This vast repository of Chinese art, celebrates one masterpiece after another while guiding visitors through Chinese history. It’s best to arrive in the morning, as only 8,000 people are allowed in daily and queues can be long. The star attraction is a collection of ancient bronzes, some dating back to the 21st century BC.
Shanghai may be famous for its glitz, but it has an edgy subculture, too. The M50 art complex is a prime example, with galleries set up in disused factories and cotton mills to showcase contemporary Chinese emerging and established artists. There’s also great street art en route as you pass graffiti -splashed walls along Moganshan Rd.
PROPAGANDA POSTER ART CENTRE
If armies of red tractors, bumper harvests, muscled peasants and lantern-jawed proletarians fire you up, this small gallery in the bowels of a residential block should intoxicate. The collection of original posters focuses on the Maoist era and there is also a shop.
If the sun is out, pop down to this small, but amusing artificial strip of sand right by the river, with the Lujiazui district’s shiny high-rises as a backdrop. You’ll find a limited bar, deckchairs, beach volleyball and Frisbee. The beach is north of Cool Docks – a regenerated area surrounded by brick warehouses, and full of restaurants and bars illuminated at night.
Symbolic of colonial Shanghai in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Bund was once the city’s Wall Street, a place of feverish trading and fortunes made and lost. This grandiose curve of buildings, lining the western bank of the Huangpu River in front of Pudong’s ever-changing skyline, was originally a towpath for dragging barges of rice. Visit early morning when locals practise tai chi or early evening when both sides of the river are lit up.
YUYUAN GARDENS & BAZAAR
With shaded alcoves, glittering pools churning with fish, pavilions and pines sprouting wistfully from rockeries, the Yuyuan Gardens are one of Shanghai’s premier sights. The Pan family, rich Ming Dynasty officials, founded the gardens in 1559. The attached bazaar is a treasure trove of handicrafts (if a little tacky). Crowds can be overpowering, so try to come midweek.
JIAN GUO 328
Frequently crammed, this boisterous, two floors, MSG-free spot does a roaring trade on the back of excellent well-priced Shanghainese cuisine. You can’t go wrong with the menu: highlights include the deep-fried duck legs, aubergine casserole, scallion-oil noodles and yellow croaker fish spring rolls.
Good-looking Sumerian packs a lot into a small space. The real drawcard is the coffee: the cafe roasts its own single-origin beans sourced from Ethiopia, El Salvador and China. Next door, the same bright team runs pocket-sized bar Dogtown; on weekends, there’s a free keg of Asahi going from noon until it runs out.