Indisputably China's most cosmopolitan city (bar Hong Kong), Shanghai has been welcoming foreign visitors to its streets for centuries, infusing the metropolis with a unique history.

British, French, American and Japanese businesses flourished here in the 19th and early 20th centuries, lured by the city's prime trading position and enticing business prospects. The biggest - and by far the most lucrative - business was also Shanghai's downfall: the city was the opium hub of the world, providing it with an exotically seedy reputation. As the wealth of those who profited from the opium trade was displayed in the city's increasingly impressive architecture, so its underbelly was hit by the sadder side of widespread addiction.

The Communists put a stop to all this debauchery in the 1940s and Shanghai became - officially at least - just another Chinese city. Despite this, anyone who visited at the time would have agreed that this jewel of the Far East always retained a special character that no doctrine or political movement could ever completely stamp out.
And indeed, Shanghai has begun to shine again. Over the past decade the city has recaptured the hearts - and bank balances - of a wealth of foreign investors and tourists, its hedonistic past giving it an allure few cities in the world could rival.

Modern Shanghai in fact is being almost completely rebuilt, with brand spanking new high rises springing up everywhere you look - providing the city with a new focus. The past has not been forgotten, though: among the back streets, you'll still find traditional Chinese gardens and temples, just as they were centuries ago or just a few blocks away, the Bund with its Art Deco colonial buildings, evoking Shanghai's heyday (though for most, minus the opium).

Walk the Bund
People's Square (Renmin Guangchang)
Shanghai Museum
Lu-Xun (Hongkou) Park
Lu-Xun Museum
Jade Buddha Temple
Longhua Temple
Nanjing Lu
Pudong Financial District
Yuyuan Area and the Yu Gardens
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