside world.
Urban infrastructural development has made breathtaking progress. The rail transport system, the elevated road, the “three longitudinal and three latitudinal” ground trunk road, outer ring road, and middle ring road under construction have formed a modern and integrated traffic network. Such regions as the Bund, People’s Square, Xujiahui, Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road, Sichuan Beilu, and Changshou Lu have been upgraded. Cultural and sports facilities such as The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Library, Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Shanghai Grand Theater, and Shanghai Oriental Arts Center were built in rapid succession.
After over two decades of reform and liberalization, Shanghai has formed six major pillar industries, four major emerging industries, and two fundamental industries. The economic structure is getting more amenable and economic strength significantly increased. The investment climate recorded fundamental improvement and the capital conglomeration functions have become more and more prominent. The people’s standard of living has been constantly upgraded.
“Better City, Better life” is the theme of the 2010 World Expo. The expo is not only a historic opportunity, but a historic challenge for speeding up the process of building Shanghai into a major international city. In 2010, the world expo park covering an area of 5.28 square kilometers appear on both sides of Huangpu River, which extends for 8.3 kilometers between Nanpu Bridge and Lupu Bridge. There be a core functional and symbolic landscaped area consisting of a theme hall, the China hall, a conference center, a performance center, a multi-functional center, a major path connecting the core functional zone and the main entrance of the park, four cultural squares serving as the main sites for exchange, exhibition, performance, and celebrations, two waterfront green belts running through the core functional area and the community-style exhibition hall, and a sight-seeing pedestrian corridor which is basically parallel with Huangpu River in the Pudong part of the park.
In 2010, an integrated traffic system — consisting of the rail transport network, the city road network, public traffic facilities, the transport network in the World Expo park zone, two extended international airports, two newly built railroad terminals, as well as the integrated expressway network of the Yangtze River Delta — will provide swift, comfortable, and safe travel for the 70 million expected show goers and 800,000 daily passenger volume.