To me, the beauty of Shanghai lies not in its food, shopping nor people, but in its cityscape. In a city where you can find both glitzy sky-scraper buildings and rustic enclaves replete with artists, cafes, and random knick-knacks, here are a few spots that will make for some very enviable Instagram shots.
1. The Bund
This was the very first place my hosts brought me to, on my first night in Shanghai, and for good reason too. Ask people what image comes to mind when you say the term Shanghai and most would say the Bund. (The search engines would too.)
From being a mere muddy narrow lane in the early 1840s, the Bund has since grown into a booming financial hub, filled with towering commercial sky-scrapers. Coming from a city myself, you’d think I have gotten used to seeing buildings such as these, but the buildings that line the Bund are different, somewhat majestic and dazzling with their varied architectural styles and lighting.
Going there at sunset would be best; you can see the buildings in natural daylight, and also when they light up after dark. I’ve heard stories of the crazy crowds there, so you’d want to get there as early as you can, to get a good spot for a good shot.
2. Xin Tian Di
Xin Tian Di is the embodiment of “traditional meets modern”. The buildings at Xin Tian Di are mostly shikumen houses, with a very traditional Shanghainese exterior, but step in and you will see that most of them house very modern establishments such as galleries, bars, restaurants and cafes. The term shikumen literally means “Stone Gate” and is a traditional Shanghainese architectural style that combines Western and Chinese components.
If you peer into the shikumen houses around Xin Tian Di and you’d find that most of them come with long lanes that ends with a traditional archway, which make for picture-perfect Instagram outfit shots.
Once done with your little photo shoot, you can consider popping into a small café tucked along one of these lanes for a cuppa too. (That, you can Instagram too.)
3. Tian Zi Fang / Tai Kang Lu
Tian Zi Fang is slightly similar to Xin Tian Di, in the sense that both locales have the shikumen architectural style, but Tian Zi Fang comes across as a tad more rustic, and less commercialised. The mix of businesses are similar – galleries, cafes, craft stores and design studios, but don’t be too surprised if in one of the smaller alleyways, you come across residents going about their own chores, hanging their laundry out. Some of them even hawk little knick-knacks right outside their homes!
You’d want to spend at least an afternoon here, be it taking photos, perusing souvenirs and handicraft in the various shops, or sipping a cuppa in one of the cafes there, or even two.
What are your favourite photo spots in Shanghai?