Shanghai is a city to enchant and inspire. Beautiful landmarks such as the Jade Buddha Temple and the Yuyuan Gardens attest to its significant place in Chinese cultural history while the city’s vibrant, bustling energy demonstrates its viable share in the future. This matchless synthesis of old and new ensures something for everyone and makes Shanghai the perfect city break for the whole family.
If you’re arriving from Shanghai’s Pudong airport, make an exciting entrance into the city via the world’s fastest train, the Maglev, which runs from the airport to the Lujiazui Financial district. Kids will love how the train appears to “fly” over the ground, forced upwards into the air by virtue of a strong magnetic field. The lack of surface contact allows the train to reach incredible speeds: up to 433 km per hour. Be sure to show your airport ticket if you have one; this grants you a slight discount on the train ride.
A beautiful as well as educational place to start your exploration of the city is the Jade Buddha Temple. Though built relatively recently (between 1911 and 1918), the temple’s upturned pagoda-like eaves and bright red and yellow walls draw on centuries of Chinese architectural tradition. After admiring the colorful exterior, take a look at the treasures inside, the center-piece of which is the temple’s namesake: an enormous white jade Buddha, covered in jewels, measuring nearly 2 meters high and said to weigh about one thousand kilograms.
After inspecting the cultural treasures inside the temple, spend some time in the open air with a trip to the Yuyuan gardens. With its beautiful layout and harmonic blend of water, plants, zigzagging bridges, and dragon-lined walls, the gardens provide an unequaled introduction to the Ming Dynasty classical style. Many of the buildings house cultural artifacts including centuries-old furniture, artwork and literature. Kids will enjoy the Exquisite Jade Rock, a 5-ton porous, translucent and oddly-shaped mineral. After wandering through the gardens, check out the bazaar just outside and browse through traditional Chinese products and jewelry.
If you’re tired after wandering through the gardens but still eager to take in the sights, consider a cruise on the Huangu River, the longest river that passes through Shanghai. You can choose from a number of cruises which run from 30 minutes to 3.5 hours. This is a great, relaxing way to take in both historic and modern elements of the city. You’ll pass by British colonial architecture on the city’s historic east side (Bund) as well as the futuristic skyline on the modern east side (Pudong).
After taking in the cultural sights of Shanghai, why not indulge in a bit of shopping? An excellent place to start is Xintiandi, a pedestrian zone shopping center built in restored shikumen, typically Shanghainese buildings which incorporate both Western and Chinese architectural styles. Along with the upscale shopping options, you can choose from an array of international restaurants — even the pickiest eater will find something to satisfy!
While it’s still daylight, head to the top of Jin Mao (literally “Golden Prosperity Building”) tower to take in the spectacular sunset over Shanghai’s skyline. At 88 floors high, it has only recently been eclipsed as the second tallest building in China.
End the day with a bang by wowing your kids with the unforgettable spectacle of the Shanghai Acrobats. The jaw-dropping feats of strength and daring coupled with colorful costumes and props will keep everyone at the edge of their seats for the entire show.
With its historical landmarks and vibrant cultural scene, Shanghai educates as well as delights the entire family.