Shanghai is full of smaller local neighbourhoods and even within an area there are hidden gems.
Check out the west side of Jing'an for example. The area around Yuyuan Lu towards Wulumuqi Bei Lu is full of interesting old houses, tree lined street, coffee shops and some new wine bars.
Just walking along Yuyuan Lu from Wulumuqi to Zhenning Lu and you will see western and Shanghai businesses side by side. Check out Fuchaun near the Zhenning Lu intersection for amazing Shanghainese Steamed dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) or find the hidden Bouquet Wine Bar for an amazing Asian fusion meal.
This unknown pedestrian bridge located between Henan South Road and Fuxing East Road is big and well connected between places off the streets. This bridge is made by metal steel with modern design. This bridge is also used as the traffic lights' platform. Under the bridge is the busy road with a lot of traffic. Southwest of the bridge is where the Xiao Tao Yuan mosque is located, nearby are shopping malls, hotels, and residence apartments. Walking toward northeast of the bridge, you are heading to the Shanghai Old Street.
In Luwan district, around Sinan Mansions, I discovered a lot of the old colonial Mansions were in bad condition. Developers in Shanghai has been restructuring these mansions and trying to regain their pass glory. I managed to take some photos of these mansions in destruction conditions. I am sure the next time I visit here, these buildings will look like millions dollars properties.
Ruijin Hotel is located on 118 Ruijin 2nd Road, French Concession of Luwan district, which is near Fuxing Park. This 100 acres property is really different in term of architectures, neighborhood, and lifestyles than the properties nearby. In was built in 1920 by a British family, Benjamin Moris family , who also owned the first English newspaper publisher, North China Daily, in China and a dog-racing tracks in Shanghai. It consists of four British style architectural buildings, the garden with lake and water fountains. The garden, lake and water fountains are features the classical British style, which might be the only British garden you can find in China.
Historically, this place was once the residence, office, and headquarter of important Chinese revolutionary leaders. In 1945, it was the headquarters of Kuomintang's Li Zhi She. And after Liberation in 1949, East China Bureau of Communist Party took over the property. It was the residence and official office for the first mayor of Shanghai, Mr. Chen Yi.
Today, this property remains as one of the four stars hotels in Shanghai. You can even book it online to stay here for your next visit to Shanghai.
In Chinese: 瑞金宾馆， rui jin bin guan.
St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church is located on 16 Gao Lan Road. It was built in 1932 and completed in 1934 with the support of white Russian immigrants in Shanghai. This church has traditional Russian architectural style, especially a round rooftop with a cross in the center This church is not very big and allowed to occupy between 400 to 500 people. This is not the original rooftop , it was 9-rounded rooftop with gold leafs and cross.
In 1937, it was named St Nicholas because to honor the patron Saint of the former Russian Emperor Nicholas II.
In 1949, Russians were leaving Shanghai due to the Chinese Civil War. The building was no longer used as a worship place, but as a warehouse, then laundry.
This building was once an European style restaurant, Ashanti Dome, but it was closed down and left this building empty till today. The door was closed during my visit, so I did not see the interior.
In Chinese: 圣尼古拉斯教堂， sheng ni gu la si jiao tang
Sinan Mansion is located on Fuxing Middle Road, opposite Fuxing Park. After visiting Fuxing Park, the history continues with the neighborhood near the park. The neighborhood was the former French Concession of Shanghai, a lot of big houses with colonial styles architecture including churches, houses for the rich and famous. The former residence of Zhou Enlai was staying in the neighborhood.
Due to war and revolution, this neighborhood was once lost its charm of being glamour and luxury. Most of the houses were in destruction conditions, and even stayed by construction workers from rural migration.
The development of Sinan Mansion has transformed this place becoming one of the most expensive real estates in Shanghai. The developer immerses redevelopment of 49 colonial mansions from the 20s and 30s to a new classical zone named Sinan Mansion. It consists of The Hotel Massenet, commercial stretch F&B & retails, luxury condo, and corporate villas. This place looks like another Xintiandi, but not yet discovered by most locals and tourists. I believe the developer does not want to create another Xintiandi here, but a peaceful, glamour, luxury neighborhood that mostly gather the rich and famous.
In Chinese: 思南毫宅， si nan hao zhai
On my way to discover Former Residence of Zhou Enlai, I passed by this beautiful french garden between Chongqing South Road and the corner of Fuxing Zhong Road. It is located in the former concession of Shanghai in Luwan District.
Fuxing Park is one of the earliest parks in Shanghai. It has been here for almost 80 years. It was a farmland of a local family. In Jun 1909, the French Concession Bureau of Public Director bought this land as recreation center for the French community in Shanghai and also French army barrack. During that time, only French were allowed to enter the Park. In 1944, the park was renamed " Daxing Park " by the Chinese government. Since 1946, most people called it " Fuxing Park ".
Today, this is the only French Park remain in Shanghai. It still retains a lot of its French culture and heritage in this park, for example the European fountain, center lake, covered pavilions, and the flowerbed. The locals enjoy coming here for daily activities including dancing, tai chi, singing, and morning walk. Occasionally, you can find local or international events here. I saw them setting up for International Fashion Show during my visit.
In Chinese: 复兴公园， fu xing gong yuan.
I felt the emptiness in many monuments in China, mostly in the Forbidden City.
I think that the political convulsions in Chine in the recent years may have damaged a lot.
This small display in the museum reinforced my sensation: China has wonderful furniture that would easily enrich many historic buildings, but... where is it?
One of my deceptions in China was the poor interior of many monuments, some of them empty, the other only with isolated pieces of furniture.
This garden was no exception, but I felt lucky when I saw an exotic collection of chairs made from big tree roots.
They are fancy to look, but I felt sorry for the poor guys who had to sit there. Not us. Fortunately!
Ideologies and cultural movements come and go along the history, but their influence in art does remain as a testimony of the gone days and ideas.
China is a curious example of that - the strength (and violence) of the revolutionary times led to artistic creations, with nothing in common with traditional Chinese art.
Instead of sensibility and fine details, we see powerful gathering of determined people, the collective movement always imposing itself to the individual roles and expressions.
In the Bund, a socialist composition, backed by Russian architecture, is a fine example.
Shanghai's ultra-modern Science and Technology Museum is located (surprise, surprise) in Pudong, on the western border of Century Square. A humungous glass and steel building, it holds exhibits of all disciplines of the sciences, plus there is an IMAX theatre. Perfect for kids on a rainy day. Tickets cost RMB60 per person. Open Tuesdays to Sundays 0900 to 1715. Nearest metro station: Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (Line 2).
In most cities where a massage on your arms and legs costs you an arm and a leg, Shanghai proves to be a pleasant surprise. In fact, China is probably one of the last cosmopolitan cities on the planet where massages are so affordable.
Some people might be wary that they are stepping into the unknown, but Chinese massage (sometimes known as tui-na) is really one of the most effective massages I've ever tried, and it can be very soothing as well. It works away the tension knots in your body, and I find it especially good on the shoulders after a long day thumping away on my laptop.
Though many massage places are fronts for more dubious activity, by and large the ones I've come across in Shanghai are still legitimate ones offering actual massages minus accessorial services.
Dragonfly is a prime example, and it's impressed me so much that I have to share this with fellow travellers. I've only been to one outlet so far (the one in DongHu Road), and can't speak of the experience in any of its other outlets. But the Donghu Road one is really out of this world.
The atmosphere can match that of any high-class spa and is entirely soothing, with tasteful dark wood furnishings, and soft low lighting. Once you step into the massage area, you find yourself in little cubicles separated by curtains. I didn't have any regular masseuse, but the one assigned to me did a fantastic job. Let's put it this way... My head was feeling so disconnected from the rest of my body, after putting in an all-nighter for a rush project. But after the massage, the world looked right again. :-)
If you've got time to try only one massage place, go to Dragonfly. I would go there every day if I could.
Oh, did I mention the price? It cost about RMB 120 (USD 15) for a 90-mins massage. Though it's not the cheapest in Shanghai, it's a steal.
For those who are interested in Sun Yat-sen, you can visit this place. Sun Yat-sen and his wife Soong Ching Ling stayed there from 1918 to 1924. After his death, she continued to stay there until 1937. Entrance fee is about RMB 8.
There was a guide who explained the various rooms etc in both Chinese and English.
The address is at 7, Xiangshan Road. (Near Huaihai Road)
Located only 11 miles from downtown Shanghai and easily accessed via subway line 9; Qibao Station, Qibao ancient town is the only ancient town forming part of the greater Shanghai, you can visit this water town without the long distance travel if you only have limited time in Shanghai.
The town of Qibao is dating from the period of Five Dynasties, the town was built in Northern Song dynasty and grew into a business center and largely renovated during the Ming Dynasty. Aside from the waterway, bridges and architectures, there are a few museums around town, but I believe the best this town has to offer is the variety of sacks; from dumpling to sugar coated fruit, and from this looks good to what is this?
Qibao provided visitors with a feel of traveled back through the centuries through its history, culture, architecture and local people; a day spent in the unique and historic town is very rewarding and memorable.
This is a small road in the north part of Shanghai which has an incredible density of artists. It seems to all be in a single block but we spent hours going in and out of small to medium sized galleries. Just about every one you go in has a sign telling you not to take pictures which is understandable but there were some great art for sale but most of it was more than I had prepared to spend during the duration of my trip.
Moganshan Rd also had the the only grafitti we found in the entire town. It wasn't the just some kids spraypainting scribbles on the walls either, these were actual artists creating something that you'd actually care to look at.
Anyway, if you have time and can get your taxi driver to understand (and I think he had to call someone for directions after he'd gotten close), I recommend making the trip.