Things to Do in Eastern China - page 2
Nicknamed the “Bottle Opener” due to its distinctive shape, the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) is the second tallest building in Shanghai, reaching a dizzying 1,614 feet (492 meters). Its three observatories—in particular, the glass-bottomed observatory on the 100th floor—are the main draw of the building, located in the Lujiazui area of Pudong. There’s also a hotel and a mall.
Pudong, which lies east of the Huangpu River, is Shanghai’s modern business and financial center. Formerly an agricultural area, Pudong is now home to an international airport, the biggest park in Shanghai, luxury shopping, a lively culinary scene, and the tallest and most distinctive skyscrapers in the city.
One of the four most famous classical gardens of Suzhou, the Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan) has World Heritage status and also showcases two UNESCO Intangible World Heritage Arts: Pingtan and Guqin music. The garden makes fantastic use of space, with a harmonious layout of temples, statues, rockeries, halls, bridges, and ponds.
Covering almost six acres, the garden is divided into four areas: the east, west, central, and north sections, all of which are connected via a half-mile (700-meter) corridor featuring calligraphy carved into its stone walls. The central area features many buildings surrounding a pond and grotto, while the east garden includes a miniature mountain modeled after Tiantai Mountain, as well as the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks, the largest hall in the garden. The west section is mostly natural, with a large rockery built during the Ming Dynasty, while the north garden, once used to grow vegetables, now showcases a range of potted plants.
Popular among families, the Lingering Garden is often visited on day trips from Shanghai that also include other famous classical gardens in Suzhou. It's common to combine a trip here with visits to the famous water towns of Zhouzhuang and Tongli, but other options include visits to Shantang Old Street and Tiger Hill. For a unique day out, book a Suzhou culture and art tour, which includes a Suzhou opera performance at the Master of Nets Garden.
Shanghai’s premier shopping street, Nanjing Road (Nanjing Lu) features businesses ranging from small shops and stalls to massive department stores and malls. It’s the world’s longest shopping district, stretching 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) from the Bund to Jing’an Temple, and attracts over a million visitors a day.
Once the tallest building in Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl Tower (Dongfang Mingzhu Ta) remains one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in Pudong, part of the skyline visible from The Bund. The sci-fi-esque 1,535-foot (468-meter) tower houses observation platforms, a glass-bottomed walkway, rotating restaurant, as well as the Shanghai History Museum in its basement.
Pingjiang Road (Pingjiang Lu) is an ancient canal-side street located in the city of Suzhou. The road and its surroundings have been around for more than 800 years, since the Song Dynasty. A popular tourist destination, this charming cobblestone street gives visitors a fascinating glimpse into local Suzhou life.
More than 1,600 meters long, Pingjiang Road is lined with quaint old bookshops, local theaters, and traditional Suzhou houses with whitewashed walls and black tiles. You’ll also find eccentric cafes, jewelry shops, and street food vendors, as well as a number of other restaurants. Locals and tourists alike gather in the teahouses for performances of Suzhou Pingtan, a traditional performance of ballad singing and storytelling in the local dialect, while those interested in architecture will be in their element with the ancient design of the buildings here – plus there are 18 bridges scattered across the Pingjiang district.
Despite being a popular tourist destination, Pingjiang remains a quiet place away from the noise of the city. Because of its location, a visit here can easily be combined with a tour of Suzhou’s other top attractions, such as the the Humble Administrator’s Garden or Lion Grove Garden. A boat ride on the surrounding canals is a scenic way to experience this unique district.
The massive People’s Square (Renmin Guangchang) is in the heart of Shanghai. Surrounded by the city’s municipal government headquarters, a park, and several top museums, the major landmark makes for a popular meeting spot, as well as being at the center of politics, culture, transportation, and tourism in Shanghai.
Meijiawu Tea Village, just west of West Lake, is a top producer of Longjing (Dragon Well) tea, considered one of the finest teas in China and the world. Surrounded by mountains, valleys, and streams, Meijiawu Tea Village is a picturesque locale where visitors can learn all about the heritage, production, and benefits of Longjing tea.
Located in the French Concession, the Shanghai Museum of Arts and Crafts showcases traditional embroidery, paper crafts, lantern making, and carvings in wood, jade, bamboo, and other materials. Visitors can check out the exhibits and watch artisans at work.
LIttle Fish Hill Park (Xiaoyushan Park), was built between 1983 and 1985 as the first classical Chinese-style park in the city. Little Fish Hill's position about 200 feet (60 meters) above the surrounding city makes it a wonderful scenic viewpoint, where visitors can gaze down on Zhanqiao Pier, Little Qingdao Island, No. 1 Bathing Beach and Badaguan Scenic Area.
At the heart of Xiaoyushan Park sits an elegant three-story, octagonal Chinese pavilion, called the Lanchao (Watching Tide) Pavilion. A spiral staircase leads to viewing platforms on both the second and third floors. Two smaller pavilions afford views of Huiquan Bay and the surrounding maplewood forest.
More Things to Do in Eastern China
Located near the famous Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou Museum is a must-visit for all history, art, and culture lovers visiting the city. This modern museum was designed by the award-winning I.M. Pei, a Chinese American architect. With more than 15,000 pieces to admire, from calligraphy and ancient paintings, to cultural relics and woodcarvings, the museum provides a crucial insight into Suzhou’s history and culture.
The city of Suzhou is famous for its well-designed classical gardens, and a visit to the museum is the perfect opportunity to discover how natural landscapes and buildings blend harmoniously within them. Explore ancient Chinese paintings, calligraphy, and handmade crafts, along with tens of thousands of books, documents, and stone inscriptions that reveal much about the various dynasties that have ruled China over the centuries, including the Yuan, Song, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.
To provide the most context, Suzhou Museum is best visited as part of an extended cultural tour of the area. It can also be visited as part of various day trips of the city, which might include entry into several classical gardens as well as time to explore the ancient streets.
Learn all about the history and development of tea in China, tea culture, tea ceremonies, tea wares, and different types of tea at the National Tea Museum (Zhongguo Chaye Bowuguan). Nestled within the hills of idyllic Longjing (Dragon Well) Village, the National Tea Museum is the only national museum in China focused entirely on tea.
Clear, unmanned tram cars surrounded by a psychedelic music and light show travel under the Huangpu River on the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel tourist ride. The 2,122-foot-long (647-meter-long) tunnel connects passengers from the Bund to Pudong in three to five minutes.
Experience the magic at Shanghai Disneyland, the first Disney park in Mainland China. Enjoy thrilling rides, shows, and attractions; shop and dine; and pose with your favorite characters in six different themed areas: Mickey Avenue, Gardens of Imagination, Fantasyland, Adventure Isle, Treasure Cove, and Tomorrowland.
Fei Lai Feng (Flying Peak) – literally translated as ‘Peak Flown from Afar’ – is a unique, 200-meter tall limestone peak located next to the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.
At the site, ancient tree roots rise above the ground, their branches twisting and winding up the peak. Due to erosion, there are a large number of caves within the mountain, and some of these feature intricately carved Buddha statues that were created during the Song and Yuan dynasties.
The largest Buddha statue here is the Maitreya Buddha, with its exposed belly and beaming smile; this is one of the best-preserved statues of its kind, displaying the artistry of carving in the Song Dynasty. In Longhong Cave, there is a seated statue of Avalokitesvara, while in Shexu Cave, a beam of sunlight pours in through the rock tunnels above – a famous scene known as 'the gleam of the sky'.
Qinghefang Ancient Street, the best-preserved historical street in Hangzhou, stretches 1,575 feet (480 meters). East of West Lake, it’s a great place to shop, dine, and appreciate classical architecture. A number of buildings are from the Ming (1380–1644) and Qing (1644–1912) dynasties, and some of the shops date back hundreds of years.
Suzhou is famous for being the silk capital of China – the city was the center of silk production for imperial families throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. Suzhou Silk Museum provides an opportunity to learn about how silk has been produced and used throughout the centuries, dating as far back as 2000 BC. It’s also a chance to admire the crafts, embroidery, and clothing made from silk, and perhaps purchase a souvenir to take home.
Those interested in architecture will note that Suzhou Silk Museum combines a sense of ancient civilization with a modern design, with white walls representing the purity of silk and round edges symbolizing its softness. The museum is divided into several sections, each offering a different angle on the life and times of silk. In the silkworm-rearing room, you can see live worms enjoying mulberry leaves, their favourite food, before being transported through time in the silk-weaving workshop, where ancient looms reveal the past grandeurs of the silk industry.
A visit to Suzhou Silk Museum is a captivating experience, combining history, culture, and art. To provide the most context, it is best visited as part of an extended cultural tour of the area, with stops at the Classical Gardens of Suzhou, Suzhou Museum, plus several other key attractions in the city. It can also be visited as part of various day trips, which might include entry into one or two classical gardens, as well as time to explore the city’s ancient streets.
Tianzifang, in the French Concession, is a hip, artsy area of Shanghai full of art galleries, design studios, stylish boutiques, and unique shops. Many bars, cafés, and restaurants here are housed in traditional Shikumen buildings or converted factory spaces. A place for meandering, it’s popular with expats, tourists, and local youth.
Located on the southern bank of scenic West Lake, the 5-story, 8-sided Leifeng Pagoda offers stunning panoramic views over West Lake, and features spectacular statues and carvings on different levels. One of the top attractions in Hangzhou, “Leifeng Pagoda at Sunset” is also one of the classic Ten Scenes of West Lake.
The inverted scarlet pyramid that towers over Pudong isn’t just an icon of Shanghai. It’s home to one of Asia’s largest art museums, including works previously housed at the Shanghai Art Museum. Spread across several huge floors, the China Art Palace tells the story of the rise of modern art in Shanghai and hosts world-class exhibitions.
Step back in time to 1920s and 1930s Shanghai, and get a glimpse of how the average middle-class family lived, at the Shikumen Open House Museum (Wulixiang Shikumen Bowuguan). Located in Xin Tian Di, the museum uses recreated rooms and multimedia displays to present a house in the typical shikumen, or stone gate, style unique to Shanghai.
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall Tours
A surprisingly interesting museum, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall (Shanghai Chengshi Guihua Zhanshi Guan) in People’s Square traces the development of the city from a small fishing village to a modern metropolis. Featuring photos, models, videos, and interactive displays, it’s a great way to learn about the past and imagine the future of Shanghai.
The museum covers five floors above ground and two underground. Start off on the first floor, which covers the historical development of Shanghai. The centerpiece of the museum, a huge scaled model of the city, is on the third floor. Don’t miss the wraparound 3D theater, which gives a glimpse into the future of Shanghai. In the basement, you can walk down a re-created Shanghai street from the 1930s, which leads to a very modern underground shopping plaza.
Combine a visit to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall with a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Shanghai, a Huangpu River cruise, or a half-day or full-day tour that includes other top Shanghai attractions, such as Yuyuan Garden, Xintiandi, or the Bund.
Things to Know Before You Go
Audio guides in eight languages are available for rental.
The museum is wheelchair and stroller accessible; both are available for free.
Special temporary exhibitions may require an additional fee.
There is a café on the fifth floor that offers great views over People’s Square.
How to Get There
The museum is located in People’s Square, in the Huangpu District. By metro, take line 1, 2, or 8 to People’s Square Station. By bus, take line 18, 20, 46, 49, 71, 123, or 537 and get off at People’s Square, or take tourist bus 1 or 3 to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center.
When to Get There
The museum is open daily, except Mondays (unless it’s a public holiday), with slightly longer hours Friday through Sunday. Expect to spend one to two hours here, longer if you are really into design, architecture, or urban planning.
Other Attractions Near People’s Square
There are a number of other museums and attractions in and around People’s Square, including top-rated Shanghai Museum, the Shanghai History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Grand Theater.
Since 2001, travelers have been venturing to the West Sea Grand Canyon (Xihai Grand Canyon) for incredible views of the West Sea (Xihai) area, scenic overlooks and truly epic landscapes. Visitors can tour the entire area, which covers some 25-kilometers across an easy-to-follow circular route, and winds past dozens of stunning rock formations.
A network of steep steps leads travelers through ever-changing landscapes, which include pine forests and rocky crags. The memorable Fairy-walking Bridge guides visitors to the White Cloud Area, where a more difficult climb for the truly fit results in some of the area’s best views. Those in the know say that even the stairs can be difficult to navigate, so the West Sea Grand Canyon is best left to visitors in good health—and with good hiking shoes.
The Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum (Shanghai Youtai Nanmin Jinianguan) is housed within the restored Ohel Moshe Synagogue, which played a key role in the lives of the 20,000 European Jewish refugees who settled in the city during World War II. The museum highlights their story through photos, films, documents, and personal items.
- Things to do in Hangzhou
- Things to do in Shanghai
- Things to do in Huangshan
- Things to do in Nanjing
- Things to do in Nanchang
- Things to do in Suzhou
- Things to do in Tai'an
- Things to do in Wuhan
- Things to do in Okinawa
- Things to do in Southern China
- Things to do in Northern Vietnam
- Things to do in Zhengzhou
- Things to do in Qufu
- Things to do in Guangxi
- Things to do in Northern China