Shanghai. It’s probably my favorite large city that I’ve been able to visit so far (granted, the large city list is not a long list). So I thought I would take a few moments and share some of the pictures I’ve taken in this city and some of the experiences I’ve had there.
I’d like to start with probably the most famous Shanghai Attraction: The Bund. This is probably one of the most iconic and recognizable city skylines in existence today. It’s also a great way to spend an evening, just walking around the walkway enjoying the view. But don’t think the only view is out over the water, if you turn around and check out some of the buildings that line Zhongshan East road you will see some really impressive architecture, which they illuminate at night. Additionally, if and when you get tired of the view just hop across the water (using the subway, ferry, or taxi) and check out the view from the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower.
Getting to the Bund is fairly straightforward. You can take the subway (Green line has a stop on Nanjing road that is only a short walk to The Bund) or you can take a cab or just walk. I usually end up staying around Jing’an so my preferred method is to walk down Nanjing road to it (stopping by the peoples square on the way). But if you are pressed for time then the subway is a good option.
I’ve found that dusk is the best time to get there (as with most photography the golden hour usually yields the best pictures). Once it gets dark the Oriental Pearl Tower has a light show every hour – they also play music, but you have to be at the tower to hear it. I also particularly like the surrounding buildings which have TV screens built into the side of the building so that it can display messages to people across the river on the walkway. The one downside to this location is that you may find yourself constantly being hounded by people offering “massages”, which gets really annoying but if you ignore them then they will eventually give up and go away. Once you check out the view from the Bund how across the river and buy a ticket to get to the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower. It’s a revolving tower that offers a great view of the city and particularly of the river. The view is totally worth the cost of the ticket to get in.
Working backwards, I usually get to The Bund via Nanjing road, which is an extremely popular street running though Shanghai. Tons of high end shops on either side, lots of foot traffic – walking down this street is a pretty good opportunity to practice your street photography if you are so inclined. If you head West long enough on this road it will lead you to the Peoples Square, which I found to be nice but not really worth an extended visit. The park behind it - Shanghai People's Park (AKA: Renmin Park) is nice enough to walk around though and a nice break from the crowded city streets.
Continuing down Nanjing Road past the people’s park will lead you into the Nanjing Pedestrian Street – a street closed to traffic. Lots of shops and kiosks can be found on this road. I’m not much into shopping so I don’t really have too much to say about it beyond that. It’s a neat diversion from the regular city streets though. It can be pretty crowded at times, especially as your get closer to The Bund.
Continuing on with the discussion of interesting streets, Shanghai Old Street is another street that is worth visiting while you are in town. It’s a great way to check out some old style Shanghai buildings. Lots of small shops and places for tourists to spend cash along here, but I focused more on the architecture and street atmosphere of this place. It really has a different vibe then the rest of Shanghai. This street will lead you past the Temple of the Town God and the Yu Garden, and some other really cool sights. Definitely stop and spend some time here, I usually follow the street to this point then wander North into the temples and gardens and eventually winding back to The Bund.
The Yu Garden and its surrounding temples are also well worth the visit. I’m sure there is lots of interesting history here (that I know nothing about) but for an American visiting the city it’s really neat to see some old style Chinese temples and to walk through a very peaceful garden. The temples are also lit up at night which gives everything a golden glow and looks really amazing. Gives it a surreal experience and the quiet garden is a stark contrast to the bustling city streets just outside. The Yu Garden did charge a fee to get in (it’s really cheap, only a couple of dollars American after the conversion) and its worth it. The buildings and corridors along the small lakes and ponds really make for a tranquil surrounding and some great photo opportunities.
Last but not least, the former French Concession in Shanghai is one of the places that I visited for the first time on my last trip there. It quickly jumped to the top of my list as one of my must visit spots in Shanghai. It’s a very large area with lots of European style buildings, bars, restaurants, small shops, and some great wall art. Tianzifang in particular was a really cool art street and probably my favorite so far in that district. I’ve only visited a small part of this district so far, but I believe you could easily spend an entire day there. It has a completely different (more of an artsy) feel then any of the other parts of the city I’ve visited. It’s also a great spot for pictures and you will see plenty of photographers walking around. It seems each part of Shanghai has a different vibe, which is one of the many reasons I like this city so much.
Shanghai is an incredibly diverse city and definitely caters to tourism. Most of the signs are written in both English and Chinese and just about everybody I’ve come across speaks some English. It’s also very safe, and surprisingly clean. Most of the big cities in the U.S. are littered with trash, not so in Shanghai. It’s a very clean and well organized city. Additionally, because it’s so diverse you can find food and drink from anywhere in the world there. A few of my favorites: Beef and Liberty (great burgers), Efes (amazing Turkish food), Joes Pizza (New York style pizza in Shanghai!). Plus, there are plenty of bars that cater to expats. Shanghai is a unique blend of East meets West, but it really makes the city a fun place to check out.
Now for some pictures...