Literally a city of two halves, Shanghai bombards you with exquisite juxtapositions. The skyline is monopolised by landmarks such as the Pearl Tower, which features 11 space-like spheres climbing 350 metres from the ground. Price of entry to Pearl Tower depends on how high you are going, so we recommend that you skip the uppermost “Space Capsule” observation deck, which, although impressive, features waiting times of an hour or more. Head, instead, to the skywalk, a 259-metre-high observatory made entirely of glass. Afterwards, as you descend in the glass lift, stop at Game City, where you can enjoy a brief but thrilling rollercoaster ride which starts 98 meters in the air.
There is no denying that Shanghai’s contemporary architecture is impressive, however, it is at ground level that you can watch the city unfurl as you become acquainted with its incredible contrasts. To witness these contrasts first-hand, simply walk along the Bund, the waterfront walkway which is lined by dozens of contradictory yet complementary architectural styles, including stunning examples of Classic, Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic architecture. This bizarrely eclectic mix can only be compounded by a trip down the Bund Sightseeing tunnel, an extraordinary, under-ground tunnel, through which you travel in an automated car.
Compared to many other Chinese cities, Shanghai is a walkers’ paradise. There are designated pedestrian-only areas, such as the 5.5 Nanjing Road, which is lined with malls, shops, theatres and eateries. There are also some spectacular parks, such as Yu Yuan Garden, Shanghai’s most famous garden. Initially private gardens, the Yu Yuan Gardens were created by Pan Yunduan, who spent two decades creating the gardens in order to garner his aging parents’ approval. Nestled deep in the heart of the old city, the gardens immediately whisk you away, to Shanghai’s most prosperous and glamourous times. While you are feeling in the mood, visit Bazaar Shanghai and meander through the many winding streets, absorbing the essence of Old Shanghai.