Shanghai: The Big Melting Pot

At the edge of the Huangpu River, Shanghai benefits from the efficient river transport and had developed into a major trading town centuries ago. The city was forced open to foreign trade after the Anglo-China Opium War, and subsequently, in 1842, the Qing government signed the Treaty of Nanjing with the British, which allowed international settlement in Shanghai. Almost overnight, foreign entrepreneurs and merchants found a haven full of opportunities and flocked to Shanghai, turning it into a sleepless ‘Paris of the East’ where beautiful people lingered and met. Deluxe hotels were built, entertainment industries such as night clubs, show business and film production flourished. Foreign nations set up embassies in Shanghai, built grand mansions of various architectural styles along the Bund as their trading houses, Chinese legendary warlords and wealthy merchants erected luxurious residential manors and tree-lined avenues.

Shanghai is indeed a big melting pot in the past and present. It is the largest city in China in terms of population. An international financial centre and one of the most important transportation hubs in mainland China, as well as one of the busiest port in the world. The ‘forced’ opening of Shanghai, though ‘unequal’ in nature, brought revolutionary changes to the city. Foreigners settled in. Local celebrities, warlords, wealthy merchants and industrialists gathered. Shanghai soon transformed herself as the most trendiest and voguish city in China. Night clubs, jazz, social dance, music and stylish ‘cheung sham’ become fashion and icon of Shanghai. Today, the romantic Shanghai 1930s ambience is often nostalgically recreated at many premises such as hotels, restaurants and venues.

During the past two decades, the city transforms herself again into a mega metropolics. Modern skyscrapers and gothic pointed arch, baroque oval forms, Greek columns as well as classical Chinese green tile roof and pavilions fill the skyline. She hosted the 2010 World Expo, bring herself again at the forefront of the world’s arena in the 21st century.

The best way to experience the charm of Shanghai is by walking or on bicycle, to find out stories about the old mansions and legendary celebrities, and the city’s romantic charisma of East Meets West in the 1930s.

Send us a request and we’ll show you this wonderful city of Shanghai!

Sample itinerary: 5 Days/4 Nights Walking and Cycling Tour

Day 1 Arrival

Arrive Shanghai. Meet and greet at the airport and transfer to hotel.
Day 2 The Bund and Xintiandi

Stroll along the Bund, passing on foot the Rockbund, the root of the Bund history which is frequently talked about whenever Art Deco of Shanghai in 1930s were discussed; the Park Hotel built by the famous Hungarian architect Hudec, the tallest building in Asia until 1958; and a walk along Xinhua Road, famous for villa houses in different styles which were trendy mansions in the 1930s for the rich and beautiful people. Transfer to Xintiandi, a traditional Chinese settlement area in Shanghai in the 1930s. Xintiandi is now turned into a trendy dining and entertainment area, where locals and expatriates in Shanghai frequent – the perfect place to meet the locals and experience their daily life. Climb up the Pearl TV Tower after dinner for a panoramic view of Shanghai at night.
Day 3 The French Concession and Chinese Garden

Enjoy a walking in the French Concession. You’ll pass through the Lanxin Theater, a neo-classical style building built in 1931, the oldest theatres showing operas and musicals, the old Jinjiang Hotel, an English style building built in the 1929s, the Okura Garden Hotel, which was once the German Club and the French Club, Former Residence of Dr Sun Yet Sen, the Father of Modern China who brought an end to the Qing dynasty, and the Orthodox style St Nicolas Church. After lunch, transfer to Yuyuan Garden, the best preserved Chinese classical garden of Shanghai with a freshly brewed Chinese tea at the Huxin Pagoda inside the Garden. Some free time to explore the neighbouring bazaar of the City God Temple.
Day 4 Bicycle Tour and local market

Enjoy a leisure bicycle tour where you will pass through Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum, Mansions of former warlords of the 1930s, Former Residence of Chiang Kai Shek, a former ally of Dr Sun who later led the Kuomingtang to Taiwan and ruled the island of Taiwan as the self appointed President of the Republic of China. After lunch, transfer to Qibaolaojie, an ancient street with a history of over 1,000 years where you will find Ming and Qing style buildings, as well as local food streets – the perfect place to indulge yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of the local daily life, explore local culinary specialties – one of the perfect photo shots. Enjoy an evening Huangpu River cruise in the evening after dinner.
Day 5Departure or optional tour
Depart or optional cycling tour to the Water Villages.

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Optional Water Village Biking Tour (Duration: one day return from Shanghai)

Take a coach to Zhujiajiao, from there we’ll ride on bicycle from Zhujiajiao to Tongli (38 km). Tongli is an ancient time with a history of almost 1,000 years. This tranquil historical town is built by the river banks, with numerous waterways, bridges and alleyways, as well as Ming and Qing style well preserved buildings, which are worlds away from her metropolitan neighbor Shanghai. The bicycle ride from Zhujiajiao to Tongli (about 2-3 hours) is a scenic ride, passing through lakes and paddy fields. Some free time to explore this ancient town of Tongyi before transfer by coach back to Shanghai.

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Architecture in Shanghai
Shanghai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles, thanks to her interaction with the west since the 19th century. The most famous architectural display is found at the Bund where some 50 grand mansions of various styles lined up along the river front around 1.5km (the HSBC was founded in here).

In addition to western influenced architecture, there are the local Shikumen with high brick walls and stone gates typical of Shanghai. There is the classical garden Yu Yuan, with red brick wall and black tile roof pavilions, ponds, bridges and rockeries. There are also big mansions and villas, which are once the homes of legendary heroes and warlords in Xujiahui area. Her history, and romantic stories of those legendary warlords, generals, leaders of local communities, movie stars and singers make Shanghai a popular tourist destination.

Modern Development
Today, Shanghai is as charming as she was in the past century-she has the most in China, and in the world!

  • The most skyscrapers in the world: there are around 1,700 skyscrapers, and additional 1,500 are in the plan. They are changing the skyline of Shanghai every month.
  • The fastest and the only commercially run magnetic train in the world
  • The most densely populated city in China
  • The most expansive city in China…

Come and find out for yourself what are the other most in Shanghai!

Shanghainese Cuisine
Shanghainese cuisine is an important culinary style in Chinese cooking. One of the most popular is the Shanghainese dim sum, such as Xiaolongbao (juicy minced pork dumpling), juicy fried dumpling, radish pancake and spring union pancake, all of those are offered in Shanghainese restaurants. They also use a lot of black vinegar, to create famous dishes such as sweet and sour spared ribs, prawns, or fish, Shanghainese style.

Throw a Party in Shanghai
Throw a Party in Shanghai, or organise an incentive or meeting in Shanghai, you can be assured that your important guests will be kept busy 24 hours a day, if you wish to. There are all sorts of venues, from the historical mansions each with their own stories to modern chic restaurants, and many of these buildings have their own stories waiting to be told. After dinner, the city goes alive with sardine-packed pubs and bars, with locals and visitors exchanging happenings of the day. Contact us for your next incentive/meetings in Shanghai!

From Shanghai to…
Shanghai is one of the convenient gateways to start your China tour. There are numerous international flight connections between Shanghai and USA and Europe. There are also daily flights between Shanghai and Hong Kong, and the rest of China. Other destinations such as Hangzhou and Suzhou are only within a few hours drive or easily accessible by trains.