Maybe you've heard a little rumor that Shanghai is the new Paris. Like the City of Love, China's most cosmopolitan city is a blend of old and new, tradition and innovation. Known in the twentieth century as the Paris of the East, Shanghai's ancient temples sit between glass skyscrapers, a constant reminder of the deep history of China's largest, warmest, most prosperous city.
From the picturesque walks along the Huangpu River to the hustle and bustle on Nanjing Road, from soup dumplings the size of your head to ultra-luxe rooftops, Shanghai is an urban paradise. You'll want to take pictures of everything to see to make sure you never forget a thing—and while you're at it, why not get some photos perfect for the 'gram?
For you, I've put together the most visually breathtaking sights in Shanghai—the ones that will dazzle you IRL, and dazzle all your Instagram followers to boot.
Located in central Shanghai, The Bund is probably the most popular destination in the city. The Bund is a mile-long waterfront that follows along the Huangpu River—it's the perfect starting point to explore the city, or for an early morning jet-lagged walk.
The best part about The Bund? It looks amazing in the day or the nighttime. It's often referred to as the "museum of buildings," thank to the various architectural elements that line the promenade, showing off Shanghai's daylight charm. At night, all of the buildings light up, providing a stunning view of the city.
The Edition Rooftop
Is there a better way to enjoy a city than relaxing on a rooftop with mind-boggling views? Nope. Just opening this year on the corner of Nanjing Road, The Edition is the newest addition to the Shanghai hotel scene.
Surrounded by an ivy-covered trellis, the ROOF is an open-air lounge area featuring one of the most spectacular panoramic views of Pudong from the Bund—an absolute must for your feed.
Dear fashionistas: This is going to be more than just a photo opp for you. Nanjing Road is like a mix of Times Square and Fifth Avenue. It's the ultimate shopping street, not to mention one of the world's busiest shopping streets. There are hundreds of businesses here, including modern multi-level shopping malls, historic shops, theaters, and hotels. This is a street you would regret missing.
The French Concession
This quaint neighborhood is home to cozy live-music venues and boutique wine bars, as well as vintage clothing stores and French bistros. The tree-lined streets and old Tudor homes give the French Concession its charming character.
Whether you want to take a private colonial walking tour or a late night food-tour, the French Concession will not lead you awry.
Yu Gardens is breathtaking. With every turn, you'll find a new view—and the perfect photo just waiting to be taken. During your walk, you can get a close-up look at all the old architecture, and follow up your walk by venturing through the crowded markets full of souvenirs.
Not to mention, the best soup dumplings are served outside the Huxinting Teahouse.
Qibao Old Street
Qibao Old Street is exactly what it sounds like—a glimpse into old Shanghai and its traditions. It's an old water town that has become a popular food street, and is the ideal place for an afternoon exploration.
Fun fact: Qibao means, “Seven Treasures” in Chinese. As legend has it, there were seven of them around the area—an iron Buddha, a bronze bell, a Gold Script Lotus Sutra, a one-thousand-year-old Chinese catalpa tree, a jade axe, a gold cockerel, and a pair of jade chopsticks.
City of God Temple
This is the City Temple of Shanghai, and it's a testament to the blend of old and new Shanghai. The temple sits in the Old City, surrounded by commercial skyscrapers, with the business of the city bustling around it. A sense of calm fell over me as I entered.
It is also said: One who fails to reach the temple never reaches Shanghai.
Put on those Mickey Mouse ears and strike a pose. Shanghai is home to the first Disney Park in mainland China and the sixth in the world. Opening in 2016, Shanghai Disneyland Park has seven themed attractions—Mickey Avenue, Garden of Imagination, Adventure Isle, Treasure Cove, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Disney Pixar Toy Story Land.
This Buddhist temple is one of the most famous temples in Shanghai, and has landed on the country's list of nationally protected sites. The ancient temple, like City of God Temple, sits amongst modern, commercial buildings, making the visit much more intimate. Its stunning interiors and exteriors are definitely worth exploring, especially if you're looking for that perfect shot.
The Oriental Pearl Tower
The Oriental Pearl Tower is the single most distinctive landmark in Shanghai. This ultra-modern tower blends ancient concepts (like spherical pearls) with 21st-century technology, once again combining the old and the new.
This tower definitely going to photo-bomb almost every photo of the cityline, but there's also a great photo-op inside of the tower.
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