© Liam Cobb/ Culture Trip

Insider Travel Guide to Shanghai

China’s business and financial centre, Shanghai appears to be throwing itself headfirst into the future, with soaring superstructures, opulent shopping malls and the world’s fastest commercial train zipping back and forth from Shanghai Pudong International. Peel your eyes away from the skyline, though, and you’ll see a different side to the city. To experience real Shanghainese culture, take a stroll along traditional longtang, narrow residential lanes peculiar to Shanghai; tuck in to skewered quail in Qibao Town; watch elderly local residents play cards in Fuxing Park or practise tai chi as the sun rises; and attend a marriage market in People’s Square.

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Shanghai culture

Visiting Shanghai is a true East-meets-West experience. Buddhist temples, classical gardens and the Old City offer a taste of traditional Chinese culture, while periods of European and American occupation have transformed China’s ‘City on the Sea’ into an international metropolis. The Bund, Shanghai’s busy waterfront on the Huangpu River, is lined with historic buildings of numerous architectural styles that include Art Deco, Renaissance Revival and Neo-Classical. Western influence is apparent in areas such as the former French Concession (FFC), whose tree-lined boulevards, bijou bistros and hip boutiques give the area a distinctly Parisian character.

Neighborhoods in Shanghai