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The Bund


If you were to take a postcard snapshot of Shanghai, The Bund is where you'd go. Stately and taciturn, it comprises more than ten blocks of architectural relics from Shanghai’s days as a treaty port. In its heyday, this riverside district was the city’s commercial and financial center, home to foreign-owned banks, trading houses, luxury hotels and gentlemen’s clubs. For nearly four decades, much of it lay dormant as state-owned properties until 1999, when the opening of the restaurant M on the Bund sparked a real estate development renaissance. Today, The Bund is home to some of Shanghai’s poshest restaurants and nightclubs as well as some of its swankest hotels. The waterfront promenade is also a perennial favorite for casual strolls and photo opps.

  • Address: East Zhongshan No.1 Road, by East Nanjing Road
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Lu Jia Zui


Across the Huangpu River, Lujiazui thrusts brazenly up to the heavens. 30 years ago, this district was nothing more than marshes and rice paddies. Today, it’s home to one of Asia’s most audacious skylines. Here you’ll find three of the city’s most distinctive structures: The 468 meter-high spire of spheres and cylinders known as Oriental Pearl Tower, the 88-floor pagoda-themed Jinmao Tower and the bottle opener-shaped Shanghai World Financial Center, the world’s fourth tallest building. Soon to join them is a third skyscraper, the Shanghai Tower, which, when completed in 2014, will be second in height only to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.

  • Address: Shiji Avenue, by Lujiazui Ring Road
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Yu Garden


Once a colorful, cacophonous warren of lane houses, Shanghai’s old quarter has largely fallen victim to the wrecking ball. But the heart of it, the Yu Garden Bazaar, still remains largely intact. This is your go-to place for Shanghai souvenirs – everything from jade bangles to dragon kites to ornamental chopsticks. It’s also a convenient place to tick a few boxes on your “Must Eat” list. You can sample Shanghai’s signature soup dumplings at Nanxiang Mantou or eat at Lu Bo Lang, where Shanghai's leaders treat foreign dignitaries like Bill Clinton to dinner. Of course, if that sounds too exotic, the place is dotted with familiar Western chains like Starbucks, KFC and McDonald‘s as well. Be sure to take a stroll through the elegant Ming Dynasty-era garden in the center of the bazaar.

  • Address: Fuyou Road, by South Henan Road
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Xintiandi marks a sea change in Shanghai’s urban development policies. Rather than razing a block of dilapidated shikumen, or “stone gate,” homes, the Shanghai government, in cooperation with real estate development firm Shui On, commissioned American architect Ben Wood to redesign and renovate them. The end result is an upscale nightlife, dining and shopping hub. It’s a popular spot for Shanghai’s well-heeled residents as well as the tour coach set. And they’re here as much for the shopping as the history, because, in a priceless twist of irony, this center of outright consumerism is also home to the site of the First Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. It's something of a pilgrimage site for patriotic types.

  • Address: Taicang Road, by South Huangpi Road
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People's Square


What we know today as People’s Square began as, of all things, a horse racing track. When the Communist Party came into power in 1949, it sought to rid China of all perceived forms of Western decadence, like gambling. What eventually emerged in its place is now the heart of Shanghai’s downtown. In addition to being the seat of Shanghai’s municipal government, some of the city’s most popular attractions are all clustered here as well, like the Shanghai Museum, the Grand Theatre and the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. There is also People’s Park, where, in addition to great opportunities for people watching, you’ll find the Shanghai Art Museum and M.O.C.A. (Museum of Contemporary Art). Lining the perimeter of the Square is a host of hotels, restaurants and shopping malls.

  • Address: Renmin Avenue, by Middle Xizang Road
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Think of Tianzifang as Xintiandi’s more raucous and bohemian little brother. Like Xintiandi, Tianzifang began as a block of lane house residences falling into disrepair, destined for the bulldozer. But in 2005, it was turned into an arts street. What started as a few artisan shops, studios and galleries is now a bustling hive of trendy cafes, bars and restaurants ensconced among a labyrinth of narrow alleyways. There are storefronts selling chintzy trinkets, pashmina scarves and hats, quirky couture and you can even get a tattoo or piercing (though we don't recommend it). Oddly enough, there are still some steadfast residents holing up in the periphery. You’ll often see them hanging their laundry amid all the foot traffic.

  • Address: Taikang Road, by Sinan Road
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Sinan Mansions


The developers behind the Sinan Mansions have followed Xintiandi’s lead in a fusion of the past and the present. This enclave of villas was once home to Shanghai’s aristocracy. Premier Zhou Enlai even had a home here in the days of the Kuomintang. Today, it remains intact as a museum. The rest of the development, however, has been repurposed for wining, dining and shopping. Here you’ll find two of the city’s better cocktail lounges, The Alchemist and The Public, as well as The Boxing Cat Brewery, a pub that brews its own beer. Additionally, there is the super luxe Aux Jardins Massenet Hotel which for 40,000rmb a night will put you up in your own villa complete with a garage, a mahjong room and your own butler.

  • Address: Sinan Road, by Middle Fuxing Road
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The Jewish Ghetto


Known during World War II as the “Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees,” this small square-mile in the district of Hongkou was a sanctuary for European Jews escaping persecution of the Nazis. At the height of the World War II, it was home to over 20,000 Jewish refugees. Sadly much of the district has given way to development, but there are still a few blocks of original residences standing. In the heart of the neighborhood lies the Ohel Moshe Synagogue. Built in 1907 by Russian Ashkenazic Jews, it now serves as a museum to commemorate the refugees and those who risked their careers -- and, in some cases, even their lives -- to protect them.

  • Address: No.62 Changyang Road, by Zhoushan Road
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The Former French Concession are in Xuhui District


In 1849, much of Shanghai was carved up and shared among the key colonial powers of Europe. Much of what is known today as the Xuhui and Huangpu districts went to the French. And while the concession era is widely regarded as an unfortunate blight on the city’s history, there’s no denying that France’s colonial legacy has made this one of the more atmospheric areas in town. Narrow, tree-lined streets and modernist architecture make it great for a casual stroll. It is home to several consulates -- Poland, The U.S. and France, to name a few – as well as some of the city’s trendiest bars, cafes and restaurants, all of which make it a popular area among the city’s young professional population.

  • Address: Hengshan Road, by Dongping Road
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Jing'an Temple


Jing’an Temple has been around in at least some form for nearly two millennia. It’s first incarnation was built near the banks of Suzhou Creek in AD 247 during the Warring States Period. It was finally relocated to its current position in 1216 under the Song Dynasty. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times over several centuries. In the Republican era, it quickly became the wealthiest temple in Shanghai. At one point, the abbott boasted seven concubines and a White Russian bodyguard. During the Cultural Revolution, the temple was converted into a plastics factory, and it wasn't until 1983 when Deng Xiaoping’s reforms permitted it to re-open for religious purposes. Today it is once again the wealthiest temple in the city. Locals like to go there to pray for wealth, success and high exam scores.

  • Address: No.1686 West Nanjing Xi Road, by Wanhangdu Road
    地址:南京西路1686号, 近万航渡路
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