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Emerging into the light from Shanghai’s People’s Square subway station, I checked my bearings. The surrounding scene was a collage of angular glass towers, striking 1920’s buildings and the Shanghai Grand Theater and Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, which are modern takes on classic Chinese architecture.
People’s Square is Shanghai’s geographical center and is served by its largest subway hub, so another thought entered my mind — how much of the city could I visit by subway? I checked a map and started planning.
Like many cities with worsening traffic congestion, Shanghai’s subterranean rail network is a clean, efficient option for clients wishing to travel back and forth across the urban landscape. Purchasing a Jiaotong travel card is recommended. It can be used on metro transportation, taxis, buses and ferries in Shanghai and is easily topped off as required. Overall, it is a better value than buying individual tickets.
Shanghai significantly expanded its subway network in preparation for hosting the 2010 World Expo, and several signature attractions now have their own stations. In Puxi, the downtown Xintiandi dining, shopping and entertainment can be accessed via either Xintiandi or Huangpi South Road stations, while Yuyuan Garden station is the jumping-off point for the Yuyuan Chinese gardens, the pulsing Yuyuan Bazaar in the old city and the Huxingting Teahouse. Jingan Temple station offers easy access to both the famous Buddhist Temple and Jingan Park, where Shanghai elders practicing early morning tai chi has become a visitor attraction.
Across the Huangpu River in Pudong, the sky-high, 100th-floor Skywalk Observatory at the Shanghai World Financial Center is located between the Lujiazui and Dongchang Road stops. Popular for visitors with children to entertain, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum has its own self-named station, while one stop further is Century Park, a popular spot for weekend picnics and kite flying against the backdrop of the Shanghai skyline.
Clients wishing to visit the recently opened China Art Palace in Pudong — which occupies the eye-catching China Pavilion built for the 2010 World Expo and claims the world’s largest collection of modern Chinese art — should use the China Art Museum station.
Significant extensions to the subway system beyond downtown have also made accessible excursion locations that were previously hard to reach. About 12 miles west of downtown is the small town of Sheshan, which sits at the base of Sheshan Hill. Most visitors come to see Sheshan Cathedral, an exquisite red brick basilica sat atop the hill. Adjacent is an observatory established by Jesuits in 1898, which is now home to a small museum dedicated to Chinese astronomy. Free public bicycles and maps are available from the kiosk in front of Sheshan metro station, which is a great way to explore this bucolic area on a sunny day.
From hilltop to canalside, the atmospheric village of Qibao is one of several historic canal settlements dotted across the flat countryside outside Shanghai. Less visited than more popular tourism villages like Zhujiajiao, Zhouzhuang and Xitang, it is most famous for its beautiful Buddhist temple and local street snacks, such as glutinous rice cakes filled with red bean paste, smoked toads and candied hawberries.
Food fans may also be interested in riding the subway to the northwestern town of Nanxiang — the place of origin of the famed dumplings eaten voraciously across Shanghai, and most particularly at the famous Nanxiang Dumpling restaurant in Yuyuan Gardens. Another reason to visit Nanxiang is Yunxiang Temple, claimed to be the only temple built in the Tang Dynasty that is still in existence in Shanghai.
Shanghai offers several hotels that are conveniently located near subway stations such as:
The Jia ShanghaiNanjing West Road stationwww.jiashanghai.com
The Puli Hotel and SpaJingan Temple stationwww.thepuli.com
The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, PudongLujiazui stationwww.ritzcarlton.com