Shanghai’s most famous attraction is the Bund. This was where the colonial merchants of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries built the headquarters for their trading firms and banks. Still today, these vast, august edifices boom of power - but now the roofs are topped with the red and yellow flags of the People’s Republic and the buildings below house designer clothing shops as well as banking headquarters. Across the Huangpu River, there’s a greater transformation still. 30 years ago, this was sleepy farmland - now, Pudong is a booming financial and economic district. Just back from the waterfront lays the old city, a tangle of tiny lanes where the locals still live as they have for decades. Even in these traditional lanes, though, the wrecking ball is wreaking its havoc: walk around them now before it’s too late. Further west lays the French Concession, where large colonial houses are being rapidly converted into high-end bars and restaurants.
For shoppers, Shanghai is still a kind of heaven. Markets are regularly being uprooted and rehoused as part of the urban planners’ mission to make the city better and brighter than ever before. There are still fabulous deals to be had at the fabric market, wonderful trinkets and antiques in Dongtai Road and good-value custom-made furniture for those with a shipping crate to spare.