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Shanghai City Guide


Shanghai's city centre is simple to navigate thanks to its relatively small size. It is made up of two basic districts, Puxi (western town) and Pudong (eastern town), which are located opposite each other across the Huangpu River.

Generally, Puxi represents the 'Old Shanghai' district, while Pudong embodies 'New Shanghai'. This can be seen in the harsh contrast of the contemporary and traditional architecture on either side of the river, specifically the early 20th-century architecture of the Bund on the Puxi side, and the more eye-catching modern architecture on the Pudong side.


In the early 1990s, Pudong consisted of little but farmland. In a plan to elevate Shanghai to the level of a major Asian commercial centre, the Chinese government created the Pudong New Area Open Economic Development Zone, with a fast rising skyline and loads of investment money. After 1992 the rapid economic development of the area changed the demographics of Pu Dong, creating a growing cosmopolitan flavour with a more modern and technical sophistication than the older, traditional heart of the city in Puxi.

Chiefly a financial district but also a growing community, Pudong offers increasingly more to do and see east of the Huangpu River. The shops and eateries along Century Boulevard, a 21st Century main street to match the ultra-modern sky scrapers and business culture, is designed with the 2010 Shanghai World Expo in mind. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the largest tower in Asia and symbol of Shanghai's prosperity, is an integral part of Shanghai's skyline. The tower houses the Shanghai History Museum and an observation deck open to the public. Nearby Jinmao Tower caps the Pearl's view and is free to the public.


Puxi is a combination of city districts that together make up the cosmopolitan flavour of Shanghai. Unlike Beijing's city centre, which emanates from the Forbidden City in outward rings, Shanghai's districts each offer a different flavour and diffuse the “centre” of the city into well connected neighbourhoods. The grid-like city plan makes it easy to find your way around Shanghai. The city has areas that range from the traditionally Chinese Yuyuan Gardens to the modern urban bustle of Huaihai Road. The following areas of Puxi and should not be missed.

Huangpu District

Huangpu District houses several of the top sites of Shanghai, including the Bund, Nanshi, Nanjing Road and People's Square, where the incredible Shanghai Museum sits.

The Bund
Definitely one of Shanghai's major highlights, the Bund offers an impressive showcase of Shanghai's colonial past. Beautifully preserved art décor and neoclassical buildings line the waterfront that faces the developing Pudong skyline. In the early morning one can join in on Tai Chi practice. In the evening one can stroll along the water to watch the skyline light up with the night. For a taste of nostalgia, visit the Peace Hotel, once Shanghai's premier hotel, it was the place to stay during Shanghai's colonial heyday.

Nanjing Road
Shanghai's historical shopping street became an exclusive pedestrian thoroughfare in 2000. On the western side stands the massive Shanghai Centre, a multi-complex that houses the Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel, commercial businesses, consulates, a shopping mall and Shanghai Centre Theatre. The open area of the walking street gives it a carnival atmosphere. At night the shops create a neon frenzy of colour and glitter that has a long and famous tradition. Nanjing Road is 6 km (3.7 miles) from east to west, starting at the Bund and ending at People's Park. It has the reputation for being the busiest shopping street in the world, catering to over a million visitors a day.

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