Shanghai Neighbourhoods, Locations and Districts

(Shanghai, China)

Photo of the Pu Dong skylineShanghai's city centre is simple to navigate thanks to its relatively small size. It is made up of two basic districts, Pu Xi (western town) and Pu Dong (eastern town), which are located opposite each other across the Huang Pu River.

Generally, Pu Xi represents the 'Old Shanghai' district, while Pu Dong embodies 'New Shanghai'. This can be seen in the harsh contrast of the contemporary and traditional architecture on either side of the river, specifically the early 20th-century architecture of the Bund on the Pu Xi side, and the more eye-catching modern architecture on the Pu Dong side.

Further view of the Pu Dong district

Pu Dong District

Fifteen years ago, Pu Dong was nothing but farmland. Today, it is mainly a financial district offering few attractions, except for admiring the shiny modern skyscrapers in the area, as well as the frantic pace of construction.

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, said to be the largest structure of its kind in Asia, watches over the city. Visitors are welcome and can get a bird's-eye view of Shanghai from the top.

Photo taken in the Bund district

Bund District

The Bund district showcases Shanghai's colonial past with wonderfully preserved buildings in art deco and neoclassical style, facing the sea front. When illuminated at night, the buildings form a romantic sight, attracting young lovers throughout the year. For a taste of nostalgia, visit the Peace Hotel, the leading hotel in Shanghai and the place to stay during the city's colonial heyday.

Pu Xi District

Most of the city centre is located in Pu Xi. The grid-like city plan makes finding your way around this part of Shanghai relatively easy. This district is divided into various areas, ranging from the traditional Chinese Yu Gardens to the modern metropolitan hustle and bustle of Huai Hai Road.

Picture of shops along Nan Jing Road

Nan Jing Road

Stretching east to west through Shanghai's commercial district, Nan Jing Road was once Shanghai's premier shopping street. Today, this location is home to the gigantic Shanghai Centre, a multi-complex housing the Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel, commercial businesses, consulates and a shopping mall. A section of eastern Nan Jing Road has been converted into a pedestrian-only area and has been the commercial hub of Shanghai since the 1930s, as can be seen from the many commercial signs spanning back through the decades. With the arrival of Huai Hai Road, Nan Jing's original glory has somewhat faded, but it is still worth visiting, particularly at night, when this district can be seen in its full, neon-lit splendour.

View of the Jing An district

Jing An District

The large People's Square is a peaceful oasis in the centre of the busy downtown Jing An district. Also a cultural attraction, it is home to the strikingly designed Shanghai Grand Theatre and Shanghai Museum. Underneath the park is a subterranean shopping mall, which is particularly popular with the young and hip. For those who yearn for more garish fun, check out the Great World Entertainment Centre, featuring karaoke, opera, acrobatics and more.

Image showing the tranquil Yu Yuan Gardens

Yu Yuan

This region of the Old City was formerly under Chinese rule during the days of colonial Shanghai and still holds on to its traditional Chinese charm. Yu Yuan offers one of the few remaining areas in modern Shanghai that has kept its 'Chinese' feel. Don't miss the shopping bazaar at Yu Gardens.

Old French Concession Area

This charming part of the city boasts leafy, tree-lined streets, fine-looking, old crumbling European buildings and Huai Hai Middle road, the city's premier shopping street. Lined with upmarket boutiques and shopping centres, this is a great spot in which to max out your credit card.