For the traveler, a new year represents an open road, a blank journal just waiting to be filled with travel stories. There is something exciting about the uncertainty of a new year. Where will your travels take you? What new place will you discover this year? The possibilities are unimaginably endless. This year, instead of the usual tourist destination, why not go for the unconventional?
There are dozens of tried and true destinations to choose from, but in our opinion, the place to visit this year is Shanghai. A blossoming metropolis, Shanghai has been growing in popularity and presence over the years, and is worth the visit. Leafcanoer, searchingforyourzen, recently shared his advice on what to do in Shanghai in his leaf entitled, “Top 8 Things To Do in Shanghai!” For those looking to add more travel to their new year resolutions, here are seven reasons to visit Shanghai in 2016.
The old meets the new
The area in China known as Shanghai dates back to around 700 BC when it belonged to the Kingdom of Wu. Since then, it has grown from a small village to a large market town, and finally to a full-fledged city, with its city walls erected in 1554. In Shanghai, you can find historic gardens and temples, juxtaposed with some of the city’s newest buildings, including the Oriental Pearl Tower, which offers 360 degree views of the city. It’s the meeting of the old and the new that makes this city so unique and special.
A shopper’s haven
The strong US dollar makes spending money in Shanghai relatively easy. In fact, the city is often called a shopper’s paradise. Two of the major shopping roads in Shanghai are Nanjing Road, which still has shops that are centuries old, and Huaihai Road, known for its high-end designer stores. In 2015, the city adopted a tax refund policy, in an effort to entice more foreign travelers to visit Shanghai and shop.
Shanghai has a number of festivals worth experiencing. Just a few weeks away is the Lunar New Year, usually falling in January or February. In the spring is the Dragon Boat Festival, which celebrates one of China’s national heroes, Qu Yuan, and often features boat races. Summer time festivals include the Shanghai Film Festival, the Shanghai Television Festival, and Shanghai Tourism Festival. And one of the more notable fall festivals is the Shanghai International Art Festival, which falls in October.
The waterfront area in central Shanghai, stretching a mile along the Huangpu River, is known for its stunning skyline. With over 50 buildings representing a variety of architectural styles, this stretch of waterfront, known as the Bund, is one of the most visited destinations in Shanghai. Here, visitors can marvel at buildings showcasing Romanesque, Gothic, Neo-Classical, and even Baroque style architecture, as well as some more modern architecture.
The culinary scene
Shanghai cuisine has been around for over 400 years. Characterized by its frequent use of seafood, the cuisine found in Shanghai has traveled well beyond its borders to places like New York City. Yet, with its influence outward, it has also been influenced by the many cultures that have visited Shanghai. Many of the newer restaurants in Shanghai take traditional Shanghai and Chinese cuisine and rethink it in more modern terms. In this way, the culinary scene of Shanghai is much like the architecture and design of the city: a meeting of old and new.
Water town excursions
Sometimes the best way to experience a city is to get out of the city. There are about 8 towns just outside of Shanghai that are built around water and are worth visiting. Many of these towns date back centuries, and still have some of the original architecture remaining. Qibao Ancient Town is the closest water town to Shanghai, but is arguably one of the smallest. Zhouzhuang Water Town, on the other hand, is one of the most visited water towns, although it is approximately 79 kilometers from Shanghai.
The metro system
Speaking of excursions, one of the best ways to get around Shanghai is by metro. Considered one of the longest metro systems in the world, with a total route length of 420 kilometers, the Shanghai metro system has had several upgrades over the last few years and is expected to grow. Four new lines were added in 2014, and nine other lines began construction in 2015. This growth and development will make getting around the city a lot easier.
With the new year coming up, it’s time to think about where you want your travels to take you. For 2016, why not visit Shanghai?
For more ideas on what to do in Shanghai, or to consider other travel ideas for 2016, download the LeafCanoe app .