Shanghai, China’s largest city, has incredibly developed into one of the most modern and largest financial centers in the world. Its skyscrapers and modern appearance are symbols of its economic development. Wandering around the Pudong district and appreciating Shaghai’s modern marvels made me feel like I got to travel to the future for a few days. I also checked out the busy Nanjing Road, the relaxing streets of Xin Tian Di, and ended my trip to Shanghai with a bang by watching an intense acrobat show at the Circus World. Indeed, Shanghai has become a multi-cultural metropolis with plenty to do from one sunrise all the way through to the next.
— NANJING ROAD —
China’s premier shopping street, the 3.4-mile-long Nanjing Road, is a must-see metropolitan destination attracting thousands of fashion-seeking shoppers from all over the world. It starts at the Bund in the east and ends in the west at the junction of Jing’an Temple and Yan’an West Street. For me, Nanjing Road is Shanghai’s version of the New York Times Square. KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and other famous food chains line both sides of the street. Upscale stores like Tiffany, Mont Blanc, and Dunhill are also present. In addition, Nanjing Road is where you can also find traditional stores and specialty shops selling silk goods, jade, embroidery, wool, and more.
The street itself is very nice. Many of the buildings here are dated from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They even make a neat contrast with the modern buildings and contribute to the cityscape of Shanghai. Open-air bars, abstract sculptures, and lingering sounds from street musicians made my stroll a lot more fun as well. A trackless sightseeing train provides a comfortable tour of the pedestrian street. At night, flashing neon signs illuminate the buildings and spangle the night skyline of Shanghai.
How to get there
- Take subway Line 2 or 10 and get off at People’s Square or East Nanjing Rd. Station
— PUDONG DISTRICT & SHANGHAI TOWER —
Pudong is the futuristic district of wide boulevards and towering skyscrapers topped by the Shanghai Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center (fondly referred to as “the bottle opener”), and the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower. From rice paddies of farmland into skyscrapers, Pudong symbolizes the epitome of modernization and a symbol of China’s reform and opening up. Although a little on the bland side, it is home to expat compounds designed in a bizarre medley of architectural styles, schools, and high-end malls. We did a walking tour of Pudong starting from the Oriental Pearl Tower heading towards the Shanghai Tower. It was actually very convenient to explore the financial district since most of the buildings and landmarks are connected via an elevated walkway.
Among the dazzling skyscrapers of Pudong is the tallest building in Shanghai – the Shanghai Tower. It is a 632-meter (2,073 ft) skyscraper having 125 floors above the ground and 5 more underground. The Shanghai Tower is not just a fancy new skyscraper but also a showcase of 21st century engineering. To save energy and provide extra protection, the tower is built like a thermos bottle with an outer skin consisting of two-layer glass facades. From afar and standing right next to it, the tower’s distinctive helix shape looks beautiful. Shanghai Tower is also the second tallest in the world, adding to the superlatives of a city that already boasts the world’s fastest train and highest hotels.
The main entrance is located near the corner of Huayuan Shiqiao Lu and Yincheng Zhong Lu. The bottom floor has a few areas showcasing the tallest buildings in the world and their statistics. The Shanghai Tower apparently also owns the record of having the fastest elevators (they speed up and down at 65 kph or 40 miles per hour). The elevator took us to the 118th floor for only 55 seconds! It was such a surreal experience being inside the world’s highest observation deck at the top of the Shanghai Tower. The covered observation deck of Shanghai Tower is also known as ” Shanghai Summit”, with its shape looking like a transparent triangle where we had a stunning 360-degree view of the city of Shanghai.
- Location: Financial Trading District, Lujiazui, Pudong
- Transport: Take subway Line 2 to Lujiazui Station. Take Exit 4 and walk about 500 meters to Shanghai Tower
- Admission Fee: 180 Yuan / adult for the observation deck
— XIN TIAN DI —
Xin Tian Di has become an urban attraction that holds the historical and cultural legacies of the city. It is a fashionable pedestrian street composed of Shikumen (traditional shanghai houses) and buildings with modern architectural style. Shanghai’s Former French Quarter is unique because of its concept of construction. It retains the antique walls, tiles and exterior of the Shikumen housing of old Shanghai. On the other hand, its interior embodies a totally different world of international gallery, bars and cafes, boutiques or theme restaurants. With its European style cafes, leafy tree-lined avenues, and houses nestled in beautiful gardens, you could pretty much get off at any stop in the area and just stroll around the area. Walking along Xin Tian DI, I got the taste of both Shanghai in the 1920s and the sonic modern lifestyle of urbanites of the 21st century. The Former residence of President Sun Yat Sen is also nearby, which is now a museum but still preserves the old residence.
- Location: The whole Xintiandi area is located between Taicang Road (north) and Zizhong Road (south)
- Transport: Take subway Line 10 to Xintiandi and head towards Exit 3
— ERA ACROBAT SHOW AT SHANGHAI CIRCUS WORLD —
Shanghai is a dynamic city featuring colorful night entertainments. As a multimillion-dollar stunning acrobatic show performed daily at the Shanghai Circus World and the first of its kind in China, ERA is a multimedia odyssey whose inspiration is a direct result of the combination of traditional Chinese acrobatic arts and modern technology. Just like Shanghai, ERA evolves through a constant collision between the past and future. The show has now become one of the most popular evening entertainments in the city. You can check the ticket prices and book online here.
Entering the auditorium, we saw ourselves, as audience, through the reflection of a huge mirror cylinder. As the show started, the house light dims and the dream-like journey of ERA starts from the center of a mirror cage act. Having a good mastery of the features of Chinese music, the famous Canadian composer Michel Cusson wrote the music according to each act. The style, the music elements and the orchestration shows that the music of ERA is an excellent combination of eastern and western music. The live performance by one band with Chinese traditional instruments and another with western instruments offers the audience extra enjoyment.
One of my favorite acts is the Ferris Wheel act. Consisting of 3 smaller wheels with a dimension of 2 meters each, the giant wheel is hanging more that 10 meters high above the ground. While keeping the wheel spinning, 6 artists practice various breath-taking actions both in and outside the 3 smaller wheels. I also enjoyed the show’s finale, which is the motorcycle act (the most intense and breathtaking of all acts) where 8 soldier-looking stuntmen run a motor race in an iron and steel globe. It was a bizarre act as they drive the audience crazy and end the show with a bang!
SHANGHAI, CHINA 2017