If you are planning a trip to Shanghai then it is best to combine some time to just wander around and time to take an organized Shanghai tour. To really get the most out of the top attractions it is best to have a knowledgeable guide to tell you a bit of the history and to get you easily from place to place. After you have seen the main sites on a Shanghai tour then take to the streets to soak up the atmosphere. The city center is a forest of tall buildings but slightly off the beaten track you can find small communities where you can get a glimpse of real Shanghai life.
Visit the Bund, the area which runs from Jinling Road in the south to Waibaidu Bridge in the north. This 1.5km walk will take you passed many interesting historic buildings along the west bank of the Huangpu River. An organized Shanghai tour might also take you to the Bund. If you walk down Zhongshan Road you can get great views of the river and see a little of the Lujiazui district on the opposite river bank. Relax in the Yuyuan Garden which was established by the Ming Dynasty. The 400 year old garden has ornate traditional bridges and pagodas as well as ponds and landscaped traditional gardens.
If your organized Shanghai tour has not taken you to see the Oriental Pearl TV Tower then you would have seen it from a distance standing out above the Shanghai skyline. You would have also seen the skyscrapers of the Financial Center but if this side of Shanghai interests you then take a stroll among the tall buildings and you could even visit one of the observation decks. Nestled among the tall buildings is the picturesque neighborhood of Xintiandi which is a cultural and historic legacy. The area has many unique restaurants, boutiques and specialty stores as well as places of entertainment. Xintiandi is pedestrian-only and the buildings are original 19th century stone gate (shikumen) structures which have been converted to accommodate the modern outlets, eateries and stores. If your Shanghai tour doesn’t include the Jade Buddha Monastery then make a trip to see it on your own time. The ornate temple holds regular special events and you might be lucky enough to join in one of the celebrations.
Nanjing Road is a great place to visit after your organized Shanghai tour when you can take your time and explore the pedestrian street which has been likened to the Champs-Elysees and Fifth Avenue. Follow the street from The Bund to the People’s Park. Zhujiajiao Town is one of the places which will be easier to visit if you are with a tour. The ancient water town is more than 1700 years old and is a great place to see traditional architecture and a traditional way of life. You can wander the meandering lanes and stone pathways and feel like you have stepped back in time.