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No trip to Shanghai would be complete without a walk along the famous Bund. This picturesque street, Shanghai's waterfront promenade, stretches for one mile (2km) along the bank of the Huangpu River, and was once the most famous street in Asia. It is still renowned for its strip of Art Deco buildings. One of the grandest of these buildings, formerly the City Communist Party headquarters, is now the home of the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. On the skyline you can see the Jin Mao Tower, the tallest building in China. The wide riverfront promenade on the east bank of the river provides a captivating view of Shanghai, particularly at night. From the Bund visitors can take a river trip down the Huangpu to the mouth of the Yangtse. Boats leave regularly from the Shiliupu Pier south of the Bund and the trip takes about three hours. Or, if you would prefer to see an aerial view with drink in hand, try visiting Char Bar of the Indigo Hotel for an astounding view of the Bund. However you do it, this area promises incredible photo opportunities and is a good way to start familiarising yourself with what Shanghai has to offer.
The new Shanghai Museum is situated on the People's Square, the political and cultural centre of Shanghai. The square itself boasts a giant musical fountain and some attractive green recreational areas where locals dance and fly kites. It is surrounded by the City Hall, an underground shopping centre, and the Grand Shanghai Theatre. However, the Shanghai Museum, opened in 1996, draws the most interest. The building is shaped like a giant bronze urn, and the museum contains a collection of 123,000 cultural artefacts in 21 categories. The permanent galleries of this impressive museum include: Chinese Ancient Bronze, Chinese Ancient Ceramics, Chinese Paintings, Chinese Caligraphy, Chinese Ancient Sculpture, Chinese Ancient Jade, Chinese Coins, Ming and Qing Furniture, Chinese Seals, and Chinese Minority Nationalities' Art. There is a restaurant and an art store within the museum. If you don't speak Chinese look out for the museum's advanced audio tour, which is offered in eight languages and costs about RMB 40. As the lines can get rather long, try to get to the museum early. And if it is a hot day, enter via the south entrance rather than the north because at the southern one you can queue undercover.
The Yuyuan Gardens (Gardens of Contentment) date back to 1559 to the Ming Dynasty, and are the best example of Chinese classical gardens in Shanghai. Yuyuan is a popular tourist attraction but it is still a peaceful and beautiful place, which has been inventively laid out. If you like Koi fish then you will be impressed with the Yuyuan's collection. The relatively small gardens are laid out in an intricate design with pavilions, rockeries, ponds and a traditional theatre arranged in an ornate maze. The gardens consist of six sections: The Grand Rockery, the Hall of Heralding Spring, the Hall of Jade Magnificence, Ten Thousand Flower Pavilion, Inner Garden, and Lotus Pool. The gardens are on Yuyuan Street in downtown Shanghai and can be reached via the Town God Temple Market, a warren of shops and stalls that is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist bazaar. The market boasts both international staples like Starbucks and Dairy Queen, and unique local stalls. After the bustle of the market the gardens provide welcome shade and calm. It is best to visit the gardens during the week because they get very busy during weekends and the crowds can detract from the spirit of the place.