Shanghai Outings: Old City of Shanghai

shanghai-yuyuan-garden-corridorIf it will be just one place to visit in Shanghai, it would be this one: The old city of Shanghai. Best known as Nanshi, it stretches from the South Bund to the Southwest side of Huang Pu. It’s not very vast, 1,6 kilometres from the north to the south and 1,3 kilometres from east to west. This is the historical heart of Shanghai, dating from more than 2000 years. All Shanghai City has been built around this area after. Shanghai is still one of rare Chinese cities with awesome setting; with an old city inside the modern city of Shanghai. This is the older inhabited area of Shanghai, permitting to tourists trace Chinese daily life before modernisation. When we get into this district with all these houses with red and gold roofs (typical from China), we have the impression of been entering in another-world. Visiting Shanghai old city give the impression of going back in time. What is the background of the Old City? How to long there? Which are the best places to visit? Where to eat and to drink? Some answers to help you enjoy your visit…

What to visit in old city of Shanghai

Yuyuan Garden
Address: 218号 Anren St, Huang Pu Qu, Shanghai
Opening hours: from 8.30am to 5.30pm.
Entrance ticket: 30RMB

Encircled by walls, this awesome typical Chinese garden stretches on 2 hectares. This is one of the most interesting places of Shanghai. This is the Sichuan Province’s Governor, Pan Yun Dan, who drew plans of this wonder in 1578 in honour of his parents. The building of this set took almost twenty years. The Yuyuan garden is a miniature world representation. Indeed, rivers are here streams and mountains become rocks. During the Old China, Earth was considered as square and the sky as circle, symbol of the perfect harmony that we can find inside gardens with their circular doors.  More than 40 interesting elements are represented inside the garden. 5 walls dragon-shaped compose the latter. These walls themselves divide Yuyuan Garden into 6 unities, having each their one identity. The aim feature, expect for his peace and pavilions’ harmony, is the yellow rock garden created by Zhang Nanyang, one of garden art specialists during Ming period.
When we are taking a walk all through the garden, we have the impression of being in a labyrinth that reveals every time we enter in a new pavilion a new very calm and awesome place.

Bazar – Shanghai Laojie
To go into the Bazar, you need to enter below the Chinese traditional portico constructed at the intersection between Henan Lu and Fang Bang Lu. This quarter, dating from ninetieth century, in the past was named Temple of city’s protector God. It houses Yuyuan Garden. Like his name says, the bazar is a joyful chaos of sellers. This is a place where you can go to stroll, to bargain-hunt inside shops and to soak up the small ways ‘atmosphere. Bargaining is required if you want to buy some stuff in the bazar. You will need to divide at less the price into three before starting the negotiation. The bazar offers a lot of jewelries because a local belief wants that gold bought near to a temple brings happiness, but also antique stores, one very well-known chopstick shop at 33 Yuyuan Lu and fans of Liyunge at 35 Yuyuan Lu.

City God Temple
Address: 249号 Fang Bang Zhong Lu
Opening hours: from 8.30am to 4pm
Entrance ticket: 10RMB 

The City God Temple or Chenghuang Miao 上海城隍庙 is dedicated to prayers; joss sticks are even distributed at the entrance. There, we celebrate the City’s God.
Today the “City God Temple” not only refers to the large temple complex, but also the traditional district of commerce in the city, surrounding the temple.

The Shanghai Wen Miao or Temple of Confucius
Address: Wenmiao Rd, Huangpu
Opening hours: 8.00am to 4pm
Entrance ticket: 10RMB

The Shanghai Wen Miao 上海文庙, also known as Shanghai Confucian Temple, is an ancient temple and was built to pay homage to Confucius. It is the main temple of Confucius in Shanghai. The temple is located in the Wen Miao Lu 文庙路 in Huangpu District, and just outside the temple near the “Wen Miao Market”. The temple of Confucius is quiet, with a teahouse inside and isn’t dedicated to prayers.

Where to eat in Shanghai old city?

You’ll find a lot of restaurants and shops offering dishes to eat on the go near to the Yuyuan Garden, especially steam specialities, the most reputed in Shanghai City. For you, we’ve selected best restaurants where you could eat during your day trip.

Huxinting Teahouse
Address: No.257 Yuyuan Road, Huangpu District
Tel: 021-63736950, 021-63558270
Opening hours: from 10am to 9pm
Budget: 60-100RMB per person

Founded in 1855, Huxinting is one of the older teahouses of Shanghai. It’s near to the Yuyuan Garden, in the middle of a stretch of water. You can reach it thanks to an awesome wood bridge built in zigzag shape. A lot of celebrities from all around the world have ever been to this place, this is an inescapable place to go but very often tourists take by storm it.  According to beliefs, the bends on the bridge are destined to block bad ghosts.

Lu Bo Lang Restaurant
Address: Huangpu, 豫园路115号 ‎
Tel: +86 21 6328 0602
Opening hours: from 11am to 11pm
Budget: from 50RMB per person

A lot of crowned heads and leading figures had sat to these tables ‘restaurant, among which Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Fidel Castro. They could appreciate view of tea’s pavilion on the lake. You can savour, depending of the season, Yangcheng Hu crab, and shark’s fins or even small pork’s nibbles with sprout of bamboo and with mushrooms.

Nanxiang Mantou Restaurant
Address: Huangpu, 豫园路85号
Tel : +86 21 6355 4206
Opening hours: from 7.30am to 9pm
Budget: minimum 100RMB per person

At the city’s heart, near to the Yuyuan Garden, this small restaurant achieves great success. A Shanghaies food where you’ll taste the famous Xiaolongbao, small steam nibbles. Very often, there are a lot of people standing in line; you’ll need to be patient during lunch and dinner times. A good address in this touristic area.

Shanghai Classic Restaurant –  Shanghai Lao Fandian
Address: 242号 Fuyou Rd, Huangpu
Tel : +86 21 6311 1777
Web site: ‪
Opening hours: from 11am to 2pm and from 5pm to 10pm
Budget: between 160 and 200RMB per person

At the 2nd floor of a 3-star hotel, this is an historical address in Shanghai serving local specialities since 1875. Let’s taste the canard with 8 treasures (filled with slimy rice and cooked with 8 ingredients) and the Kou San Si (tofu, pork and bamboo salad). Advisable booking because the restaurant is victim of his own success.

Where to stay?

The Old City of Shanghai is first a touristic area; consequently, few are the good deals and the hotels. Indeed, we spend a lot of time inside the Old City but we very little stay there.

Pine City Hotel
Address: 777号 Zhaojiabang Rd, Xuhui
Tel: +86 21 6443 3888
Metro: line 7 and 9 – subway station: Zhaojiabang
Budget: rooms from 600RMB

Nice comfortable hotel with horseshoe-shaped, with an awesome garden in front of the building where you can escape yourself a few moments of the noisy district of Xujiahui. There are food of all kinds, a bowling, a pool table and a tennis court inside the hotel.

In any case, we leave the Old City with a lot of memories, pictures not knowing what to do with and with a lot of gifts in hands. It’s really apart from The Bund and from the very famous Nanjing Road. The Old City is truly a disorientation moment inside the modern Shanghai City. Actually this one of the most beautiful places in Shanghai. Not-to-be-missed.

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