24 hours in Shanghai

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In the 20s and 30s, Shanghai was the Pearl of the Orient, a city of wealth, decadence, and outrageous nightlife. Its citizens were as international as its reputation, but the rise of Communism following the end of World War II put an end to all that. For the second half of the century, Shanghai lay dormant.

In the 90s, the central government began rehabilitating Shanghai, rapidly transforming it from slumbering city to financial capital. A forest of skyscrapers now squares off with the imposing colonial fa?ades of the Bund, Shanghai’s historic waterfront. The legendary nightlife has returned in force, and in myriad forms; in 2009, a one-time Shinto shrine reopened as a burlesque club.

The city invested US$45 billion to overhaul its infrastructure, ahead of hosting the 2010 World Expo. May to October will see an estimated 70 million tourists flock to Shanghai to take part, and the city has been busily adding subway lines, sprucing up buildings, and polishing tourist sites. Add to that a raft of technological and architectural superlatives, and China’s best shopping and dining, and you have China’s most modern and exciting city.

Outrageous in both its energy and Wild Western saloon decor
, which glows under a rainbow of neon lights, club No 88 (291 Fumin Lu) is a Shanghai sensation, the epitome of its raucous nightlife.

China rises early. Head to Fuxing Gongyuan (Park), built by the colonial French
, where graceful seniors start the day by practising tai chi, stretching and gossiping among the rose-filled gardens.

Ascend the newly built Shanghai World Financial Center
for a bird’s eye view. At 474m, the 100th floor Skywalk observation deck is the world’s highest, and visibility is best in the morning.

Meander the tree-lined streets
of the former French Concession. Peruse the curated selection of fine teas at Song Fang Maison de The (227 Xiangyang Lu), a boutique teashop and salon.

Visit Xintiandi
, an area of renovated, traditional Shanghai lane houses turned into a shopping, dining, and nightlife district. Drop in to Crystal Jade for a lunch of spectacular Cantonese cooking.

Yu Garden, a traditional Chinese garden of rocks, ponds, and bridges
, is in Shanghai’s Old City. Cut through the surrounding bazaar, and across the Bridge of Nine Turns, to its entrance.

Cab it to Moganshan Lu
, ground zero for Shanghai’s contemporary art scene. Explore the warehouse studios and galleries clustered around No 50, or visit m97 (97 Moganshan Lu) for fine-art photography.

Walk east from People’s Square on Nanjing Dong Lu.
The pedestrian-only street, packed with neon, old Chinese brands, historical buildings, and gawping provincial tourists, ends at the Bund.

The fiery cuisine of Sichuan province meets Shanghai sophistication
at the swank South Beauty. Two locations offer distinct surroundings: modern d?cor (28-1 Taojiang Lu) or garden villa (881 Yan’an Lu).

Take in a jazz show at the JZ Club
(46 Fuxing Lu), in a happening former French Concession neighbourhood, south of the famed Jing An Temple, or The House of Blues and Jazz (60 Fuzhou Lu).

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