Walking Tour: Old City of Shanghai, Shanghai

The Huangpu district contains some of the best-preserved sites of old Shanghai. The old town of Shanghai is a large area that remained walled when this city was divided into foreign concessions. Take a walk around traditional Chinese buildings or make your way through a large open-air market and enjoy the delightful Yuyuan gardens. The next walking tour is all about the delights of Shanghai's old Chinese city.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walking Tour: Old City of Shanghai Map

Guide Name: Walking Tour: Old City of Shanghai
Guide Location: China » Shanghai (See other walking tours in Shanghai)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Author: emma
Yuyuan Garden

1) Yuyuan Garden (must see)

Yuyuan Garden was built 400 years ago during the Ming Dynasty by Pan Yunduan, the son of a high ranking official for the recreation of his aging parents. Yuyuan means happy and Pan spent 20 years creating a space for the happiness of his parents.

Yuyuan Garden fell into disrepair after the decline of Pan’s family and was purchased by rich merchants in 1760. The garden was restored to its former glory but suffered damage again during the Opium Wars. In 1956, repairs and restorations were undertaken and it was opened again to the public in 1961.

The garden covers an extent of five acres. It has the oldest and largest rockery in China and three halls, the Cuixiu Hall, the Sansui Hall, and the Dianchun Hall. Other buildings include the Yule Pavilion and the Wanhua Chamber. Visitors can view Ming-dynasty-style rosewood furniture in the halls. A 400-year-old maidenhair tree planted by Pan stands in front of the Wanhua Chamber. The highlight is a large rock called the jade rock. It is a 3.3-meter high rock with 72 holes positioned in such a way that water or smoke sent into one of the holes comes out through all the holes at the same time. The Yuyuan Garden has pavilions, corridors, bridges, streams and a courtyard to make it a calm and relaxing sanctuary within a busy section of the city.

Why You Should Visit:
A terrific initial exposure for those unfamiliar with a Chinese garden, with its elegant structures, hidden bat and dragon features, and huge rockery.
There is less emphasis placed on flora with, rather, more emphasis placed on flow, water, and the harmony of elements.

Go early, as closer to the opening hours as possible, to minimize crowds. Later in the day, the lines get very long!
Do take a bottle of water with you, but if not you will find a tea house in the middle of the gardens.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:45am-4:15pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Yuyuan Bazar

2) Yuyuan Bazar (must see)

Located in front of the Yuyuan Gardens, the Yuyuan Bazar, also known as the Old Town Bazaar has shops selling an array of Chinese handicrafts and textiles. At this market, visitors will be dazzled at the array of products that can be purchased at a bargain.

The location of the Yuyuan Bazar was once a residential area near the Yuyuan Gardens. Later it became a place of trade for traditional arts and crafts and remains so till today. The Bazar covers an area of over 50 hectares with 3000 shops and nearly 10,000 vendors selling second-hand goods in addition to antiques and handicrafts. Nearly 60,000 tourists visit the market every day to haggle over a price and buy traditional Chinese food, shoes, jewelry, textiles, jade, wooden chopsticks, watches, clocks and caps.

The Yuyuan Bazar is particularly attractive during spring when the city celebrates the lantern festival on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, during which the market and the Old Town are decorated with lamps and lanterns. Traditional music is played adding to the festive atmosphere. This is also the busiest time of year at the market when the prices charged by the traders are higher than usual.

Why You Should Visit:
No matter how commercialized, the architecture, the lake, and of course the nearby Yuyuan Garden is still a pretty sight to behold. Only in China!

If you're looking for a fascinating insight into where the locals go for their household items, there's a building behind the Bazar called Fuyou Street Merchandise Mart. Think WalMart, but in a fraction of the space WalMart actually operates in. Unbelievable...

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-10pm
Fang Bang Road Indoor Antique Market

3) Fang Bang Road Indoor Antique Market

Fang Bang Road Indoor Antique Market is a five-story flea market. Three floors of the market building are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The weekend market, which is located on the third and fourth floors, runs from 5 am to 6 pm. On weekends, the fourth floor is open to small local vendors. Over here, you can find all sorts of treasures such as ethnic Yunnan bags, reproductions of traditional furniture, porcelains, old jade pendants, used furniture, Qing Dynasty coins, Chairman Mao buttons, old Russian cameras, Buddhist statues, 1950s propaganda posters, boxes of yellowing photographs and many more.
Old Town Gods Temple Antique Market

4) Old Town Gods Temple Antique Market

Located in the basement of Huabao building in the main Yu Garden Shopping Complex, Old Town Gods Temple Antique Market houses a collection of established antique shops. The market offers a wide selection of textiles and embroidery, old mahjong sets, watches, porcelain and pottery, opium pipes, revolution-era materials, including an original Little Red Book and many more. In addition, Chinese dresses, bags and scarves can be found at the upper floors.

Operation Hours Daily: 10 am - 6 pm
Shanghai Town God's Temple

5) Shanghai Town God's Temple (must see)

This Taoist temple dedicated to Chenghung, the guardian God of the city of Shanghai, is its most popular place of worship. The temple is surrounded by a large shopping area where visitors can purchase a range of products at bargain prices.

The place has become the Town God's Temple in 1403 during the Yongle era of the Ming Dynasty. It grew famous as a place of worship during the Qing Dynasty and was expanded during the Daoguang era. It was at this time that the large market grew around it. Converted into a jewelry shop by the communists, it was returned to Taoist clergy in 1994. Later, between 2005-6 the structure was completely restored and consecrated by Taoist priests, and worship began once again.

The temple has a small courtyard in front of the main entrance and halls dedicated to the Gods. The main hall is dedicated to Huo Guang and his large statue dominates the northern side. There are smaller halls dedicated to minor guardian gods and the gods of wealth, literature and knowledge. The temple is the venue for traditional festivals including the Lantern festival, the tea ceremony, and the Double Nine Festival. It is an active place of worship where visitors are outnumbered by worshipers.

Why You Should Visit:
To indulge in local street food and admire the architecture, especially if you want to experience more of "ancient Shanghai".

At night the various old-style buildings are decorated with lights and are great for photos.
Note that prices are on the high side in the shops, so bargain well.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-4pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Peach Garden Mosque

6) Peach Garden Mosque

The Peach Garden Mosque is the largest active mosque in Shanghai. It was here that the Shanghai Muslim Association was founded.

The building called the Mosque of the Small Peach Garden was founded in 1917. The present building dates back to 1927. The structure was constructed with donations from the Muslim community. The foundations were laid in 1925 and the building was completed two years later.

The peach garden Mosque has an inner courtyard surrounded by outbuildings. The main hall can hold several hundred worshippers. It has two green cupolas at each end. The center has a pavilion with a crescent emblem. Only male worshippers are allowed in the main hall and women are allowed in a separate smaller hall. It has a minaret for the Islamic call for prayer. The building has a West Asian Islamic architectural style.

Today, the Peach Garden Mosque is the headquarters of the Shanghai Islamic Association. The municipal government has declared the building as a protected cultural relic. The structure suffered damage during the Cultural Revolution but has now been restored.
Confucian Temple (Wen Miao)

7) Confucian Temple (Wen Miao) (must see)

Known as the School Palace, the Confucian Temple was once the highest institution of learning in Shanghai. It is dedicated to Confucius, the great Chinese thinker and founder of the Confucian culture and code of conduct.

The temple was built between 1368-98. It has 28 buildings covered with exquisite stone carvings. There are three well-preserved courtyards surrounded by halls that were once used as classrooms. There are carved stone bridges built across tranquil ponds within the courtyards. The main part of the complex used to worship Confucius is the Dacheng Hall. A large bell weighing 1.5 tons is located at the southeast part of the main hall. A bronze statue of Confucius stands in front of the main door of Dacheng Hall.

In its northeastern part, the temple hosts a second-hand book market similar to the book houses that thrived during the reign of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Every Sunday, book traders come to buy, sell and exchange old and rare books at the venue. A temple fair is held at the end of the year including a bell tolling ceremony, contests for young people and performances by folk dancers.

Why You Should Visit:
Well maintained, super cheap, with beautiful artwork in back courtyards. Off the main tourist route yet still easy to get to. It is also nice to experience a private tea ceremony here.

The Sunday book market has to be visited as it is something different in Shanghai, but beware that it opens at 8am and closes early around 3-4pm.
If you want full access then pay 10RMB; otherwise, you can just go to the book market inside the inner courtyard. 10RMB lets you into the temple as well as the other courtyards.
Go towards the temple and the guards will ask for your tickets. Most people think they cannot go up, but that's what your ticket covers for.

Temple Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-4:30pm
Fazangjiang Temple

8) Fazangjiang Temple

The Fazangjiang Temple is one of the four important Buddhist temples in Shanghai. The others being the Jade Buddha, the Longhua and the Jing An Temples. It is a major city attraction because of its unique architecture.

The Fazagjiang Temple, located in the Old Town was built in 1924 by the Tiantai Ancestor called the Xingci Master. It occupies an area of 0.4 hectares. It took five years to build and is unique because unlike other temples it has a tower. The entrance door is located in the west unlike other Buddhist temples where worshippers enter from the South. Some parts of the structure have architecture with a unique art deco resemblance.

The Fazangjiang Temple recently underwent extensive restoration. New doors were installed in the main hall. A large modern statue of the Sakyamuni is now found in the hall sitting on top of a lily. There are two gilded walls with images of Arhats. Other walls have golden sculptures of the Buddhist trinity. There is a small shrine dedicated to the God of the Underworld in Buddhism, Dizang Wang.

The modern Fazangjiang Temple is an active place of worship thronging with worshippers, visitors and black robed chanting monks.

Please note that there are two doors at number 271. The one on the left leads into a restaurant, but has a back door to the temple, while the one on the right leads directly into the temple complex.

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Shanghai for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Shanghai has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Shanghai, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.