Old Town, Shanghai
Despite rapid changes, you can still find traditional ways of life, shikumen homes, old lane homes, small noodle shops and all variety of commerce and action. Take some time to get out and about in the older neighborhoods of the old town area, and throughout places like the Former French Concession. I have included one area which is very accessible via the Metro. There is still (for now) great wet markets, small streets, great local noodle shops and street food, etc. This is also not far from the Dongtai Rd. antique street, which while a frequent tourist spot is worth checking out. The bird and pet market across the road is great to check out as well (both are just north off of Xizang Nan Lu).
One of the lesser known historic buildings that brilliantly stud the banks of the Huangpu and Suzhou Rivers is what remains of the old and venerable Shanghai Rowing Club and boathouse.
Formed by the British and Americans in 1863, the building itself dates from 1905 and comprised a large ballroom, dressing rooms, and a large roof garden over the neighboring boathouse. Unfortunately, developers bulldozed much of the building in 2009 and this structure is all that remains of what was one of the earliest sports facilities in modern China.
Visiting this building can form part of any walking tour of the historic Bund.
The old city wall is next to the Baiyun Daoist Temple. Only a small section of the wall remains today, but well worth viewing to complete the vision of the old city.
For those who have time there is a small exhibit available, entrance 5 Yuan.
Shanghai's Old Town area is the old Chinese district of Nanshi, literally "southern city". It included the old, walled city as well as the nearby docklands on both sides of the Huangpu River. Shanghai County was established at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty. A city wall was built to repel the Wokou, and this Ming Dynasty wall defined the extent of urban Shanghai for the next few centuries. In 1842, the area north of the old city was established as the British concession in Shanghai, which later became the Shanghai International Settlement. At the time, the concession was referred to by locals as the "northern city" while the walled Chinese city was the "southern city". The old Nanshi district retains a number of important sights, including the City God Temple and the nearby Yu Yuan Garden as well as snack, antique and souvenir shops.
Traditional Chinese architecture, market and restaurants. One could spend all day just wandering through the streets and temples of Old Town.
Strangely enough, the locals also refer to it as "Chinatown".
A portion of Old Shanghai has been preserved, primarily to welcome tourists. This part of town offers traditional Chinese archicture, complete with a famous tea house.
The small lanes of this area are filled with many shops and restaurants. Because the target market here is tourists, you will have to look hard to find a great deal. Don't worry about getting too absorbed into Chinese culture here - the dumpling shops and tea house are right along side the Dairy Queen, Starbucks, and (of course) McDonalds.
The best part of the area is the Yu Garden, founded approximately 400 years ago by the Pan family. You can spend quite a bit of time wandering through the walled garden and enjoying the many rock formations and pavillions.
There was also a performance by a musical group which plays instruments made of porcelain. They played traditional Chinese and western music and were quite entertaining, although we did not understand the commentary. We stumbled across the show by accident - based on the sign, they play several times during the day.
Yuyuan market is near the old god's temple of the old city center of Shanghai. The most significant things here are Yu Garden, Jiu Qu Bridge, Huxin Pavilion and the Temple, There are also lots of wonderful buildings filled with shops with names like bailinglou, hetenglou, tianyulou. jingyulou, yuebinlou, huabaolou & jingronglou.
The bridge to the Tea Room has right angles to prevent dragons from crossing it as apparently dragons can't turn sharp corners!
Shanghai's Old Town was the main Chinese district of downtown Shanghai during the colonial era (1842-1949), when the Westerners had their own enclaves (called concessions) nearby. It was encircled by a wall that came down when the last dynasty fell, in 1911. The old city wall, 8.1m (27 ft.) high and 4.8km (3 miles) round, dated from the 16th century, when it served as a barrier against Japanese pirates. It is considered the oldest district of Shanghai; its shops, the most traditional; its steamed dumplings, the best. Within this former walled city, the Old Town Bazaar is now a large pedestrian mall and alleyway labyrinth. Within its bounds are some marvelous attractions, including Yu Garden, the Huxinting Teahouse, the Bridge of Nine Turnings, the Temple of the Town Gods, the new Shanghai Old Street (Fangbang Zhong Lu), and hundreds of traditional Chinese shops (as well as many new stores).
In Shanghai you have two old parts of the town: an older one, with narrow streets, old houses with no sanitary facilities, water tabs only on the street and a rich social life as it seems.
This part of Shanghai won't be around for too long, because it is right in the center of Shanghai - and that's where the companies would like to be, too!
So if you have a chance - do go and see it!
Old colonial part of Shanghai.
For those of you who are interested in the 19th to early 20th century of Shanghai, this article gives you some stories about Jews in then Shanghai:
The new old town has more shopping facilities, food stalls, broader streets, but still some of the old town atmosphere