Text and Photos by Erza S.T. & The Portman Ritz-Carlton
Shanghai will always be the Pearl of The Orient. Since the day it was discovered by the West until now, this city has constantly mesmerized everyone who ever arrived there. Winter could be a great option of season to explore this city. In nice cold yet fresh breeze, winter in Shanghai allows you to be a good pedestrian and see many interesting sights along the way.
Pudong skyline seen from The Bund.
Walking Aroud the Bond
The Shanghai Bund is perhaps the most iconic part of the city. This is where the former Shanghai International Settlement (or Old Shanghai) was separated from the Pudong area (New Shanghai) by the Huangpu River. It is iconic because of the waterfront contrast. The Old Shanghai waterfront is filled with architectural masterpieces from the past including the Shanghai Club (now the Waldorf-Astoria Shanghai Hotel), Sassoon House and the Bank of China Building, while the New Shanghai waterfront is filled with modern architectural buildings including the famous Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center.
Walking in the afternoon while watching the sunset and exploring these great designed buildings is an adventure. I was so impressed with the frescoes and stunning murals hidden inside the art deco style of the China Bank of Communications Building. On the Pudong side, a trip up to the glass-floored observation decks at Oriental Pearl Tower is an exciting experience.
There are a few interesting areas in Shanghai where you can do art walks. As an international city, Shanghai is adorned with stunning art galleries, museums and streets full of antiques. Aside from the galleries around The Bund, the best place to see Shanghai’s contemporary artworks is by visiting 50 Moganshan Road, also known as M50. Hidden inside the old industrial area along Suzhou creek, M50 has blossomed to become a renowned contemporary art district in Asia where more than 120 galleries and art studios showcase some of Shanghai’s best known artists, including as Zhou Yi, Xu Zhen and Liu Dao among others.
For fine arts, I enjoyed the walk inside the Shanghai Museum with its very unique shape resembling an ancient bronze cooking vessel known as a ding. Over 10 galleries are inside this museum showcasing the best there is in mainland China; from bronze collections to furniture of the Ming and Qing dynasties. One gallery that captured my attention was the Gallery of Ancient Chinese Jades. The artworks and craftsmanship here are just monumental.
Another fun alternative art walk is to visit Dongtai Road, which sells nothing but antiques. Stretched along five blocks, the sellers on Dongtai Road sell everything old or vintage from Chairman Mao’s memorabilia, mint toys, old photos, alarm clocks and much more. Of course, this is not just a place where you can find rare or fine antiques, but also just for the fun of it. There are plenty of reproduction works, but if you have the penchant for antiques, you will be able to spot many here.Click to view slideshow.
A Walk at Water City
Zhujiajiao ancient town in the suburb of Shanghai city is like Venice minus the frescoes. One amongst the four best-preserved ancient towns in Shanghai, Zhujiajiao was built on water in mid 15th century. A walk around this water city will show you many interesting things including the famous Fangsheng Bridge (setting fish free bridge) – the longest, largest and tallest stone bridge in the city. The experience here includes boat trips using traditional Chinese boats and a visit to Qing Dynasty Post Office.
Where To Stay
After all of this walking around, it is crucial to choose the perfect hotel. The Portman Ritz-Carlton that lies on the famous Nanjing Road is one of the best business five-star hotels that really understands all of your needs and goes the extra mile.
My Club Executive Suite consisted of a king-sized bed and a separate parlour facing Shanghai’s skyline with luxurious contemporary décor that has Asian elements portraying the city’s modernity and historical demeanor. Included was a complimentary suit pressing on arrival and a complimentary limousine transfer from 7am to 11pm to The Bund. These are just part of the benefits of staying at this hotel club’s floor.
Make sure to dine at the hotel’s award-winning Italian restaurant, Palladio, by Chef de Cuisine Gianluca Serafin. Aside from a superb wine collection, the restaurant really titillated my taste buds with its modern Italian menu. The Portman Ritz-Carlton definitely makes a great home while you are in Shanghai.