Situated at the Yangtze River Delta, roughly equidistant from Beijing and Hong Kong, Shanghai is the powerhouse of the Chinese economy. Bold, futuristic and in a continual state of development, it is the country's biggest metropolis, with a collection of skyscrapers in the Pudong district that combine to create one of the world's most recognisable skylines. Nowhere are they better appreciated than from The Bund waterfront, lined with grand historic banks, hotels and offices on one side and with sweeping views across the river to the gleaming forest of towers on the other.

In its heyday in the early 20th century Shanghai was one of the most important trading ports in the world and enjoyed the nickname "Paris of the East", traces of which remain in the French Concession; a charming area of tree-lined streets filled with pretty European-style villas, fashionable boutiques, antique street markets and local cafes. The wonderful Yu Gardens are equally impressive, with a large rockery, magnificent tea house, temple and traditional bazaar and the old buildings of Xintiandi hark back to yesteryear.

From Shanghai you can also easily reach a number of ancient water towns, as well as the classical Chinese gardens of Suzhou on day trips. See below for more.

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