Shanghai reigns as China’s financial and business center and stands as a symbol of modernity for the country. Last year, it received 215 million domestic tourists and 7.3 million overseas visitors and is working to increase tourism revenues by 70% by 2015. With that goal in mind, the city is investing $5.95 billion USD into a number of key projects.
The city’s focus on tourism has led way to the creation of some of the most beautiful urban landscapes in China. Here are five views you won’t want to miss on your next trip to Shanghai.
1. The View From Bar Rouge
Located atop Bund 18, a 1923 column-fronted building built in the neo-classical style, Bar Rouge is one of Shanghai’s top nightlife spots, boasting world-class DJs, cocktails and interior design. Its awe-inspiring terrace offers unparalleled views of the Huangpu River and Pudong, Shanghai’s financial district and space-age skyline.
Bund 18 also offers a number of luxury shops – including Cartier, Ermenegildo Zegna and Zhaoyi – and an art space called 18 Gallery.
2. Looking Out From the Oriental Pearl Tower
At a total height of 1,535 feet, the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower (东方明珠塔), located in the Pudong district, is the second tallest tower in Asia, only surpassed by the Canton Tower, which was completed in 2010 and is located in Guangzhou, China.
The Pearl Tower’s Sightseeing Floor, located at 863 feet is the best place to see bird’s-eye views of Shanghai, including the Huangpu River and neighboring skyscrapers, the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai’s two tallest structures. The observatory also features a transparent floor for dizzying views of the city below.
Its highest observation level – known as the Space Module – sits at 1,148 feet and also offers panoramic views of the city through the tower’s pink-tinted glass.
The tower also features a mediocre revolving restaurant, located at 876 feet, and the Shanghai Municipal History Museum, a gem of an exhibit tucked away in the tower’s basement.
3. Looking Down on the Jin Mao Atrium
One of the centerpieces of Shanghai’s Pudong skyline, the Jin Mao Tower (金茂大廈, meaning “Golden Prosperity Building”) is an 88-story skyscraper that is home to the Grand Hyatt hotel and a number of shops, restaurants, nightclubs and offices.
The Hyatt’s barrel-vaulted atrium is a spectacle for newcomers to the city, stretching from the hotel’s 56th floor and extending to the 87th.
For a top-down view of the atrium, take the hotel elevator to the 85th floor or visit the Skywalk, an indoor admission-only observation deck on the 88th floor. The observation deck offers great views of Shanghai, as well.
The Hyatt also features jazz club Piano Bar (53rd floor), high-end Cantonese restaurant Canton (55th floor) and a number of restaurants on the 56th floor, at the base of the atrium – which offers the same stunning view of the spiral atrium, but from the bottom.
4. The Bund at Night – From Any Angle
Its futuristic skyline easily comes to mind when one thinks of Shanghai, but its sister skyline across the river is just as spectacular. The Bund (外滩) occupies one mile along the Huangpu River and houses 52 buildings of varying architectural styles, such as Gothic, Baroque, Art Deco and Neo-Classical. Initially a British settlement, the location has been inhabited by a number of banks and trading houses from around the world.
At night, the dramatic lighting sets in and warms the bank. Whether you’re strolling along the street or viewing from a riverboat, the Bund is a site you won’t want to miss.
If you’re looking to sleep in opulence, check in to the Peace Hotel, the famous green-steepled Art Deco building along the Bund where guests are pampered in pure opulence.
5. Neon Signs Galore on Nanjing Road
Nanjing Road is one of the world’s busiest shopping streets. Along the pedestrian mall on Nanjing Road East, neon signs light the way as the sun sets in Shanghai.
The pedestrian mall features first rate department stores, international cuisine and a number of traditional specialty shops for Chinese goods. Nanjing Lu is a time-lacking tourist’s one-stop shop for gifts and souvenirs.
What are your favorite views in Shanghai? Let us know in the comments below.
Erica Swallow is an associate editor at Mashable, working primarily on growing the site's supported content program and writing within its business and marketing vertical. Erica is an international speaker, New York transplant and lover of chocolate, wine, traveling, dancing and the color orange. Follow her latest musings on Twitter and Google+.