Shanghai, on China's central coast, is the country's commercial center. Divided by the Huang Pu River, the city has two distinct halves. Puxi, west of the river, is larger and home to the older districts of the city. Pudong, east of the river, stretches to the sea and is awash with new developments and skyscrapers. Book a Shanghai hotel in the French Concession, east of the river, where mid-19th century buildings hark back to time when visitors from around the world descended on the city to make their fortunes. Stroll the quiet, leafy promenades along avenues Joffre and Petain from your hotel in Shanghai, taking in the shopping and dining opportunities. And be sure to pop into the St. Ignatius Cathedral, built by French Jesuits in the first decade of the 20th century.
Where to Stay on a Budget
Shanghai cheap hotels along Nanjing and Huai Hai Middle roads cater to foreign visitors looking to save a little cash. And, fortunately, they still have prime locations east of the Huang Po and near such must-see sights as the Bund, People's Square, and Yuyuan Garden. At night, when the neon signs are lit, the district becomes a dreamy wonderland of open-air bars, sculpture exhibits, and street musicians.
Perhaps the best way to see the city is on a walking tour, which you can book right from your Shanghai hotel. Take in the Gothic and Art Deco architecture of the Bund and French Concession districts, hunt for kitschy souvenirs on a walk of Yu Garden, or immerse yourself in the contemporary art scene housed in old warehouses along Moganshan Road near Suzhou Creek. And if it's a scintillating meal or hopping nightclub you seek, head to the Xin Tian Di south of the city center, a car-free district of restaurants, bars, and clubs intermingled with coffee shops and bookstores housed in traditional shikumen ("stone gate") houses perched along narrow alleys.